Since 2004, key areas of Florida have gone 'blue' from 'red'

Miami HeraldOctober 31, 2008 

Florida's dramatically shifting voter rolls are changing the nation's largest swing state, as the two presidential campaigns feverishly mine for votes on political terrain that's increasingly Democratic.

With a nearly 658,000-voter registration edge over Republicans, Democrats have flipped two battleground counties since the last presidential election, turned the crucial Interstate-4 corridor more to their favor and made South Florida an even deeper shade of liberal blue -- largely due to minority voter increases.

In North Florida, Republicans have posted far more modest gains, though they can still count on vast swaths of so-called ''Dixiecrats'' to vote for Republican John McCain.

Florida often votes Republican, but the Democratic registration gains have made the presidential race more competitive and sent McCain and Democrat Barack Obama into campaign overdrive across the state.

Democrats are also in a better position to start winning control of the Republican-dominated Legislature and congressional delegation.

For Obama, the shift in voters has turned Republican strongholds into Democratic opportunities. Obama just finished a two-day Florida trip with a Thursday stop in Sarasota County, an area so filled with Republicans that he even stumped at a pumpkin patch owned by a McCain supporter.

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