See 2012 Battleground States for brief analyses of a dozen key states in the 2012 elections, and predictions as to who could win those states.
How Florida Votes: Red State or Blue State?
Democratic presidential candidates have won in Florida only three times in 40 years: Barack Obama in 2008, Bill Clinton in 1996 and Jimmy Carter in 1976.
In 2008, Obama won 57% of Florida's Hispanic vote, compared to Democrat John Kerry winning only 44% in 2004. By 2010, the Sunshine State's growing population of Hispanics comprised 22.5% of Florida residents, the nation's 6th highest state Hispanic percentage.
The Miami Herald newspaper analyzed after the 2008 elections, "Polls indicate the state's Hispanic vote may now be divided. On one side are conservative older Cuban Americans, who vote reliably Republican. On the other are younger Cuban Americans coupled with an expanding number of non-Cuban Hispanics, who tend to lean Democratic."
In 2008, Democrat Obama also attracted the votes of 72% of Florida's 650,000 new voters, most of them young or members of non-white ethnic groups who had newly registered since the 2004 presidential election.
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
Floridians have elected one Democrat, Bill Nelson, and one Republican, Marco Rubio, to the U.S. Senate. Florida's delegation to the House of Representatives includes 19 Republicans and six Democrats.
Summary of Top Issues in Florida
Florida is currently experiencing the nation's 4th highest unemployment rate (10.6%) and 7th highest home foreclosure rate (1 in 372 homes). Thus, the economy, jobs creation, foreclosure relief, and depressed real estate values are paramount concerns in the Sunshine State.
Florida also boasts the highest state percentage of seniors in the nation, 17.3%, causing Social Security and Medicare to be foremost concerns, too. Republican presidential candidates have all pledged to slash both programs.
Hispanics comprise 22.5% of Florida's residents, per the 2010 census, the nation's 6th highest state Hispanic population percentage. Almost 19% of Floridians speak Spanish as their primary language.
Although Republican leaders oppose humanitarian immigration reforms and many push for an armed U.S.-Mexico border, the nation's Hispanic population is also deeply disappointed by President Obama's failure to actively support or enact reform of immigration laws.
Florida Economic Facts and Voter Demographics
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.