Florida 16th District
Urban Florida has fanned far across the swamplands from its original nuclei in beachfront resort communities. Once, metro Palm Beach was a narrow stretch along Lake Worth; now it runs inland almost halfway to Lake Okeechobee, spreading out from its original locus around the posh Breakers Hotel. Old beach towns such as Hobe Sound have become the hub of affluent developments that stretch all the way to Stuart in Martin County. Farther north, near the old town of Fort Pierce, are larger but more modest developments like Port St. Lucie, which lost its image as a sleepy bedroom community with the $40 million relocation of the Torrey Pines Institute of Molecular Studies in 2009. But Port St. Lucie was hit hard during the 2008 mortgage industry meltdown, resulting in more than 10,000 properties in foreclosure and an unemployment rate of over 10%.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 16th Congressional District of Florida stretches from the Atlantic Ocean almost to the Gulf of Mexico, and is one of the most oddly designed districts in the nation. On the Atlantic coast, it includes most of Martin County, with its affluent towns of Stuart and Hobe Sound, and also much of St. Lucie County. Tequesta is its northernmost beach town. By a thin corridor of land, this coastal area is connected to rural territory north and west of Lake Okeechobee. There, huge farms produce citrus, tomatoes, and other vegetables, or support large dairy herds. The only population cluster is around Sebring, with its automobile racetrack. In recent years, encroaching development, hurricanes, and citrus diseases have threatened the viability of the citrus industry, and rising land prices have tempted farmers to get out of the business. The area was hit hard by Hurricane Fay in August 2008, with estimates of $20 million in damage to citrus crops. This area is connected by the swamps of eastern Charlotte County with the Gulf Coast towns of Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, on the wide Peace River where it empties into Port Charlotte and the Gulf of Mexico. In recent presidential elections, the district has voted consistently for Republicans but not by large margins. President Bush won the district with 54% in 2004, and in 2008 McCain carried it by a similar margin, 52%-47%.