This afternoon, the Florida Senate released its preliminary Congressional and State Senate map proposals. It is important to note that these maps haven't seen the first public hearing or vote, and in many cases, we are just starting to digest the electoral politics in each of them. In other words, in return for early analysis, I reserve the right to change my mind in the future!
Two other foundational points for this and all other redistricting posts. First, this is the opening salvo in a long political process --- one that is operating under new and largely uncharted rules. As anyone who has gone through this before (I did in 2002), the only map that matters is the one that passes last, and passes court muster. There will be lots of scenarios floated over the next few months, some real, some not. This leads to point two: I am also not going to try to speculate on how the court might react to these or any other maps. For one, I am not a lawyer, and secondly, it is way way too early.
In case you are curious, here were my predictions on the interesting storylines going into today: http://www.stevenschale.com/blog/2011/11/20/story-lines-florida-congressional-redistricting.html.
The biggest impacts of the new map are the two new Congressional seats, both landing in Central Florida. The first one, which in many ways was the most predictable, is the new Congressional seat in the northern part of the Orlando media market, essentially in the Villages area. This area has seen tremendous growth over the last two decades and was home to parts of two Congressional seats (CD 5 and CD 8) that were most over the new target population. This one goes to the GOP.
The second seat is essentially a Central Florida Puerto Rican-access seat, though not majority Hispanic. This looks to be predictably Democratic, and definitely helps shore up the seat held by Congressman Dan Webster (CD 8). More on that later. This seat will also increase the number of Hispanics in the Florida delegation from three to four.
In the end, the two new seats are a partisan wash.
Here are the others that I think are interesting. I'll tackle them in numeric order. If you are interested in my take on the ones I don't list, just drop me an email.
CD 2: This is the old Allen Boyd seat, who survived for eight years in a district that was designed in 2002 to make it harder for him to win re-election. The biggest electoral impacts here are the decision to move the coastal sections of Walton and Okaloosa Counties (what my northern friends might think of as the "Riviera" of Florida) into CD 1. This was a small, but highly GOP section of the district that probably voted over 70% for McCain. The district also loses a couple of rural counties on the eastern side, most notably Suwannee County, which has some great southern restaurants, but isn't too friendly to the home team. It also picks up the rest of Leon County and the smaller, but Democratic friendly Jefferson County. The net result, the seat now held by Congressman Steve Southerland moves from borderline safe for the GOP to more of a lean GOP, but clearly competitive district.
CD 3: One of the big question marks heading into today, the bulk of Congresswoman Brown's seat remains the same, as a nearly African-American majority seat (just shy of 50%), running from Jacksonville to Orlando, taking in parts of Gainesville.
CD 7: This seat, held by John Mica, is home for me, so I tend to find it more interesting than most. The most interesting change in this district is the current incumbent now lives probably 30 miles from its nearest border. The district, which snaked from the southern boundary of Duval County (Jacksonville) to Orange County's town of Winter Park (Mica's home), just east of Orlando, had seen tremendous growth, particularly in the northern reaches of the district. As a result, the Senate proposal cuts off the parts of Seminole and Orange Counties, and creates a district that is more centered on the eastern coast of the state. Given the larger share of Volusia County, the district is probably a little more Democratic, though not enough to make it competitive. However, that doesn't mean that at some point, an ambitious Volusia County Republican might not take a shot at it (not speculating, just suggesting).
CD 8: This one-time predictably Republican seat, now held by former Florida House Speaker Dan Webster, saw more change between 2000 and 2010 of any district in Florida. The seat took on both tremendous population growth and a huge influx of Puerto Rican residents. The result, a Democratic trending district, that in 2008, sent Alan Grayson to Congress. The Senate map essentially splits up CD 8, with large portions of it ending up in the two new districts, CD 26 (Villages) and CD 27 (Hispanic seat), with the new district taking on a look and feel that is quite different. First, the old district was 78% in Orange County, while the new seat is only 51% in Orange, as the seat moves west taking in significant portions of Polk and southern Lake County. The district also has fewer minorities of voting age population (34% to 28%). The net result, a better---though still competitive seat for Congressman Webster. He is definitely a winner under this proposal.
CD 10/11:These are the seats held by Congressman Young (R, CD 10) and Congresswoman Castor (D, CD 11). There was some speculation that Rep. Castor would lose the part of her district in southern Pinellas County, which would make Rep. Young's seat more Democratic and her seat more Republican. In this version, that didn't happen, leaving Castor in a pretty safe Democratic seat and Young in a seat that he will almost certainly hold as long as he wants.
CD 16: This seat, held by GOP Congressman Rooney, has until recently been our state's National Enquirer district, thanks to previous incumbents Mark Foley and Tim Mahoney. It is also been one of the most oddly shaped districts, running from sea (Gulf of Mexico--Charlotte County on the west) to shining sea (Palm Beach on the east). It is also a seat that would have almost never stood up to an Amendment 6 challenge. The new district loses about 30% of its former self on the west side, territory very favorable to the GOP, and by gaining some heavily Democratic areas of St. Lucie County and poaching some Republicans from Congressman West's district, becomes a far more competitive district, going from 47% for Obama in 2008 to close to 50% today.
CD 22: The Allen West seat. This district switched parties twice in the last decade, first when Ron Klein beat Clay Shaw, then when West beat Klein. From where I sit, it is posed to do it again. First, West already had to gain residents in order to come up to the target population, then right off the bat lost some of his Palm Beach voters to Rooney. This meant he had to gain population from somewhere, and largely that somewhere is Ted Deutch's highly Democratic and over populated CD 19. If there is a GOP loser in redistricting, it is West. That being said, he is a big fundraiser and hard worker, though I am doubtful his politics line up too well with this new seat.
CD 25: The seat held by Congressman David Rivera used to encompass large parts of western Dade County, as well as a small piece (roughly 13% of the voters in 2010) in GOP rich Collier County, where Rivera got 60% of the vote in 2010. The new seat now is entirely in Dade County, and as a result, gains as much as 3 points (from 49% to close to 52% for Obama). But here is the real political drama: According to the Miami Herald, Rivera now lives in the seat held by Mario Diaz-Balart, while Diaz-Balart lives in Rivera's seat (and used to represent it), though it certainly appears that CD 25 retains most of the seat currently represented by Rivera, while CD 21 (the seat held by Diaz-Balart--where Rivera now lives) becomes more Republican. Figure that one out.
That's it for now. I've just started a deeper look at the proposed State Senate maps, though on first glance, there is only one big development: the GOP appears to be ceding a seat in Orlando to the Dems by creating a Hispanic access seat. But more on that later---maybe tomorrow.
As always, I appreciate your thoughts and comments.