Florida 23rd District
In the morning shadow of the high-rise condominiums that line the Atlantic Ocean, behind the quiet waters that separate the barrier islands from the mainland and a few blocks off old U.S. 1, are the African-American neighborhoods of South Florida’s Gold Coast. They are gatherings of older stucco homes and commercial storefronts, ranging from upper-middle-class enclaves to rundown slums. These neighborhoods, populated by the working poor and with relatively few seniors, are bypassed by most tourists.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 23rd Congressional District of Florida gathers together many of South Florida’s black neighborhoods in a geographically contrived, but demographically coherent, constituency. Geographically, most of the district is in the Everglades, east and south of Lake Okeechobee. This is a land of swamps and drainage canals, with some farms and citrus groves. Some people live in migrant-worker camps, some on the Miccosukee Indian Reservation, and some in places like Southwest Ranches, a new community where residents have opposed roads and street lights. The district has four narrow tentacles that extend east from the Everglades and get close to, but never reach, the Atlantic Ocean. The northernmost stretches into St. Lucie County and takes in black neighborhoods in Fort Pierce. In northern Palm Beach County, a tentacle reaches past high-income Wellington into West Palm Beach, then continues south along the railroad tracks and U.S. 1 to Delray Beach, which was the site of a civil rights showdown in 1956 and now has a large Haitian community. The most populated tentacle reaches east into Broward County to take in African-American areas in Lauderhill, Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach, and Deerfield Beach. Farther south in Broward County, a smaller tentacle reaches into parts of fast-growing Miramar and Pembroke Pines, home to upwardly mobile Haitians and also to one of the Century Village communities, the retirement development known for its politically powerful, liberal associations led by “condo commandos.” But in some parts of Pembroke Pines and Sunrise, Hispanics from Miami-Dade County are replacing Jews. Overall, the population is 55% black and 17% Hispanic. This is a heavily Democratic district, with incoming Cubans providing the only minor countertrend. But it is not uniformly liberal on all issues. In 2008, African-American voters backed a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage by about 2-to-1, enabling it to carry Broward County despite its large gay population.