Florida, whether under Democratic or Republican political control, has always appeared to most outside observers as a haven for political conservatism. Outward appearances, however, often prove to be quite deceptive. Florida politics during the Progressive Era may be such a case. In 1912, the Socialist presidential candidate, Eugene Debs, garnered more votes in Florida than Theodore Roosevelt or William Howard Taft, and Florida was the only state of the former Confederacy where this minor party finished as high as second place in the total vote. A canvass of Progressive Era voting results reveals the steady growth of Socialist electoral strength in Florida from 1900 to 1912, before tapering off from 1912 to 1920. From 1904 to 1920 Florida was the only southern state registering more than 2,000 radical votes in every presidential election. Florida recorded the highest percentage of left-winged votes for any ex-Confederate state in four presidential elections: 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. Only Arkansas's returns, in 1916, interrupted the sunshine state's claim as the home of southern radicalism.1
Griffin, R. Steven
"Workers of the Sunshine State Unite!: The Florida Socialist Party During the Progressive Era, 1900-1920,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 86:
3, Article 5.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol86/iss3/5