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Who and Where are Florida’s Democrats and Republicans?

A Statistical Comparison

by Dr. Susan A. MacManus 

Distinguished University Professor University of South Florida, Tampa Campus and

David J. Bonanza, Research Associate, Palm Bay, Florida

It’s convention time! Florida is once again in the national (and international) spotlight as the nation’s premier electoral battleground. Presidential horse race polls in this “must-have” state been “tied” (within margin-of-error) for months on end and promise to remain so until Election Day. Some pundits believe there might even be another contested election, harkening up the ghosts of 2000. To be sure, both parties are already honing up their legal teams just in case.

Following the conventions, everything will be about GOTVgetting-out-the-vote. That makes it imperative for candidates, campaign strategists, and party activists to know where their voters (and their opponent’s) are concentrated. This graphic overview, based on August 1, 2012 data, is intended to give sayfiereview readers a visual comparison of registered Democrats and Republicans, broken down by race, gender, age, and media market location. (Graphics appear at the end of the column.)

WHO ARE FLORIDA DEMOCRATS & REPUBLICANS? Overall Party Registration Breakdown (Figure 1)

Democrats still outnumber Republicans among Florida’s registered voters. Republicans have never been the majority.

  • Among Florida’s 11,446,540 registered voters: 40% Democrats.  36% Republicans.  20% No Party Affiliation (independents).  4% Minor Parties

Race/Ethnicity: Registration Overall (Figures 2, 3)

  • Whites make up 68% of all registered voters; Hispanics 14%, Blacks 13%, and Asians 2%.
  • Florida’s black registrants are heavily Democratic (82%).  Its Hispanics are more diverse in their party affiliation, but lean Democratic (39% are Democrats, 30% Republicans, 29% NPAs, and 3% minor party.
  • Native Americans also slightly lean Democratic (40%); 33% are Republican.
  • Asian registrants are the most divided, with a plurality (35%) being NPAs. (Figure 3)
  • A plurality (44%) of white registrants is Republican; 33% are Democrats. (Figure 3) Race/Ethnicity: Within-Party Composition (Figure 4)
  • Minorities make up a larger share of Florida Democrats (45%) than Republicans (15%).
  • Blacks are a larger share of Democratic registrants (27%) than Hispanics (13%).
  • Hispanic shares of each major party are nearly equal: Democrats 13%; Republicans 11%.
  • Whites make up a much larger proportion of the Republican registrants (84%) than Democrats (55%).

Age: Registration Overall (Figures 5, 6)

Many non-Floridians think that seniors 65 and older dominate Florida politics. That is simply not true. Seniors make up a smaller share of Florida voters (26%) than either Baby Boomers age 50-64 (27%) or 30-49 year olds (31%).

In general, older voters are more divided in their party affiliations than younger voters and less likely to be registered as independents.

  • Among 65 and older, the party breakdown is: 42% Republican, 41% Democrat, 13% NPA.
  • Among registrants 50-64, the breakdown is: 41% Democrat, 39% Republican, 17% NPA.
  • 30 to 49 year olds: 38% Democrat, 34% Republican, 24% NPA.
  • 18-29 year olds: 40% Democrat, 27% Republican, 29% NPA.
  • Age: Within-Party Composition (Figure 7)
  • A majority of both the Democratic and Republican parties are 50 and older: Republicans60%; Democrats54%.
  • Seniors 65 & older comprise 31% of all Republicans and 27% of all Democrats.
  • Baby Boomers 50-64 make up a nearly equal share of both parties’ registrants:
  • Republicans29%; Democrats27%.
  • The share of registrants 30 to 49 years of age is highest among NPAs (36%) and minor
  • parties (33%) than among either Democrats (29%) or Republicans (28%).
  • Voters age 18 to 29 make up the smallest share of Republicans (12%) and the largest share of NPAs (23%). Among Democrats, their share is 16%.

Gender: Registration Overall (Figures 8, 9)

As is true nationally, women make up over half (53%) of all Florida registered voters. Women are slightly more likely to be affiliated with a major party (78%) than men (75%).

  • A higher proportion of women are registered as Democrats (44%) than as Republicans (34%), NPAs (19%), or with a minor party (3%).
  • Men are more likely to be registered Republicans (39%) than Democrats (36%), although not by much.

Gender: Within-Party Composition (Figure 10)

  • Women make up a considerably larger share of all registered Democrats (58%) than Republicans (51%), NPAs (49%), or minor parties (45%).
  • Only among minor party registrants do men make up a larger share of the registrants (50%) than women (45%).


Florida is a large state, with 10 media markets. These markets differ in size and partisan composition. Campaigns clearly determine media buys and candidate visits based on who lives in what media market. Figure 11 shows the counties included in each of the 10 media markets.

Registered Voters: Each Media Market (Figure 12)

  • Florida’s largest media market (registered voters) is the Tampa Bay market (24% of all registered voters), followed by the Miami market (21%).
  • 43% of all Florida registered voters reside in the Tampa Bay and Orlando markets (the I-4 Corridor).
  • The I-4 Corridor markets are equally divided between Democrats and Republicans (Figure 13).
  • Media Markets Where Democrats & Republicans are Concentrated (Figures 14 & 15)
  • One fourth of all Florida’s Democrats live in the Miami media market, followed by Tampa (22%).
  • One fourth of all the state’s Republicans live in the Tampa media market, followed by the Orlando market (20%).

Counties Where Democrats and Republicans are Concentrated (Figures 16 and 17)

  • 55% of Florida’s registered Democrats live in just 7 counties: Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Orange, Duval, and Pinellas.
  • 53% of Florida’s registered Republicans live in 10 counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Duval, Orange, Lee, Brevard, and Polk.
  • Counties Where Hispanic Voters are Concentrated (Figures 18 and 19)
  • Hispanic Democrats are more geographically dispersed than Hispanic Republicans.
  • Nearly half (47%) of the state’s Hispanic Democrats live in just two counties— Miami-Dade (34%) and Broward (13%).
  • 58% of all Hispanic Republicans live in Miami-Dade County. 3

Within-Party Concentrations of Hispanic Voters (Figures 20 and 21)

  • In 9 counties Hispanics make up a larger share of Democratic voters than statewide: Osceola (45%), Miami-Dade (37%), Orange (23%), Hendry (19%) Hardee (17%), Hillsborough (15%), Seminole (15%), Broward (14%), and Collier (13%).
  • In 5 counties, Hispanics make up a larger share of Republican voters than statewide: Miami-Dade (72%), Osceola (21%), Hendry (19%), Broward (17%), and Hardee (12%).

Counties Where Senior Voters are Concentrated (Figures 22 and 23)

  • Over a quarter (30%) of the state’s senior Democrats live in 3 South Florida counties: Broward (11%), Palm Beach (10%), and Miami-Dade (9%).
  • Half (50%) of the state’s senior Republicans live in 10 counties: Miami-Dade (10%), Palm Beach (7%), Pinellas (6%), Lee (5%), Broward (5%), Hillsborough (4%), Brevard (4%), Orange (3%), Duval (3%), and Polk (3%).
  • Within-Party Concentrations of Senior Voters (Figures 24 and 25)
  • In Sumter, seniors makeup more than half (56%) of Democrats. Seniors also makeup a particularly large percentage of Democrats in Charlotte (46%), Citrus (44%), and Highlands (44%).
  • Seniors makeup 65% of Republicans in Sumter, and 45% or more of Republicans in Collier (48%), Charlotte (48%), Highlands (46%), Citrus (45%), Sarasota (45%), and Indian River (45%).


  • Florida voters largely vote for their parties’ candidates. In the 2008, most (87%) registered Democrats voted for Obama and most (87%) registered Republicans voted for McCain. This trend continued in the 2010 gubernatorial election, with even more Democrats (90%) and Republicans (88%) voting for their parties’ candidates, Sink and Scott, respectively.
  • Although great emphasis is placed upon the importance of winning independent voters, their vote has been relatively evenly split in the recent past. In 2008, Obama won the independent vote by only 7%, and, in 2012, Rick Scott won the independent vote by a similarly small margin (8%).

In Florida, a swing state with massive electoral significance, candidates and their campaigns will have to pay careful attention to the demographic nuances of registration and voter turnout patterns in order to have a shot at winning the battleground state and the national election. Candidates cannot afford to focus entirely on winning the independent vote, which is fairly evenly split, and, instead, must also work hard to improve intraparty turnout through an understanding of whom the parties’ registered voters are and where they live within one of the most diverse states. Turnout is the name of the game and turnout patterns have varied considerably in recent Florida elections politically and geographically.