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January 03, 2014 4:18 PM Snakes Alive: Florida Passing New York in Population

By Ed Kilgore

I know this is the sort of reaction that shows my age, but Lord-a-mighty, the news that Florida will this very year pass New York in population is a shocker. Yes, I was dimly aware that Florida caught up with the Empire State in electoral votes during the last reapportionment (New York’s margin had steadily declined from 45-10 in the 1950s, to 43-14 in the 60s, to 41-17 in the 70s, 36-21 in the 80s, 33-25 in the 90s, and 31-27 in the 00s). But still, given New York’s incredible history and its continuing preeminence in business and culture, it’s weird to think of it as smaller than the state Chelsea Hander regularly mocks on her late-night show.

I admit I have a partly-irrational aversion to the Sunshine State, based on too many childhood vacations on the Redneck Riviera, an intense dislike for insanely hot weather interrupted by violent storms, and a general hostility to stinging insects and cheesy tourist culture, all fortified by college football rivalry and a feeling that the whole state’s surreal (my first reaction to Orlando, if you will forgive the stereotypes, is that it’s what you’d get if the Mormons had built Las Vegas).

But millions of transplants can’t all be wrong (or at least not all wrong), and at this point New York’s only hope for regaining its population lead is that all those Burmese Pythons in the Everglades will make common cause with the alligators and terrorize Floridians into a reverse migration north.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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