3rd GOP debate: shining a light on Florida Republicans a year out from the general election.

Wednesday night’s third Republican debate was not a game changer in a primary race that still has Trump with a 43% lead over the second place candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Trump’s lead is so large that he continues to sit out the debates comfortably. Or as comfortably as a presidential candidate can be while dealing with four legal cases against him… 

The debate was held in DeSantis’s home state of Florida, a critical swing state Trump won in the last two general elections: in 2016 with just over 1% and again in 2020 by a larger 3% margin. Nikki Haley continued to turn heads on the debate stage with her executive demeanor and her standout foreign policy record as Florida voters continue to show concern about foreign policy issues. 

After the debate, we turned to Resonate’s most advanced AI neural network, rAI, to analyze how frequent Republican voters online in battleground Florida are feeling a year out from the 2024 general.   

Florida Republicans vote for candidates based on a unique set of issues 

Resonate’s AI-driven voter models analyzed an online audience of 3.4M registered Republican voters online in Florida who are frequent voters in presidential elections. This audience was then compared to the average registered Republican online nationally to see what sets the Florida audience apart. When compared to the average Republican online, an active Florida Republican voter is: 

  • Much more likely to select candidates based on immigration and foreign policy issues
  • Much more likely to value bipartisanship leadership
  • Much more likely to look for leaders with a strong foreign policy, law enforcement, and defense background 

The next set of insights demand attention from all Republican candidates running in Florida. Our models show that 80% of frequent Republican voters in Florida consider illegal immigration their top policy concern. They are 42% more likely than an average Republican voter to hold this view. Additionally, Second Amendment issues continue to be a leading policy concern for this group. This is an important insight given the conversation around the Second Amendment and Gun Control that has played out in the state over the last several years. 

It’s also worth noting that the issue of abortion (a topic discussed considerably in the debate) did not register as a top policy issue with our Florida audience.

When focusing on the values and motivations that drive Republican voters in Florida, their online behavior demonstrates a strong yearning for freedom of creative expression and safety and security in their communities and the country at large. When compared to an average Republican nationally, the Florida audience is 31% more likely to value this sense of safety.

Florida Republicans fear Russia. In fact, 71% of the entire audience of registered frequent Republican voters online in Florida fear Russia. They are 30% more likely than an average Republican to fear Russia.

An outlier of an insight our AI-based voter models discovered was related to climate change. When contrasting the Florida Republicans to Republicans nationally, our models show that the Florida audience is roughly 30% more likely to fear the effects of climate change. This is an important insight for candidates discussing energy plans and the environment in the Sunshine State next year. 

The Takeaway   

Resonate AI, rAI, will continue to track thousands of niche online voter audiences after key events like debates and media announcements daily from now until election day.

rAI can see 90% of the entire electorate online. It can identify who they intend to vote for, the issues that matter most to them and what candidates need to say to be worthy of winning their vote. Perhaps most importantly, it can help track, understand and target swing voters in battleground states like Florida at scale — states where candidates win elections with mere tenths of percentage points. AI-driven strategies will propel candidates to the winner’s circle this cycle. We can show you how. 

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