Profile pictures of US Senate Florida candidates Marco Rubio and Val Demings from BallotPedia

Welcome to the race for the US Senate seat for Florida! This race pits the incumbent Marco Rubio, a Republican who has served in the US Senate since 2011, against the challenger Val Demings, a Democrat who is currently one of the US House of Representatives for Florida (since 2017) and previously worked in law enforcement for three decades.

Florida has been a swing state since the 1950s, but the state swings Republican more than it swings Democratic, especially of late. The large Latino voting bloc in Florida—which is increasingly amenable to Republican messaging, especially the conservative Cuban diaspora—has resulted in close but decisive wins for Republicans since the state voted for Donald Trump in 2016 (and again in 2020). Rubio cruised to victory in his last reelection campaign in 2016, but he finds himself in a battleground fight with Demings, who was Orlando’s first female chief of police. Although this race was quite tight a month ago, analysts see momentum on the Republicans’ side that, coupled with Rubio’s greater power of incumbency, would make a Demings win a surprise upset.    

An important note for this election season: Traditionally, the “party in power,” defined as the party in charge of the US presidency (which this year is the Democratic Party), loses seats in the midterm elections. But two additional competing trends are at play. On the one hand, the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 shifted momentum toward the Democrats (see 538 and NYT analysis at these links). But the continued economic concerns about inflation and gas prices work in the Republicans’ favor (see Politico and CNN analysis at these links). The race in Florida is one of the top nine Senate races to watch in the 2022 election, and its outcome will help determine which party controls the US Senate in January 2023. 



Local news sources:

General news sources:

Relevant news stories:

  • Article: “Demings Will Tout Police Career in Bid to Flip Florida Senate Seat, Oust Rubio,” Bloomberg News, August 24, 2022
  • Article: “Battle for ‘persuadable voters’ in Florida’s gubernatorial and US Senate races,” CBS News, September 8, 2022
  • Article: “Florida Hispanic voting patterns serve as warning for Democrats,” Washington Post, October 9, 2022
  • Article: “In Florida Senate Race, GOP Messaging on Crime Runs Up Against an Ex-Cop Opponent,” Time, October 17, 2022
  • Article: “Rubio and Demings clash over abortion in lone Florida Senate debate,” Politico, October 18, 2022