Over the past half century, Florida has changed from solidly Democratic to a two-party state that media, candidates and analysts watch closely to see which way the nation’s political winds will blow. How did this happen? Why, going into the 2016 election year, does Florida qualify as a premier swing state?
Florida’s political evolution began with explosive population growth, sparked after World War II and continuing for decades. This boom transformed what was a mostly rural, white, poor population of less than 2 million into the nation’s third-largest state — a cultural mosaic of 20 million people who mirror the racial, ethnic, religious, age and geographic makeup of the nation.