Volusia & Flagler County Trending Away from the Democrats

In all the jubilation about the victorious Obama campaign in Florida, a cloud has appeared on the horizon. Volusia County once the most reliable county outside SE Florida or college areas for national Democrats voted for a Republican Presidential nominee for the first time in the competitive Florida Presidential era (since 1992). Neighboring Flagler County has also been fertile territory for national Democrats which previously helping to offset the advantages the GOP takes out of St Johns County which borders Flagler to the north. Flagler had previous to Tuesday much like Volusia, voted for every Democratic Presidential nominee since 1988.

The Democrats inability to stem the Republican tide in this area at the same time as the rest of the I-4 corridor is shifting blue perhaps irrevocably is a great personal disappointment. As a young politico in the 1990s, we were always told legislative seats in Volusia County area were the most winnable and safest paths to trying to establish a Democratic beachhead on I-4. This was at a time when Pinellas/Hillsborough/Polk/Orange and Seminole seats were almost completely in GOP hands with the exception of minority access districts. As the 2000s have drawn on, the Democratic performance has improved up and down I-4 while Volusia County has moved the other way. Obama’s Volusia loss coupled with the humbling defeat of Chairman Frank Bruno, perhaps the best Democratic recruit in the state for a legislative seat has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that the county is moving rapidly towards the Republican column.

While the movement of some conservative leaning voters into the Deltona/DeBarry area explains much of Volusia’s shift, has that been the only factor? Are national Democrats no longer acceptable to large legions of local voters? I’m also curious about the shifts in Flagler. The two counties saw the largest drop in Obama percentage from 2008 to 2012 of any Florida county that the President carried in his first election.  Readers who have insight into what has happened on the ground in the area, please leave your comments or thoughts in the thread.

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