To see how Florida Democrats collapsed last year, look at the district-level data

To see how Florida Democrats collapsed last year, look at the district-level data

Daily Kos Elections is pleased to present our calculations of the 2020 presidential results for every state Senate and state House district in Florida. In this Republican-leaning swing state, the GOP has enjoyed complete control over the legislature for nearly a quarter of a century.

Democrats had high hopes of carrying the Sunshine State’s electoral votes last year, but Donald Trump’s margin of victory instead expanded to 51-48 from 49-48 in 2016, even as he was losing ground in other competitive states. And while there was never any serious question that Republicans would maintain their iron grip over the state capitol in Tallahassee, Trump’s strength at the top of the ticket helped Republicans net one seat in the Senate seat and five in the House.

The GOP’s success in Florida is vividly illustrated at the district level. In the Senate, Trump took 22 constituencies compared to 18 for Joe Biden; four years earlier, Trump carried 21 districts versus 19 for Clinton. The House was the site of the Democrats’ real collapse, though: Trump carried 74 House districts to Biden’s 46, a dramatic gain compared to the already sizable gap in 2016 when Trump won 66 seats and Clinton 54.

Those shifts helped keep both chambers far out of reach for Democrats, in part because Republicans performed better with crossover voters—those who backed one party at the top of the ticket but the other in down-ballot races. As a result, The GOP enjoys a 24-16 majority in the chamber, thanks to the fact that three Republicans represent Biden seats; state Sen. Annette Taddeo, meanwhile, is the one Democrat on Trump turf.

First, though, a word on the timing of elections. Typically, senators serve four-year terms, meaning only half of all seats go before voters every two years, as was the case last year. However, under a system known as “2-4-4,” all 40 are up for election in 2022 due to redistricting. Half of those senators—those in odd-numbered districts—will run for terms that are just two years in length and will appear on the ballot again in 2024 for a full four-year term. The remainder will be up next in 2026. (A decade ago, it was members in the even-numbered districts who had to run for two-year terms following redistricting.)

Two of the three GOP-held Biden seats were up last year. The only one that wasn’t was SD-08, a north-central Florida seat that Republican Keith Perry won 49-48 in 2018; it just barely switched sides at the presidential level, swinging from 48.2-48.0 Trump to 50-49 Biden.

As for the pair on the ballot last year, Republican Ileana Garcia took SD-37 in the Miami area by unseating Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez 48.53-48.51, with independent Alex Rodriguez taking 3%. Garcia’s 32-vote victory was partly due to the massive shift towards Trump across South Florida, especially in heavily Latino constituencies like this one: While Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in a 60-38 landslide in 2016, Biden won by a far smaller 52-47 margin.

However, that shift was not the only factor in the incumbent’s loss: Alex Rodriguez’s decisive presence on the ballot was no accident, as he pleaded guilty last week to illegally accepting donations and falsifying campaign documents. Rodriguez, who admitted to being a shill candidate, also agreed to testify against former Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles, whom the state has accused of paying the independent around $45,000 to take votes away from Jose Javier Rodriguez. Garcia herself has denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy, and prosecutors have not accused her of wrongdoing.

Further to the north, Republican Jason Brodeur prevailed 50-48 to hold an open seat in SD-09, based in the Orlando suburbs, even as it swung from 50-46 Trump to 49.5-49.4 Biden—a 2020 margin of about 200 votes. But here again, there are questions about another independent, Jestine Iannotti, who took 2%. State authorities have also been looking into unspecified “allegations associated” with this race. Those vague allegations may have something to do with the presence of a mysterious dark money group that spent $180,000 on ads promoting Iannotti as a progressive. Unlike in SD-37, though, the Republican candidate won a majority of the vote.

The one Democratic-held Trump seat in the chamber is the Miami-area SD-40, located adjacent to Garcia’s seat. Democrats took control here in 2017 when Taddeo pulled off an upset special election victory to replace none other than Artiles, who had resigned earlier that year after unleashing a racist tirade against fellow senators. Taddeo won a full four-year term 53-47 in 2018; two years later, however, the political character of her constituency utterly transformed, veering from 58-40 Clinton to 52-47 Trump.

In the 120-member House, election patterns are much more straightforward: Members always run for two-year terms, redistricting or no. Republicans represent four Biden seats while Democrats hold no districts that Trump won, but thanks to unchecked GOP gerrymandering, the map is far more lopsided than in the Senate, which leaves the GOP with an overall 78-42 majority in the chamber.

The bluest seat in GOP hands is HD-21, which includes much of Alachua County in the north-central corner of the state. The district moved left from 47.92-47.87 Clinton to 51-47 Biden, but Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons still held on 51-49. Biden’s smallest margin of victory in a Democratic-held seat was in HD-59 in the Tampa area: The district swung from 48.1-47.7 Trump to 51-48 Biden, helping Democrat Andrew Learned hang on to this open seat for his party with a 51-49 win.

While Republican victories in last year’s legislative elections were dismaying for Sunshine State Democrats, the GOP’s domination over state government is nothing new. Democrats went into the 1990s with control of the governorship and both chambers of the legislature. The two parties had to work out a power-sharing agreement in the Senate after the 1992 elections led to a 20-20 tie.

The GOP took outright control after the 1994 wave, and the House flipped two years later. Finally, in 1998, Republican Jeb Bush took the governorship, giving Republicans the state government “trifecta” for the first time since Reconstruction. The GOP lost it only briefly during the following 23 years when Republican Gov. Charlie Crist became an independent in 2010 during his unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate. Crist, who is now a Democratic congressman, is campaigning to regain the governorship for Team Blue next year.

The GOP’s complete control over the levers of state government also gives it yet another chance to cement its control of the legislature heading into 2022. The one possible obstacle is the two voter-passed “Fair Districts” amendments to the state constitution in 2010 that attempted to ban partisan gerrymandering. The state Supreme Court used those measures to curtail the GOP’s congressional and Senate gerrymanders in 2015, though the House map remained untouched.

However, while liberals held a 5-2 majority on the court back then, hardline conservatives are now firmly in control thanks to new appointments by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. It’s likely the new justices will look far more favorably on GOP-drawn maps this time, though to what degree is uncertain.

P.S. You can find all of our district-level data for every state nationwide at this bookmarkable permalink.

From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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