The Electoral Map: Florida

This is the final installment in this series.  Let’s start with the House races.  Of Florida’s 27 Districts, seven are of interest to various degrees.  The current delegation favors the GOP 17-10.  After the 2010 Census, the new map was ruled unconstitutional and ordered to be redrawn.  The state house and senate could not reach agreement and the issue went back to the courts where the state supreme court condoned a new court-drawn map.  Eight districts were redrawn, but it had an effect on the boundaries of 24 of 27 districts.  The most dramatic changes were in the Fifth and Tenth districts where each is now composed of less than 40% of their old territory.

The first district of interest is the 2nd which comprises the eastern part of the Florida panhandle.  Currently represented by Democrat Gwen Graham, redistricting flipped the nature of the district from safe Democrat to safe Republican prompting Graham not to seek a second term.  Neal Dunn won a very close GOP primary and will face Walter Dartland who won a similarly close Democratic primary.  Although not an absolute, one should expect some good news out of this district as it will result in a GOP gain.

The Fifth District is one that was seriously altered by the court drawn map and it cost an incumbent their seat.  That incumbent- Corrine Brown- challenged the new map in court and lost.  Although there was the possibility she could run in another district, she opted for the Fifth and lost the Democratic primary to Al Lawson.  He will face Republican Glo Smith who lost to Brown in 2014.  Expect the same result this year.

In the Ninth, the good news is that the ethically-challenged and bombastic Alan Grayson will not return to Washington.  He instead opted for a Senate run and lost to Patrick Murphy in the Democratic senatorial primary.  Located in the east central part of the state, changing demographics which include an increasing Hispanic population, favors a Democratic retention here in the form of Darren Soto.  Hence, the Democrats keep this seat.

The Tenth was represented by Republican Daniel Webster, but redistricting so altered the landscape that he opted for a run in the 11th instead.  One can expect Democrat Val Demings to take this seat.  As an aside, in the 11th District race, the aforementioned Webster will likely win that race replacing  current GOP incumbent Richard Nugent who opted for retirement.

The 13th is a race of much interest and is currently represented by Republican Dave Jolly.  Again, redistricting changed the nature of this district in favor of the Democrats.  Jolly was originally abandoning this race having opted for a Senate run.  However, when Marco Rubio announced his intentions to keep his Senate seat, Jolly re-entered this race and will face former Republican Governor turned independent turned Democrat and still well-tanned Charlie Crist.  House race polls are hard to come by, but most seem to indicate a Democratic victory.  However, Jolly remains competitive and this race may result in a pleasant surprise for the GOP, but this writer is not counting on it.  My take is that Crist will finally get to Washington, but his tenure may be short.

The 18th is a very competitive district being vacated by Patrick Murphy, the Democratic incumbent, who is that party’s candidate against Rubio in the Senate race.  In an equally competitive primary, Brian Mast emerged the victor for the GOP in a high turnout affair defeating two bigger names- Carl Domino and Rebecca Negron.  He will face Randy Perkins who easily won the Democratic primary.  Most pundits put this race as a pure toss-up at this point and a GOP victory here would offset losses elsewhere.  There is a history of GOP success with Allen West being the most recent having been defeated by Murphy in 2012.  Similar dynamics may be at play this year being a presidential year.  It may be close, but this writer is predicting a Democratic retention.

Finally, there is the 26th represented by Republican Carlos Curbelo who will face David Garcia who formerly held this seat and was NOT the choice of the Democratic leadership who preferred Annette Taddeo.  This district includes the non-coastal part of Miami-Dade county and the southern tip of the state.  Curbelo holds a significant fundraising advantage, but history indicates a change of party since redistricting.  Additionally, Curbelo’s 2014 victory over Garcia was not exceptional in a midterm year.  Compared to Garcia’s 2012 victory replacing Republican David Rivera in a presidential year, one would have to give the edge to Garcia.

On net, one should expect the GOP to lose 2 seats in the House out of Florida.  The new delegation should still favor the GOP 15-12.

Marco Rubio’s last-minute decision to seek reelection to the Senate had a ripple effect on the House races and chased Dave Jolly back to the 13th and Ron DeSantis back to the 6th District races.  It also forced two others out of the race- Ilya Katz and Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the former being a close ally and associate of Rubio.

Rubio won in 2010 with Crist running as an independent siphoning over 1 million potential votes from Democrat Kenrick Meek.  This time out, Rubio will face Patrick Murphy, the preferred candidate of the Democrats, who faced Alan Grayson in their primary and easily won in the end.  The importance of this race is obvious when Obama himself has stepped in to campaign for Murphy.

Since announcing his entry into the race, Rubio has not trailed in a single poll of which there are many.  After 56 polls taken through the end of October, Rubio led by an average of 5.5 points.  The race has tightened somewhat in November as we head into Election Day, but one would have to give Rubio a victory this time out on the order of 3-6 points.

In the presidential race, Trump is surging at the right time and he needs this state if he has any chance at victory.  Given the surge and the momentum here, this writer is predicting a very narrow Trump victory (and 29 electoral votes).  In fact, we may be waiting late into the night before anyone calls this state for either candidate.  Regardless, it will be a very narrow victory for either Trump or Clinton.

At the end of this series, which will be updated tomorrow with final predictions in all states given changes since this series began, Clinton wins the electoral vote count 294-244 which is a lot closer than expected.  The Democrats will win control of the Senate 52-48, and the GOP will retain the House 230-205, a net loss of 16 seats.  Remember: this analysis works under a worst-case scenario for the GOP.

Tomorrow: Updated and final predictions