Florida 20th District
Back when Connie Francis made it famous in the 1960 spring-break movie Where the Boys Are, Fort Lauderdale was just a small town with a strip of motels along the beach and some nice houses fronting its canals. Now it’s the center of a sprawling metropolitan area with resort hotels on the beach but a much larger workaday population inland. It is a center of business and commerce and a major port. In 1950, Fort Lauderdale and Broward County had 183,000 people; in 2008, they had 1.76 million. From the strip of beach along the Atlantic Ocean, west to the Sawgrass Expressway and the Everglades Wildlife Management Area, the land has filled up with subdivisions, shopping centers, office complexes, warehouses, and trucking terminals. As it has grown, the ethnic composition of Broward County has changed. In the 1950s, it was understood that Jews couldn’t buy houses or rent hotel rooms this far north of Miami. But from the 1960s through the 1990s, as Cubans and other Latinos moved into the Miami-Dade County area, many Jews moved north, and Broward County became one of the most heavily Jewish parts of the United States. Nearer the coast, especially in the huge high-rises of Hollywood and Hallandale, most of Broward’s Jews were retirees from New York and other Northeastern cities. But inland, in towns like booming Davie, Plantation, and Sunrise, many young Jewish parents raised families in communities that prided themselves on fine schools and high property values.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
Now Broward County seems to be changing again. Jewish migration over the past 15 years has gone farther north, to Palm Beach County. Broward’s population peaked in 2006, then for the first time in history, it fell, as whites moved out of the county and immigrants moved in. Fort Lauderdale and next-door Wilton Manors have become the home of choice for many gay people, and metro Fort Lauderdale now has a higher percentage of same-sex couples than any other metropolitan area except San Francisco/Oakland and Seattle.
The 20th Congressional District of Florida includes much of southeastern Broward County and the northern Biscayne Bay shoreline in Miami-Dade County. Precinct by precinct, its computer-generated borders are drawn to include heavily Democratic areas. It includes much of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach on the coast. But its biggest blocks of territory are inland. In Miami-Dade, it includes the shores of Biscayne Bay, both on the Miami and Miami Beach side, with expensive homes and huge high-rises. This is a strongly Democratic district, though in recent years not quite as strongly as in 2000, when it cast 69% of its vote for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.