How Does Central Florida's Demographics Shape Its Politics?

Jim Clark, a professor of history at UCF and political analyst for News 6, has observed that Florida is experiencing a surge in growth compared to other states, and this is already having an impact on the political landscape of not only Central Florida, but the entire country. In the state's major cities, from South Florida to the Interstate 4 corridor and Jacksonville, Democrats have become increasingly dominant. Softball is a popular sport among the older population in The Villages, a mostly white retirement community in central Florida. Sumter County, located in central Florida, has the oldest average age of all counties in the country at 66.6 years. This growth has resulted in Central Florida having additional representation due to its strong growth relative to other regions of the state.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Orlando Economic Association study showed that 1500 people were moving to Central Florida every week and 1000 residents were moving to Orange County. Florida Democrats have become increasingly dominant in the megacity from Palm Beach in the north to the Florida Keys in the south. Blue Florida has become bluer with suburban residents moving away from the Republican Party; red Florida has become redder, and conservative Democrats who stayed in the party for decades are finally making the change. According to Aubrey Jewett, professor of political science at UCF, this shift to the right is also due to long-term changes. However, Jewett noted that Florida voters are often not as conservative as the state's political leaders, and suggested that the shift to the right in Florida politics might be driven more by elected officials like DeSantis than by the electorate in general. The changing political atmosphere in South Florida adds complexity to a state that has long been a crucial battleground.

Much of the increase in Latino communities in Central Florida can be attributed to the growth of the Puerto Rican population, especially in the Orlando metropolitan area. To comprehend this, and to understand why such different voting patterns have led to equally limited results, we have divided Florida into six political “states”.

Désirée Lejeune
Désirée Lejeune

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