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by inoljt

Previewing the Florida Republican Primary

2:45 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

Newt Gingrich’s thorough pounding in South Carolina has set up Florida as the next important primary. If Gingrich is able to win Florida as well, then Mitt Romney will be in a heap of trouble.

At this point a Gingrich victory is an eminently possible event. Throughout November and December Gingrich was posting enormous leads in Florida; for some reason the seniors there seem to really like him. Romney’s strong performances in Iowa and New Hampshire lifted him to the lead for a while. But now Gingrich is leading again. The example of South Carolina, where Romney lost a steady lead in less than a week, shows how quickly things can shift.

Florida is a very diverse state, much more so than any of the other states which have voted so far. Its population is large enough, and each part of the state different enough, that it could very easily be split into several different states with unique cultures.

Below are some thoughts the voting patterns of each part of Florida.

Northern Florida

Northern Florida is the part which has most in common with the South; indeed, much of it is an extension of the Deep South. As the example of South Carolina indicates, Romney for some reason does very poorly in the South. In 2008, he placed a poor third in a number of Deep South states.

It’s interesting to ask whether Gingrich has any special appeal to the South. Gingrich is a Southerner who spent most of his life in Georgia. On the other hand, he doesn’t sound like a Southerner.

One would expect Romney to do especially poorly in northern Florida, given his weakness in the South. There is a catch, however. In 2008 Romney actually won the Jacksonville area by double-digits while losing the Panhandle badly. Whether he can replicate this performance this year is open to question. Of course, given that Romney lost Florida to John McCain, he must.

The I-4 Corridor

Covering most of Central Florida, the I-4 Corridor refers to the I-4 highway running through the region to connect all the major cities.

This is generally swing territory in the presidential election, and it will probably be swing territory in the upcoming primary as well. Romney did decently in the Orlando area in 2008, tying John McCain. He did worse in the Tampa and Hillsborough region. Whoever wins the I-4 Corridor in 2012 will probably win the Republican primary. It will be where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.

The Miami Metropolis

South Florida is the most populous and diverse part of the state. Mitt Romney cratered in this region during the 2008 Republican primaries; in Miami-Dade County, he actually did worse than Rudy Giuliani (remember him?) According to exit polls, Romney failed to break into double-digits amongst the Cuban-American vote.

Obviously, if this happens again Romney will lose the state. As for Newt Gingrich, it will be very revealing to see how he does in this part of the state. Gingrich might be attractive to conservative retirees who remember his battles with Bill Clinton. His strength with Cuban-Americans, on the other hand, is completely a mystery. Gingrich has never had to appeal to Hispanic voters in his life before; it will be a very fascinating to see how he does with them.

All in all, the way that South Florida will vote is pretty much up in the air.


The good news for Romney is that absentee voting has been continuously going on throughout the period in which he held the polling lead, before his loss in South Carolina. If there is anything that will lift him to victory, this is it.

Finally, there is the Hispanic vote in Florida. While most voters so far in the Republican primary belong to hard-core Republican constituencies, Hispanics do not. The performance of the eventual Republican nominee among Hispanics in Florida (especially non-Cubans) will provide an extremely important insight to the general election.


by inoljt

Analyzing the Florida Gubernatorial Election

3:26 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is a part of a series of posts analyzing the 2010 midterm elections. This post will discuss the 2010 Florida gubernatorial election, which Republican candidate Rick Scott won in an extremely close contest.

Florida’s Gubernatorial Election

On November 2010, Democrat Alex Sink faced an extremely flawed Republican opponent: multimillionaire Rick Scott, a businessman accused of heading the biggest fraud in Medicare history.

Ms. Sink still lost, running in a Republican leaning state in a very Republican environment. Here is what happened:

This constitutes a classic map of a close race in Florida. Ms. Sink wins the counties that she needs to win in the I-4 central corridor. For a Democrat, she performs relatively strongly in conservative northern Florida.


What kills Ms. Sink, however, is Democratic turn-out.

To gain some perspective on this, let’s compare Ms. Sink’s performance with that of President Barack Obama’s:

Note that the circles depicted here are not equivalent. In 2008 8.4 million people voted; in 2010 only 5.3 million did. So the absolute margins of 2008 – regardless of whether Mr. Obama won or lost the county – are much bigger.

Nevertheless, one can see that Mr. Obama gets quite a bit more mileage out of the counties he wins than Ms. Sink does. This is especially true along the Democratic, minority-heavy strongholds of Orlando and South Florida.

In 2008 these places composed a greater share of the Florida electorate than they did in 2010; minority and Democratic turn-out fell disproportionately in the mid-term. In 2008 Orlando and South Florida (i.e. Broward, Miami-Dade, Orange, and Palm Beach counties) composed 31.6% of the electorate; in 2010 they composed 29.2% of the electorate. This does not seem like much, but it makes a difference when the margin of victory is 1.2%.

On a county-by-county basis, Mr. Scott’s margin would be cut from 61,550 to 15,226 in the 2008 electorate, even if his share of each county’s vote does not change (only the number of voters in each county does). I suspect that if you adjust this on a precinct level – if you give each precinct the same number of voters it had in 2008, without changing the percent of the vote Ms. Sink and Mr. Scott got in that precinct – Ms. Sink would have won outright.


There is one part of Florida, however, in which Ms. Sink did much better than Mr. Obama. It’s hard see this in the previous maps, due to the low population of this region. Here is a better illustration:

As the map indicates, Northern Florida moved quite strongly towards Ms. Sink, although not strongly enough to offset her losses elsewhere.

There are a variety of explanations for why this might be. The rural, poor, Southern voters there might have been turned off a wealthy businessman as a Republican candidate. Ms. Sink might have overperformed amongst Republicans.

It is also true that Mr. Obama did quite poorly amongst these voters, losing many of these counties by 40+ margins. Partly this had to do with his status as a big-city Chicago liberal. Mostly, however, Mr. Obama did poorly because he was black.

Half a century ago northern Florida was the most Democratic part of the state, back in the days of the Solid South. Since then the Democratic Party has moved away from these voters (see: John Kerry, Barack Obama); it gets progressively harder each election for a Democrat to win them, although some still do. Ms. Sink’s improvement over Mr. Obama, then, might have been the last gasp of a dying breed: white Dixie Democrats.


In the dying days of Florida’s gubernatorial campaign, Democratic candidate Alex Sink was accused of cheating during the gubernatorial debate. The scandal broke during the final days of the campaign, derailing a crucial time for any campaign. Pundits will point to the scandal as responsible for the 1.2% margin by which Ms. Sink lost.

Yet it may have been another event, seemingly unrelated, that truly undid Ms. Sink. During the campaign’s final days, Independent Charlie Crist – running for Florida’s Senate seat – mounted a concerted effort to get Democrat Kendrick  Meek to drop-out. The coverage dominated national news, blackened the image of both participants, and demoralized Democrats everywhere in Florida.

It may have also led to Ms. Sink’s defeat. In many ways the candidate did what she had to do – she won the right places and improved on Mr. Obama in the most Republican part of Florida. I remember looking at her northern Florida numbers on election day and feeling somewhat optimistic about her chances. With the vote in at 50%, Ms. Sink stood behind by 5% – but the Democratic Gold Coast hadn’t started reporting. She could close things once the Democratic strongholds Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties came in.

But Ms. Sink never did fully close the gap. Democratic turn-out killed Ms. Sink, as it did with many others in 2010.


P.S. Here is a table I created, some of whose information is used in this post.

Republican Margin: Change from 2008 to 2010 2010 County Percent of Vote 2008 County Percent of Vote Change in Turn-Out Sink Under 2008 Electorate County
0.11% 1.38% 1.50% -0.12% -26919 Alachua
-29.35% 0.15% 0.13% 0.02% 3091 Baker
-2.73% 1.03% 0.97% 0.06% 30805 Bay
-17.09% 0.15% 0.14% 0.01% 2706 Bradford
2.87% 3.66% 3.43% 0.23% 38254 Brevard
3.50% 7.83% 8.74% -0.90% -229201 Broward
-32.24% 0.08% 0.07% 0.01% 504 Calhoun
6.87% 1.11% 1.02% 0.09% 12047 Charlotte
-0.81% 1.02% 0.91% 0.11% 11629 Citrus
0.12% 1.19% 1.13% 0.06% 40617 Clay
10.14% 1.92% 1.69% 0.23% 46331 Collier
-12.40% 0.35% 0.34% 0.02% 6001 Columbia
-1.01% 0.13% 0.12% 0.01% 1146 Desoto
-30.47% 0.10% 0.09% 0.01% 1047 Dixie
3.81% 4.88% 4.95% -0.07% 23793 Duval
-0.78% 1.79% 1.84% -0.05% 28636 Escambia
11.39% 0.62% 0.59% 0.04% 4833 Flagler
-28.01% 0.08% 0.07% 0.00% -10 Franklin
-7.45% 0.31% 0.27% 0.04% -10451 Gadsden
-18.49% 0.10% 0.09% 0.01% 2214 Gilchrist
-0.63% 0.05% 0.05% 0.00% 832 Glades
-15.77% 0.09% 0.09% 0.01% 1693 Gulf
-13.24% 0.07% 0.07% 0.01% 75 Hamilton
-5.83% 0.10% 0.09% 0.01% 1761 Hardee
5.24% 0.12% 0.13% -0.01% 1354 Hendry
4.90% 1.09% 1.05% 0.04% 7458 Hernando
2.20% 0.56% 0.53% 0.02% 9074 Highlands
3.79% 5.93% 6.12% -0.19% -17133 Hillsborough
-24.68% 0.11% 0.10% 0.01% 3460 Holmes
6.92% 0.88% 0.84% 0.04% 15364 Indian River
-24.48% 0.28% 0.26% 0.02% 754 Jackson
-14.85% 0.12% 0.09% 0.02% -1476 Jefferson
-43.33% 0.05% 0.04% 0.01% 574 Lafayette
2.61% 1.90% 1.75% 0.15% 23697 Lake
11.33% 3.39% 3.21% 0.19% 58504 Lee
-11.04% 1.86% 1.77% 0.09% -52485 Leon
-5.68% 0.24% 0.22% 0.01% 3976 Levy
-45.26% 0.04% 0.04% 0.00% -43 Liberty
-10.71% 0.12% 0.11% 0.01% -680 Madison
5.42% 1.98% 1.81% 0.17% 18952 Manatee
2.02% 2.13% 1.93% 0.20% 22073 Marion
2.07% 1.01% 0.93% 0.08% 12257 Martin
1.82% 9.11% 10.28% -1.17% -123556 Miami-Dade
5.01% 0.49% 0.48% 0.01% 48 Monroe
-4.23% 0.50% 0.46% 0.04% 15161 Nassau
0.69% 1.14% 1.14% 0.00% 43580 Okaloosa
-5.99% 0.15% 0.15% 0.00% 1684 Okeechobee
7.48% 5.07% 5.50% -0.43% -51546 Orange
13.29% 1.00% 1.20% -0.20% -6459 Osceola
4.16% 7.15% 7.03% 0.12% -110658 Palm Beach
4.88% 2.55% 2.56% -0.01% 18217 Pasco
2.55% 5.66% 5.53% 0.13% -26374 Pinellas
4.83% 2.99% 2.92% 0.07% 26880 Polk
0.37% 0.40% 0.40% 0.00% 6523 Putnam
-3.26% 0.93% 0.91% 0.02% 34011 Santa Rosa
4.40% 2.71% 2.47% 0.24% 9360 Sarasota
4.00% 2.46% 2.45% 0.01% 13996 Seminole
-1.39% 1.40% 1.26% 0.13% 31952 St. Johns
7.18% 1.41% 1.44% -0.03% -5928 St. Lucie
1.21% 0.78% 0.58% 0.20% 13803 Sumter
-13.75% 0.25% 0.21% 0.04% 5189 Suwannee
-17.01% 0.12% 0.11% 0.01% 2058 Taylor
-46.53% 0.07% 0.06% 0.00% 169 Union
7.74% 2.94% 2.91% 0.03% 5093 Volusia
-21.92% 0.21% 0.17% 0.03% 415 Wakulla
-5.00% 0.35% 0.32% 0.03% 11029 Walton
-16.60% 0.15% 0.13% 0.02% 3462 Washington
3.97% 100.00% 100.00% 0.00% 15226 Total

by inoljt

Tampa and the 2012 Republican National Convention

8:54 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

By: Inoljt,

According to the Times, the Republican Party has just selected Tampa to host the 2012 Republican National Convention. Located in the vital swing state Florida, Republican intentions with this pick are fairly straightforward.

Not all national conventions take place in swing states. This impression may be due to 2008, when both parties held conventions in fairly competitive (or not, as it turned out) states. In 2004, however, Republicans held their convention in New York City; Democrats in Boston.

On the other hand, holding national conventions in swing states does constitute good strategy. After Democrats held their 2008 convention in Denver, Colorado ended up voting more Democratic than the nation for the first time since 1964. Likewise, the Minneapolis Republican convention helped Senator John McCain stay competitive in Minnesota weeks after Michigan and Wisconsin began moving Democratic. Choosing Tampa is another variation on this strategy.

Tampa, highly populated and fairly diverse, is a good place to hold a political convention. While the city itself probably votes fairly Democratic, the larger surrounding suburbs lean Republican. The convergence of these forces creates a very competitive environment. Hillsborough County, which Tampa is located in, has gone within single digits for the past five straight presidential elections. Whoever wins the Tampa area stands a good chance of winning the state.

Florida itself constitutes a Republican-leaning swing state. This is somewhat surprising; at first glance, Florida looks like a typical Democratic-voting state. Diverse, urbanized, and heavily populated, Florida has more in common with blue California and New York than red Alabama or Kansas. The state, moreover, is becoming more minority-heavy as white retirees are replaced by Latino immigrants.

Yet a number of factors combine to make Florida a red-leaning swing state rather than a blue stronghold. Deeply conservative northern Florida, which is more like rural Georgia than Miami, gives Republicans an immediate base. Many white voters are elderly, conservative-leaning retirees. And – unlike most immigrants – the Cuban immigrant community votes strongly Republican, undercutting the Democratic stronghold in South Florida.

Florida has even been drifting right in presidential elections. President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore performed respectably in the state, but Senator John Kerry lost by a sobering margin. Mr. McCain was particularly strong in Florida; he would have won the state by 4.4% given a tied electorate.

This is strange. By all rights, a place like Florida ought to be shifting Democratic, especially given its demographic changes (the opposite is true for much of the Rustbelt Midwest). Yet in the short-term the state has moving in the opposite direction.

When Republicans hold their convention in Tampa, they will attempt to keep Florida in this condition for another presidential election. It is a clever move by a clever party.

by inoljt

Maps of Florida Elections

6:29 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

See the summary.

by inoljt

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 5

6:32 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the last part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Florida. The previous parts can be found here.

Here is how John Kerry did in south Florida:

Here is how Barack Obama performed:

Broward and Palm Beach are marginally smaller, when compared to Obama’s performance. The big difference, however, is with Miami-Dade. Kerry won it by 6%; Obama won it by 16%.

There is no other place in Florida (and, perhaps, the country) like Miami-Dade. Palm Beach and Broward counties are retiree destinations; Miami is home to immigrants and refugees from all Latin America. More than 60% of the population is Latino – and only 3% of them come from Mexico. The Miami accent is unique compared with the nation. Local government is distinct from other counties in Florida.

One would expect Miami to be one of the most Democratic places in the nation, much like New York City or Chicago.

It is not.

Obama won the five boroughs of New York City by 59%: a 4 to 1 margin. He won Cook County (Chicago) by 53%, with more than three-fourths of the vote. In contrast, Obama took 58% of Miami-Dade county – less than the amount by which he won New York City. The 2008 Democratic performance in Miami is comparable to their performance in cities such as Dallas (57% of the vote) and Sacramento (58% of the vote).

Much of this is due to the Cuban vote, the city’s largest demographic group. Refugees from Castro’s Cuba, staunchly anti-Communist, and faithful Republicans ever since the Bay of Pigs fiasco; Cubans vote as strongly Republican as Jews vote Democratic. In 2000, George W. Bush won about four out of five Cubans, helped by Cuban anger over Al Gore’s role in the Elian Gonzalez affair. In 2008 Obama won around 35% of their vote, based on exit polls. This was the best performance of a Democrat with Cubans in recent memory.

Their influence ensures that Miami remains a competitive, Democratic-leaning city. Democrats usually end up winning it, but their margins are severely cut. And occasionally it will turn up in the Republican column – as happened during the 2004 Senate race. There, Mel Martinez, a Bush ally, won Miami-Dade on his way to a one percent victory.

(I must note that in this map red means Democratic; blue means Republican. It’s taken from, whose coloring is odd.)

Democrats often hopefully comment that demographic shifts will slowly move Cubans leftward, as a new generation of Cubans, less concerned with Castro and communism, replaces their more militant elders. Perhaps. But that process will be the work of decades, not a single election cycle. For the moment the Cuban vote remains strongly Republican.

In 2008 the Democrats challenged two entrenched, Republican congressmen in south Florida: the Cuban Diaz-Balart brothers. The races were closely watched, so much that the New York Times Magazine aired an article dedicated to them. In the end, both Republicans won by margins larger than expected. Their continuing presence points to the steadfastness of the Cuban Republican vote.


Of the three most commonly cited swing states, Florida is the most conservative. The state can be divided into unique blocs, each of which has a distinct culture. The first, northern Florida, shares much/is part of the Deep South. Voting patterns reflect this. The populous I-4 corridor – Florida’s so-called swing-region – leans Republican, although Democrats perform well in Tampa Bay and Orlando. Finally, south Florida – diverse and populous – is the Democratic base, although the Cuban vote in Miami blunts their strength.

Whether Florida will remain this way is uncertain. Florida is an immense and diverse state. It is home to the Panhandle and Miami – two places opposite as night and day. Most every part of America can be found in the varied peoples that reside there. And certainly, it will continue to be an important swing state, sought after by both parties. Whoever ends up winning Florida is well on his or her way to becoming president.

by inoljt

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 4

2:20 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

The Miami Metropolis

Diverse, populous, sun-baked – south Florida is far different from the rest of the state. It is the Democratic base, where liberals win their biggest margins.

Like most liberal places in this country, south Florida contains incredibly diversity; ethnic minorities compose a large share of the population. The region as a whole has reached majority-minority status. Blacks, Jews, Latinos ranging from Cubans to Nicaraguans, and many others call south Florida home.

Urban and densely populated – again, a trait common to Democratic-voting regions – South Florida is the seventh largest metropolitan region in the country. Most of its population resides along Florida’s southeastern shore, on a strip of land often only a few miles wide. More people voted in Miami-Dade and Broward than any other county out of the three swing states being reviewed (Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylania). Both counties are part of south Florida. The following map indicates which counties had more than 500,000 voters in Florida.

If south Florida, with its vast population, behaved like liberal Philadelphia, John Kerry would be president of the United States and Barack Obama would have won the state by double-digits.

That does not happen. While Palm Beach County and Broward County (the two top counties in south Florida) are solidly Democratic, they are far and away from the most liberal places in the country. Palm Beach, like many liberal-leaning suburbs, gives Democrats a 3:2 edge. Broward, a deeper shade of blue, gives Democrats two-thirds of its vote. Both places have voted this way consistently for the past four elections. Miami-Dade county, which is culturally and economically an entity by itself, behaves somewhat differently.

Here is how Barack Obama did in the Miami metropolis:

Like most Democratic candidates, he obtains huge margins. Compare the size of the circles here to those in the I-4 corridor (this can’t be done regarding northern Florida, unfortunately). They’re a magnitude bigger.

Several demographic factors lie behind Democratic strength in Palm Beach and Broward, the top two blue circles (Broward is the middle one). Palm Beach has a substantial black population, slightly above the national average. Latinos also compose a double-digit voting bloc – although many are Cubans, diluting their impact. Moreover, Palm Beach is the wealthiest county in Florida. While not all extremely rich areas vote Democratic, as a whole they tend to be bluer than the country at large.

Then there is the Jewish vote.

More Jews live in south Florida than anywhere else in the world, except for the state of Israel. Most are retirees living out their golden days in sunny Florida. Jews, much like their Catholic brethren, have a long history of voting for Democrats. In today’s world, their leftward stances on social issues drive them to Democrats. Mike Dukakis was the last Democrat to win less than 70% of the Jewish vote. The last Republican to beat a Democrat amongst Jews was Warren Harding, in 1920. And that was because 38% of them voted for a socialist.

Up to 20% of Palm Beach County is Jewish, an important Democratic advantage. This constituency gave Obama 78% of the vote in 2008, contributing heavily to his overall victory. In neighboring Broward County, approximately 12-13% of the population is Jewish (a decrease in recent years). There too, Jews helped increase Obama’s margin in the county.

Broward County is similar in many respects to Palm Beach. It is one of Florida’s wealthiest counties. Latinos comprise more than one-fifth of the population (although, again, there are many Republican-leaning Cubans). There are a number of Jewish voters, as noted previously. Finally, African-Americans comprise slightly less than one-fourth of the population. Their relatively larger presence translates to a stronger Democratic vote compared with Palm Beach.

A final note. In 2000, Al Gore chose Senator Joe Lieberman, a Jewish-American, as his running mate. In large part due to this, he performed extraordinarily well in Palm Beach and Broward; Lieberman’s presence ensured unusually high Jewish support. In fact, Gore did better than Obama in the two counties, despite Obama’s far stronger national performance.

Florida’s razor-thin margin in 2000 is a major reason pundits today regard it as a swing state. However, as the above analysis indicates, much of Gore’s strength was unique to him (or rather, his running-mate). Relative to the generic Democrat, Gore overperformed. This was why John Kerry’s campaign, which competed so hard in Florida, was taken aback by the margin he lost by. To this day, Democrats assume that Florida is a more liberal place than it actually is. Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, and the Jewish vote are largely responsible for this.


by inoljt

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 3

11:34 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

By: Inoljt,

This is the third part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Florida. Part four can be found here.

The I-4 Corridor

If there is a holy grail of Florida politics, it is winning the I-4 corridor. This refers to the Interstate 4 highway, which begins in Tampa Bay, travels though Orlando, and ends in Daytona Beach.

Quite a lot of people live in the I-4 corridor. It’s far more populated than northern Florida (and northern Florida itself is relatively dense compared to other parts of the South). While parts of south Florida are far more people-heavy, as an aggregate central Florida has a slightly greater population. The I-4 corridor can be compared to a gigantic suburb, with an unusually high number of retirees. Granted, there are cities, but they are more alike to Phoenix (which is really just a big suburb with skyscrapers) than New York.

The picture above is a rough indication of voting density. There are a scattering of counties with more than a hundred thousand voters in northern Florida; actually Obama does quite well in the highlighted counties. Most of south Florida is also yellow. Then there is an empty region – the Everglades. And above that is the I-4 corridor, which is nearly entirely highlighted. The center yellow counties are actually a rough definition of the I-4 corridor.

The I-4 corridor is often considered to be the "swing" region of Florida. The metropolitan areas that lie inside it are the heart of central Florida, and they have enormous importance. The percentage by which a politician wins the I-4 corridor often mirrors his overall performance in the state.

For a so-called "swing" area, though, central Florida is quite conservative. It can be characterized, like Florida itself, as a Republican-dominated region with a few Democratic strongholds. The "average" county in central Florida leans Republican, with a few exceptions. And remember, the "average" county is quite populated.

What are the "exceptions," the parts of I-4 that lean Democratic? They’re generally more populated than the mean. They have high levels of minorities. They’re places like Tampa Bay and Orlando. Osceola County has a large Puerto Rican community; it leans Democratic. Democrats sometimes do well in the communities north of Tampa. To be clear, "doing well" means winning these counties by ten percent or so; Democrats generally don’t pull off 60% or more of the vote anywhere in the I-4 corridor unless it’s a landslide.

Here is the performance of a relatively weak Democrat, John Kerry, in the I-4 corridor:

John Kerry gets absolutely pummeled. There is a sea of red counties. This is the reason why John Kerry lost Florida.

Here is the performance of a stronger Democrat, Barack Obama:

He does better. Obama’s probably winning the I-4 corridor, largely due to his landslide victory in Orlando – where he took 59% of the vote, the highest Democratic performance since 1944. Still, it’s a very very close thing (actually, Obama’s only leading by several thousand votes if one adds up all the counties pictured). Compared with how the Democrats did nationally, winning by 7.2%, that’s a very unimpressive result.

McCain and Obama essentially ran even in central Florida, or Florida’s "swing" region. They also ran even in Missouri, Indiana, and North Carolina. To say that the I-4 corridor is as conservative as North Carolina is an eye-opening statement. But the data backs it up.

There is hope for Democrats, nevertheless. The type of conservatism typified by central Florida seems like a softer, more suburban type of conservatism. Central Florida voters are probably more accepting of Democrats and willing to vote for them. Republicans won most counties in the I-4 corridor – but they did by 10 points, not by 40. Using an analogy earlier from this post, Central Florida Republicans are more akin to Phoenix Republicans than their northern Florida counterparts. While the I-4 corridor didn’t vote for Clinton in ’92, it did so in ’96. In contrast, the conservatism typified by northern Florida and the Deep South is deeply ingrained and rock-hard. Only a tidal wave can change voting patterns there.

Moreover, demographic change may shift central Florida leftward. This is especially evident in Orange County (Orlando) and Osceola County. In 1992, Orange County gave George H.W. Bush one of his largest margins in central Florida; he won it by double-digits. In 2008, it was Obama’s best-performing county in the region. The U.S. Census estimates that around 40% of the population is black or Latino, highly Democratic voting blocs. Rapid Puerto Rican immigration into Osceola County, too, has led to a nearly 30% voting shift since 1992, according to the Times.

For the moment, nevertheless, the I-4 corridor is roughly as conservative as North Carolina in terms of votes. To summarize so far: northern Florida, commonly considered the Republican base, is as red as the Deep South. Not parts of the Deep South; the Deep South as a whole. The I-4 corrider, which is called Florida’s "swing" region, swings blue just as much as Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina did in 2008. Historically, it’s probably been closer to Missouri; to call central Florida as red as Indiana or North Carolina is probably an overstatement.

Miami, as we shall see, is about as liberal as Dallas and Sacamento.

by inoljt

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 2

1:36 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the second part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Florida. Part three can be found here.

Florida can be considered as three regions distinct in culture, economics, and voting patterns. Northern Florida is deep red; the I-4 corridor is light red; and the Miami metropolis is moderately blue.

Until recently, Florida was far different from what it looks like today. It was the quintessential Southern state, and it was fairly empty in terms of people. Florida’s voting record reflected its southern roots. Until Eisenhower won it twice, Florida was part of the Solid South. In 1964, LBJ ran well behind his national average, due to his support for civil rights. The next election, George Wallace took 29% of the vote. Then in 1976, Jimmy Carter resurrected the Solid South for the last time, winning Florida by 5%. That was also the last time a Democrat ran above the national average in Florida.

Florida still is a Southern state to some extent. This is especially true in northern Florida and the panhandle, which borders Alabama and Georgia. Northern Florida is very conservative; it is not uncommon to see a Republican taking 70% or more of the vote in a number of counties there, as the picture below indicates.

As the picture indicates, northern Florida constituted the place in which McCain performed best. There were no counties in which Obama won over 70% of the vote, although he comes fairly close in majority-black Gadsden County (where he won 69.1% of the vote).

Gadsden County provides a neat encapsulation of all that makes northern Florida tough going for Democrats. Like much of the Deep South, voting is racially polarized. If a county is like Gadsden, it votes blue; if, on the other hand, a county does not have many blacks, it is usually deep red. There are not many independents in this region; voting habits are deeply entrenched. The “average” voter and the “average” county is a hard-core Republican.

The result is something like this:

This is northern Florida in the 2008 presidential election.

There are three noticeable blue areas (out of five Democratic counties). One is Gadsden County, which is majority black. The other two are homes of major public universities: Tallahassee hosts Florida A&M University and Florida State University, while Alachua County is home to the University of Florida.

This is the Democratic “base,” such as it is. Blacks and college students have historically been the most faithful Democrats, and in northern Florida they are the only Democrats.

A final note before moving on to central Florida. Although Jacksonville most always votes Republican, there is a substantial black minority within it that, unfortunately, has had historically poor turn-out. A strong Democrat can mobilize these voters and essentially erase Republican margins in this county. Barack Obama was extremely successful at doing so, which is why the red circle is relatively small in the map. On the other hand, John Kerry was not as successful; he lost Jacksonville by 17 points, as the picture below indicates.


by inoljt

Analyzing Swing States: Florida, Part 1

5:26 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the first part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Florida. Part two can be found here.

In 2008, Illinois Senator Barack Obama won Colorado by 9.0%, Florida by 2.8%, and Indiana by 1.0%. Guess which one was the “swing state” in 2004.

The answer is Florida, and if that seems strange in light of the above – it is. In fairness, one might counter that Obama did relatively poorly in Florida (where he didn’t campaign in the primaries) and relatively well in Colorado (where the Democratic convention was held).

Here’s another question. Colorado, Florida, Indiana. Only one of these three sends a majority-Republican delegation to the House of Representatives. Which one is it? (A hint: it’s not Indiana.)

It turns out that Florida elects 15 Republican congressmen and 10 Democratic congressmen. Again, to be fair, one might note that Florida’s Republican-controlled state legislature gerrymandered Florida’s congressional districts to achieve an unbalanced result. This is relatively easy – most Democrats live in tightly clustered South Florida.

But that’s just it: Florida’s state legislature is Republican-controlled. In fact, Republicans have 60%+ majorities in both chambers. Florida’s governor is Republican Charlie Crist. Florida was voted Democratic in only two of the last eight presidential elections. John Kerry’s campaign was shocked by the margin he lost by in Florida. Bill Clinton won Georgia, of all states, while losing Florida in1992.

To be fair, I’m picking and choosing my numbers. If you go back to the past nine presidential elections, you’ll find Democrats batting three for nine, not two for eight. And three of those eight elections were big Republican victories.

But there’s only so many times one can say “to be fair.” There’s only so many excuses one can make for yet another indication of Republican dominance in Florida.

Because the closer one inspects as Florida, the more it begins to look less like a swing state than a conservative state with an unusually big Democratic base – which the media happens to call a swing state.

In the next section, I’ll be analyzing why exactly this is so.