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Florida Census-- Congressional Districts in Perspective

The hardest thing about crunching census data is figuring out where to start, which is clearly the case when it comes to Florida’s Congressional districts.

At the macro level, there are a couple of key factors to keep in mind.

  • Florida was fortunate to get two new seats.  At roughly 696k residents per district, only 17 states have Congressional districts with fewer residents per district.   Even if Florida had 26 seats (avg of 726k per seat), there would still be 15 states with higher resident/district ratios.
  • The difference between one and two new Congressional seats almost certainly means one of the two new seats will be based in the Orlando media market.  If Florida had only one new seat, its location would be less certain.
  • An argument can be made for a Hispanic majority seat in either or both the Tampa and Orlando media markets---however, because of the delta between ‘residents’ and ‘voters,’ there is no guarantee that those districts would elect a Hispanic.

Florida ‘Apportionment’

Florida does not apportion districts regionally, but for purposes of examining larger trend lines, let's look at the map in terms of media markets.

If districts were apportioned by market, the 2000 census would have apportioned 6.2 seats to the Miami media market, making it the largest, followed closely by Tampa (5.8), then Orlando (4.6).  In reality, actual apportionment follows this formula pretty closely:

Market                 Ideal (2000 census) Reps                      Actual Reps

Fort Myers                           1.4                                                          1

Gainesville                           0.4                                                          0

Jacksonville                          2.0                                                          2

Miami/FtLaud                       6.2                                                          7

Orlando                                4.6                                                         5

Panama City                         0.5                                                         1

Pensacola                             0.9                                                         1

Tallahassee                          0.6                                                          0

Tampa                                  5.8                                                          6

West Palm Beach                 2.5                                                          2

By going to 27 districts, the big winner is Orlando, though arguably the other big winner is Miami, which under a 26 seat scenario would lose Congressional representation.    With the addition of two seats, Orlando will see the largest gain, nearly 3/4ths of a seat, followed by Tampa, which will see nearly ½ of a new seat.  The West Palm Beach and Fort Myers will both see more representation, with the rest of the state remaining virtually unchanged.

Market                   Ideal (2010 census) Reps                   Current Reps

Fort Myers                            1.7 (+ 0.28)                                         1

Gainesville                            0.5 (+ 0.02)                                         0

Jacksonville                          2.2 (+0.18)                                           2

Miami/FtLaud                        6.2 (nc)                                                7

Orlando                                5.3 (+0.73)                                           5

Panama City                         0.5 (nc)                                                1

Pensacola                             0.9 (nc)                                                1

Tallahassee                          0.7 (+0.03)                                           0

Tampa                                  6.3 (+0.46)                                           6

West Palm Beach                 2.8 (+0.30)                                           2

Demographic Changes

Over the last decade, the make-up of Florida’s population saw dramatic change (see last week’s post).  Statewide, the percentage of non-Hispanic whites dropped to just under 53%, as both Black (African-American and Caribbean-American) and Hispanic populations grew at much higher rates.  Because Congressional districts are essentially just smaller cells within the state, the changes seen in these districts are often even more acute than the statewide changes.

One quick note on the 53% figure:  The 2000 data is far more specific as to race and multi-race, while the 2010 data (or at least available on the website) is less so.  For example, in 2000, when someone checked ‘multi-racial,’ the census breaks down in terms of first, second, third (and so on) race, making it possible to categorize and aggregate that data.  The 2010 data, at least at this point, is not that specific.  As a result, the 2000 data has far fewer people in the other category.  It is probable, as more data becomes available, that we can categorize more ‘other’ data.  It is also possible that more census respondents simply self-selected ‘other.’

Again, on the macro-level, keep these statewide numbers in mind:

  • Overall change from 2000 (35.5%) to 2010 (47.4%) among ‘non-white’ residents:   11.9%
  • Increase in population share of Hispanics from 2000 to 2010:  5.4%
  • Increase in population share of *Blacks:  1.1
  • Increase in population share of Asians:  0.8%

*Black includes both African-American and Caribbean residents.  This is a census designation.

Also, before getting into specific district-level data, if is noteworthy that there doesn’t appear to be any significant correlation between a decrease in white resident population share or increase in Hispanic resident population share and the total growth of the district.  The only real generalization worth making is districts with a higher proportion of minority or ethnic residents tended to have lower growth rates, though there are exceptions to this rule as well.

Remember as well the data below only pertains to residents, not voters.  Many districts have a very different profile when looking at registered voters, even more so when looking at likely voters.  But that is a whole other post.

So here are a few top line findings: 

  • When the state goes from 25 to 27 districts, 17 current districts will shrink in population, while 8 will have to grow. 
  • Of the 25 districts, 15 saw the proportion of non-white residents increase more than the statewide average.  The biggest change:  Rep. Dan Webster (CD-8), which saw non-white residents grow from 31.1% to 51.4%.  The smallest change: Rep. Southerland, (CD-2) which saw only a 5% change in overall racial/ethnic make-up
  • Every district saw an increase Hispanic population share.  12 districts were over the statewide average, with the biggest change (21% of the population to 31%) seen in Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s (CD-20) district.   In terms of actual people, CD 25 (Rivera) added the most Hispanic residents.
  • Seventeen districts saw their Black population share grow faster than the state average.  The biggest increase, CD 19 (Deutch).  The district with the most Black residents:  CD 17 (Wilson)
  • The most-diverse district:  CD 25 (Rivera), which is also the district with the most Hispanic residents.  The least diverse district: CD 10 (Young).
  • Interestingly, 37% of Hispanics live in one of the three Hispanic majority districts, and 37% of Blacks live in one of the three Black majority districts.
  • 58.9% of all Florida residents are registered voters.   CD 1 has the highest proportion of registered voters (68%), while CD 25 has the lowest (45.8%). 

Districts of Note

It is going to take a lot more time and many more blog posts to digest all the data that is out there on these Congressional districts.   There are several that tend to get the bulk of commentary, such as CD 3 (Brown) and CD 16 (Rooney), so here are a few that may not be on your radar screen.

CD 5 (Nugent).   This district has seen the largest growth and will have to shrink by 233,189 voters.  Given high growth rates in neighboring CD 8 (Webster) and CD (Ross), there is the making of a new district somewhere between Tampa and Orlando.    While the district remains one of the most white in Florida, interestingly, the population of Hispanics has increased by 63%.

CD 8 (Webster).    As noted above, in terms of diversity, no district has changed more than this one. The overall Hispanic population has grown 45% and Hispanics now make up more than one-quarter of district residents.  Black population is up 43% and is now more than 10% of the district.  In addition, this district has seen the highest Asian population growth, and is also home to the largest Asian population (4.7% of population).

CD 11 (Castor).  Arguably the most balanced district in terms of diversity (White: 33%, Black: 28%, Hispanic: 27.5%).  Because of the ranging nature of this district, which bridges Tampa Bay in virtually every direction, it is also one of the districts most likely to become less diverse in redistricting.

CD 19 (Deutch). Like CD 8, this district has undergone dramatic change.  The percentage of white residents has dropped from 76% to 56% over the decade, driven by both high Hispanic growth (46% increase) and Black growth (56%).   This district is also in the middle of a muddle of seats that have parts of Palm Beach County (CD 16- Rooney, CD 22—West, CD 23- Hastings) that will almost have change significantly to meet the voter-approved redistricting standards

CD 25 (Rivera).   The most diverse district in the state, it is also home to a sizable Hispanic population on the western side of the state in Collier County.  Given that the district is more than 100,000 residents over the 2012 ideal district size, it could easily lose the western size of the district, which would give the district a very different political look.

You can view all the district data here.  I'll explore it more in future posts.

Again, thank you for reading and as always, please share your thoughts either here, or email me at steven dot schale AT


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Reader Comments (3)

Very interesting, CD 25 redistricting may affect Collier County significantly!

April 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMickey Gargan

"The least diverse district: CD 10 (Young)."

How in the world did they pull off his draw in 2000. Cut out all of South St. Pete and all of Black and Hispanic populations in Clearwater? Must be a good story there.

April 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBob Hackworth

Steve, I agree with most of your analysis according to 2010 census data, however keeping in mind that Florida voters approved amendment 6 and it looks like most of the congressional districts in Florida will finally be made " even " or " 50(R)/50(D)". I have two scenarios and predictions for 2012 :
My scenarios are that District 11 will have it's Pinellas county-St Petersburg and Manatee county-Bradenton populations moved to District 10 and have its Hillsborough county northern and eastern Tampa suburbs added to the district to make it more politically even and friendly to a Republican challenger who could defeat KathyCastor (D). Therefore, also making District 10 more even and also more competative for a potential Democratic candidate against Bill Young (R). My prediction: Kathy Castor (D) loses in District 11 and Bill Young (R) barely wins in District 10.

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