Newcomers to Florida often experience a form of socio-political shock — especially if they have come from places where the first word in the place-name they came from is “New.” (As in York, Jersey, Hampshire or England…)
A lot of that has to do with a common misperception that results from looking at too many travel websites, where it’s all about Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Disneyworld, and occasionally, the Keys — none of which are places where many real Floridians actually live.
If government were 1/10th as intrusive and over-reaching in its regulatory behavior as some people would have you believe, those websites would have to carry warnings that for six months of the year, coming to Florida means coming to Florida during Hurricane Season, and there are 5 kinds of venomous snakes and 5 kinds of venomous spiders in Florida waiting to kill people who aren’t careful about where they walk, sit down or sleep.
As it is, the official tourism website for the state doesn’t deal with any of that. On VisitFlorida.com, it’s all beaches, golf courses, and Disneyworld, Disneyworld, Disneyworld.
So for those who may wish to understand the Sunshine State a little more deeply, especially in terms of its political leanings, but don’t have time read a Carl Hiassen novel, here are a few data points that might help.
- Florida did not ratify the 19th Amendment to the U.S Constitution until 1968 – 48 years after ratification was completed. Even then, it was only because the ratification was part of a wholesale revision of the state constitution which takes place every 20 years. Florida still has not ratified the 26th Amendment, which became law in 1972. But the next Constitution Revision Commission is scheduled for 2018, so maybe it will be taken care of then.
- In the last 12 presidential elections, Florida has voted for the Democratic candidate only four times. Two of those were for President Obama. The other two: Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1996. In 1968, George Wallace got 28.5% of the vote in Florida; the Democratic nominee, Hubert Humphrey, received 30.9%.
- Florida has had 11 U.S. Senators since 1968. Five were Democrats; six were Republicans. At present, the state has one from each party.
- According to the pro-gun Crime Prevention Research Center, Florida has issued more concealed carry permits than any other state, with more than 2.64 million gun owners receiving permits between Oct. 1, 1987, and May 31, 2014. As of February 28, 2015, there were 1,364,584 active permits. By way of reference, Texas has merely 708,048; New York: 386,320; and California: 35,000.
- As of 2012, the most recent year for which statistics could be found, just 36 percent of Florida’s residents were born in Florida. That was up from 30 percent in 1990. Only Nevada, with 25 percent of its residents having been born in the state, has a smaller native population.
Watch for another installment of Fascinating Florida Facts. There’s a whole lot more to learn…