Monday, August 15, 2011

Florida Fair Redistricting Part I: North Florida

Florida recently passed a fair redistricting inititative and although the republicans in the Florida state legislature control the mapping process, they cannot gerrymander the districts the way they did in 2001. In 2001, the Florida Republicans drew a map aiming to elect 18 Republicans and seven Democrats to Florida's congressional districts, although the 2000 election demonstrated Florida is an evenly divided state. The Republicans also gerrymandered the state legislature so the Democrats could not win control of it and undo the damage the Republicans created for the Democrats. The Republicans were successful by maintaining control of the legislature. Their congressional gerrymander was successful too because even in 2008 when the Democrats gained the most seats in the House since 1992, the Republicans still controlled five more Florida seats than the Democrats did. Democrats undid Republican gerrymanders in Pennsylvania and Ohio but not Florida. In 2010, Republicans won not only the legislature but the Governorship too but Florida's voters passed an amendment that prevented the legislature from gerrymandering for political purposes. The legislature also had to incorporate communities of interest when they redistricted. For example, a district could not contain Orlando and Jacksonville. Republicans may try to draw districts to their advantage while incorporating communities of interest but this map I drew is a real fair map for Florida. This post examines the first 9 districts in Florida, the next post will examine the next 9 districts and the last post will examine the last 9.
Florida's current congressional districts:

North Florida
Florida's 1st Congressional District: Jeff Miller (R) Blue
Obama 115,041 32.4%, McCain 240,363 67.6%
Old Percentage: McCain 67%, Obama 32%
Demographics: 13.6% African American, 5.2% Hispanic, 75.1% White
Demographics 18+: 12.5% African American, 4.5% Hispanic, 77.6% White
Status: Safe Republican

Although the fair redistricting initiative will change the borders of many districts, this one retains similar lines. The 1st loses Washington County to keep population deviation equal but besides this change, the 1st remains the same to its current form. It is still safe for Miller and the 2nd most Republican district in Florida on my map.

Florida's 2nd Congressional District: Steve Southerland (R) Green
Obama 162,690 47.6%, McCain 178,961 52.4%
Old Percentage: Obama 45%, McCain 54%
Demographics: 24.3% African American, 5.2% Hispanic, 66.2% White
Demographics 18+: 23.3% African American, 4.8% Hispanic, 68.2% White
Status: Lean Republican

Although McCain won this district, many of these counties such as Liberty and Franklin County vote Democratic at a local level. Allen Boyd (D) represented this district until 2010 and Bill McBride (D) carried it strongly, despite losing by 13 points statewide to Jeb Bush (R). This map helps strengthen the Democrats' chances here by adding part of traditionally Democratic Madison County and removing more conservative counties such as Dixie, Suwanee and Lafayette. Boyd is currently working with Twenty First Century Group, a lobbying firm so he may want to stay with his new job. State Senator Alfred Lawson Jr. though may run under these more favorable lines.

Florida's 3rd Congressional District: Corrine Brown (D) Purple
Obama 172,246 53.0%, McCain 152,527 47.0%
Old Percentage: Obama 73%, McCain 27%
Demographics: 33.9% African American, 4.2% Asian, 7.7% Hispanic, 51.5% White
Demographics 18+: 31.3% African American, 4.3% Asian, 7.0% Hispanic, 55.5% White
Status: Lean Democratic

Brown's current district combines African American neighborhoods in Jacksonville, Gainesville and Orlando. Although the Voting Rights Act requires that African American majority districts should be drawn, it did not ask for drawing extremely convoluted districts that combine communities with no common interests. Districts drawn that way are considered "racial gerrymanders" and are unconstitutional. If the 3rd district is considered a racial gerrymander, it will be dismantled. The 3rd district is now centered around the Jacksonville area, making it more Republican but Obama won the district by six points. This creates an opportunity for Republicans but Brown should probably win.

Florida's 4th Congressional District: Ander Crenshaw (R) Red
Obama 110,813 31.3%, McCain 243,349 68.7%
Old Percentage: Obama 37%, McCain 62%
Demographics: 8.6% African American, 5.9% Hispanic, 80.6% White
Demographics 18+: 8.3% African American, 5.2% Hispanic, 82.5% White
Status: Safe Republican

Crenshaw already had a safe district that voted 62% for McCain but the new lines give a 69% McCain district, the most Republican district in Florida under this map. The 4th district loses eastern Jacksonville to the 3rd district and loses the string out to Tallahassee to the 2nd and 6th district. The 4th district now represents the fast growing and heavily Republican Jacksonville suburbs in Clay, Nassau and St. Johns Counties as well as the conservative rural counties of Bradford, Union and Columbia. By combining the communities of interest in the Jacksonville suburbs, the 4th district becomes more compact and more Republican.

Florida's 5th Congressional District Rich Nugent (R) Yellow
Obama 156,627 46.4%, McCain 180,722 53.6%
Old Percentage: Obama 43%, McCain 56%
Demographics: 4.1% African American, 10.2% Hispanic, 82.2% White
Demographics 18+: 3.6% African American, 8.6% Hispanic, 84.9% White
Status: Safe Republican

The 5th district was one of the fastest growing districts in Florida so it becomes more compact. It loses the conservative areas near the Villages and retains the fast growing coastal counties of Citrus, Hernando and Pasco. These counties are more swingy than the Villages area (Pasco and Hernando Counties voted for Gore.) McCain won all the counties in this district though so Nugent should not have difficulties winning reelection.

Florida's 6th Congressional District Cliff Stearns (R) Teal
Obama 155,210 47.9%, McCain 169,148 52.1%
Old Percentage: Obama 42%, McCain 57%
Demographics: 17.2% African American, 9.1% Hispanic, 69.1% White
Demographics 18+: 15.7% African American, 8.1% Hispanic, 72.0% White
Status: Lean Republican

The current 6th district combines Jacksonville suburbs with Gainesville and the Villages Area. I altered the 6th district so it would contain north central rural Florida and its small cities including Gainesville and Ocala. I removed all the Jacksonville suburbs and the Villages Area while adding more of Marion County (Ocala) and some rural counties such as Hamilton and Suwanee which the 2nd and 4th districts formerly represented. I also moved all of Gainesville into the 6th district because it was unfairly split between the 6th and the 3rd, undermining its power to unite and elect a representative. Stearns does not live in the new 6th district, he lives in the new 4th district but I expect him to run here because the 6th district contains most of his old territory. The district voted only 52% for McCain though and Stearns is not familiar with most of the rural voters. Therefore, a blue dog Democrat can win in 2012 by winning over rural voters and benefiting from Gainesville's high turnout.

Florida's 7th Congressional District: John Mica (R) Gray
Obama 178,903 53.0%, McCain 158,960 47.0%
Old Percentage: Obama 45%, McCain 54%
Demographics: 11.7% African American, 11.7% Hispanic, 72.6% White
Demographics 18+: 10.6% African American, 10.0% Hispanic, 76.0% White
Status: Toss Up

Volusia County has a stronger voice now that it is united in the 7th district except for one precinct instead of being split between the 7th, 24th and 3rd districts. The 7th district also becomes more compact as it loses St. Johns County (Jacksonville suburbs) and gains all of Volusia County. The 7th district also loses most of Seminole County but retains Sanford which is a similar community with Deltona in Volusia County. With the loss of conservative St. Johns County and the addition of most of Democratic leaning Volusia County, the 7th district becomes more Democratic. Mica is a popular representative though so it will be difficult to unseat him. In a good Democratic year though, the Democrats should have a shot to unseat Mica.

Florida's 8th Congressional District: Daniel Webster (R) SlateBlue
Obama 143,874 41.5%, McCain 202,758 58.5%
Old Percentage: Obama 52%, McCain 47%
Demographics: 8.6% African American, 11.2% Hispanic, 76.2% White
Demographics 18+: 7.8% African American, 9.4% Hispanic, 79.5% White
Status: Safe Republican

Currently, the 8th district combines Ocala, Orlando and the retirement communities between them. I altered the lines of the 8th district though so it contained all of Lake and Sumter Counties which contain large retirement communities. For population purposes, I added a small part of Seminole County and kept the 8th district to the left of I-4 as much as possible. Anyway, this district becomes extremely safe for Webster because it voted 59% for McCain.

Tampa Area

Florida's 9th Congressional District: Gus Bilkaris (R) Cyan
Obama 157,295 47.7%, McCain 172,265 52.3%
Old Percentage: Obama 47%, McCain 52%
Demographics: 7.1% African American, 14.8% Hispanic, 72.3% White
Demographics 18+: 6.5% African American, 12.8% Hispanic, 75.7% White
Status: Safe Republican

The 9th district undergoes minor changes as it combines the community of interest of suburban areas north and east of Tampa Bay. Although the district voted for McCain by a small margin, the district is more Republican on a local level so Bilkaris should have no trouble winning reelection. The district may become more Democratic though as Hispanics and African Americans move into parts of the 9th district such as Brandon. In 2012 though, Bilkaris should have no difficulties.


Ed said...

Interesting. As an exercise, I sketched out neutrally drawn districts for each state, using nothing more sophisticated than the population numbers for the counties and the larger towns, and came up with very similar lines for Florida as you did.

But my lines differered from the commission drawn lines for California (I generally agree with your criticisms), Arizona, and Iowa in some particular respects. I suppose in northern Florida, the lines fall in pretty obvious patterns. I wonder if the new redistricting law will turn out to have any teeth.

Alibguy said...

I hope the new redistricting law does. What worries me is that since Republicans control the legislature, they will try to combine communities of interest as long as it helps the Republican representatives. I agree that Florida has clear cut communities of interest but California can be drawn many different ways.