Florida Democrat breaks down loss: ‘It’s not just about socialism’

Greg Nash

Florida Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) on Wednesday said a fear of socialism alone did not explain her surprise Election Day loss, breaking down what she thinks happened as Democrats search for answers to explain their drubbing in the nation’s largest swing state. 

Mucarsel-Powell, who lost reelection in a district that voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 but swung to President Trump in 2020, sought to “set the record straight” in a Twitter thread dissecting an election in which she and fellow Florida Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala lost their seats and President-elect Joe Biden lost Florida by more than 3 points  a wide margin by Sunshine State standards. 

Mucarsel-Powell noted that her district’s flip at the presidential level could not be explained by the theory that the party was sunk by centrist-progressive divides and that while GOP claims that Democrats were socialists did hurt candidates, an array of other factors contributed to defeats up and down the ballot. 

“Yes, the fear of socialism is real and engrained for those of us who fled dangerous places in search of the American dream. My own father was murdered by a criminal with a gun in Ecuador,” she said, referencing the substantial number of Latinos in Democratic-friendly South Florida who fled Latin American countries run by socialist strongmen. “But it’s not why I lost and it’s not the only reason South Florida went red.”

“There were many factors: a targeted disinformation campaign to Latinos; an electorate desperate to re-open, wracked with fear over the economic consequences; a national party that thinks racial identity is how we vote,” she added. “It’s not just about socialism.”

Mucarsel-Powell also credited her campaign tactics, including her in-person efforts and Spanish outreach in a Hispanic-heavy district, with helping her outrun Biden.

“Despite this swing, I was one of just a few Democrats nationally to outperform Biden. Here’s why: 1. Focused on the economy 2. Knocked on 23k doors & had convos w 133k ppl via phone & text 3. Invested big in radio, mail, digital & TV 4. And did it all in English AND Spanish,” she said.

“I was a leader in advocating for Venezuelan freedom — and as an immigrant, my story is the Miami story,” she added. “But it wasn’t enough. Because South FL is extremely diverse. We are unique. And when others try to treat Latinos as a monolithic group, they miss the nuances.” 

Mucarsel-Powell’s Twitter thread is the latest Democratic effort to sift through the Florida results and understand why a state known for razor-thin margins was so handily delivered to the GOP.

At the top of the list is Biden’s abysmal performance in Miami-Dade County, typically a Democratic stronghold that Clinton won by about 30 points four years ago and that Biden narrowly took by just 7 points.

Biden’s underperformance with Latino votes across the country also particularly hurt him in Florida, where the Hispanic community leans more conservative than their counterparts in the rest of the nation due to the heavy influence of Cuban Americans who lean more conservative and the widespread apprehension over claims of socialism.

Mucarsel-Powell said she was still optimistic that Democrats would be able to make a comeback in South Florida and that she stood ready to help the party retake ground. 

“Florida & National Dems: Our brightest days are ahead. To get there, we must step back and deeply analyze how we’re talking to Latinos and every voter. As the first South American immigrant elected to Congress, I stand with you as we do it,” she said.

Tags Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Donald Trump Donna Shalala Florida Hillary Clinton Joe Biden Joe Biden Miami-Dade County

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