Issue #22: The FL House's Congressional Plans are Out - and they are terrible
Its the Senate's Fair plans vs the House's gerrymander
Well its been a busy holiday week. After the State Senate released updated draft Congressional maps on Wednesday, the State House has now released plans of their own.
And boy are these two chambers on different wavelengths.
The Florida Senate Updates
As I mentioned in yesterday’s substack post, the State Senate made updates to its maps originally released on November 10th. You can read my breakdown of those plans here. The drafts released last week make minor changes to some district borders. These changes do little to shift the partisan nature of the plans. An example of shifting borders is below.
These changes aim to preserve cities/communities when possible. Overall nothing big was in those maps. Most districts did not change at all from the first drafts.
The partisan breakdown of the Senate’s four Congressional drafts are all the same. Trump takes 16 seats to Biden’s 12. I broke down plan 8018 below.
As I said, the plan performs the same across drafts. The map is very fluid as well. It gave Gillum and DeSantis equal seats in their close 2018 race, and actually gave Clinton 15/28 seats in 2016.
These plans show good thought, keep many communities intact, and flow with the partisan winds of the state.
The State House’s Gerrymander
Where the State Senate seems eager to avoid lawsuits over their redistricting maps, the Florida House may be ready to roll the dice. They released two plans today. One has some serious issues.
First, lets look at plan 8001. This plan actually follows the status-quo idea that the Florida Senate broached. Both keep Democratic-held seats intact, shore-up the Miami-Dade districts, and draw the new seat in Polk. The most notable difference is only two Democratic districts in Tampa.
The Tampa Bay region is very strange, with district 13 crossing the water, but remaining Democratic. In fact, the plan seems to increase Democratic strength in the 13th while keeping the 14th also blue. In principle, this plan creates two steady-dem districts; with little chance for Dems to flip another. The Senate’s plans have three lean-Dem/tossup seats that could all flip back and forth. If we assume partisan intent, the idea would be the GOP is willing to concede it won’t flip the 13th, and would rather just ensure a 3rd Tampa Seat isn’t at risk for them (like the Senate plan has).
Plan 8003, meanwhile, is much more aggressive. This district NUKES Stephanie Murphy’s seat; dragging Seminole County into Volusia. The plan splits Orange county by taking its western communities and putting them Lake/Sumter. A democratic vote-sink is in the middle of Orange County.
The plan is what I and others expected the GOP might try. Conservative fantasies about destroying the current east-west 5th district and brining back the old Corrine Brown seat were never going to happen. This is likely as aggressive as they can get. This plans 7th is really a continuation of the current 10th; but less African-American (which I’ll discuss more further down).
The plan also shores-up the Miami-Dade districts. Its Tampa Bay region doesn’t see the 13th cross the bay. As a result, there is democratic opportunities in the 15th. This is a seat that narrowly backed Trump, but narrowly backed Democrats in 2018 and Clinton in 2016. All very close races.
Tampa swing seats aside, it is no excuse for how the plan destroys the Orlando area seats.
How the Maps Compare
One region that I perfectly think encapsulates the different approaches of the House and Senate is how the I-4 Corridor is treated. This political-infamous corridor, which I wrote about in 2020, is the site of much of Florida’s growth.
The State Senate plans all give the I-4 the respect its population growth warrants. The new 28th was situated in Polk, the 9th was tightened and became majority-Hispanic. The 10th remains a black-access seat. The 7th remains in Seminole and North Orange.
Tampa, meanwhile had three swing seats, with the 15th possibly turning into a black-access district. The 15th, under the senate plan, is a Biden +8 district with a 40%+ Democratic primary. This seat is a reflection of the diverse growth happening in eastern Hillsborough.
The State House’s Plan 8001 preserves alot of what the Senate was doing, especially in the eastern end of the corridor. The western provision is where there is more differences from the Senate.
The Tampa region is downright bizarre. As I already speculated, the 13th crossing the bay is designed to grab more Democratic voters. The 14th would be steadily Democratic and 38% black in a Democratic primary. Of course this is lower than what the Senate plan offers.
Plan 8003, however, carves up the I-4 as much as possible. The new 7th is a democratic vote sink while Stephanie Murphy’s blue-favored 7th becomes the red-favored 6th. The plan drags Orange county voters all the way to Citrus county. Also what is this 12th? Coastlines are not communities of interest.
The North-south division of Hillsborough is just weird. The 15th, I guess, is meant to reflect northern Tampa growth spilling into Pasco.
Hurting an African-American District
One major issue emerges with house plan 8003. In their attempt to create a Democratic vote-sink, they have diluted the black % of the electorate in what is now the 10th, but would be the 7th in this plan.
Here is the data
The 2020 Democratic primary in the Senate’s version of the 10th, the makeup was 42% black vs 10% Hispanic vs 39% white
In the primary makeup for the 7th in 8003, the makeup is 35% black, 14% Hispanic, 42% white.
The current 10th districts has operated as an African-American seat since 2016, and current candidate filings indicate that is what most folks on the ground expect. No its not majority black, but this shift is very striking. There is no good-faith Tier 1 or Tier 2 argument the legislature could make to justify such a drop.
House vs Senate
As I discussed in my post about the Senate’s November 10th maps, the clear sentiment from that chamber was “please don’t sue us.” The 2015 redistricting saga left a bitter taste in the mouths of all lawmakers. Former Senate President Don Gaetz saw his reputation shattered by the revelation of his secret dealings in the 2012 maps. Current President Wilton Simpson, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner, clearly does not want a redistricting scandal/lawsuit that will drag him through a campaign and statewide office.
The House, however, clearly is less worried about this. Their 8001 plan is overall not fundamentally different from the Senate plans, its really how aggressive plan 8003 that stands out. This is without a doubt the national Republican Party’s preferred plan.
So the question becomes, who drew this map? Was it included to satisfy conservative demands? Will it be seriously considered? Will the House (via the national party) demand their version. Will the Senate hold firm? Simpson wants an easy redistricting process. However, he also doesn’t want to anger the conservative base.
So many questions
Quick State House Look
The house also released two drafts for their own chamber. The partisan breakdown is below.
Plan 8007 is less GOP-friendly. All plans, however, have major issues and barely improve on the house’s 2012 gerrymander. See my articles on that map for more details.
I will be delving more into the state house in upcoming articles as part of my work with People over Profits.
When a meme sums it all up so well.