Florida 5th District
Over the past quarter century, Florida’s urban areas have grown in almost every direction, occupying the high ground between the swamps that still take up much of the state’s peninsula. The pattern of development is evident in counties to the north and east of St. Petersburg and Tampa, where subdivisions, trailer parks, and shopping centers with Eckerd drugstores and Winn-Dixie supermarkets sprang up in what had been farms and sleepy little towns with low brick buildings baking in the Florida sun. This area—a haven for manatees, the unusual and beloved sea mammal—has seen suburban development run up the spines of U.S. 19, along the Gulf Coast, and along U.S. 41 and Interstate 75. Though there are plenty of working people here, this is mainly retirement country. Residents are comfortable, though not usually affluent. One of every four residents is over 65, and Citrus and Hernando counties have high percentages of military veterans. Citrus County has the second highest percentage of retirees—33%—in the state. Drawn by the many inland lakes, greenery and the pleasant climate, retirees from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio flocked here by traveling south on Interstate 75 south—a pattern distinct from the retirees who drove Interstate 95 from the Boston-Washington corridor to such destinations as Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. To meet increased demand, the local electric utility plans to open an additional nuclear power plant by 2020.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 5th Congressional District of Florida occupies much of this rapidly growing area. Between 2000 and 2007 it added 206,000 new residents, more than any other congressional district in the state. The beach areas in Levy, Citrus and Hernando counties are largely undeveloped. The bulk of the population lives inland, in such places as Citrus Springs, Brooksville, Zephyrhills, Land o’ Lakes, and Clermont. More than two-thirds of the population is in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. Sumter County, one of the few areas in the Florida peninsula with large tracts of open land, is growing rapidly in part due to a massive “golf cart” retirement community of 75,000 known as “The Villages,” which is split between the 5th and 6th Districts. In 2005, the district had 251,000 Social Security recipients, 39% of the population, more than any other district in the country and 65,000 more than any other district in Florida. Politically, this is marginal territory. The district lines were drawn by Republicans in 2002 to make the district more Republican. In 2008, John McCain ran strongly in these counties and won the district 56%-43%.