By Campaign Agent Sophia Esquenazi
Nearly two weeks after the US Midterm Elections, the Florida recount has come to an end. While the results of most states were announced soon after Election Day, a recount was triggered in Florida after Republican Gov. Rick Scott led Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson by less than 0.5 percent. This narrow lead spurred a machine recount where Scott maintained a lead of 12,603 votes, calling for a second recount, this time by hand, where Scott emerged victorious with 10,033 votes over Nelson.
Florida has a history of recounting and is notorious for the the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, where a recount took place that was key in determining Bush’s win. It was after this election that Florida implemented laws regarding recounting. If the margin of victory is 0.5 percent or less, a machine recount is ordered, and if it is 0.25 percent or less, there is a manual recount.
Following the results, Scott, in a statement issued by his campaign, said, "I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service." Nelson later addressed his supporters, expressing, "We may have been outspent in this campaign, but we were never outworked."
Although the recount did not alter which party is in control in the Senate, it does give Republicans a 52-to-47 majority in the Senate and is the fourth Senate seat that Republicans flipped, alongside North Dakota, Indiana, and Missouri. This will also be a change for Florida where Nelson has been Senator since 2000. It is the second major win for the GOP in Florida, as Democrat Andrew Gillum, who was running for governor, conceded to Republican Ron DeSantis.
Reactions to the recount are also worth noting, as both sides claimed there was fraudulent behavior. Republicans suggested that fraudulent votes were being cast or added to the vote total while Democrats responded, claiming that Republicans were using their positions of power to set aside legally cast votes to win the election.
President Donald Trump voiced his opinion on the issue in a tweet, suggesting that votes were indeed being added by Democrats: “When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida? The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to “find” enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!”
While Republicans remain in control of the Senate, Democrats attained majority in the House, giving them greater influence than they had in the first two years of Trump’s presidency. Attention will now shift to Mississippi where a runoff is still to go. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith faces Democrat Mike Espy, a former cabinet secretary under Clinton.
Sources and Further Reading
‘US mid-terms: Rick Scott wins contested Florida Senate race’, BBC News (18 November 2018)
Wade Payson-Denney, ‘So, who really won? What the Bush v. Gore studies showed’, CNN (31 October 2015)
‘Republican Rick Scott Wins Florida Senate Seat Over Incumbent Bill Nelson’, NPR News (18 November 2018)
Joshua Jamerson, Alex Leary, ‘Republican Rick Scott Wins Senate Race in Florida’, The Wall Street Journal (18 November 2018)
Ryan Nobles, ‘Florida recount state of play: Postgame edition’, CNN (19 November 2018)
Image: Gage Skidmore @flickr