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From Yellow Dog Democrats to Red State Republicans

Florida and Its Politics since 1940

David R. Colburn

Publication Year: 2013

Likely to raise hackles among Democrats and Republicans alike, this dynamic history of modern Florida argues that the Sunshine State has become the political and demographic future of the nation. David Colburn reveals how Florida gradually abandoned the traditions of race and personality that linked it to the Democratic Party. The book focuses particularly on the population growth and chaotic gubernatorial politics that altered the state from 1940, when it was a sleepy impoverished southern outpost, to the present and the emergence of a dominant Republican Party.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-12

On election night in 2000, CBS television news anchor Dan Rather sounded lyrical as he announced, “Florida is the whole deal, the real deal, a big deal.”1 In this remarkably close presidential election, Florida stood at its epicenter; only hours earlier, the state’s diverse population of seniors, immigrants, and migrants ...

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1. From Darkness to Sunshine: World War II, Race, and the Emergence of Modern Florida

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pp. 13-42

For most of the twentieth century, Florida was as Blue, politically, as the waters that surround the Peninsula on three sides. From 1900 to 1980, the Democratic Party constituted the only political game in Florida. If you moved into the state prior to the 1980s and went to register to vote, you were encouraged to register as a Democrat ...

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2. Moral, Simple Justice and the Emergence of Fault Lines in the Democratic Hegemony

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pp. 43-76

Racial developments in the South took a dramatic turn on February 1, 1960, when four African-American students at North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro, North Carolina, sat down at a Woolworth’s lunch counter and refused to leave. In doing so, they ignited demonstrations that transformed southern race relations and, with it, southern politics. ...

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3. Reubin Askew, Lawton Chiles, and the Reinvention of the Democratic Party

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pp. 77-106

Giddy over their dramatic election victories in 1966, 1967, and 1968 as well as Richard Nixon’s victory in Florida in the 1968 presidential election, many Republicans predicted the party would take political control of the state in the near future. But others, like William Cramer, who had toiled in the Republican trenches for nearly two decades, were not so sanguine. ...

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4. An Era of Political Transition

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pp. 107-124

Askew’s legacy to the Democratic Party had been vital, but he hedged when it came to establishing a much-needed party structure to ensure its future. As with his predecessors, Askew recognized that the party needed a stronger organizational base, but he hesitated to be the one to establish it ...

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5. Migration of the Middle Class, the Search for Community, and the Emerging Hispanic Presence

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pp. 125-146

Often lost in a discussion of the retirees and immigrants who came to Florida were the vast number of middle-class families who moved to the state in search of better jobs and new beginnings. In relocating to Florida, these new arrivals left their extended families behind and joined the throngs of migrants in new communities, ...

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6. Holding Back the Republican Tide, but for How Long?

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pp. 147-169

With the service-tax proposal still weighing heavily on voter attitudes, Republicans were not confident about retaining the governorship in 1990. They privately hoped several Democrats would seek the governorship, leading to another intraparty bloodbath and a weakened candidate, as had occurred in 1986. ...

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7. From Blue to Red: The Era of Jeb Bush and Republican Hegemony

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pp. 170-189

Bright, attractive, imposing physically, and a passionate political figure, Jeb Bush gave the Florida Republican Party a badly needed star quality, much as Reubin Askew had done for Democrats in the 1970s. Bush looked like his mother, had the same gracious style of his father, but his politics more closely resembled those of Barry Goldwater, ...

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8. The Presidential Election of 2000: What Happened in Florida?

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pp. 190-213

From the onset of the presidential campaign of 2000, two things were obvious: the election would be very close, and Florida would be at its epicenter. In a campaign between two of the nation’s preeminent political families, Al Gore and George Bush, both were confident they would capture Florida and the presidency. ...

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9. The Politics of the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 214-246

The drama of the presidential election temporarily overshadowed other momentous political developments in Florida. For the first time in state history, Floridians had fully embraced the Republican Party, helping to elect a Republican president alongside a Republican governor, a Republican cabinet, Republican majorities in both houses of the state legislature, ...

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pp. 247-250

There are several great pleasures in writing a book, not the least of which is completing it. For me, having the opportunity to express appreciation to those who have greatly aided this process certainly ranks among the most important and gratifying. ...


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pp. 251-266


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pp. 267-278


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pp. 279-294

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About the Author

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p. 305-305

David R. Colburn is formerly provost and senior vice president at the University of Florida and has been a member of the University of Florida history faculty since 1972. Colburn’s teaching and research have focused on politics, race, and ethnicity in twentieth-century America. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048499
E-ISBN-10: 0813048494
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044859

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Second Edition