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Monday's Daily Pulse

Florida Trend Exclusive
Politics in Florida: Always courting voters


"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]
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Florida’s new Space Coast prepares to launch

Tourists began booking rooms weeks ago, finalizing plans to see what is more than a routine rocket launch from Cape Canaveral. The next chapter in U.S. space exploration should begin in about a week when California-based Space Exploration Technologies — SpaceX for short — expects to become the first private company to send a rocket to the International Space Station. Once it perfects its delivery system for cargo, the company will turn its focus to transporting U.S. astronauts. [Source: Times/Herald]

» Is Texas forfeiting the private space race?
» SpaceX launch of Dragon capsule to space station to put NASA strategy on display

South Florida exports boom, creating jobs

With the U.S. economy recovering slowly, more South Florida companies are turning to sales overseas, fueling record exports and adding jobs. South Florida is the only U.S. area whose ports consistently ship more to foreign ports than they bring in. Port Everglades now ranks as Florida's top seaport for exports, U.S. commerce statistics show. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Does too much hospital growth hurt consumers?

As hospitals across Central Florida spring up, expand and get renovated, consumers watching health-care costs skyrocket wonder whether the money could be better spent. "It's a legitimate question and warrants community discussion," said Shannon Elswick, president of Orlando Health's adult-hospital group. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Mullet lovers try to give fish an image makeover

In Southwest Florida, mullet does not conjure images of gourmet dining. In Asia and Italy, mullet is prized for its eggs. In big U.S. cities, upscale restaurants pay top dollar to serve mullet fillets — from Spain. But here, where the humble, torpedo-shaped fish fills our waters, mullet is seen as the saltwater equivalent of a bottom-feeder like carp. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]


› Innovative companies snap up grads
In the past couple of years, Gainesville's business, academic and political leadership have organized around efforts to grow an innovation economy by trying to keep the university’s brain power from leaving.

› OPINION: Florida’s risky business
There’s nothing wrong with Citizens Property Insurance wanting to cut 678,000 customers from its rolls to improve its financial position. But the way Citizens is going about meeting that goal should cause every one of its policyholders to worry.

› The rich niche: South Florida’s high-end properties in high demand
Up and down the South Florida shoreline, the super-high end real estate market is on fire, say the developers who build the homes and real estate brokers who sell them. While Wall Street turmoil kept many would-be buyers on the sidelines for years, they’ve since reentered the market with confidence.

› Sarasota bungalows converted to commercial gems
Not long ago, the 1800 block on the north side of Sarasota's Fruitville Road was lined with sad little bungalows is various stages of neglect. But now there's now a delightful collection of colorful cottages adapted for commercial purposes. Built between 1925 and 1930, these formerly private residences are open for business.

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› Is that tomato's blush real? It could be the LED lighting
Ever notice how rosy the tomatoes look at the grocery store, but not necessarily when you get them home? Chalk it up to "good" lighting. Super markets across South Florida are switching from fluorescent to LED lighting, energy-efficient bulbs that save money and also make items underneath it look more vivid.

› Sarasota considers grants to help businesses spruce up
Great Recession-era shabby storefronts and dilapidated buildings could get a makeover under a new program the county is looking at. Sarasota County this week will consider a program that could give small businesses up to $7,500 in matching grants to improve the looks of their properties.

› Bay area ID leaks cost jobs, leave victims and businesses in the lurch
Nine digits. They're designed to make Americans unique for tax and retirement purposes. They arrive amid diapers and ultimately die with us. Along the way, they collect the fingerprints of strangers.

› Do research before jumping to new job
As South Florida's job market improves, more workers who are employed are likely to start looking for new opportunities. But jobs are still hard to come by, so new job seekers should make sure the potential employer and role are a good fit before jumping ship.