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State Redistricting Profile: Florida

Here’s how Florida’s demographics have changed since the last time maps were drawn — and what those changes mean for this decade’s redistricting cycle.

Published: October 8, 2021
Florida
Brennan Center for Justice
View the entire Redistricting and Changing Demographics in Key States series

This winter, the Flor­ida legis­lature is expec­ted to pass new state legis­lat­ive and congres­sional district maps. The purpose of this process is to account for popu­la­tion changes that have occurred over the past decade as meas­ured by recently released 2020 Census data. The popu­la­tion changes in Flor­ida have been substan­tial: the state grew from 18,801,310 to 21,538,187 people between 2010 and 2020. While the nation saw a 7.4 percent increase in its popu­la­tion during that period, Flor­id­a’s rate of growth was nearly double that, at 14.6 percent. As a result, it is one of the few states to gain congres­sional repres­ent­a­tion for the coming decade.

As in the 2011 redis­trict­ing cycle, Repub­lican lawmakers will have total control over the redis­trict­ing process. But unlike many states, Flor­ida has safe­guards writ­ten into state law that go beyond the protec­tions of the U.S. Consti­tu­tion and the federal Voting Rights Act. The state consti­tu­tion, for example, prohib­its maps that discrim­in­ate against racial and ethnic minor­it­ies and bans inten­tional partisan gerry­man­der­ing. During the past decade, the Flor­ida Supreme Court enforced these protec­tions and redrew several congres­sional and state legis­lat­ive districts. However, the member­ship of the court has changed signi­fic­antly since then, creat­ing uncer­tainty as to whether chal­lenges to unfair maps will be success­ful this time around.

Thus, Flor­id­a’s 120 state house, 40 state senate, and 28 congres­sional districts are bring drawn under single-party control and assessed by a state supreme court bench with no history of enfor­cing the state’s protec­tions. This analysis summar­izes Flor­id­a’s major popu­la­tion trends of the last decade, both statewide and in its fast­est-grow­ing metro areas, and exam­ines their redis­trict­ing implic­a­tions.

High­lights:

  • Nonwhite Flor­idi­ans accoun­ted for over 90 percent of the 2,736,877 people the state added to its popu­la­tion in the last decade, thanks largely to an increase in the Latino popu­la­tion.
  • Cent­ral Flor­id­a’s I-4 corridor, espe­cially the areas surround­ing Orlando and Tampa, saw the greatest growth, mean­ing that it could be the land­ing spot for Flor­id­a’s new congres­sional district. Other urban areas, includ­ing Miami, Tampa, and Jack­son­ville, also saw consid­er­able increases in their popu­la­tions.

Statewide Analysis

Between 2010 and 2020, Flor­ida gained almost 3 million resid­ents, more than any other state besides Texas. foot­note1_ruxhlor 1 U.S. Census Bureau, “Table A. Appor­tion­ment Popu­la­tion, Resid­ent Popu­la­tion, and Over­seas Popu­la­tion: 2020 Census and 2010 Census,” April 26, 2021, avail­able at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decen­nial/2020/data/appor­tion­ment/appor­tion­ment-2020-table01.pdf.  While Flor­ida enjoyed signi­fic­ant growth statewide, the Miami, Orlando, and Tampa metro areas saw the greatest increases. Accord­ing to 2019 estim­ates, domestic in-migra­tion and inter­na­tional immig­ra­tion accoun­ted for almost 90 percent of this popu­la­tion increase, with more people moving to Flor­ida than any other state in the coun­try. foot­note2_fz6uyas 2 All told, between 2010 and 2019 Flor­ida gained 1,289,614 resid­ents through domestic migra­tion and 1,107,039 resid­ents through inter­na­tional migra­tion. Although Puerto Rico is a territ­ory of the United States, the Census Bureau clas­si­fies migra­tion from Puerto Rico as inter­na­tional migra­tion. U.S. Census Bureau, “Table 4. Cumu­lat­ive Estim­ates of the Compon­ents of Resid­ent Popu­la­tion Change for the United States, Regions, State, and Puerto Rico and Region and State Rank­ings: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2010,” Decem­ber 2019, https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/popest/2010s-state-total.html.  Notably, Flor­ida has seen a 44 percent increase in its Puerto Rican popu­la­tion over the past decade, in no small part due to migra­tion after Hurricane Maria devast­ated the island in 2017. foot­note3_owb78uc 3 Between 2010 and 2019 the number of Flor­idi­ans who repor­ted being born in Puerto Rico rose from 374,172 to 539,177. It is estim­ated that of the more than 130,000 Puerto Ricans who moved to the main­land United States between 2017 and 2018, one-third moved to Flor­ida. U.S. Census Bureau, “State of Resid­ence by Place of Birth,” from the Amer­ican Community Survey, April 2020, https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/geographic-mobil­ity/state-of-resid­ence-place-of-birth-acs.html; and Brian Glass­man, “A Third of Movers From Puerto Rico to the Main­land United States Relo­cated to Flor­ida in 2018,” U.S. Census Bureau, Septem­ber 26, 2019, https://www.census.gov/library/stor­ies/2019/09/puerto-rico-outmigra­tion-increases-poverty-declines.html.

The state’s growth was not distrib­uted evenly across demo­graphic groups. Though Flor­ida saw a substan­tial increase in its popu­la­tion, these gains were driven by nonwhite resid­ents. While Flor­id­a’s white popu­la­tion grew by 215,781 people, nonwhite communit­ies added 2,521,096 people to their totals, repres­ent­ing roughly 90 percent of over­all popu­la­tion growth. Thus, Flor­id­a’s white popu­la­tion, while still a major­ity, saw its share of the total popu­la­tion decline from 58 to 52 percent.

Multiracial Flor­idi­ans grew by a greater percent­age than any single racial or ethnic group, increas­ing by 501,129 people, or 172 percent, since 2010. foot­note4_6qak­dmn 4 Because the Census Bureau categor­ized write-in responses to the race and ethni­city ques­tions differ­ently in 2020 and 2010, the number of people repor­ted in the 2020 data as identi­fy­ing with multiple racial groups was expec­ted to be higher. In other words, part of this increase likely reflects actual growth, but part of it can be attrib­uted to meth­od­o­lo­gical changes. Hansi Lo Wang, “What the New Census Data Can — and Can’t — Tell Us About People Living in the U.S.,” NPR, August 12, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/08/12/1010222899/2020-census-race-ethni­city-data-categor­ies-hispanic; and Rachel Marks and Merarys Rios-Vargas, “Improve­ments to the 2020 Census Race and Hispanic Origin Ques­tion Designs, Data Processing, and Coding Proced­ures,” U.S. Census Bureau, August 3, 2021, https://www.census.gov/news­room/blogs/random-samplings/2021/08/improve­ments-to-2020-census-race-hispanic-origin-ques­tion-designs.html.  Latino Flor­idi­ans increased their total by 1,473,434 people, the largest abso­lute gain of any demo­graphic group. The Asian popu­la­tion saw the largest percent­age increase of any single racial or ethnic group in the last decade, grow­ing by 184,410 people, or 41 percent. The changes in Flor­id­a’s citizen voting age popu­la­tion, which is often used as a stand-in for meas­ur­ing the popu­la­tion of eligible voters, largely mirror statewide popu­la­tion trends. foot­note5_m6ku6pe 5 Detailed compar­is­ons of citizen voting age popu­la­tion changes over the past decade are omit­ted here due to a lack of equi­val­ent data sources, as work on the special tabu­la­tions of the voting-eligible popu­la­tion for 2020 has been suspen­ded indef­in­itely. U.S. Census Bureau, “Post-2020 Census CVAP Special Tabu­la­tion,” Octo­ber 30, 2020, https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decen­nial-census/about/voting-rights/cvap/Post-2020-CVAP.html.

Geograph­ic­ally, Flor­id­a’s popu­la­tion growth was centered in and around its major cities. Over­all, the state’s popu­la­tion gains were evenly split among its largest metro areas. Orange County, home to Orlando, saw the biggest gains, adding 283,952 people and account­ing for more than 10 percent of the state’s popu­la­tion growth. Like­wise, Miami-Dade County and Tampa’s Hills­bor­ough County each contrib­uted more than 7 percent of over­all gains. Jack­son­ville’s Duval County saw more modest numbers, adding 131,304 people and account­ing for about 5 percent of the state’s increases. While most of Flor­id­a’s counties saw their popu­la­tion rise, at least modestly, 17 counties, largely concen­trated in north­ern Flor­ida, exper­i­enced popu­la­tion decline.

Given these changes, cent­ral Flor­ida should see addi­tional repres­ent­a­tion because of its strong growth relat­ive to other regions of the state. The seven counties in cent­ral Flor­id­a’s I-4 corridor, which include the Tampa and Orlando metro areas, now have the popu­la­tion to support nearly three addi­tional state house districts, an addi­tional state senate district, and an addi­tional congres­sional district. foot­note6_2ww0lz4 6 The I-4 corridor, named after Inter­state 4, stretches from the Gulf Coast to Daytona Beach. It includes Pinel­las, Hills­bor­ough, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Semi­n­ole, and Volusia Counties. Ideal district popu­la­tion sizes are calcu­lated by divid­ing the total popu­la­tion of Flor­ida (18,801,310 in 2010 and 21,538,187 in 2020) by the number of Flor­ida districts in the relev­ant category (40 for state senate, 120 for state house, and 27 for Congress after 2010 and 28 after 2020). The ideal size for a state house district was 156,678 in 2010 and 179,485 in 2020; for a state senate district, 470,033 in 2010 and 538,455 in 2020; and for a congres­sional district, 696,345 in 2010 and 769,221 in 2020. In 2010, I-4 counties would have been entitled to 30.69 state house districts, 10.23 state senate districts, and 6.91 congres­sional districts. As of 2020, these counties are entitled to 33.36 state house districts, 11.1 state senate districts, and 7.78 congres­sional districts.  How these districts are drawn will determ­ine which communit­ies will wield greater polit­ical power in Tall­a­hassee and Wash­ing­ton for the next decade

Regional Analysis

An analysis of Flor­id­a’s three largest metro areas illus­trates the wider demo­graphic changes that have occurred across the state over the past decade. Orange County and Hills­bor­ough County had the largest popu­la­tion increases in the state, grow­ing by 283,952 people and 230,536 people, respect­ively. Osceola County, adja­cent to Orange County, saw the greatest percent­age increase in popu­la­tion of any county since 2010, grow­ing by 45 percent. Similar to statewide trends, the growth in cent­ral Flor­id­a’s largest metro areas was driven by the increase in the nonwhite popu­la­tion, which accoun­ted for almost 100 percent of the gains in Hills­bor­ough, Orange, and Osceola Counties. The maps below show how nonwhite popu­la­tions increased in the counties’ more suburban areas.

Nonwhite Share of Population in Hillsborough County, 2010–20
Nonwhite Share of Population in Orange and Osceola Counties, 2010–20

In Hills­bor­ough and Orange Counties, over 50 percent of the past decade’s popu­la­tion growth can be attrib­uted to Lati­nos, and in Osceola County the figure is almost 75 percent. Despite the massive growth of the Latino popu­la­tion, legis­lat­ors may still draw districts that dilute their polit­ical power. For example, major­ity-nonwhite areas in the region could be consol­id­ated into relat­ively few districts, giving more power to older, whiter areas such as the Villages, a retire­ment community in nearby Sumter County that has become whiter over the past decade and was also the fast­est-grow­ing muni­cip­al­ity in the coun­try. foot­note7_zgejyfl 7 Audra Burch, “The Villages, a Retire­ment Community in Flor­ida, Was the Fast­est-Grow­ing Metro Area over the Last Decade,” New York Times, August 12, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/12/us/the-villages-census-flor­ida-popu­la­tion.html.

Much of the increase in Latino communit­ies in cent­ral Flor­ida can be attrib­uted to the growth of the Puerto Rican popu­la­tion, espe­cially in metro Orlando. In Orange and Osceola Counties, people of Puerto Rican descent make up the largest share of the Latino popu­la­tion. foot­note8_o0gz0uf 8 Accord­ing to the Amer­ican Community Survey, the Latino popu­la­tion in these counties grew by 217,365. Of this, 109,359 people, or 50.3 percent, were of Puerto Rican descent. The next largest subgroup, Lati­nos of Mexican descent, only accoun­ted for 4 percent of this growth. U.S. Census Bureau, “Hispanic or Latino by Specific Origin,” from the 2010 Amer­ican Community Survey 5-Year Estim­ates, Decem­ber 8, 2011, https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=hispanic%20ori­gin&g=0500000US12095,12097&tid=ACSDT5Y2010.B03001&hide­Pre­view=true; and U.S. Census Bureau, “Hispanic or Latino by Specific Origin,” from the 2019 Amer­ican Community Survey 5-Year Estim­ates, Decem­ber 10, 2020, https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=hispanic%20ori­gin&g=0500000US12095,12097&tid=ACSDT5Y2019.B03001&hide­Pre­view=true.  As of 2019, nearly 1 in 10 people living in Orange and Osceola Counties were born in Puerto Rico. foot­note9_7w8d­cwr 9 In 2010, 105,937 resid­ents of Orange and Osceola Counties repor­ted being born in Puerto Rico. In 2019, that number rose to 165,664 — a 56 percent increase. U.S. Census Bureau, “State of Resid­ence by Place of Birth.”

These increases are already affect­ing the polit­ical land­scape, not just in cent­ral Flor­ida but in the coun­try at large. In 2016, Demo­crat Darren Soto of Orlando became the first Puerto Rican to repres­ent Flor­ida in Congress. Soto has become a strong advoc­ate for Puerto Rican state­hood, putting pres­sure on Demo­crats and Repub­lic­ans alike. foot­note10_l4z78a8 10 Brian Latimer, “Darren Soto Elec­ted First Puerto Rican Congress­man from Flor­ida,” NBC News, Novem­ber 8, 2016, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/darren-soto-elec­ted-first-puerto-rican-congress­man-flor­ida-n680741; and Steven Lemon­gello and Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio, “Puerto Rico’s Road to State­hood Could Run Through Flor­ida,” Orlando Sentinel, Novem­ber 20, 2020, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/polit­ics/os-ne-puerto-rico-state­hood-20201120-bcoahvrtujgs­dg­bi­cysqw5k­wku-story.html .  Advocacy organ­iz­a­tions in Flor­ida are also capit­al­iz­ing on the growth of the Puerto Rican popu­la­tion to reen­er­gize a campaign for state­hood. foot­note11_phn7yt1 11 Jesse Canales, “New National Nonprofit for Puerto Rico State­hood Starts Push from Flor­ida,” Spec­trum News 13, June 6, 2021, https://www.mynews13.com/fl/orlando/news/2021/06/04/new-nonprofits-aims-for-state­hood-for-puerto-rico.  As people of Puerto Rican descent exer­cise their grow­ing polit­ical power in cent­ral Flor­ida, state­hood is likely to receive more atten­tion, espe­cially if a new cent­ral Flor­ida congres­sional district strengthens the Puerto Rican popu­la­tion’s polit­ical influ­ence in Wash­ing­ton.

The nonwhite popu­la­tion also increased in Miami-Dade County over the past decade. The share of the nonwhite popu­la­tion there grew from 85 percent to 87 percent. Though the increase may seem negli­gible, it under­score the evol­u­tion of suburban communit­ies.

Nonwhite Share of Population in Miami-Dade County, 2010–20

Between 2010 and 2020, Miami-Dade’s white popu­la­tion decreased by over 20,000 people, shrink­ing from 15 percent of the popu­la­tion to 13 percent. There was an even greater decrease in the county’s Black popu­la­tion, which shrank by 46,894 people, from 17 percent of the popu­la­tion to 11 percent. The Latino popu­la­tion not only compensated for these losses but accoun­ted for all of Miami-Dade’s growth over the last decade.

The major­ity of Miami-Dade’s Latino popu­la­tion is of Cuban descent. In 2019, 53 percent of Lati­nos in Miami-Dade County and 36 percent of all county resid­ents iden­ti­fied as Cuban. This is by far the largest subgroup among Lati­nos in Miami-Dade County — the next largest subgroup, those of Nicara­guan descent, made up only 6 percent of the county’s Latino popu­la­tion and 4 percent of its over­all popu­la­tion. foot­note12_gcyy8jb 12 U.S. Census Bureau, “Hispanic or Latino by Specific Origin” from the 2019 Amer­ican Community Survey 5-Year Estim­ates.

The size and consist­ently high voter turnout of Miami-Dade’s Cuban popu­la­tion under­scores its import­ance in elec­tions. Unlike many other Latino subgroups, Lati­nos of Cuban descent lean Repub­lican, though this has lessened some­what in recent years. foot­note13_dcl6lk4 13 In 2020, 58 percent of Cuban Amer­ican voters nation­ally affil­i­ated with the Repub­lican Party, compared with 32 percent of non-Cuban Hispan­ics. People of Cuban descent also turn out to vote at the highest rates of all Latino origin subgroups; in 2016, 58 percent of Amer­ic­ans of Cuban descent voted, compared with 48 percent of all Latino voters. Jens Manuel Krog­stad, “Most Cuban Amer­ican Voters Identify as Repub­lican in 2020,” Pew Research Center, Octo­ber 2, 2020, https://www.pewre­search.org/fact-tank/2020/10/02/most-cuban-amer­ican-voters-identify-as-repub­lican-in-2020/; and Jens Manuel Krog­stad and Anto­nio Flores, “Unlike Other Lati­nos, About Half of Cuban Voters in Flor­ida Backed Trump,” Pew Research Center, Novem­ber 15, 2016, https://www.pewre­search.org/fact-tank/2016/11/15/unlike-other-lati­nos-about-half-of-cuban-voters-in-flor­ida-backed-trump .  In the 2016 pres­id­en­tial elec­tion, Donald Trump lost Miami-Dade County by almost 300,000 votes, and in 2018 Demo­crats flipped two Miami-Dade House seats. But by 2020, Trump made some elect­oral gains with Cuban voters across the county, contrib­ut­ing to his win in Flor­ida. foot­note14_7axs9ya 14 Carmen Sesin, “Trump Cultiv­ated the Latino Vote in Flor­ida, and It Paid Off,” NBC News, Novem­ber 4, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/trump-cultiv­ated-latino-vote-flor­ida-it-paid-n1246226 .

The shift­ing polit­ical land­scape in south­ern Flor­ida adds complex­ity to a state that has long been a crit­ical battle­ground. In redis­trict­ing, the differ­ences among Latino subgroups’ polit­ical lean­ings may impact how maps are drawn. Repub­lican legis­lat­ors may want to increase the power of Miami-Dade’s Cuban popu­la­tion and dilute the power of cent­ral Flor­id­a’s Puerto Rican popu­la­tion despite its signi­fic­ant growth. These decisions could be the subject of future litig­a­tion and will have signi­fic­ant rami­fic­a­tions in Tall­a­hassee and Wash­ing­ton.

Conclu­sion

Flor­id­a’s demo­graphic changes over the past decade show that the state is quickly grow­ing and diver­si­fy­ing. Whether the redis­trict­ing process accounts for this change, espe­cially as the state gains a congres­sional district, will be crucial to under­stand­ing the elect­oral land­scape in Flor­ida.

End Notes