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Changes To the Urban Fabric After Election Day


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A couple of interesting things to note as a result of Tuesday's election (specifically with changes in the urban culture - I will leave it to each of you to applaud or cry in your beer over the individual results):

(1) As NBC's Chuck Todd kept noting Tuesday night, things have changed a lot for central Florida since he grew up in Miami (speaking of Miami - it appears a majority of the Cuban-American vote went to the Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in decades, which is likely to have a significant effect on future statewide elections assuming it continues.)

Orange County's numbers for Obama came close to 60-40 and Osceola's (I haven't looked at the finals) are likely a tad higher. Chuck called Orange a "liberal" county now - what a long way we've come in a very short time (yes, OC even went for Goldwater back in the day and as late as 2000 was teetering on a 50-50 split in Bush vs. Gore.) Of course, Orange and Osceola are now "majority-minority" counties and much of the change in voting patterns for the two counties in the last decade or so comes from the large increase in the local Puerto Rican community. We've also seen diversity from a variety of other communities - Hillcrest Elementary in Colonialtown often touts that its students speak more than a dozen different languages, many as native speakers.

(2) We also saw this manifested in Orange County in the countywide races - Property Appraiser Bill Donegan, a pillar of the local GOP establishment, was defeated by political newcomer Rick Singh. African-American Sheriff Jerry Demings had no problem turning back another challenge from good ol' boy John Tegg, whose style is quite like former sheriff Kevin Beary, who ruled the county's law enforcement for more than a dozen years. Even though Tax Collector Earl K. Wood died, the "(D)" behind his name on the ballot ensured his replacement would be local Democratic Party chair Scott Randolph.

This is perhaps the biggest change - once upon a time, the default result for these races would have been victory for the GOP. Ironically, the county mayor and commission are mostly Republican at the moment - if a move afoot to change those races from non-partisan back to noting party ID on the ballot is successful, look for changes there as well.

(3) We also saw Democratic victories in several legislative races for the FL House, FL Senate and US Congress, as well as the return of Baldwin Park Dem Bill Nelson to the US Senate. Even traditional GOP stronghold Seminole County turned out some of its most egregious legislators, including (subject to recount) Speaker-in-waiting Chris Dorworth. Also notable was Seminole's move to increase the property tax to support the local public schools (and by a comfortable margin 56-43%).

The exurban counties like Lake and Polk continue as reliable GOP redoubts, of course. In the urban core, however, it seems the Orlando area is acting more and more like other big cities politically. Another sign of our move toward being a "real" metropolis at last.


After I posted this, I saw Beth Kassab at the Sentinel has a new column on similar themes:


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