UCF's enrollment has nearly doubled in the past decade to more than 59,000 students. The corridors along University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail look a lot like Gainesville or Tallahassee, with shopping plazas filled with bookstores, bars and tanning salons.
Aaron Gadomski, a 20-year-old international-affairs major from Tampa, said he saw a few Mitt Romney T-shirts and stickers on campus, and even that, he said, "was more than I thought it would be."
Destanie Hoppe, who is 19 and studying nursing, was one of those in the minority. She voted for Romney, but some of her roommates waited in line at the campus precinct for more than four hours to vote for Obama.
Needless to say, she was severely outnumbered at an Election Night watch party with her friends.
"I had to leave the room," she said.
Lew Oliver shares her pain.
"It's normal and rational and logical to expect students to vote for Democrats," he said. "They have their hand out, and they need cash, and Democrats promise to give it them in about 55 different ways."
C'mon, Lew. That's a bit of an overstatement, isn't it?
And that's politics. It's all hyperbole and rhetoric.
That brings us to the biggest lesson for the GOP last week: Orange County's (and America's) shifting demographics — including 51 percent women in Orange — just won't stomach the fringe.
Republicans who care about their party will stop putting up with it, too. No more talk about "legitimate rape." A more-open attitude on immigration. And zero tolerance for indefensible ads such as one that compared Castor Dentel, a teacher from Maitland, to convicted Penn State child molester Jerry Sandusky.
Both of the mainstream parties have lost a bit of ground in Orange and elsewhere along the I-4 corridor since 2008 to people registered without a party affiliation.
But the independents appear to have broken this time around with the Democrats, and they were likely pushed that way by the fringe.
Now the GOP is left to try to push them the other way against a current of changing demographics that make Orange a long-term stronghold for the D's.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5448