I had originally intended to save this map for later on, in part because the redistricting process here will be affected by the pending Brown vs. State of Florida lawsuit. Yet there has been a lot of discussion and speculation over Sunshine State this past week, and I decided to share my take on what is perhaps the most complex redistricting puzzle Republicans face this year. Consider:
1. Florida voters passed an amendment last November aimed at preventing gerrymandering. It requires districts to be compact and respect county lines wherever possible, and prohibits mapmakers from drawing districts to favor a party or an incumbent.
2. Reps. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) filed a lawsuit challenging the amendment, under the premise that racial minorities do not always live in compact areas, and a mandate for compact districts will reduce minority representation. Pending that lawsuit, Gov. Scott has temporarily blocked implementation of the new law.
3. Florida has several of the ugliest districts in the nation, including the VRA-protected 23rd, the minority-influence 3rd, and partisan gerrymanders such as the 4th, 6th, 8th, 11th, and 22nd. Most of these lines will need to change drastically.
4. The state is due to gain two new districts. At least one will need to be located in Central Florida, which has a fast-growing and Democratic-voting Hispanic population.
5. Republicans have several incumbents in marginal seats, including freshmen Dan Webster, Allen West, and Sandy Adams as well as veterans Bill Young and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
6. Contrary to some redistricting laws, the new amendment does not establish a bipartisan commission. The Republican legislature will still be in charge of drawing the maps, and while by the letter of the law they cannot draw districts that explicitly favor the GOP, they will look for every opportunity possible to aid their incumbents.
Thus the map:
And away we go:
FL-01-blue: Jeff Miller (R-Chumuckla) SAFE R
McCain 68, Obama 32
You can barely see the first on the detail map, but it’s crammed into the westernmost portion of the conservative panhandle, taking up Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and part of Holmes County. This is the safest Republican seat in Florida.
FL-02-green: Steve Southerland (R-Panama City) LIKELY R
McCain 52, Obama 46
Southerland’s district condenses and pushes west, now taking in all of heavily Democratic Leon County (Tallahassee.) This knock his McCain percentage down by two points, but this area of Florida is trending rapidly Republican as conservative whites flee the Democratic party. Consider this: McCain performed exactly as well as Bush did in 2004, despite this district being nearly a quarter black.
FL-03-purple: Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) TOSSUP/TILT R TAKEOVER
Gee, I wonder why Brown is suing to block implementation of this law? The amendment more or less dictates that there will be one district entirely within Duval County (51-49 McCain, 58-42 Bush), and her current 3rd is not VRA protected. In addition, it is impossible to draw a compact majority-minority district anywhere in Northern Florida. Thus, we end up with this Republican-leaning swing seat that is 63% white, 23% black VAP. Democrats would be best served by nominating someone other than Brown, while Republicans have a strong bench here (I had erroneously suggested Jennifer Carroll, who is in fact from Clay County.)
FL-04-red: Ander Crenshaw (R-Jacksonville) SAFE R
Crenshaw actually lives just outside these line in the new 3rd (the law does not allow incumbent homes to be considered), but most of his old territory is here, along with a few more conservative counties in the north central. The second-safest Republican seat after Miller’s, and plenty of incentive for Crenshaw to move 5 miles west.
FL-06-teal: Cliff Stearns (R-Ocala) LEANS R
McCain 50.4, Obama 49.6 (margin of 3200 votes)
Stearns is a loser on this map, as he drops from a safe R+10 to a more tenuous R+4. This district is about as compact and fair as they get: Democratic stronghold Alachua County (Gainesville) is balanced by Putnam, Marion, and Levy, with a single Volusia precinct thrown on for population balance. This district will be more Republican in non-presidential years, as the older white population of the three red counties turns out at a high enough rate to drown out Gainesville unless Obama is on the ballot.
FL-07-grey: open (John Mica) SAFE R
McCain 54, Obama 46
Explosive growth in the Jacksonville exurbs and Daytona Beach in the 1990’s forced this district to be separated from Orlando in 2001, although the legislature included an arm into Orange County to include Mica’s home. They won’t be able to do so this time, so Mica will have to move if he wants to represent the people he does now. Somehow this manages to get a point safer, despite taking in more of swingy Volusia County.
FL-05-yellow: Richard Nugent (R-Spring Hill) SAFE R
McCain 54, Obama 44
This one was easy: Citrus, Hernando, Sumter, and almost all of Pasco. Heavy migration of retirees has transformed this region from swing territory to a Republican stronghold.
FL-08-indigo: Daniel Webster (R-Winter Park) LIKELY R
I don’t know the partisan figures here (because so much of the district is in politically variable Orange County), but this is a huge upgrade for Webster. The new district is 10 points whiter (70% VAP) and has shed the problematic areas of downtown Orlando that in 2008 gave us the gift of Alan Grayson while keeping the conservative areas around Disney World and 56% McCain Lake County. The finger sticking into central Orange is actually a product of the new law: this area needs to stay in an Orange County district, but is too high in population to go into the 24th or new 27th. This is good news for Webster, since it includes his home in Winter Park.
FL-24-purple: Sandy Adams (R-Orlando) LEAN R (?)
I’m less sure about this district than any other, as it contains parts of four counties and is the undoing of a Republican gerrymander. The good news for Adams is that she loses Democratic areas of Volusia County and gains a little more of Republican Broward. The bad news for her is that she is forced to give up her red precincts in northern Orange County. The wild card is Seminole County, which leans Republican and is now entirely within the 24th. I don’t know the partisan data for the new Seminole precincts, which came mostly from Mica’s 7th, but Adams did represent a good portion of them in the State House. Overall, I’ll guess that this is a wash, and gave McCain ~50% of the vote.
FL-27-sea green: NEW DISTRICT, SAFE D
VAP: 40% White, 31% Hispanic, 21% Black
Here’s the majority-minority district that everyone is expecting to see in urban Orlando. It could be even more compact than this, but I expect Republicans to test the law a little around the edges, in this case working the angle of maximizing minority representation in this district. With all the money Alan Grayson is able to raise from the netroots, this district is probably his if he wants it (imagine him and Dan Webster in Congress together!) Corrine Brown lives in Jacksonville but currently represents the black areas of the new district, and could conceivably also run here.
FL-09-sky blue: Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) SAFE R
Somewhat easier on the eyes than the old 9th but politically similar, if not slightly more Republican. The base remains northern Pinellas County, which has sent members of the Bilirakis family to Congress for nearly 30 years and should continue t
o re-elect the noncontroversial Gus.
FL-10-pink: Bill Young (R-Indian Shores) LIKELY R (with Young), TOSSUP/TILT D (open seat)
Bill Young has been around for a long time and is not in much danger if he chooses to seek re-election (although this district is now considerably more Democratic), but this will be a tough hold for Republicans when he retires. The new law forces the 10th to take in the black areas of St. Petersburg and cede some of the Republican towns in northern Pinellas. This new form probably gave Obama 55% of the vote.
FL-11-lime: Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) SAFE D
Has to meander a little bit to stay majority-minority but remains focused on the city of Tampa. I attempted to keep as much of the district west of I-75 as possible.
FL-12-medium blue: Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) LIKELY R
Southeastern Hillsborough and Northern Polk are combined in a district that traces I-4. This is one of many Florida districts that McCain only won by a small margin but that Democrats do not normally make a serious run at, although Ross didn’t exactly light the world on fire with his 7-point win in 2010. If history is a guide, his margins will improve as he builds seniority.
FL-13-tan: Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) LIKELY R (with Buchanan), LEAN R (open)
McCain 51, Obama 48
This was easy–Manatee and Sarasota Counties are just about the perfect size for a district. Both counties voted by a narrow margin for McCain, which means Buchanan is probably safe here. If he decides to run for Senate, Republicans would start with a slight edge in the race to replace him.
FL-14-grey: Connie Mack (R-Fort Myers) SAFE R
McCain 55, Obama 44
Senate non-candidate Connie Mack IV is safe in this sleepy corner of Florida, dominated by retirees. Lee County is the main player in this district, although it spills over into Charlotte and Collier to get up to population.
FL-15-orange: Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) LEAN R
The 15th presents the same dilemma that NV-02 did: it is a moderately Republican seat that is forced to shed its most Republican areas. The big problem here is Osceola County, which dramatically swung from a 5-point Bush win to a 20-point Obama win, due in large part to the growing Puerto Rican population in Kissimmee. I assume Republicans will leave it with Posey, rather than give it to the new 26th and risk a Democrat winning that. That forces the 15th to give up half of Indian River, and move closer to a 50% McCain district. I assume Posey can hold this, but this is one to watch.
FL-26-army fatgues: NEW SEAT, LIKELY R
The second new district is a product of two factors. First of all, Charlotte County has exploded in population over the past decade, and is the obvious starting point for a new seat. Secondly, the Florida Heartland is broken up and attached to several coastal seats under the current map. As the coastal districts grow, they are forced to pull out of the heartland, and it makes sense to combine all these rural counties into one district. Regrettably, I needed to go to the east coast to pick up the final 200k for the new 26th. St. Lucie County is the only source of Democratic votes here, and the real drama would likely be between the primary between a Port Charlotte and Fort Pierce Republican.
Palm Beach & Broward
FL-23-light blue: open SAFE D
50.1% black VAP
We start here because this is the centerpiece of the South Florida map. Unlike the 3rd, the 23rd is VRA-protected, and it is possible to draw a reasonably compact black-majority seat in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. This district connects Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach Gardens by a narrow strip of land along I-95, isolating a coastal strip to its east. There are other ways of drawing a black-majority seat, but this is the cleanest, best for nearby Republicans, and also draws out Alcee Hastings. I’d say that’s 3 for 3.
FL-16-green: Tom Rooney (R-Tequesta) SAFE R
Remember that coastal strip of Palm Beach and Broward, isolated by the VRA 23rd? That also happens to be the only area of Republican strength in these two counties, and it has nowhere to go except in Rooney’s 16th, which is forced to give up its western leg. Anchored in R+10 Martin County, the 16th drops down like a fishing lure to grab all the coastal Republicans that strongly supported Allen West in 2010. It’s not exactly compact, but he VRA is a federal law, and this is a side effect of that.
FL-19-pea soup: Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) SAFE D
FL-20-pink: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) SAFE D
After the 16th and 23rd are taken care of, it’s easy to draw a pair of Democratic districts in inland Palm Beach and Broward, as the leftovers of each county are each the ideal size for a congressional seat. Allen West lives in the Broward district (the 20th) and would probably run against Rooney in the 16th if he wants to stay in the House.
FL-17-purple: Frederica Wilson (D-Miami Gardens) vs. Alcee Hastings (D-Miramar) SAFE D
52% Black VAP
Florida’s other black majority seat is much easier to draw. Almost all of the territory is Wilson’s, so hopefully this is the end of Hastings’ career (he would probably run in the 23rd though.)
FL-18-yellow: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) LEAN R
64% Hispanic VAP
This is where the map got really difficult, as I had to keep things compact while also spreading the Hispanic population around enough to support three VRA districts and (covertly, of course) making sure that none of the districts slipped out from under their Republican incumbents. The 18th is the weakest of the three, as compactness rules force it to pull completely out of Miami (which, outside the black neighborhoods, is a GOP city) and eat some of the non-Cuban Hispanic areas of Dade. The Keys are also here, even though they fit culturally better in the 22nd. The good news is that Ros-Lehtinen is the strongest Republican in Dade County and will probably be able to hold this without issue. (Don’t worry about her Miami residence. The Diaz-Balart brothers lived in the 18th while representing the 21st and 25th, so residency isn’t a huge issue around here.)
FL-21-maroon: Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) SAFE R
84% Hispanic VAP
This might violate the VRA for being too Hispanic due to compactness (the old 21st is 77% Hispanic.) Most of Miami and Hialeah make this the safest of the three Dade districts for Republicans and for Mario, who now lives within his district’s lines. If the Brown lawsuit succeeds, this district would become less Hispanic and Republican, remaining safe for MDB but making Ros-Lehtinen and Rivera safer as well.
FL-22-brown: open, SAFE D
47% White, 38% Hispanic
West’s seat is replaced by a coastal Dade and Broward majority-minority seat. If the Brown lawsuit succeeds, this may become a 4th Hispanic majority seat, and Republicans would happily stuff it with all the non-Cuban Hispanics in southern Dade. For now, it starts in Fort Lauderdale, takes in Miami Beach, and then wraps around the four VRA seats in Dade to pick up some very diverse neighborhoods south of Miami.
FL-25-pink: David Rivera (R-Miami) SAFE R
60% Hispanic VAP
This could be the coolest district I’ve drawn. It contains almost all of Collier County, which is R+15 and chock full of conservative retirees from the Midwest. Combined, Collier and rural Hendry make up over half of the 25th. Yet it is still 60% Hispanic because of the overwhelmingly homogenous Cuban neighborhoods of western Dade. Rivera needs to go, and we’ve assumed that he will be primaried by another Cuban-American Republican. But could his successor come from Collier instead? And would the Dade voters support a Collier nominee? Even if they didn’t, Collier is Republican enough that it might not matter.