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'Movers and Shakers' Interview

During the GOP primary in Florida, I sat down with Shane D'Aprile of Campaigns and Elections Magazine to discuss all things Florida.

Check out the full interview here.


Orlando Rising

On Election Night 2008, my usual election night jitters ended immediately at 7:05 PM EST, when the early vote in Orange County had us up by some 60,000 votes. It was over. No Democrat had come close to that margin, and there was no way John McCain could make it up elsewhere.

In fact, one of my favorite moments of that night was exchanging emails with a certain Democratic cable TV pundit who has a fair amount of Florida history. Upon seeing the early Orlando number, given that Kerry had won Orange County by a mere 1,000 votes, that pundit sent me an email which read "wow, Orlando just ended the McCain presidential campaign." (It was actually more colorful, but this is a G-rated blog!)

In the end, Obama carried Orange County by 85,000, and two years later despite losing, Alex Sink carried Orange by 30,000 votes, compared to Jim Davis, who lost the county by 20,000. Somethinig was clearly happening.

I've spent a few months pondering that question because quite simply, if current population growth trends continue, the Orlando media market could overtake both Miami and Tampa in the next twenty years; and if the core of that market, metro-Orlando, continues to take a big turn towards the Democrats, the statewide and even national political implications are stunning.

The point of this piece is to look at what is happening in Central Florida, which in this instance, is specifically the counties of Orange, Osceola and Seminole. When I refer to Orlando below, I am referring to these three counties. While parts of other counties can be considered metro-Orlando, it is these three counties that make up the heart of the community -- and are undergoing the most radical changes.

Metro Orlando at a Glance

Let me start by laying out a few interesting facts. Like most of my blog posts, I look at data from the five Presidentials between 1992 and 2008. Why those five? Well, 1992 is essentially the birthdate of Florida as a truly battleground state.

First, since 1992, some 2.7 million voters have cast a ballot for President in these three counties, and a mere 6700 votes separate them. However, it is important to know that the Democrats only carried the region once, in 2008, by over 100,000 votes. The other four times, the GOP won.

Secondly, the metro Orlando area has grown from 7.5% of the statewide vote in 1992 to 9.1% of the statewide vote in 2008. Furthermore, its share of the statewide vote has grown by more than 1/2 a percentage point every election cycle, regardless of turnout changes or other statewide factors. If these factors continue, and given the growth in the community, they likely will continue, the metroplex alone will be more than 10% of the statewide vote by 2020, and in 2016, it could very well have more voters than Dade County.

Next, and here is where it is very important: the growth in the statewide vote share is driven almost entirely by the Democratic side of the equation. Here's why:

In 1992, the area made up 7.5% of the statewide vote. However, for Republicans, 8.5% of their vote came from the three county area in 1992, compared to just 6.4% for the Democrats.

Fast forward to 2008, the area made up 9.1% of the statewide vote. The Republican number remains pretty steady, with the region making up 8.2% of their vote, however, the Democratic number had skyrocketed, with 10.1% of their statewide vote coming from metro-Orlando.

In terms of real numbers, or vote margins, the Republicans won the metro-Orlando area by some 51,000 votes in 1992 (more than half of their statewide margin), while in 2008, Obama carried the same three counties by over 100,000, which was nearly half of his statewide margin.

And as the area grows, it becomes a bigger share of the pie for Democrats, but not for Republicans. While the statewide share of the Republican vote coming from the area remains constant over five cycles, it has grown by some 40% for Democrats.

So what is driving this? Conventional wisdom suggests Puerto Rican growth, which is what I expected the data to bare out. In this case, that answer is more than half right, but it isn't the entire story.

Time to pull some census data.

In 2000, the metro area had roughly 1.4 million residents. Over the decade, the three county area added another 436K residents, putting the total population at just under 1.85m. (Unfortunately, I don't have good 1990 data at the county level).

Of that 436,000 resident increase, 119K can be attributed to Puerto Rican growth. In other words, roughly 27% of the total growth in the Orlando area comes from Puerto Ricans. For the purpose of this piece, I focus specifically on Puerto Ricans to the exclusions of other Hispanics, since every new Puerto Rican over the age of 18 is eligible to vote the day they move to the Orlando area.

But Puerto Ricans are not the entire story. African-Americans are just as big of a story -- and in the case of the 2012 election, may be a bigger part. Here's why.

Of the same 436K resident increase, 106K are African-American residents. In other words, the raw increase in residents among Puerto Ricans and African-Americans was almost equal. Now, when you add the non-Puerto Rican Hispanic, overall Hispanic population grew at a much larger rate, but again, this exercise is designed to look at what is happening at the ballot box, and for many, if not most new non-Puerto Rican Hispanic residents, there is a lag time between moving and voting.

And it these census trends that are driving registration and voting behaviors.

Unfortunately, Hispanics are not always reported as a separate ethnic category, and in the past have been classified as either white or black when aggregating state voter data.

While this limits the analysis, there are still some interesting data points:

First, since 1994, voter registration in the three counties has grown almost twice as fast as the state as a whole. Secondly, Democrats are gaining voters in Central Florida over that same period twice as fast as Republicans. In fact, in 1994, Republicans made up 50% of the region's voters, while today, the number is 33%. Democrats on the other hand have held steady, at 41% (independents have sky-rocketed, growing by nearly 600% over the last 18 years). More simply, in 1994, Republicans had an 8 point advantage in registration in 1994 and today, the Democrats have an 8 point advantage.

But what is driving that change? The Secretary of State only has available race by party by county data going back to 2006, but that data alone is very telling. Between 10/2006 and the GOP Presidential primary in January of 2012, the region gained roughly 84,000 new voters, with more than 75% of them either African American or Hispanic. Of these African American or Hispanic voters, over 84% registered as Democrats, split nearly evenly between African Americans and Hispanics. Only 6% of the same voters registered as Republicans.

At the same time, white voters only grew by 7% between 2006-2012, and only 12% of those registered Republican. In total, over that 5+ year period, which included the 2010 debacle for my party, Democrats added nearly 62,000 new voters, while the GOP lost 115.

All of the sudden, the reasons behind the jump from Kerry's narrow regional loss in 2004 and Obama's significant regional win in 2008 seems more obvious.

Looking Ahead...

There is a lot that could be written, but here are a few macro level thoughts.

First, despite the conventional wisdom that Hispanic growth is alone fueling the political change in Orlando, at least in the 2008 election, there is some evidence that African-American voter growth played an equal --and maybe even bigger role in terms of the trends that led to Obama's stunning 2008 margin. Turnout was higher in Orange County, which has a higher percentage of African-Americans than Puerto Ricans on its voting roles, than it was in Osceola, where the numbers are essentially reversed. The turnout difference wasn't significant, but it is enough to argue that the electoral outcome changes in metro-Orlando are being driven both by Puerto Rican and African-American growth.

Secondly, the demographic trends in metro Orlando aren't changing anytime soon. Between 2000 and 2010, the non-Hispanic white population remained basically stagnant, meaning that as a percentage of the population, non-Hispanic whites drooped from over 55% of the three-county population to just over 40%. At the same time, Puerto Ricans grew from 9% to roughly 15%, and African Americans grew from 15 to 17% of area residents.

Looking just at the race in November, while I don't think the electorate will grow as much between 2008 and 2012 as it did in the preceding four years, even at a relatively modest 8.6 million turnout projection for 2012, given the current population and partisan trends, a close election would likely net the Democrats a margin of 125-150K votes in these three counties. In a 2000esque tight election, that probably flips the state to the Democrats.

Next, and maybe the biggest piece, is potential for real emergence of Puerto Rican political leadership over the next few years. The Puerto Rican community has been under-represented in elected office, but that is changing---and will specifically change at the state level in 2012, as the region goes from one to three state legislators, with the opportunity to elect a Puerto Rican member of Congress. Given the fact that over time, this population will continue to grow faster than African-Americans, and more political participation will hopefully lead to higher voter turnout, making this already critical voting bloc even more important.

And finally, third, as metro Orlando grows, it will become a bigger share of the state and more important for Democrats. While winning Florida still starts and ends with winning key swing counties and suburban swing voters, the changing Orlando area means that one fundamental component could be changing. For years, a push among swing voters usually went to the GOP, given their slight edge in base voters. However a changing Orlando area could tilt the I-4 corridor in such a way that a push among swing voters will now go to the Democrats.

The basic promise of a competitive Florida has generally lied in the calculus that Democrats down south and Republicans up north cancel each other out, and battle for the statewide prize in the Tampa and Orlando media markets. But if the three counties around Orlando continue to trend in the coming decade and beyond like they have in recent years, the fundamental balance of the I-4 will shift. I'll let you ponder what that means.


Here we go again, Florida.

Everyday of this primary seems to last a week.  As I sit down tonight to really plow through the public polling of the day, the Quinnipiac Florida Primary Poll, which hit my inbox around 6:00 AM, seems like a lifetime ago.  Lots of numbers got tossed out there today, so I am going to try to make a little sense of it --- as much for my own edification as for yours!

Two polls came out today showing Romney with a two point lead.  Quinnipiac shows Romney holding a 2 point lead (36-34) with Gingrich surging, and another CNN, also has it at 36-34, but with Romney surging.  In truth, both could be nearly right, since the margin of error on they daily subgroups is very high.  That being said, there is information in both is both good news and bad news, though as you will see, there are lots of things that should make Gingrichworld nervous.

Since Gingrich is the insurgent candidate in this case, I'll take a look at it from his perspective.

Good news for Gingrich

  • In both polls, he is much better off than he was two weeks ago.  The Q poll has Gingrich's vote share up 16 points, and Romney's down 7.  That is a 23 point shift in a week.  Last week Gingrich was going to get run out of Florida like UNC losing to Florida State.  CNN also shows him growing, gaining ten points in the two weeks since their last poll.
  • The Q poll also looked at a number of leadership traits, and by and large,  Gingrich is creaming Romney.  Voters think he is far better qualified to handle foreign policy questions (+27 over Romney), better prepared to handle a crisis (+15), and has the knowledge and experience to be President (+19). 
  • They also believe Gingrich are more competent (+3), and that is helping drive your surge.  Since his South Carolina win, he's gone from a 10 point deficit to a 13 point lead in this category.
  • He seems to be winning the is energy/enthusiasm battle on the ground. Gingrich will also a find himself in a much better position communication wise, with the Super PAC buy really kicking in over the last five days.  No longer will the airwaves be left alone to Romney.

Bad News for Gingrich

  • They like Romney better.  Winning didn't do a lot for Gingrich favorables.  In the Q poll, his favorables are 10 points less than Romney, and he has higher unfavorables.  He also have a 12 point gender gap in his favorables among men (67) and women (55), while Romney is liked almost equally by both---which explains why women give Romney a seven point advantage, essentially driving his margin.
  • They think Romney can win.  The Q poll has Romney with a 14 point advantage, and while Gingrich have definitely moved the needle since South Carolina (voters after the primary only give him a +3 advantage, Gingrich still trails -- or at best are tied with him (PPP had it 37-37)
  • And winning matters.  "Defeating Obama" has an 8 point advantage over "Shares my Values" -- a margin that has grown slightly since the South Carolina primary.
  • Finally, they trust Romney more on the economy, by a 17 point margin.  

 In the wash, it feels like Romney is in a better spot, though not by much.  And with another debate on Thursday night, we could be looking at a very different race yet again come the weekend.



The Romney Absentee Ballot Florida 'Firewall'

As Newtmentum comes to Florida, many in the media and the GOP establishment are arguing that the Romney advantage in absentee ballots will create a firewall that will hold off Gingrich.

According to the state GOP, roughly 225,000 Republicans have voted to date. Depending on turnout, this represents between 12-28 percent of the likely GOP vote.

Rasmussen suggests that Romney has an 11 point lead among people who have voted. PPP came out on Monday night and put the Romney lead among votes already cast at just 3%.

My hunch is the Romney advantage is higher than either of these polls.

So what does Newt need to win?

Let's look at the turnout scenarios vs the potential Romney leads.

Turnout = 2008 primary levels (1.95 million)

If Romney has 25% lead in absentees, Gingrich needs to win by a 3.3% margin of remaining voters to win statewide.

If Romney lead is 22%, Gingrich must go +2.9%

If his lead is 15%, then Gingrich needs +2.3%.

If you take the Rasmussen 11 point figure, then Gingrich only needs a 1.4 point advantage going forward.

And if you take the PPP poll 3 point Romney lead on Gingrich among votes cast- which would give him a 6750 vote lead, all Gingrich needs to do is win by 0.3% among the the votes yet to be cast.

Some GOP leaders have suggested that turnout will actually be closer to the 2010 GOP statewide primary, which = just over 1.2 million voters

Under this scenario, if Romney has built a 25% lead in absentees, Gingrich needs to win by a 5.7% margin of remaining voters to win statewide.

If Romney lead is 22%, Gingrich needs +5.0%

If his lead is 15%, then Gingrich needs +3.4%.

If you take the Rasmussen 11 point figure, then Gingrich only needs just a 2.5 point advantage going forward.

And if you take the PPP poll scenario, all Gingrich needs to do is win by 0.7% among the the votes yet to be cast.

And lastly, if you split the difference between 2008 PPP and 2010 GOP statewide primary turnout, turnout will = 1.6 million voters

Under this scenario, if Romney has built a 25% lead in absentees, Gingrich needs to win by a 4.1% margin of remaining voters to win statewide.

If Romney lead is 22%, Gingrich needs +3.6%

If his lead is 15%, then Gingrich needs +2.5%.

Under the Rasmussen 11 point scenario, Gingrich to win the remaining voters by 1.8 percent to win the election on January 31.

And if you take the PPP poll 3 point Romney lead on Gingrich among votes cast, Gingrich just needs to win by 0.5% among the the votes yet to be cast.

In other words, hang on, it is going to be quite a Florida ride.


Update on Florida Congressional Maps

The House and Senate Congressional proposals are beginning to take more shape. This week, the Florida Senate adopted its proposal, and today, the House Redistricting Committee informally agreed to move forward with a single map (last week they had three, last month, they had seven).

There are a lot of similarities between the maps. Both place the two new seats in roughly the same area, one in North Central Florida (Villages area) and one around Orlando, the latter of which is designed to give Hispanics an opportunity to elect a Hispanic to Congress. The parties should split the two new seats.

The two maps would create somewhat similar outcomes. Both preserve the African-American districts, and both create an additional Hispanic seat. Also, in terms of the Democratic seats, all of the incumbents find themselves in safe seats. Both maps acreate a district for Bill Young that will likely be a pretty good pick-up opportunity for the Democrats when he eventually retires. Furthermore, the members in swing districts in the map are for the most part the same in both maps, though there are differences between the maps.

All usual disclaimers apply -- most notably, this all changes going forward.

So here are the places that are interesting, moving north to south. I left out the Bill Young seat, but as the note above mentioned, it is definitely competitive on paper.

Rep. Southerland (CD 2) - As discussed in previous posts, Southerland moves from a seat that at worst (for him) was likely Republican, to one that is marginally lean Republican. Should Bembry make it to the general, this should be a very interesting race in 2012.

Rep. John Mica (old CD 7) - The early proposals looked like Mica could move to a much more competitive district, but at this point, the House and Senate maps are virtually identical and likely safe for him. However, he is going to need a realtor since he lives 20-30 miles from the district.

Rep. Sandy Adams (old CD 24)- Depending on which maps passes, Adams remains in a lean GOP seat (Senate), or moves to a very competitive district (House). The Senate map takes the Corrine Brown district and cuts into the Sanford (Seminole County) area and picks up some Democratic precincts. The House map doesn't. Where the legislature lands on that point will define how competitive the seat is.

Rep. Dan Webster (old CD 8)- One of most significant differences between the House and Senate map is the Webster seat. Both maps have most of western Orange County and parts of Polk, but the House map takes the district north into Lake County, while the Senate map wraps more into the city of Orlando (and closer to where Webster lives) and goes west and takes in Lakeland in Polk County. Both districts are competitive, in the House case, Webster would be running for a seat that is a good 15-20 minute drive (in traffic) from his house.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (old CD 13) Both the House and Senate districts are slightly better for the Democrats, though the House moreso than the Senate. The House map keeps whole Sarasota County and as well as the eastern part of Manatee -- and all of Bradenton. The Senate map cuts out parts of Bradenton and puts them in Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor's seat, as well as splitting Sarasota County and moving the district down the coast into Charlotte County. Either way, I think Buchanan/Fitzgerald to be a good race.

Rep. Tom Rooney (old CD 16) - The Rooney seat in the House proposal is virtually identical, if not actually identical to the Senate proposal. By cutting off the western portion of the district, Rooney moves from a lean GOP seat to a toss-up one. Given all these dynamics, if I was a strong Democrat in this part of Florida, I would be spending some serious time looking at this seat.

Rep. Allen West (old CD 22) - The House and Senate proposals are similar, and both are tough on West. First, as I mentioned on previous blogs, swing districts usually aren't represented by firebrands (see Alan Grayson 2010), and given his rhetoric, he was likely to struggle anyway in a center-left leaning swing district, even if it didn't change. But it did change - probably 3-5 points in favor of the Democrats.

Rep. David Rivera (old CD 25)The Rivera seat is going to be competitive in either map. The House map creates a SW Dade district that also has the Keys. The Senate district creates a more compact SW Dade seat, putting the Keys in a coastal Dade/Monroe district. In terms of voting, either way, the district is pretty close to 50:50.


Primer on the Florida GOP Presidential primary math

(This is a reposted and slightly modified second version of this piece)


As the GOP primary train has arrived in Florida, more uncertain than ever before.

Just ten days ago, Florida appeared to be nothing more than a minor speed bump on the way to a Romney nomination, a guaranteed fourth straight win.  Now, with the switch of Iowa to Santorum and the Gingrich surge in South Carolina, all of the sudden, Florida appears to be must win for Romney.

The point of this piece is to look at the state from the perspective of the GOP electorate, where it lives, what it looks like, and whether there are any nuggets from 2008 and 2010 that might give some indication on what to look for as the results come in on the evening of January 31st.

I am not going to get into the business of trying to understand the mind of the GOP voter these days, and while I had fun in 2010 taking on the challenges facing Charlie Crist and his NPA bid for Senate, nor am I going to try to map out a win path for one of the candidates.

First thing, when looking at the GOP primary electorate, not surprisingly, Tampa is king. Roughly 26 percent of the GOP vote in the 2008 Presidential preference primary was from the Tampa media market. Interestingly (at least to this Democrat), the largest GOP county in the market is Pinellas, home to just over 6% of the likely statewide GOP primary vote, which makes that one county bigger than the entire Pensacola media market. It also means that if the primary turnout is similar to 2008, more GOPers will vote in Pinellas than in the Iowa caucuses.

The biggest county in the GOP primary is Dade County, home to just over 8% of the GOP primary vote, making that vote more than Pensacola and Panama City combined. It is also home to more than 2/3rds of the likely Hispanic GOP vote. In case you were curious, Broward has been the largest county in a Dem primary, though in 2010, Dade had more voters.

The smallest: Liberty County, which will probably see between 200-300 Republicans vote on January 31st.

In total, out of Florida's 67 counties, the ten biggest make up more than 50% of the primary vote. They are Miami Dade (8% of statewide vote), Pinellas (6%-Tampa market), Palm Beach (5.5%), Hillsborough (5.25%-Tampa market), Broward (5%-Miami market), Duval (4.85%- Jacksonville), Orange (4.75%-Orlando), Brevard (4.5% - Orlando), Lee (4.5%-FtMyers), and Sarasota (3.5%- Tampa market),

Assuming the turnout looks similar to 2008, the chart below shows where the GOP vote share by media market. For comparative reasons, the chart also shows the Democratic and General Election shares.

Media Market   GOP Primary  Dem Primary  GenElec

Fort Myers            8.7%            4.4%            6.3%

Gainesville            1.3%            2.4%            1.9%

Jacksonville         10.2%           8.2%            9.1%

Miami/FtLaud        12.5%          20.4%          19.0%

Orlando                 22.5%         18.6%          21.3%

Panama City          2.4%            3.0%            1.9%

Palm Beach           8.9%            10.5%          10.4%

Pensacola             5.6%             2.9%             3.8%

Tallahassee          2.1%             6.7%             2.8%

Tampa                  25.9%           22.9%           23.5%

Putting this another way, nearly 1 of every 2 GOP primary voters calls the I-4 corridor home. If you own a TV set in those two markets, you might want to keep it off, because clearly Romney & Gingrich will be on there, as likely will be any second tier candidates who are throwing a hail mary in a couple of markets.  And if you own a television station, you might want to send Newt Gingrich a gift basket for significantly increasing ad sales this week.

Looking back to the 2008 primary, for all intent, by the time it reached Florida, it was a 2 man race: Romney and McCain, a race that McCain won by 5 points, carrying 8 of the state's 10 media markets in the process. In the process of winning 18 counties (McCain won 45, Huckabee 4), Romney carried 2 markets: Ft Myers, where he beat McCain by 7 points, and Jacksonville, where he won by nearly 13. Interestingly, those were two of the three markets where Rick Scott most over-performed his statewide total in 2010. But remember, that was when Romney was the conservative alternative. Though his year, conservatives seem to be running as fast as possible to find any alternative to Romney, so the likelihood of him repeating those numbers in the Jacksonville margin are highly unlikely.

Just like Huckabee four years ago, Santorum is trying to make a come back, but just like with Huckabee, the places he will find the most appeal are home to the fewest voters.  In 2008, Huckabee overperformed his statewide total of 13.5% in six markets, notably hitting 20% in each of the Panhandle markets. The problem, notwithstanding the arguments about the importance of the Panhandle, is combined, the four markets where he exceeded 20% add up to less than 12% of the statewide vote, making the entire Panhandle primary vote less than half of the Tampa vote.

Which brings this back to Tampa. Home to over a quarter of the primary vote, it was also the closest in both the 2008 Presidential Primary and the 2010 Gubernatorial primary to nailing the statewide vote (Crist threw off the scales in 2006). Just like in a statewide general election, how you do in the Tampa market says a lot about how you will do statewide, and fortunately for close observers of elections, several key counties in that market report really early (note Pinellas and Pasco counties).

If you are a real believer in trends and patterns, there are six counties in Florida that have correctly chosen the winner of the last five major statewide GOP primaries (2010 Gov, 2010 AG, 2008 PPP, 2006 Gov & 2004 Senate).  Those are Hardee (rural SW FL), Levy (North-Central FL), Manatee (Tampa DMA), Osceola (Orange DMA), Polk (Tampa DMA) & Sarasota (Tampa DMA).  So load up your browsers to those counties and hit refresh at 7:00PM EST, and let's see what happens.

Regardless, Florida once again shines as the nation's most interesting and important political state.






Congressional Redistricting, Take Two. The Florida House weighs in.

Last week, the Florida Senate unveiled its first run at a Congressional map, as well as a proposed State Senate plan, and today, the Florida House joined suit, though in quite an unconventional way---by laying out seven different Congressional proposals and five different State House proposals. 

Given the sheer amount of data and lines to pour through, and the fact that my redistricting studies are limited to the hours I am not replicating the Griswold outdoor Christmas in my front yard, this piece does not attempt to analyze every bit of every plan, but instead to hit the highlights of the places that I think are interesting.

The usual disclaimer goes here.  First, this still very early in the process, and given the unusual strategy of releasing seven plans, the House really hasn't even gotten to the starting gate.  At some point, the House will have one map, then will have to negotiate the differences with the Senate, some of which are significant.  Then we go to the courts, with new rules.  And don't forget the Justice Department review.  In other words, I wouldn't be making my final political plans based on trying to figure out which of the seven plans is actually the plan.  In other words, take all of this with a grain of salt.

With that, here goes:

At the start, the map clearly sets out to preserve the seats held by Congresswoman Brown and Wilson, and Congressman Hastings.  The district numbers are different, but the districts really aren't.  And just like the Senate proposal, most of the House proposals have a Hispanic (in this case Puerto Rican) heavy Central Florida seat.  There are also three Hispanic majority seats in South Florida. 

Also, roughly a dozen seat are virtually (if not actually) identical across each of the seven House plans, with another five that have only modest differences.  The rest of the map has some pretty significant differences across the seven versions, so just like the last blog, I will try to tackle the interesting story lines, going from North to South.  And since the numbers in the House map are quite different than the current district lines, I will tackle them by incumbent.

Southerland (current CD 2.  New CD 2):  The seven House maps and Senate proposal appear to be identical.  The high points:  the new district eliminates the coastal tail through Walton and Okaloosa Counties, and unifies Leon.  The result, a district that is about 3-4 points more competitive for Democrats.  A lean GOP seat, but definitely competitive.

Mica (current CD 7.  New CD 6): This is home for me, so a district that I tend to look at more closely than others.  As I mentioned in the last piece, given the current geographic proximity of Mica, Webster (CD 8) and Adams (CD 24), it was inevitable that if the legislature wanted to draw a legally compliant map, that someone was going to get a district that was far from home.  The man in the Senate map without a eastern Orange County chair was John Mica, though that Senate map took care of him pretty well.  The House?  Well, depending on the version, he could have a real race.  The majority of the proposals place the northern end of St. Johns County---some of the most Republican voters in the state, into the new Duval-based Crenshaw seat.  When they do that, they create a district that is 50:50, or maybe even a touch better for Democrats.  A likely GOP seat could on paper, become a toss-up.

Webster (old CD 8.  New CD ?):  The Senate Congressional map placed Rep. Webster in a mostly Western Orange/Eastern Polk/Southern Lake district, with a tail to eastern Orange County to essentially make it a Webster seat---though one that was pretty darn competitive.  Under the House maps, there are a number of variations on the same theme, with one general exception-- no cross-county tail to pick up areas close to Webster's house.  The good news for Webster:  the district will be more Republican.  The bad news:  it may be more Republican---for another Republican.  When the music stops, he could be looking for a chair.

Adams (old CD 24.  New CD 9):  While various proposals have slightly different lines, the foundation is the same on all of them:  they are all more Hispanic and more African-American than her current district, and given the demographic trends there, probably will only continue to get more so over the next few years.  Like Mica's seat, the new configurations are generally 50:50, maybe even a bit better, making the district 2-3 points more Democratic than today.  If there is a surprise loser in this process, it could be her.

Young (Old CD 10.  New CD 13) and Castor (Old CD 11.  New CD 14).  Like the last blog, I am tackling these two together, given that it is hard to make Young more Democratic without making Castor more Republican.  While there are slight differences from the Senate (one that impacts the next person in this blog), the result is the same:  the House versions give Castor a safe Democratic seat, and give the Democrats a better than 50:50 district when Young eventually decides to retire. 

Buchanan.  (Old CD 13.  New CD 16).  This one is new to the list.  In the Senate plan, Castor maintains a tail of her district into Manatee County, picking up a few African-American precincts in Manatee County.  The House versions do not do this, keeping Bradenton whole and as such, helping the district a point or two for the Democrats.  In full disclosure, the Democratic candidate in this race, Keith Fitzgerald, is a good friend and I am rooting for him.  And under the House proposals, he is in a district, that while still leaning a little Republican, does so less under these plans than it did when in the previous elections. 

Brief interlude-  The districts below are all identical across all seven House proposals.  Therefore, we can assume this is the current House proposal. 

Rooney.  (Old CD 16.  New CD 18).   The Rooney seat in the House proposal is virtually identical, if not actually identical to the Senate proposal.  By cutting off the western portion of the district, Rooney moves from a lean GOP seat to a toss-up one, and one that apparently looks (for good reason) more appealing to Allen West than the seat West currently represents.   Given all these dynamics, if I was a strong Democrat in this part of Florida, I would be spending some serious time looking at this seat.

West (Old CD 22.  New CD 22).  On the upside for West, if he wins re-election in this seat, he is one of the few members that won't need new stationary given that the district numbr doesn't change.  On the downside, the scenario of him winning re-election is highly unlikely.  Swing districts usually aren't represented by firebrands (see Alan Grayson 2010), and given his rhetoric, was likely to struggle anyways in a center-left leaning swing district even if it didn't change.  Using the great tool at Dave's Redistricting, it looks as though the House map puts West in a district that is 4-5 points more Obama than the old seat- roughly 57% for the President.   And the Senate map is almost exactly (if not exactly) the same. 

Rivera (Old CD 25.  New CD 26).   The seat that David Rivera currently represents runs from east to west, picking up large portions of GOP Collier County.  The new district doesn't (Mario Diaz-Balart is the beneficiary).  The result:  a truly 50:50 district, which includes the more liberal Keys.  The House and Senate maps in South Florida are pretty different, but regardless, it looks as though Rivera will end up as the member with a real fight on his hands.

So what does all this mean?  Depending on the version, the Democrats should gain to seats based on the House proposals, with another 2-3 true toss-ups, and 2-3 more that are definitely competitive.  But as was mentioned above, we are very early in the play, and there are certainly many twists and turns ahead. 




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.