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Florida Congressional Redistricting, Senate Map, Take 1

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:

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.


Story Lines - Florida Congressional Redistricting

As we near the unveiling of the first official Congressional redistricting maps, here are some of the interesting story lines to keep an eye out for.   This list isn't meant to be exhaustive,  but more the things that I am watching out for as the reapportionment and redistricting process begins in earnest in early December.

The Overall Congressional Mosaic - Currently there are three African American and three Hispanic representatives from Florida to Congress.  Based solely on population, there is an argument that there should be four Black (one of which might Caribbean-American) and six Hispanic representatives. 

Panhandle--What happens to "the Riviera"-- Right now, the Congressional seat (CD2) held by Congressman Steve Southerland goes to Bay County (Panama City), then scoots down US 98 and picks up a small, but highly predictable Republican number of voters in Walton and Okaloosa Counties.  In order to try to comply with Amendment 6, legislators may choose to place these voters in Congressman Jeff Miller's seat (CD1), but to do so, will improve the Democratic performance of CD2 and make Rep. Southerland more open to a challenge. 

Cliff Stearns, Ander Crenshaw, Corrine Brown and North Central Florida - It is hard to imagine Crenshaw (CD 4) and Stearns (CD 6) will end up with districts that look like they currently represent, however, where they lands largely a function of what the legislature does with Corrine Brown's seat (CD3).  There are possibilities for Brown to win an election in a more Duval-centric district, but clearly it will be far more difficult.  And what happens to Alachua County, which currently is split between Brown and Stearns, could define whether there is any chance for Democrats here.

Does John Mica end up living anywhere near his district? - More than 2/3rds of John Mica's current constituents live about a 30 minute drive up I-4 from where John Mica currently lives.  The Webster/Adams/Brown/Mica districts are intertangled and converge around Winter Park, the town Mica calls home. More than likely, someone is going to end up in the real estate market.  Mica seems to be the most likely candidate.

Does Orlando become home to a new Democratic seat?-  Central Florida will almost certainly end up with one of the two new Congressional seats and one solution to the potential impact of the growing Hispanic community on the Republican seats in the region would be to create a district that consolidates within Orange and Osceola counties, with Congressman Webster ending up with a district further north. 

Bill Young and Kathy Castor -  What happens to south St. Pete?  It is currently in Kathy Castor's (CD 11) district, which would be far more competitive if south St. Pete ends up in Bill Young's (CD 10) district.  But on the flip-side, Bill Young's district would be far more Democratic---which will matter when he eventually chooses to not seek re-election.

Rooney and West -  While I am no lawyer, the sea to shining sea district Tom Rooney (CD 16) represents would be the kind of district that might be challenged under an Amendment 6 review, so the legislature may well decide to consolidate Rooney's district on the east coast of the state, where he lives.  But here is the challenge:  Unless the Rooney district goes north, which impacts the district of Bill Posey (CD 15)---which may face its own pressures as the legislature unwinds Central Florida, the only direction for Rooney to add voters is to the south, which impacts Allen West.   West is already going to face an enormous challenge in his re-election, and if Rooney's district ends up capturing parts of his district, re-election could be outright uphill.

Miami Dade and David Rivera - There is no need to rehash David Rivera's troubles, but there is another interesting story line in the Rivera re-election:  Miami Dade county itself.   The county's electoral politics are changing rapidly.  In 1992, when President Bush narrowly defeated Bill Clinton in Florida, Clinton carried Dade County by roughly 20,000 votes.  Eight years later, the Gore margin wasn't too much bigger, but by in 2008, then Senator Obama carried the county by 140,000 votes.  Even in her loss, Alex Sink won Dade County by a margin not matched since 1990--when Dade was also a very different place.   It is hard to imagine that over the next decade, Miami Dade will continue to be represented by three Hispanic Republicans.  So the question becomes, is the GOP willing to sacrifice one to save two seats over the next ten years?




Florida's Hispanic Mosaic

Twenty years ago, when Florida and Hispanic were mentioned in the same sentence, one word came to mind: Cuban. Fast forward a decade and we began to add “Puerto Rican” to that conversation. And while the vast majority of Hispanic voters are of Cuban and Puerto Rican origin, the 2010 census finds an ever more interesting landscape.  For one, in terms of real population, more than 50% of all Florida Hispanics belong to a nationality that is neither Puerto Rican or Cuban---a finding that will have long term implications on our state, and its politics.

Here are a couple of interesting facts:

Cubans (29%) and Puerto Ricans (20%) remain clearly the two largest groups of Hispanics, with the latter growing in share. Overall, the number of Puerto Ricans living in Florida nearly doubled in the last ten years, adding the equivalent of the entire population of the City of Tampa to its ranks since the year 2000.

And more importantly for the state’s political calculus, the number of Puerto Ricans of voting age has nearly doubled since 2000, and as anyone living in Orlando can attest, it is a growth rate that isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Mexicans make up the third largest share, with just under 15% of the state’s Hispanic residents, and interestingly, the largest Mexican population (just over 65K) is in Hillsborough County, where Mexicans slightly outpace Cubans, despite the county’s long heritage as one of Florida’s key Cuban communities.

But here is where things get interesting; there are currently 14 nationalities that make up more than one percent of Florida’s Hispanic population. In terms of raw numbers, this means that 14 nationalities have a population living in Florida greater than 42,000 residents. And virtually all of these populations are growing faster than the overall Hispanic rate of growth.

To put this in perspective, here are a couple of interesting examples:

  • The state’s Salvadorian population is just over 55,000 people, roughly the size of Jupiter, Florida, and has grown 62% since 2000.
  • Our Guatemalan population today is over 83,000 residents, roughly the size of Boca Raton, and has grown 66% since 2000.
  • The Honduran population now stands at over 107,000 residents, or roughly the size of Clearwater, and is up 61% since 2000.
  • The Dominican population is now 172,000 plus, or equivalent to Fort Lauderdale, a number that is up 58%.
  • And Colombians now make up roughly 1 out of every 13 Hispanics living in Florida, with more than 300,000 residents, and a growth rate of nearly 54% over the last ten years.

One other interesting way to look at this trend is through the citizen naturalization figures. In 2000, Cubans made up 28% of all newly naturalized Florida citizens, a number that dropped to 17% in 2010. Moreover, the growth in non-Cuban Hispanic naturalizations is staggering. Take the aforementioned Colombian population, where nearly three times as many Colombians naturalized as citizens in 2010 as in 2000. In no way does this mean the Cuban vote doesn’t matter---but it does mean that doing well among Florida Hispanics will mean navigating an ever diversifying voter group.

So where do Hispanics live?

Before diving into this data, here are a couple of interesting facts. Statewide, Hispanics make up 22.5% of the state’s population, though more than 50% of Hispanics live in just three counties: Miami-Dade, Broward & Orange County (these three counties make up 29% of all residents). In total, there are 27 Florida counties where Hispanics make up more than 10% of the population. The largest: Dade County, where the 1.6 million Hispanics make up 65% of the county population. The smallest percentage? Baker County, home to 502 Hispanics, making up 1.9% of the population.

Breaking the data down a little further, Florida’s Cuban population is by far the most geographically centralized of all the Hispanic populations, with more than 70% of all Cubans living in Dade County.

In terms of the Puerto Rican population, Orange County has the largest population (149,457), followed by Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Broward, and Osceola Counties. All in all, these five counties make up more than 50% of the state’s Puerto Rican population. To stress just how much the state’s overall Hispanic population is changing, there are now 35,000 more Puerto Ricans than Cubans living in Hillsborough County, home to one of America’s most historic Cuban communities.

The chart below shows Florida’s Hispanic population by media market:

Market          Total Population   Total Hispanic   Puerto Rican  Cuban

Ft Myers              1,187,138             238,086            34,474         42,332

Gainesville           321,498                25,156              6,161           4,832

Jacksonville          1,531,546            104,624            33,715         11,020

Miami/Ft.Laud       4,317,591           2,077,177         169,101        948,008

Orlando                3,692,794             687,986           335,105        50,544

Palm Beach           1,922,265             339,725           56,133          51,056

Panama City          348,939                16,384             3,151            1,328

Pensacola              629,813                32,864             7,143            2,057

Tallahassee           474,427                28,996              4,157            4,336

Tampa                   4,375,299              672,808          198,410         97,923

So what does all this mean?

Without question, Florida’s population is getting younger and more diverse. In 2008, the Hispanic vote made up roughly 13% of the state’s electorate, and the 2010 census showed that some 22.5% of all Florida residents are of Hispanic descent.

As a result of these changes, 2012 election may very well be the first election in Florida where Black (African-American & Caribbean-American), Hispanic and other ethnic minority voters make up more than 30% of the state’s general election population (this will almost certainly be the case by 2016), and going forward, there is no reason to think this trend won’t continue to change. Even if internal US migration to Florida picks up in the coming decade, there is little question that ethnic minorities will make up more than 50% of the state’s population by the time the 2020 census rolls around. Combine this with the growing diversification of Florida’s Hispanic population, and this should be good news for Democrats.

But like everything, it isn’t that easy. First, there is a significant delta between the percentage of Hispanics living in Florida (22.5%) and the Hispanic share of the Florida electorate (12-14%). Secondly, naturalizations are occurring at a much slower pace than population growth, so even though the share of non-Cuban Hispanics becoming citizens is growing, the raw numbers aren’t that overwhelming, and at least in the short term, aren’t alone likely to have a significant impact on the electorate.

That being said, if the voting-age Puerto Rican population grows at a pace that is even close to what we saw in the last decade, the next ten years could bring another 300,000 eligible Puerto Rican voters to Florida, which in a state that has seen a mere 50,000 votes separate the two main political parties out of 32 million cast over the last five Presidential elections, and there is no question that kind of change could impact the landscape. All one has to do is look at how much statewide election results have changed in Orange County over the last 20 years to see what this type of influx could mean.

However, the long term may be an entirely different story, as generational changes in both the Hispanic and Caribbean communities take hold and reshape the face of Florida’s electorate. But that is worthy of its own post.

Former Senator/Governor Bob Graham suggested around the turn of the century that Florida was at the beginning of a 20-30 year journey that would it from a GOP state to a leaning Democratic one, based largely on demographic shifts occurring in our backyard. Only time will tell if he is right.


Public Polling, me and Sunshine State News.

I'll admit, there is very little about Sunshine State News' spin on the news that I agree with, but a few weeks back, I found a small place of common ground---and tomorrow, when they release a poll they have commissioned, they have a chance to walk the walk.

For those of you who don't know about Sunshine State News (SSN), it is a web-based news service, located in Tallahassee that covers state politics, often from a perspective that makes Fox News look objective.   Basically, it is a news wire that covers the blocking and tackling of Republican politics, with plenty of opinions on Democrats tossed in.   That's fine---the more voices, the merrier.

In late May, Kenric Ward, who serves as the Chief Political Corespondent, as well as top Miami Hurricane fan, wrote a piece that outlined the, well let's just say interesting, model used by Quinnipiac in their most recent poll.   As Ward points, out, that particular poll way over accounted for independents, to the detriment of both Republicans and Democrats.   The Democrats' strength with independents, as Ward points out, drove the margins to levels arguably higher than reality. 

While surely Ward was trying to spin a poll that was bad for his point of view (that's something we are all guilty of doing), I nonetheless believe the point Ward was making is there is often far more to the public polling than meets the eye.  From my view, too often our friends in the media, including some of Ward's colleagues at SSN, print every public poll and the conclusion they reach as though it is pure fact, even though there are times where the models used by public pollsters bear little resemblence to reality.

Renowned pundit Charlie Cook said in 2010 that "most academic polling, as well as the polling sponsored by local televisions and newspapers, is dime store junk."  Now in fairness, I am not sure I would go this far, but I do believe a lot of it is suspect from a methodology standpoint, particularly in a state like Florida.  I also agree with Republican pollster Whit Ayers, who in the same piece said he trusts partisan and candidate polling more, since those of us in the business of politics have a reason to have good numbers, since numbers drive resource questions.

To get it right in Florida, not only do you have to get your partisan balance right, but you have to land at the right place regionally.  For example, the Tampa and Miami media markets are similar in size, but Tampa has a lot more voters.  In 2010, I had it out with a public pollster who released results based on a survey that had 30% of the statewide vote in the Miami market and only 20% in Tampa, even though there is no scenario where Election Day would ever look like that.  Ironically, this was a poll that showed the candidate I was helping with a significant lead, even though that wasn't the case at the time.

You also have to get the demographics right, which with a state that has both a diverse Hispanic and Black population, isn't easy.  Margin of error accounts for some of this, though as we all know, most people don't read polls with a real understanding of how margin of error works.

Now, why does any of this matter?  In today's news environment, polling drives news.  One day a poll shows you up three, then you have Big Mo.  The next day you are down one, and you are losing, even though with sampling/modeling differences and margin of error, those surveys say the same exact thing.  These things drive opinion leader views, donor energy,  the "enthusiasm" gap, as well as news coverage.    I remember this all too well from 2008, when 2-3 bad polls in a row in early September led a couple of reporters to publicly ask "was Obama done" in news stories. Of course, a few days later polls changed, and so did the narrative.

To point out the absurdity of this, last summer, when I was helping my good friend Dan Gelber, a poll came out that showed he was losing to his primary opponent, Dave Aronberg, by a margin of something like 22-20, with nearly 60% undecided.   This was before either candidate had done any real television, mail or other form of communication. The poll was reported in the news, and within minutes, my email was blowing up with reporters, donors and other activists wondering what we were going to do to change this deficit.  Within literally an hour or two, a second poll came out which showed us ahead, something in the neighborhood of 21-19, with the same 60% undecided.  This was similarly heralded by the same as proof Dan was moving ahead.   When the final bell rang in the primary, neither poll bared any resemblance to the final outcome.  Interestingly for this blog, the only one who was close was Sunshine State News, and they weren't that close.

I get the allure of publishing these polls.  One of the hard things about covering politics and elections is that there is only one scoreboard, and it doesn't come until election day.  Therefore, reporters and pundits alike look for ways to create a score, and poll numbers, like fundraising numbers, provide a vehicle for doing that.   But poll numbers, especially this far out, aren't worth anything---just ask President Guiliani, who in many polls in 2007, was on pace to beat Hillary Clinton. 

So here is my proposal to my friends in the media, publish all the public polling you want, but demand in order to publish it, that the pollster or company release their full methodology and model.  Since most polls are published on blogs, not in the paper, its not as though there are space constraints that stand in the way of this level of reporting.  If Mason-Dixon has numbers in Florida on the Presidential race or the Governor's approval rating, publish them, but report their model (republicans-democrats-independents) and ask them to put together a memo that details the breakdown by media market and their demographics.

When I've asked this of press before, the usual response is something like 'well, I am only publishing this online, or in a blog,' as if that makes it OK.  I also get that when a poll is bad for your side, it is always a 'bad poll.'  But that doesn't diminish that there is a responsibility for ensuring that standards are met before publishing polls.  But more than that, what is on a blog these days is news, and as I discussed earlier, has consequences for campaigns. 

Some public polls do this well.  PPP polls, for example, which does robo polls (which may be an entirely different conversation), releases its entire cross-tabs, with exact survey questions.  So does Survey USA, another robo-firm.  Mason-Dixon, Quinnipiac and Rasmussen won't, unless in the latter's case, you pay for them.  

To publish a political science paper in a journal---heck for that matter, when I wrote for grad school, I had to make my data available to others,and explain how I got to my findings.  No good journalist would ever publish a candidate poll without broad disclosure, so why is great deference given to the public polling.  Given the stakes in politics, especially when you are playing around in statewide or Presidential world, we should expect the same from those who publish public polling data.  All it takes from the press is one more email, and a few more lines on their blogs.

And starting tomorrow, when Sunshine State News releases its first poll of 2011, they have an opportunity to set an example.  So to my friend Kenric Ward, I look forward to seeing what the SSN poll looks like tomorrow---as well as how SSN got to the conclusions it will inevitably make about the numbers.


Alvin Brown's Big Win, and What it Means (and doesn't mean)

On Wednesday, it became official, Jacksonville has a new Mayor.  His name is Alvin Brown, a Democrat who is African-American.  The former hadn't happened in Jacksonville in 20 years, and the latter was a first. 

The election is getting a lot of attention, as it should.  This is a big deal.  It is a big deal for Democrats, who for most of two decades, have been relegated to the sidelines in citywide elections in Jacksonville. It is also a big deal for Jacksonville, which for much of its history--like a lot of Northeast Florida (google my hometown of St. Augustine), has had a pretty sorry record on race relations.

Alvin ran a smart race.  He worked his base vote to a second place showing in the initial primary, then smartly guided by the adult leadership of former top Graham and Sink advisor Chris Hand, did exactly what he needed to do to position himselfas the center-right candidate in a city that elects center-right Mayors. When you look at the match-up, Alvin Brown is the kind of guy that Jacksonville elects as its Mayor.  In many ways, he was supposed to win, and he did.  More on this point later.

First, the Florida Democratic Party deserves a tremendous amount of credit for getting in this race, investing early, supporting the candidate both financially and with staff and seeing it through to the end.  The party actively raised money and Scott Arceneaux, the party's talented Executive Director, essentially lived in the campaign for the last few months. Given the political history of the city, it was a gutsy call.  They drove the ship and deserve a ton of well-deserved credit for the win.

And like all elections, the race's dynamics had as much to do with the win as anything.  The leading vote getter in the primary was Mike Hogan, who ran from the tea party wing of the GOP.  Alvin came in second in a four way primary, besting two moderate Republicans, who in many ways had split the traditional moderate Jacksonville support.   The final match-up was a Tea Party Republican against a center-right Democrat, with an undecided business community.

Jacksonville has a long tradition of electing center-right Mayors---which for the last 20 years have been Republicans.   Alvin ended up in filling that space, and was widely supported by moderate Republican business leaders, who openly campaigned and supported him.  They made Alvin competitive, and the campaign's message and turnout effort got him over the top.


So, what does this mean?

*  First, Jacksonville hasn't been as 'red' (its still quite republican) of late---we got nearly 49% there in 2008 and Sink, considering her loss, was very competitive (46%).   In addition to Brown, another Democrat bested a Republican for a city-wide Council seat, and just two months earlier, in the primary (cityprimaries are all open), Democrat John Crescembeni won re-election over three Republicans in a city-wide primary.

*  Secondly, the 2010 enthusiasm gap--which definitely existed, is gone.  Democrats showed up, volunteered, voted, and were engaged. The same thing happened in the Tampa Mayors race in the spring. This is the most important take-away of the race.

*  Third, even in the most partisan communities, there are degrees of acceptable partisanship and ideological extremes.  Mike Hogan ran as a tea party Republican, and at least gave the appearance of taking the centrist part of his party for granted.  When it was all said and done, those centrists found a home with Alvin Brown.  If Hogan had been closer to the center, or if one of the more moderate Republicans had won the primary, the outcome might have been different.  Even in this traditionally 'red' area, the GOP nominee went too far. Democrats should heed this as well. Regular voters aren't as partisan as their leaders.

*  Fourth, you have to go get it.  Hogan played it safe, avoided debates and other public gatherings.  Brown didn't.  In the end, that mattered.

*  Fifth, while this is a boost to Democrats, the race is a much bigger deal to Jacksonville than it is to Barack Obama.  Parts of Hogan's coalition, labor specifically, will probably line up with the President, while parts of the Brown coalition will probably help the Republican nominee.  While I wish politics was a simple as win Jacksonville Mayor, win Jacksonville Presidential, the reality is Obama has to run his own race.   But as I mentioned above, the energy from the win is definitely a plus for the President. 

*  And finally, I also believe it will convince more good Jacksonville Democrats to get off the sidelines and throw their own hats in future rings---hopefully including one good Democrat who I think is reading this, but has held their own powder out of concerns of electability.  Competition always leads to a better product---and better elected officials.


And why it really matters.

We moved to the First Coast in 1984, when I was just shy of ten years old.  Growing up in a moderately sized, rustbelt Illinois town, then moving to what was in those days, a pretty deep south North Florida was quite a cultural shock, especially for a kid who had never really known race as a tangible thing.  In the late 1980's, that part of the world was still very segregated, even if not legally so.  

While Jacksonville has gotten better, the 2003 Mayor's race between Nat Glover and John Peyton was not without its own racial issues, so when I first heard that Alvin was thinking about running, I'll admit to being a bit skeptical, and not because he wasn't a good candidate. 

But all of the sudden, his coalition started to look a lot like John Peyton or John Delaney's---that combination of base PLUS the center-right civic leadership of Jacksonville...then he got the Jacksonville Times-Union endorsement, and it started to look more and more real.   Even as more of my non-Democratic friends (yes, I have non-Democratic friends) from Jacksonville started to suggest he might pull it off, I'll admit to harboring doubts--- not a lack of hope, just doubts. 

But in the end he won, just like he was supposed to.  He just happened to be a Democrat, and African-American, and neither mattered---just like the new Mayors of Charlotte, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina, both elected last year.

Talk about real change---and a new day in the south.  And that is what really matters.

So congratulations Mr. Mayor, and Go Jaguars!


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



First Look at 2010 Florida Census Data 

The 2010 redistricting process will be unlike any before it.  With the introduction of the redistricting standards approved by the voters in November 2010, this cycle’s version is sure to take on a very different look. 

Over the next several months, I hope to use this blog from time to time to explore some interesting data nuggets as this process develops.  But before we delve into that, there are a few interesting top-line observations from the Census.

While not perfect, the state’s media markets do a nice job of breaking down the state by region.  For purposes of this exercise, looking at the state by region or media market is easier than breaking down county level data.  In future blogs, I’ll take a more detailed look individual counties and districts in a few markets as it pertains to redistricting.


While Tampa for some time has been the largest block of votes in the state, making up roughly 25% of all likely voters, Miami has held down the #1 spot, at least in terms of the census population, as the largest media market in the state.  Not anymore. 

Even though the market’s share of the state was unchanged from 2000 to 2010, the Tampa media market, with 23.3% of the state’s residents now reigns supreme, as the Miami market shrunk from 24.8% of the state to 23.0%.  

In terms of growth, as a percentage, Fort Myers grew the fastest (23.1%), while Pensacola grew the slowest (7.5%).   But in terms of real change, the Orlando market is rapidly gobbling up more of the state’s population, and is now approaching 20% of the state’s residents. In fact, if the state continues to grow in roughly the same proportions, the Orlando market will overtake Miami in 20 years and Tampa in roughly 30 years.  If growth rates return to anything approaching pre-2000 rates, it will probably be sooner than that.

This is not meant to downplay what Miami means to the state-- its diversity and current trends will have lasting impacts on Florida for generations to come.  More on that in a future post.

Population by Market:

Market                                 2010                     Population Change

Fort Myers                             6.3%                                 23.1%

Gainesville                            1.7%                                  12.6%

Jacksonville                          8.1%                                   15.8%

Miami                                   23.0%                                  8.4%

Orlando                               19.6%                                  20.8%

Panama City                        1.9%                                    13.7%

Pensacola                            3.3%                                    7.5%

Tampa                                 23.3%                                   15.0%

Tallahassee                         2.5%                                     12.8%

West Palm Beach                10.2%                                    16.8%   

Probably more interesting to the forty-five people (I do appreciate you!) who read my blog, let’s look at how these numbers in terms of county electoral types.

For purposes of simplicity, I tend to look break the state into five county typologies:  Safe GOP (those counties that a statewide Democrat never wins---Nelson 06 excluded), Lean GOP (those counties that almost always vote Republican), Swing, Lean Dem (those counties that typically vote Democrat), and Safe Dem (those counties that only Connie Mack ’94 has won!)

To give you a sense of what this looks like:

Safe GOP= 32 counties

Lean GOP= 14 counties

Swing = 11 counties

Lean Dem = 4 counties

Safe Dem = 6 counties

When we look at the state from this perspective, the change is minimal.  There’s been a slight shift in total population out of the Democratic counties into the swing and GOP counties, which is due to the general shift in population towards the more suburban areas of the state

                                            2010                   2000

Safe GOP                             32.2%                    31.0%

Lean GOP                            7.5%                      7.7%

Swing                                  23.1%                    22.3%

Lean Dem                            17.8%                    18.6%

Safe Dem                            19.4%                    20.5%

One last way to look at the state is to group counties into various size categories.  Not surprisingly, there has been a shift of population share into the ‘emerging’ counties, which with very few exceptions, tend to be suburban or exurban in nature. 

                                                        2010                         2000

Small/Rural (less than 100K)            6.8% (34)*                  6.6% (34)

Midsized (100K-250K)                      8.7% (11)                    13.2% (14)          

Emerging (250-750k)                       31.5% (15)                  26.2% (12)

Urban (750K)                                   51.7% (7)                     53.8% (7)

*the slight up-tick in the rural population is almost exclusively due to two counties, Sumter and Flagler, which both experienced growth near 50% and are both very close to 100,000 residents.  The ten smallest counties in Florida experienced growth of roughly 14% and a dozen rural counties had less than 10% growth.


Rightly, much has been written about the growing Hispanic population in Florida.  Since 2010, the Hispanic population is up some 36.5%.  In fact, every media market in the state, except for Miami, saw its Hispanic population grow by more than 42% (and three markets saw over 50%).  But what is missing from most news coverage is just how generally diverse Florida is becoming. 

In 2000, the state’s white (non-Hispanic) population made up 61.2% of residents.  As of the 2010 census, that number was 52.6%, with Hispanics making up 22.5% of the state and the Black (Black is the census reported term, and for Florida, this means both African American and Caribbean American populations) population making up 16%.  Without question, the white (non-Hispanic) population of Florida will be under 50% at the next census.

In terms of overall change, the state’s white (non-Hispanic) population grew by just under 12%, while Black population grew by 22.1% and Hispanic by 36.5%. 

Looking at pure percentage change by market, not surprisingly, the Orlando area has seen the biggest change, driven by a 50% increase in Hispanic residents and a 32% increase in Black residents.  West Palm Beach has seen a very similar level of change, with a 44% increase in Hispanic residents and a 30% increase in Black residents (we know from other data sources that a significant portion of this is driven by Caribbean growth). 

The Miami market continues to be the most diverse market in the state, with its white (non-Hispanic) population at 21.6% (and under 10% in Miami Dade County), with both the largest Hispanic populations (2.1 million) and Black populations (950K).   Panama City and Pensacola are the least diverse. 

What’s Next

My next blog post, I’ll take a look at the changes in the Congressional map (hint: while CD 5 has grown the fastest, no district has changed more than CD 8), plus explore more of the macro-level data. 

As always, I welcome your comments.


So, Just How Close is Florida?

Tis the season for speculation on 2012, so it came as no surprise that after my Holiday self-imposed no-telephone call break, I found several messages on my phone from reporters asking my take on whether Florida is truly a toss-up state for President Obama, especially after what here (and everywhere else) happened in November. 

My answer:  Absolutely.  There is no question that Florida in 2012 will be competitive.  For those who want to write off President Obama here, or anywhere for that matter, history has proven never to count him out.  Personally, I believe he can and will win Florida in 2012.  But more on that later.

There are lots of reasons why Florida will be competitive in 2012, but mostly the state's Presidential election make-up is vastly different than its Gubernatorial election make-up.  Look at the last five elections and you will see it doesn't really matter what happens in the Gubernatorial cycle, Presidential elections are always tight.

In fact, if you look at the five Presidential elections since 1992, when Florida first joined the ranks of the highly competitive, the record is essentially 2-2-1.  Both parties have a 5-6 point win (Dems 96, GOP 04), both have a 2-3 point win (Dems 08, GOP 92) and we all know what happened in 2000, some of us more acutely than others.

All of this got me thinking.  Just how close has Florida been since 1992?

For comparison purposes, let's look nationally.

Across the nation, just shy of 520 million votes have been cast since 1992 for either the Democrat or Republican candidate, with just under 52% of the vote going to the Democratic candidate, the vast majority cast in states that voted either Republican or Democratic in all or most of those cycles.

Even among states considered "battleground states," most of them over the last five cycles have been fairly predictable.  For example, Pennsylvania and Michigan are 5-5 for Dems, even though they are traditionally close, and several that President Obama won in 2008, such as Virginia and North Carolina, states that may very well be in play in 2012, can't really be considered historically swing for the purposes of this exercise given their GOP performance in the four previous cycles.

In fact, there are less than a dozen that each party has won at least twice since 1992:  Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.   Out of these ten, not many folks would consider Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee or West Virginia to be swing states in 2012. 

That leaves Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada and Ohio, all states generally considered as in play for 2012.

So, just how competitive are these five states in Presidential years?

Out of these five, since 1992, Nevada is the most "one-sided" with Democrats winning 51.5% of the 3.1 million or so two-party votes cast since 92.  Nevada voted for Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush and Obama.

In Ohio, America's other electoral college prize, things are predictably tight with Democrats winning 50.7% of the roughly 24.5 million votes cast since 92.  Ohio also went for Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush and Obama.

America's traditional 'bellwether' was extremely close, with a mere 99,403 votes separating the two parties over the last five Presidential cycles, for a razor margin of 0.9%.  The last three here have gone GOP, with the 2008 election being decided by less than 5,000 votes.

This brings us to Colorado (Clinton, Dole, Bush, Bush and Obama) and Florida (Bush, Clinton, Bush/Tie, Bush, Obama), the former which is universally considered a battleground state, while the latter is often debated.

Well, if you look at the last five elections, there should be no debate about either. 

Since 1992 in Florida, some 30.7 million two-party votes have been cast for President, with the Democratic candidate winning 15,395,501 votes and the Republican candidate winning 15,338,047 votes.

The margin over five cycles:  57,454 (closer than the 06 Governor's race).  In percentage terms, that rounds to a mere 0.19% edge for the Democrats--well inside the margin of a recount.  Obviously if you add in the Perot and Nader votes, it is even closer.

But Colorado was even closer, where during the past five Presidentials, Colorado voters have given the Democratic candidates a narrow 16,090 vote margin over the Republican candidates out of the 8.6 million votes cast, for a margin of 0.18%.

In case you were curious, the actual percentage difference between Colorado and Florida is just seven ten-thousands of a percent.

And the good news for political pundits, journalists and pros, as well as the candidates, both states are lovely in the fall.   




Redistricting- What does it mean, House Early Edition

Now that the 2010 election is beyond us, the focus turns to redistricting.  

On Tuesday, the United States Census will release its statewide data, and we will have a first look at how the boundaries are really going to shift and how many seats Florida will add.  I am pretty confident we will get two new seats.  A few months back, I took a look at where those might land.

It will take sometime to get all of the data to look how growth trends will impact down the ballot, but in the meantime, the annual census population estimates provide some indication of internal growth trends and how it might impact district boundaries.

This post will look primarily at State House seats, though if you want to predict how State Senate seat apportionment will change, remember, when they are all re-drawn, the State Senate seats will be exactly 3x as large as State House seats.

Remarkably, most of the state will see little change.  For example, growth in the Palm Beach County media market has been almost spot on with statewide growth, meaning that based on the 2009 population estimates, the market would gain a whole 0.04 state house seats. 

The most significant changes will occur in Southeast Florida and in Central Florida, with the latter gaining seats from the former.   Given that the Miami market has grown slower than the rest of the state, with the Orlando media market growing much faster, the Orlando area stands to gain about 1.5 seats, while Miami/Fort Lauderdale will lose close to two.

As a whole the winners/losers look like this:

Winners (by media market): 

Orlando:  plus 1.41 seats
Fort Myers:  plus 0.58 seats

Losers (by market):

Miami:  minus 1.61 seats
Pensacola:  minus 0.27 seats

The state’s other six media markets will see only fractional changes.  However, that doesn’t mean significant changes won’t occur within those areas.

For example, within the Jacksonville media market, the growth has been mostly in the south, meaning Duval County as a whole will lose a fraction of a seat, which will end up helping my old hometown of St. Johns County, which will gain a larger share of the region’s districts.  

Or in Palm Beach media market, which has seen its population shift northward, both into northern Palm Beach County, but specifically into St. Lucie County.  

But the most significant intra-market population shifts will occur in the Tampa media market, which  will be home to roughly 28 seats after redistricting, virtually the same as prior to redistricting.  However, as one of only two counties that has lost residents since the last redistricting, Pinellas County stands to lose an entire state house seat, earning the distinction as the county that will see the most significant change to their representation.  I am guessing to make up the difference in Pinellas, what is now the John Legg seat in Pasco will bascially go away, and the current HD 45 will become a largely West Pasco based seat.

On the flip side, Pasco, Hernando and Polk County have all seen population growth, meaning the Pinellas seat will likely be replaced by a new district that is further north and east (paging former Representative Littlefield), as House Redistricting Chairman Will Weatherford sees his district significantly shrink due to the remarkable population growth that his area has experienced.

And speaking of Will, he is going to be faced with another interesting dilemma.  More than likely, one of the hopefully two new Congressional seats will end up with a pretty significant population base in east Pasco and north Hillsborough County, a district that could look pretty appealing to the Speaker-Designate.   Ahh, to have choices! 

As this moves forward, I'll try to use this blog to analyze what is out there and what it could mean.  In the meantime, always feel free to share your thoughts. 


More on Crist's Steep Climb

I've gotten a fair number of emails and calls today on my blog post saying that Crist won't win, mostly from Democrats who hope that I am wrong because they see Crist as the best chance to beat Rubio.  Several of them wanted to know how I saw Meek winning, which if you read the post, isn't the point.  Even the Weekly Standard had a take.  Trust me, I didn't see that one coming.
Nonetheless, the chatter made it clear the Crist theory needed more explanation.  So let me delve a little more into the numbers.
Going back to the basic math to win for Crist:  win roughly 1/3 of the partisan vote and 50% of the NPA.   First, there is one big assumption there, that Crist will get 50% of the NPA vote.  Some suggest more, many more suggested he will get less.  For this exercise,we have to start somewhere. Quite frankly, if he doesn't get 50%, the whole conversation is purely academic.  

Nonetheless, under that assumption and the model that  a few more Dems vote on election day, which given the Dems six point registration advantage, is likely, Crist wins by a few points.  But here is problem one:  Who really thinks Crist will get 33% of the GOP vote?  Not this observer.
Looking more into the math, and again, assuming that Crist gets 50% of the NPA vote, which in a three way race is far from a sure thing, here is what he would need to get from R's and D's to get a plurality of vote.  This is all built off a 42-41-17 R-D-NPA election day model:
If 33% of GOP vote for him, he needs about the same in Dem vote.
If 25% of GOP votes for him, he needs 41% of the Dem vote (by less than a point).
If 20% of GOP votes for him, he needs 50% of the Dem vote to win (by four-tenths).
If 18% of GOP votes for him, he needs 53% of the Dem vote to win (by two-tenths).
If 15% of GOP votes for him, he needs 59% of Dem vote to win (by three-tenths).
All of this assumes that in this kind of race, Meek would get 5% of Republicans.  In fairness, I think there is a better chance that Rubio gets 5% of Dems than Meek gets 5% of Republicans.  It also assumes that NPA breaks evenly between Meek and Rubio. 
The problem for Crist is every Republican who goes from Crist to Rubio costs Crist more than he gains the other way around.  Why?  Because when Rubio takes a vote away GOP vote, it goes right to Rubio, while when Crist takes a vote from the Dems, it comes from Meek's total, not from Rubio's.  Make sense? 
Could Democrats leave en masse for Crist?  Sure, they could.  Will they?  Well, lets play that one out.
First of all, if we assume (and I think this is a fair assumption since Davis got 81%), that Meek will get at least 75% of the African American/Caribbean vote, which makes up roughly 13-14% of the likely total statewide turnout, that alone gets him to roughly 10 points statewide, virtually all out of the Democratic column.   So if we work off the scenario that Crist gets 25% of the GOP vote, which is hardly a sure thing, Crist needs to get 41% of the Democratic vote. Should Meek get 75% of the African American/Caribbean vote, Crist would need 55-56% of the remaining white and Hispanic Democratic vote.  If he gets Davis or better numbers, the Crist number gets even higher.  
How does Crist do that?  Theory One is he announces he is caucusing with the Democrats.  That may win him some votes, but some Democrats will see it as pandering and stick with Meek.  Who else will see it as pandering:  Republicans and Independents.  If Crist says he is with the Democrats, will he still get 25% of Republicans or half of the Independents, especially in this cycle when voters are rejecting typical politics?  Highly unlikely. 
In addition, one other factor will come into play:  the hardening of partisanship.  Elections always narrow because partisans come home closer to election day, which is why in Florida, winning the NPA vote in a two way statewide or close district-level race is vital for winning.  In a two-way race, that pushes both candidates to the middle, but in a three-way race, it hurts the one in the middle.  If Crist doesn't get close to a third of the total partisan vote, he will lose, plain and simple, and there is definitely a scenario where that happens.  For example, if he only gets 25% of the two party vote, he would need to get 70% of the NPA vote to get to 34%, which probably won't be enough to win.  Even at 70% of the NPA vote, he'd still needs 29-30% of the two party vote to get to a reasonable win number.

I am the first to admit that Meek's road isn't an easy one, despite my hope and support for him.  But as the numbers support, Crist just isn't going to get there without some dramatic change of events, which leads me back to the point in my original post:  that Kendrick Meek is the best chance for Democrats who want to beat Rubio, because the votes aren't there for Crist.
You know who else I think knows this?  Governor Crist, which explains why he is all over the place on issues.  Confident candidates stay on message, while less confident candidates scramble around to find solid ground.  Is there any question that Crist is scrambling.
Now you ask, can Kendrick Meek win?
Go back to the original Election Day turnout scenario, with Crist winning NPA voters with 50% and Meek/Rubio split the rest.  They each get 80% of their party vote, because Democrats come home understanding that Meek is the best chance.  What happens then?  Meek wins 40-39-21.  Sure he can win.  Will he win?  That is another question.

Yes, I personally want to see Meek win.  I've supported him for some time and was pretty vocal for him during the primary.  But trust me, that is a separate discussion from "Can Charlie Win?," which is the question everyone is asking.  All bias aside, I don't see it happening.  Clearly, a lot has to happen between now and then for Meek, namely, Meek needs to raise a ton of money (though remember, he did throttle a billionaire primary opponent who outspent him 7:1). 

People keep asking "But isn't a better strategy for Democrats to vote for Crist?"   First, I don't think voters are that 'processey.' Secondly, the 'rally around Crist' theory also assumes that the several million or so Democrats likely to vote in November are monolithic.  Trust me, they aren't.

If Jeff Greene had won the primary, I'd be writing a very different post. But Greene didn't, by a long shot.

Simply, I don't see as many as half of Democrats statewide abandoning Kendrick Meek and voting for Charlie Crist, especially with both President Clinton and Obama supporting him, institutional Democrats rallying around him and the vast majority of Democratic electeds remaining firmly in his camp, which is why the time to come to embrace reality and for Democrats to help Meek.  Otherwise, Marco will remain firmly in the driver's seat, which is where he sits today.