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Tuesday
Feb162010

Want to run for Congress? Move to Central Florida.

With the census about to start in earnest, I wanted to take a look at the likely winners and losers from the next reapportionment and redistricting.  I am not even going to try to predict how that 2012 process will benefit the parties or individual members.  Certainly as anyone who has lived through one redistricting session (I did in 2002) can attest, there is very little you can predict once pen goes to paper.

However, I do believe that by tracking the 2000 census data through the most recent census population projections from last year, there are some interesting nuggets about how the map will evolve.

The number one takeaway, assuming that Florida gains only one new Congressional seat:  the new Congressional seat will likely fall somewhere between Orlando and the eastern part of the Tampa media market.  And in the unlikely scenario that Florida gets two, the Tampa and Orlando media markets will likely each be the beneficiaries of one.

But that's only the beginning.

Since 2000, Florida has experienced subtle demographic shifts.  For example, the 2000 census showed that just under 54% of all Floridians lived in one of the state's seven 'urban' counties, counties with a population of more than 750,000 (Broward, Dade, Duval, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Orange).  Today, that number is 51.7%.  The shift, not surprisingly, is almost exclusively into the midsize (typically suburban/ ) counties. 

Except, unlike the rest of the country, it hasn't been due to urban flight.  For example, the three counties who have dropped the most in terms of their share of statewide population:  Dade, Broward and Pinellas all share in common one thing:  they are at or nearly at maximum density due to geographic constraints.

On the flip side, the counties that are the fastest gaining in terms of their share of statewide population:  Lee (though the failed housing market there is now leading to some retreat in numbers), Orange, Osceola, St. Lucie and Lake all share a similar trait---lots of room to grow.

So what does all this mean?

In general, shockingly little all in all.  Most parts of the state will see very little change in terms of their total representation, though that doesn't mean that everything will be the same.

First, the state house map will show the most obvious shifts.  If counties were apportioned seats strictly based on population (which we know they are not), Dade, Broward and Pinellas would likely each lose an entire seat in the house. 

On the flipside, Orlando/Osceola would gain another (and it would likely be majority Hispanic), and SW Florida would receive another, likely based in Lee County.   The lost Pinellas seat would be absorbed within the media market, but would end up far further north and east, potentially even benefiting the Villages.

In total, the Miami media market would be down two, and the Orlando media market would be up two.  Southwest Florida gains one, stealing some from the eastern side of the state.

In the State Senate, SE Florida will likely watch the power centers of a couple of their districts shift north and west, as Orlando and SW Florida grab bigger chunks of the map. 

That being said, within media markets and even counties, there are subtle shifts that will likely lead to some interesting cartography. But in the interest of space, I'll take those on at a later date.

Agree?  Disagree?  As always, let me know.

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