Florida 7th District
In 1513, Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon headed to the New World, hoping to discover the Fountain of Youth. Instead, he found Ponte Vedra Beach, located just south of modern-day Jacksonville. A few decades later, Spanish colonists founded St. Augustine, the oldest permanent European settlement in North America—42 years older than Jamestown, Va., and 55 years older than the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts. Much later, John D. Rockefeller wintered in Ormond Beach, and cars have been zooming up and down Daytona’s rock-hard beach for decades. Near St. Augustine are a Northrop Grumman aircraft plant and some new communities. St. Johns and Flagler counties, the two coastal counties between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, were filled with cattle ranches a few decades ago. But St. Johns grew 37% between 2000 and 2007. Flagler County grew 83% from 2000 to 2008, making it the fastest growing county in the nation. In 2008, the recession slowed the growth rate somewhat and increased the supply of vacant housing. Nearby DeLand has a small-town atmosphere centered around the Stetson University campus, while Heathrow, just off Interstate 4, serves as the home base of the American Automobile Association. Other places are much newer, instant cities: the Palm Coast development on the beach in Flagler County, and Deltona, which was built inland on a drained swamp in Volusia County. Although disappearing, some farming and ranching continue to fill gaps between these growing areas.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 7th Congressional District of Florida covers the Atlantic coast for nearly 100 miles, from Ponte Vedra Beach to Daytona Beach. Inland it includes affluent, Seminole County suburbs of Orlando as well as the timber center of Palatka. Nearly two-thirds of the population is in the south, around Orlando, Deltona, and Daytona Beach. The political tendencies in this area are mixed. Seminole County and St. Augustine’s St. Johns County are affluent and heavily Republican. Palm Coast’s Flagler County is marginal. Daytona Beach’s Volusia County leans Democratic, but about 40% of it is in the 24th District. On balance, this is a Republican district, but not overwhelmingly so.