See 2012 Senate Elections - Who's Winning, Who's Losing for an overview of all 33 US Senate races, on a state-by-state basis.
The Incumbent US Senator
Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, was first elected as senator in 2000 and reelected in 2006. He also served in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991, and in the Florida State House of Representatives from 1972 to 1979.
Sen. Nelson is running for reelection in 2012.
Sen. Nelson has been a particularly effective advocate for Florida, particularly for the U.S. space program. In 1986, the senator became the second member of Congress to travel into space when he served aboard the Columbia space shuttle for 7 days as payload specialist.
In the 112th Congress, Sen. Nelson is a member of the Senate Committees on Finance, Budget, and Commerce, Science & Transportation. He is Chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Technology & Space.
Florida's 2012 Senate Race
Republicans have targeted defeat of Democrat Bill Nelson as a high priority, even though Nelson won reelection in 2006 by a very wide margin.
Said National Republican Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox in late 2011, "“When it comes to jobs, Floridians have been listening to the same empty promises from Bill Nelson and President Obama for the last several years. It’s painfully clear that Obama and Nelson’s liberal tax-spend-and-borrow economic agenda has failed to create the jobs they promised... "
As of February 2012, six Republicans have formally declared their candidacy to win the party senatorial primary election set for August 14, 2012, including two respected conservatives:
- Rep. Connie Mack, four-term Congressman from Fort Lauderdale
- Former Sen. George LeMieux, who served in the U.S. Senate for two years, from 2009 to 2011, when he was appointed to the seat vacated by retiring Se. Mel Martinez.
RealClearPolitics.com rates Florida's 2012 U.S. Senate election as a "Toss-up" largely because of conservative voting trends in Florida in the last few national election cycles.
Recent Election Results
Florida's two U.S. senators serving in the 112th Congress (2011 to 2012) are:
- Democrat Bill Nelson, serving his second term
- Republican Marco Rubio, serving his first term
Both Governor Rick Scott and Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll are Republicans.
In the last four presidential elections, Florida voted as follows:
- 2008 - 51% for Democrat Obama, 48% for Republican McCain
- 2004 - 52% for Republican Bush, 47% for Democrat Kerry
- 2000 - 49% for Republican Bush, 49% for Democrat Gore
- 1996 - 48% for Democrat Clinton, 42% for Republican Dole, 10% for Other
Unemployment Rate as of June 2011 - 10.6%, the nation's 4th highest state unemployment rate.
Foreclosure Rates as of June 2011 - 1 in 372 homes, the nation's 7th highest state foreclosure rate for homes.
State Residents Living Below Poverty-Level Income - 13.2%, which is ranked #22 among states.
Labor Union Membership - In Florida, 601,000 workers, which is 7.9% of all employed Florida workers, belong to an organized labor union, the nation's 9th highest quantity of labor union members.
Senior Citizen Population - 17.3% of Florida's total population, the highest state percentage of seniors in the nation.
Women as a Percentage of Florida's Population - 51.1%, which is 16th in the nation, tied with Maine.
Hispanic Population - 22.5% of Florida residents are of Hispanic origin, the nation's 6th highest state Hispanic population percentage, and the highest outside the western United States.
African-American Population - 16% of Florida's resident population, the nation's 11th highest state African-American percentage, tied with Arkansas and New York.