Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Thursday, 1 November 2007

State profile: Florida

Florida map
The Republicans have managed to regain the political initiative in Florida, after a run of close results throughout the 1990s culminated in the recount drama of the 2000 presidential election.

A Supreme Court decision was required to decide the result in 2000 after a hugely complicated process involving lost votes, missing voters, recounts, and court appeals.

But in 2004 George W Bush increased his lead in the Sunshine State, and his party picked up a Senate seat. They went on to hold the governorship in 2006.

Healthcare is always an important issue in a state with a substantial elderly population (around 3 million in 2005 - at 18% the highest percentage of any state).

Population: 18,089,888 (ranked 4 among states)
Governor: Charlie Crist (R)
Electoral College votes: 27
Still, Florida today is more than the sunny retirement home that it used to be. While the elderly population continues to grow, so does its younger population.

This is just one of many changes the state has undergone. It used to be an isolated, malaria-ridden swamp but is now a tourist capital. It used to be the least-populated state in the South, but now with 18 million people it is the fourth largest in the nation. It is expected to overtake New York and become the third most populous by 2025.

House of Representatives:
9 Democrat, 16 Republican
Senate: 1 Democrat, 1 Republican
Part of that growth is due to Miami, the state's economic and commercial capital, which has strong links to Latin America (like many American states, Florida's political capital is relatively unknown - Tallahassee). International trade is important to the state, with the service sector and tourism increasingly important - the latter contributes approximately $57bn to the state economy.

In part as a result of this, in part causing this, Florida has seen a huge influx of Latin Americans seeking new opportunities. These new immigrants have joined the large Cuban community based in southern Florida.

2004: Bush 52%, Kerry 47%
2000: Bush 49%, Gore 49%
1996: Clinton 48%, Dole 42%
Some long-term residents are worried that the Hispanic population has such a clear identity that it can look like a state within a state.

Are you in Florida? Will you be voting in 2008? How do you plan to vote? Send us your comments and predictions using the form below.

Your comments:

I have lived in Florida since Dec 1974. I always vote Republican but will not vote for Giuliani or McCain. The Republicans will win the election.
Stephen Miller, Jacksonville

Some things do not change. In the next election hardline Democrats and Republicans will vote for their candidate. But where will the independent Democrat and Republican votes go? Call them independent, call them centrists, it does not matter.

I don't think Hillary Clinton can pull in enough centrists to gain a majority. On that basis I think the Republicans could pull off a victory. However, it won't be a vote for the Republicans, it will be a vote against Clinton who, along with both houses of Congress, hasn't done a darn thing for this country.

If I could convince America to do anything, it would be to vote against the incumbents until we get a law that would not allow any candidates to have any financial ties of any sort with lobbyists, unions, nations, etc. We need to shorten the elections cycle whereby no one can campaign until 3 months before the election and the only funds they can use are provided by the government.

signed, embittered, disillusioned and plain disappointed by the quality of person we have that runs for national office. It is sickening.
John McCullough, Lake Worth, FL

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Electoral College votes

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