How Does Central Florida's History Influence Its Politics?

Florida politics are heavily influenced by the state's past of conflict between its liberal southern region and its traditionally conservative northern region. Budgeting and how money should be raised for budgets are often the focus of political debates. After the Civil War, Republicans held a majority in politics in Florida and the South for the next 15 years. The Republican Party was divided into two wings: conservatives, mostly comprised of native white Floridians who were in favor of allowing former Confederates to participate in government, and radicals, composed of non-native whites (backpackers) and newly freed slaves.

The radicals demanded that former Confederates be banned from holding public office and that anyone who had aided the rebellion be deprived of their rights. In addition, former slaves were granted the right to vote. The Reconstruction era brought about the promise of progress for African Americans in education, politics, and business. However, Jim Crow segregation also increased, eventually subverting the progress of African Americans and leading to an increase in violence throughout Florida. The presidential elections of 1876 marked a turning point for party politics in Florida. In a scene reminiscent of the challenge to the Florida presidential vote in 1876, both parties filed a political and legal challenge to the results of the elections.

An effective political party structure was essential for Florida to go from being part of the Solid Democratic South to becoming the first state in the South to be completely controlled by the Republican Party. Part of Florida resembles the South politically and culturally, but much of the state is more like the Midwest than Mississippi. Florida is a unique state due to its diverse population; 78.1 percent of Florida's population is white, compared to 77.7 percent of the nation. After 120 years as part of the strong Democratic South and 40 years of Republican dominance in presidential elections, Florida's presidential vote is now at an impasse between the two parties. Manning Dauer, one of Florida's most renowned political experts, called it the different state.

Eisenhower received 55 percent of the Florida vote in 1952 and 57 percent in 1956, and Richard Nixon won 51 percent of the Florida vote in 1960 against John F. Kennedy. Funding for the Florida Humanities comes from various sources such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Florida Department of State, the Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Arts and Culture Council; as well as private donations. In Congress, 8 out of 28 House of Representatives districts are held by Democrats and 20 by Republicans. Additionally, Florida is part of three federal judicial districts: United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The history of Central Florida has had a profound impact on its politics today.

From its Reconstruction era roots to its current state as a battleground between Democrats and Republicans, Central Florida has been shaped by its past. The state's diverse population has led to a unique political landscape that is constantly evolving. As Central Florida continues to grow and change, its history will continue to shape its politics for years to come.

Désirée Lejeune
Désirée Lejeune

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