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| | |-+  Why was FL so Republican from 1952 to 2008?
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Author Topic: Why was FL so Republican from 1952 to 2008?  (Read 513 times)
Sir Mohamed
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« on: October 11, 2017, 09:02:37 am »
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I always wondered why FL voted so heavily Republican during the entire period from 1952 to 2008? During the same period of time, Democrats controlled the congressional delegation and the governor's office for the most part, but in presidential elections, the Republican candidates were much more successful. In the said span of time, Democratic nominees carried the state only three times (1964, 1976 and 1996). Even Johnson in 1964 could only win 51% of the vote, although he got 61% nationwide. Bill Clinton failed to win the state in 1992, despite winning other southern states. The GOP candidates often not just won, but won by larger margin than nationally. Even W got a stunning 52% in 2004, more than Obama four years later (and more than Johnson 1964 and Carter 1976). Bush 41 won 60% in 1988, overperforming the national vote by seven percent. Nixon secured 71% in 1972 and Reagan 65% in 1984.

Any ideas? I guess it has something to do with demographics and FL may just trended sooner to Republican than other southern states (like VA).
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 09:56:11 am »
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Shortest answer I could give is that for Republicans to win states like Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, etc. during that time period (or at least until about 2000), they needed HUGE numbers of "ancestral Democrats" supporting the national GOP ticket.  In Florida, they could rely on a pretty significant number of downballot Republican voters (mostly in the state's fairly populated suburban areas and ever-growing number of Northern conservative transplants) and only needed to pick off a sizable minority of "Dixiecrat" type voters.
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« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 01:20:41 pm »
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1952-1960 or so:  Great turnout in urban areas such as Orlando from Northeastern transplants.

1960-2008: Cuban refugees and Dixiecrats in the Panhandle.
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« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 01:53:52 pm »
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1952-1960 or so:  Great turnout in urban areas such as Orlando from Northeastern transplants.

1960-2008: Cuban refugees and Dixiecrats in the Panhandle.

In 1960, Kennedy won every single county in the Panhandle.

In 1964, yes, Goldwanter did do very well there.

In 1968, Wallace (not a Republican by any stretch, even if Democrats disowned him) won every county in the Panhandle.

In 1972, Nixon did win every county in the Panhandle, but he also won every county in the entire state, so it was hardly the Panhandle's voters that carried him to victory.

In 1976, Carter won every county in the Panhandle except for the Gulf Shores counties by Alabama, which are still the most Republican counties in the state, and the Panhandle definitely wasn't Ford's best area of the state.

In 1980, the Panhandle was EASILY Reagan's worst area of the state.

In 1984, the Panhandle went heavily for Reagan, but it was STILL more Democratic than the rest of the state ... Mondale's only county was in the Panhandle.

In 1988, it was the exact same situation and map as 1984.

In 1992, Bush did decently in the Panhandle, but it wasn't his best area, and Clinton won several counties.

In 1996, Clinton did better in the Panhandle than he had in 1992.

2000 is the first year that any reasonable analysis can conclude that the Panhandle was more Republican than any other area of Florida, so I'm not sure your bolded claim holds up.
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« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 03:44:12 pm »
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A huge amount of suburban population growth coming into the state from 1940s - 60s that helped Republican presidential candidates, at the same time as homegrown conservative Democrats started voting for them as well.  At the local and state level the Democrats continued their traditional organizational political strength, and were generally moderate or conservative in a way that allowed them to be acceptable to most of the newcomers.
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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 04:21:24 pm »
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Back in the 1950s, Florida acted like a peripheral southern state, and it still does. Before Eisenhower, the only time it had voted for a Republican since Reconstruction was in 1928, and that was due to anti-catholic prejudice against Al Smith. The only area Smith did very well in was the central panhandle - for whatever reason Hoover did well in what we'd call FL-01 (the western portion of the panhandle).

As said earlier, Florida really started to become competitive at the presidential level after WWII, when retirees from the then-Republican Northeast came to southern Florida. Democratic support in the panhandle modestly eroded starting in the 1948 election (probably due to Truman's support for civil rights), but was still pretty strong due to a smaller black population than other deep south states.

In recent years I believe Florida has become less Republican due to Hispanics trending D.
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Sir Mohamed
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 09:35:40 am »
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Good explanations.

The Panhandle was probably just very similar to the Deep South. Not just in voting patterns, but also culturally. The process of the Deep South trending Democratic to Republican was almost like other southern states and went on from the late 1940s to the late 1990s and early 2000s. Like in GA and AL for example, these areas started voting Republican (or non-Democratic) by the 1950s and 1960s, but maintained voting Democratic at the state level for a few more decades.

Southern FL may have become more Democratic because of the growing latino community, as already pointed out. Though Cuban Americans, a large part of FL's latinos, are more conservative. Urbanization may also play a role here.
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 11:00:25 am »
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Good explanations.

The Panhandle was probably just very similar to the Deep South. Not just in voting patterns, but also culturally. The process of the Deep South trending Democratic to Republican was almost like other southern states and went on from the late 1940s to the late 1990s and early 2000s. Like in GA and AL for example, these areas started voting Republican (or non-Democratic) by the 1950s and 1960s, but maintained voting Democratic at the state level for a few more decades.

Southern FL may have become more Democratic because of the growing latino community, as already pointed out. Though Cuban Americans, a large part of FL's latinos, are more conservative. Urbanization may also play a role here.

I think I demonstrated above that the Panhandle didn't follow this cliched "started voting GOP at the Presidential level because of civil rights but still liked its local Democrats!" narrative at all.
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 09:28:28 pm »
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It followed more or less the same trajectory as VA from 1948-96: Ironclad Dixiecrat machine rule  with an economic conservative streak through the end of the New Deal, then suburban Republicans start having the numbers to outvote the Dixiecrat machines, then civil rights laws get passed and the Dem base becomes mostly non-white.  The residual Dixiecrat influence fades, first at the federal level, then at the statewide level, then at the local level, and there simply isn't enough economic populism to create a winning Dem coalition, like there was in the Appalachian/Ozark states and Lousiana.  Republicans get a couple decades of 60/40 blowouts, but then the Democrats slowly make a comeback as the states get more diverse and it turns into 55/45 R by the 1990's.  The states diverged after that, and for whatever reason, the North Florida Dems came home for Southern presidential nominees more than the rural VA Dems did, but the basic pattern was very similar.
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