Broward County is already considered the most Democratic friendly metropolitan county in Florida. The state’s second most populous county has consistently performed well for Democrats since the late 1980s. The irony is that Broward, after Pinellas and Orange Counties was probably the most Republican large county in the state between the post New Deal era (1944 election) and the mid 1980s.
According to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office NPAs have overtaken Republicans in voter registration. The following statistics are as of July 16th.
Democrat 569,852 51.92%
NPA 258,855 23.58%
Republican 256,204 23.34%
In neighboring Palm Beach County NPAs are poised to overtake Republicans in the near future. The current registration breakdown in Palm Beach can be found below.
Democrat: 374,068 44.5%
Republican: 243,345 28.9%
NPA: 223,765 26.7%
Like Broward, Palm Beach was part of the “Republican Horseshoe” until the mid 1980s, an area that allowed the GOP to compete with the Democrats statewide. At the time the base of the Democratic Party in Florida was the Panhandle/Big Bend between the Apalachicola and Suwanee Rivers as well as (Miami) Dade County.
Demographic changes throughout the state have changed the landscape substantially since the late 1970s. Orange County, the buckle on the Republican horseshoe did not support a single Democratic Presidential candidate between 1944 and 1996. When Al Gore carried the county in 2000 it ushered in a trend that has continued since: Barack Obama won Orange by nearly 20 percentage points in 2008.
Pinellas County was traditionally the most Republican metropolitan county in the state, and has not elected a resident Democratic Congressman since the 1940s. Yet Pinellas last gave a Republican Presidential candidate a county-wide majority in 1988 and this year for the first time since the 1960s has a more registered Democrats than Republicans countywide.
Yet, because the Panhandle and Miami-Dade County have become more difficult terrain for Democrats since the 1980s, and much of the institutional leadership of the party hail from those areas, we hear of Democratic decline statewide. This fatalism is simply an excuse for those who don’t want to work hard and engage new voters. Florida was a southern state as late 1972 when George Wallace routed the field in the Democratic Primary. But today it is a microcosm of the country demographically and based on party ID. But unlike the nation as a whole where elections are competitive, the Democrats in Florida have applied 1970s / 1980s logic and defeatism to explain why this state has the worst record of electing Democrats to cabinet office this millennium than any state east of the Mississippi.
Long term demographic trends favor Florida becoming solidly Democratic over time. But our leadership at both the county and statewide level seem unaware of the changes and unprepared to take advantage of them.