Florida 6th District
The flat grasslands of central Florida, once bypassed by southbound tourists heading for the coastal resorts and cities, have over the past two decades become a prime growth area in this high-growth state. Central Florida’s economy once depended on farming, on tourists getting off the interstate, and on state institutions, most notably the University of Florida in Gainesville. Then retirees began settling in places like the bluegrass country around Ocala, one of America’s prime horse-breeding grounds, and Leesburg, perched on a narrow spit of land between Lake Griffin and Lake Harris. Initially, these areas were studded with trailer parks, but the 1990s brought more-upscale development, albeit nothing approaching the high-rise apartments and gated communities that line the coasts farther south. At the same time, the large citrus groves have been cut back, victims of booming property values and of environmental changes that have resulted in devastating frosts and more diseases. Some of this development is at the intersection of Lake, Marion and Sumter counties in the sprawling “The Villages” retirement community. This part of central Florida grew by 19% from 2000 to 2007.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 6th Congressional District of Florida includes much of central Florida and also part of the Jacksonville metropolitan area, connected by a strip of lightly populated counties. In the south, it includes parts of Marion and Sumter counties, around Ocala, and a corner of Lake County. In the north, it includes the western part of Jacksonville’s Duval County and most of Clay County. In between, it includes most of Alachua County except for Gainesville. On balance, this is a Republican district. Alachua is one of the few Florida counties to regularly vote Democratic, but its most heavily Democratic precincts are located in the 3rd District. The country around Ocala and the Villages in the south is Republican. Western Jacksonville and Clay County, with many military retirees, are even more Republican. In the 2008 presidential race, Republican John McCain won 71% of the vote in Clay County, and 57% in the district.