November 22, 2014

FLORIDA Perception vs. Reality

Politics in Florida: Always courting voters

The state's reputation lags recognition of its importance as a swing state.

Swingin'

"The first myth is that everyone in Florida is old and the only people that move here are old retirees, and that's certainly not true anymore — we have the registration figures that show now that 51% of registered voters are over 50 and 49% are under. I'd say the biggest change is Florida's power on the national political stage is well-recognized and gets stronger by the day. It's because the population has become very polarized, just like the rest of the country. Look back to the 2010 governor's race, which was 1% difference between the two candidates, and that's not atypical, and everybody I've looked at, everyone who's created swing state maps, puts Florida in the top five and a lot of them put Florida No. 1 as the biggest swing state this year."

— Susan MacManus, distinguished professor of public administration
and political science at the University of South Florida

Florida - Swing State
[Photo: Larry Downing/Reuters]


Election Dysfunction

The legacy of the 2000 presidential vote in Florida still colors the perception of Florida both inside and outside the state. In 2009 while on a trip to Nigeria, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared electoral corruption there to the balloting in Florida. Answering a question about Nigeria's election, Clinton said, "In 2000, our presidential election came down to one state where the brother of the man running for president was the governor of the state. So we have our problems too."

Hillary Clinton
[Photo: AP/J. Applewhite]

Voter Registration

Voter Registration
[Photo: iStock]

By the Numbers (November 2011)
• 11. 2 million — Registered voters in Florida

• 41% are Democrats

• 36% are Republicans

• 20% are independents (no party affiliation)

• 3% belong to other parties

» Since the 2008 general election, the percentage of Republicans has remained the same at 36%. Registered Democrats dropped 1%, and the ranks of independents rose 1%.

» The biggest gains in Republican registration have come in the media markets of Tampa Bay (+2.7%), Palm Beach (+2.4%) and Naples (+1.6%). The sharpest losses have occurred in Tallahassee (-4.3%), Gainesville (-2.5%) and Jacksonville (-2.2%).

» Nearly one-third of the state's 4.5 million registered Democrats live in three counties in south Florida — Miami-Dade (11.5%), Broward (12.4%) and Palm Beach (8.2%) — a trend that, along with the 2002 GOP-led redistricting, has diluted Democrats' power in the state Capitol. Despite their 451,000-voter registration advantage in the state, Democrats occupy only 38 of 120 seats in the Florida House and 12 of 40 in the Florida Senate.

Source: Florida Division of Elections, Sayfie Review

Tags: Politics & Law, Government/Politics & Law

Digital Access

DIRECT DIGITAL ACCESS
Add digital to your current subscription, purchase a single ditgital issue, or start a new subscription to Florida Trend.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
An overview of the features and articles in this month's issue of Florida Trend.

ACCESS THIS ISSUE »

Florida Business News

Florida Trend Video Pick

More people to hit the road this Thanksgiving
More people to hit the road this Thanksgiving

The good news for Thanksgiving travelers: the price of gas is at five-year lows. The bad news: a lot more people will be on the road. 

Earlier Videos | Viewpoints@FloridaTrend

Ballot Box

Did President Obama overstep his executive authority by enacting immigration reform?

  • Yes. He should have gone through Congress.
  • Unsure
  • No, other presidents have taken similar action, and something had to be done.

See Results

Ballot Box
Subscribe