In a land of vacation and retirement destinations, Floridians like their tourist spots just as much as travelers from outside the state do. Of ten cities we asked Florida voters their opinion of, the most popular by far was the oldest city in the country, and the next one of the biggest family draws. In general, Sunshine Staters like all their cities quite a bit—the lone exception being its biggest beach resort and club hotspot.
St. Augustine is seen favorably by 76% and unfavorably by only 5% of the state’s registered voters. That is leagues ahead of the home of Disney World, Orlando (64-13), which is followed closely by Tampa (61-13), home of Busch Gardens; Key West (60-12); and Tampa’s cross-bay neighbor St. Petersburg (56-8). Not far behind are Gainesville (57-12) and Ft. Lauderdale (56-11). The more typically Southern cities of Jacksonville (45-16) and Tallahassee (45-20) round out the well-liked bunch.
Voters break even, however, on Miami (36-35), which has the biggest divide between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats see it positively by a net 14 points, but Republicans negatively by 13. Independents split on it (29-29). Much of this difference owes to a racial gap between white and minority voters. Hispanics see Miami by a net 13-point favorable margin and blacks by 29 points, but whites are down on it by seven.
Miami is the starkest example, but there are also large racial gaps for a few other cities. Key West is liked by Hispanic voters by a net 62 points, and 65 by black voters, but “only” 42 points by white voters. There is a 32-point gap between black and white voters on Ft. Lauderdale. The only city that is liked quite a lot more by white voters than either minority group is Jacksonville, one of the most conservative cities in the state.
So-called snow birds flock to Florida from the North in the winter or permanently, and that perception bears out in the age breakdown of these numbers. Voters over the age of 65 like all the cities better than voters under 30 do except St. Augustine and Miami, which are seen roughly equally by the two groups but slightly better by younger folks. The strongest differences are for Tallahassee (29 points), Orlando (20), Jacksonville (18), Ft. Lauderdale (14), St. Petersburg (13), and Tampa (11).
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