Then & Now: 1958 Florida vs. Florida today
Politics, demographics, the economy and headlines.
Every sector of the state’s economy has grown over the decades, some faster than others.
Then and Now: Where Floridians Work
Then: 16% of non-farm workforce
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate
Trade, Transportation, Utilities
Information didn’t exist as a category in the 1950s.
Then: 45,100 farms
Then: 136 per 100,000 Floridians
Then: 120 per 100,000
Now: 253 (2012)
Then: 46 per 100,000
Now: 52 (2016)
Then and Now: Politics
1958 — LeRoy Collins, Democrat
2018 — Rick Scott, Republican
1958 — George Smathers, Democrat Spessard Holland, Democrat
2018 — Bill Nelson, Democrat, Marco Rubio, Republican
State Senate President
1958 — William Shands, Democrat
2018 — Joe Negron, Republican
Speaker of House
1958 — Doyle Conner, Democrat
2018 — Richard Corcoran, Republican
In 1958, Democrats ruled Florida. Registered Democrats totaled 1.2 million to the GOP’s 216,000 (and just 12,000 as “other”), and the party’s power showed in its domination of elected office. Republicans didn’t have an edge in any county in Florida. Indeed, the total number of Republicans across several North Florida counties could have fit on a school bus with room to spare for a pep band. But, as Florida historian Gary Mormino has written, “In the summer of 1958, the Sunshine State’s Republican Party stood on the threshold of change.”
Today, 4.8 million Floridians are registered Democrats to 4.55 million Republicans. Minor parties have nearly 69,000 members, and 3.5 million Floridians have registered with no party affiliation — the fastest-growing sector of the electorate.