Florida is more religiously diverse than most Southern states. The state's high numbers of South American and Central American immigrants influence its religious and ethnic demographics, as does a sizable Cuban population. Many members of these immigrant communities identify as Roman Catholic. Highly populated Jewish enclaves also have developed in certain areas of Florida. The presence of these relatively large Catholic and Jewish populations lessen the Christian right's influence on Florida politics. Nonetheless, members of the Christian right hold leadership positions in the legislature, and the movement still represents a sizeable faction within the Florida GOP.
Religion and politics often intersect along geographic boundaries in Florida. The Christian right is concentrated in the northern part of the state, while Jewish and Roman Catholic communities are key players in the political process in the South. Because of this, political battles - especially primaries - are often won and lost in the state's center.
Florida is a large state whose politics vary by region: southern Florida tends to vote Democratic, while northern Florida tends to vote Republican. In the South, Jewish and Roman Catholic communities are key religious players in the political process. In the North, the Christian right movement is more politically active. As a result, Central Florida often becomes the arbiter of political battles in the state, especially primary battles, according to political analyst Rhodes Cook.
Political scientists Kenneth Wald and Richard Scher contend in their book that one-third of the Florida electorate identifies with the Christian right movement, a significant number but a lower percentage than in other states in the region. They also note that more residents in Florida than in other Southern states identify as "moderate" as opposed to "conservative." This is due in part to the influx of retirees and "snowbirds" from the Northeast and other parts of the country.
While Florida used to be a Democratic stronghold, it has been a political battleground state in recent elections. Republican retirees from the Midwest and conservative members of the Armed Forces stationed in the Florida Panhandle exert a strong influence. The Florida GOP generally attempts to balance the social conservatism of Christian right groups with a more pragmatic economic conservatism.
According to news reports, the influence of groups with strong ties to the Christian right movement has waned over the past decade; for example, the Center for Reclaiming America for Christ in Fort Lauderdale shut its doors in the early 2000s after a decade of lobbying for conservative Christian causes.
2004 Presidential Election
The charts below provide a breakdown of candidate preference by religious affiliation and religious worship attendance for the 2004 presidential election in Florida.
Past Election Results
Religious and Political Groups
The ACTION Network
The ACTION Network is an interfaith community organization working to improve the quality of life in North Central Florida.
American Friends Service
Committee, Immigrant Services
The AFSC ministers to many of Florida’s immigrant communities.
Jewish Committee: Palm Beach
The American Jewish Committee works to safeguard the welfare of Jews in the U.S. and throughout the world. It has several local chapters and is influential in parts of Florida.
Buddhist Peace Fellowship: Tampa
The Buddhist Peace Fellowship works for peace, justice and social change and has chapters in several areas throughout the state.
Call to Action, Southwest
Call to Action works for reform within the Roman Catholic Church and pushes for a stronger emphasis on social justice.
Christians for Justice Action
Christians for Justice Action supports the justice ministries of the United Church of Christ.
Women for America, Florida
CWA Florida is the state affiliate of the national women’s organization that aims to bring biblical principles into all levels of public policy.
Florida: Church World Service/CROP
CWS/CROP promotes awareness of hunger issues and raises money to help solve these problems.
The Florida Family Policy Council
The Florida Family Policy Council is an anti-abortion, pro-family, pro-marriage association affiliated with Focus on the Family.
Florida Family Association
The Florida Family Association is a conservative advocacy organization that works to improve Florida’s “moral environment.”
Florida FreedomWorks advocates for lower taxes and limited government.
The Jacksonville Jewish Federation has a social action component.
Jewish Community Relations
Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation
The Jewish Community Relations Council provides community and family support, advocacy and social services.
Jewish Federation of Lee and
These organizations perform volunteer work and advocacy for the Jewish community.
The National Conference for
Community and Justice (Broward/South Palm Beach Region and Miami Region)
The NCCJ promotes understanding and respect among all races, religions and cultures through advocacy, conflict resolution and education.
Federation for Social Action
The MFSA unites activists within the United Methodist Church to take action on issues of justice, peace and liberation in the church, nation and world.
Pax Christi works for peace and justice through the ideal of Christian nonviolence.
People Acting for Community
PACT is a community organizing network.
Religious Coalition for Reproductive
RCRC is an interfaith group with affiliates in various states that advocate and organize for reproductive justice.
Tallahassee Equality Action Ministry
TEAM is an interfaith group that advocates on issues of poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care and education.
Faith in Public Life: Offers a map showing the locations of various Florida religious organizations.
Florida Democrats: The official website of the Florida Democratic Party.
Florida Division of Elections: The Florida Division of Elections offers voting information on its website.
Florida Secretary of State: The official website of Florida’s secretary of state.
The Green Papers: An online clearinghouse of election information.
The Republican Party of Florida: The official website of the Florida Republican Party.
Relevant Books & Articles
Race for the Presidency: Winning the 2004 Nomination: Political analyst Rhodes Cook examines the presidential nominating process state by state for the 2004 election.
The Christian Right in American Politics: Edited by Pew Forum Senior Fellow John Green, Mark J. Rozell and W. Clyde Wilcox. Analyzes the Christian right movement’s role in state politics from 1980–2000.
“Florida Leapfrogs Other State Primaries”: A Washington Post article reporting on Florida’s decision to hold its primaries in January.