The latest census numbers show Florida to be one of the nation's fastest growing states with 2.8 million people moving to the sunshine state in the past 10 years. That means the state's political clout is about to grow as well. Lawmakers are preparing to battle over two new congressional districts.
In politics, there really is strength in numbers. And thanks to a 17 percent jump in population, Florida's about to get some more muscle on Capitol Hill.
Come 2012, we'll have two more congressional seats. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves calls the pickups a by-product of America’s shifting population.
“This movement south and west is really a very simple way to note how we as a population have changed and how we've moved over the decade,” he said.
Now that we know we're getting two more seats, it'll be up to lawmakers here at the capitol to figure out how they fit onto the map. And like just about everything around here, the task is bound to be politically contentious.
Because most of our population gains have occurred in south and central Florida, chances are good those regions will be home to the two new districts. But beyond that, it's anyone's guess what they'll look like or who might represent them.
Democratic State Representative Alan Williams will have a hand in drawing the boundaries. He's hopeful the new districting amendments will be key in avoiding oddly-shaped districts.
“Hopefully, these two seats and even more, with the application of Amendments 5 and 6, will give Floridians that balance,” Williams said. “And when we have balance, we see that great things come out of balance.”
To that, republicans say they'll promise a fair and open process. But the fact remains two new districts are a major political prize worth fighting for.
Democrats point out their party holds a nearly 600,000 voter registration advantage in Florida. Yet, republicans dominate the state's congressional delegation. Dems say it'll be difficult for the GOP to draw more districts to favor their candidates.