John Morgan all but ruled out running for Governor as a Democrat, despite a massive lead in the polls over the declared candidates. “I plan to register as an Independent,” he said. But, polls show he could still win even if he ran as an Independent.
The legal mogul came onto the political scene when he led the charge to legalize medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The issue put him on the radar for Democrats nationwide, causing speculation that he may be the X factor the seriously damaged Democratic Party was looking for to repair their brand.
Morgan is anything but your traditional political guy. He’s brash and untamed, uses harsh language at every occasion, and hates the establishment. He’s a more-to-the-left version of Trump. Even one of Trump’s former state campaigners agreed that Morgan would be a tough one to beat because he resembled the President so much.
This was reflected in virtually all polling for the Democratic gubernatorial primary, where Morgan surpassed both former Rep. Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. This says more about the Democrat’s precarious position in Florida than it does about Morgan, because the two main contenders are typical Democrats. Florida voters are tired of the traditional leftist party, and this state is about as purple as you can get in the United States.
The polling done in the Sunshine State can be very indicative of the electorate at large, signaling a huge problem for the Democrats since their major upset defeat in 2016. More and more, Democratic voters are seeking fringe alternatives, like anti-establishment untraditional types like John Morgan.
Morgan is one such Democrat himself. “I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians,” he wrote on Twitter. “They are all the same. Both parties.”
If he ran as an Independent, there’s a solid chance he could have more Democratic votes than the Democratic candidate. This is mostly evidenced by the fact that Florida Cubans were more likely to vote for Trump in 2016 (54%) than Clinton (41%). Unlike other Latinos, Cubans overwhelmingly favor anti-establishment candidates, but would vote Democrat if the choice was between them and a traditional Republican. Trump, of course, was not traditional. Clinton was. Morgan is not.
According to polling done by the Pew Research Center, party loyalty is not as big of a voting factor in Florida elections as it is in other states. Candidates are viewed individually rather than holistically.
On the Republican side, no major anti-establishment candidate is in play for the gubernatorial race next year. All candidates are sitting politicians. The most untraditional candidate is Sen. Jack Latvala, but even he has been involved politics for a majority of his career.
In a state that went for Obama twice before it finally went for Trump, we can see that Republicans also tend to vote with their gut. They didn’t turn out to vote for either McCain or Romney, two moderate and very traditional Republicans. Trump, on the other hand, got them out because they liked his attitude.
To sum it all up, a three-way race between Morgan (I), a traditional Democrat and a traditional Republican, Morgan would pull significant numbers from both sides and likely come out on top.