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Becky Bowers
By Becky Bowers September 27, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott's primary math: Florida has more people than early primary and caucus states combined

Gov. Rick Scott rallied Republican activists at Florida's Presidency 5 straw poll with an argument for the state's supremacy in choosing the party's presidential contender.

"None will have a greater impact on the selection of the nominee than our own primary in the Sunshine State," Scott told a crowd of 3,500 on Sept. 24, 2011.

While other primaries or caucuses might be earlier, he said, Florida's population and diversity set it apart.

"At nearly 19 million people, the population of Florida is larger than all the earlier primary and caucus states combined," he said.

The Republican National Committee allows just Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to vote in February 2012 without penalty.

Florida has yet to choose its primary date. But state lawmakers would like to see it as early as possible, saying it better reflects the country than the four "early" states and should play an agenda-setting role.

As Scott made his plea, we wondered: Is the population of Florida larger than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada combined? We turned to the U.S. Census Bureau:

2010 population

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Iowa: 3 million
New Hampshire: 1.3 million
South Carolina: 4.6 million
Nevada: 2.7 million
Total: 11.7 million

Florida: 18.8 million

So, Scott's right on. Florida's "nearly 19 million people" does eclipse the early states' nearly 12 million. (Now, that doesn't tell us who actually votes there — but he didn't say voters, so we won't quibble.)

Meanwhile, in case you were interested, the state's diversity does indeed better track the nation than those states. Iowa and New Hampshire are more than 90 percent white, while the nation is closer to 70 percent. South Carolina and Nevada are less white than the rest of the country, around 66 percent, with a heavier black population in the South and Hispanic and Latino population in the West.
 
Here's how Florida compares to the nation:

 

  Florida Nation
White 75% 72.4%
Black 16% 12.6%
American Indian/Alaska native 0.4% 0.9%
Asian 2.4% 4.8%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.1% 0.2%
Reporting two or more races 2.5% 2.9%
Hispanic/Latino 22.5% 16.3

Scott said "the population of Florida is larger than all the earlier primary and caucus states combined." U.S. Census Bureau numbers bear him out. We rate his claim True.

Our Sources

Gov. Rick Scott, speech at Presidency 5, Sept. 24, 2011

Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, "Gov. Rick Scott delivers forceful speech at Presidency 5," Sept. 25, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, "Rep. Will Weatherford says penalized Florida delegation would still wield clout," July 7, 2011

Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau, "Panel postpones decision on setting date for presidential primary until eve of deadline," Sept. 23, 2011

U.S. Census Bureau, State & County QuickFacts: Florida, accessed Sept. 26, 2011

U.S. Census Bureau, State & County QuickFacts: Iowa, accessed Sept. 26, 2011

U.S. Census Bureau, State & County QuickFacts: New Hampshire, accessed Sept. 26, 2011

U.S. Census Bureau, State & County QuickFacts: South Carolina, accessed Sept. 26, 2011

U.S. Census Bureau, State & County QuickFacts: Nevada, accessed Sept. 26, 2011

Interview with Scott spokesman Lane Wright, Sept. 27, 2011

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Gov. Rick Scott's primary math: Florida has more people than early primary and caucus states combined

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