Issue #95: The 2022 Results by Florida State Senate District
Two days ago, I released my 2022 Florida Elections breakdown by State House District. You can read that breakdown here. Today, I will be covering the breakdowns by state senate district. You can also read 2022 statewide articles below.
The State Senate Map and State House maps show a similar story - that of democratic districts flipping red amid a horrible turnout gap and massive GOP landslides. For context, this was how the state senate map performed in 2020.
As I covered in my redistricting series, the Senate map had some questionable decisions, but was not nearly the GOP gerrymander that the Congressional map was. This was thanks to the Governor having no veto power over the legislative lines. The most notable Republican gerrymandering tactics were in Tampa Bay, which you can read about here
Democrats were hurt by population shifts - namely the loss of DEM-leaning seat for southeast Florida. That said, Biden still had won 16 districts. You can see more top-line data from past years here.
However, after the 2022 results, Democrats would be down to 12.
The 2022 Election Results
Heading into 2022, there were several senate districts home to serious contests. Democrats were on the defense in SD3 and SD14, with incumbents Loranne Ausley and Janet Cruz hoping to win additional terms. SD10 was the top GOP defense, and as a Biden seat was, on paper, a good pickup shot. SD38, down in Miami-Dade, had pieces of multiple old districts as the area saw its lines shift amid population changes.
Before 2022, Republicans held 3 of the 4 Hispanic-majority districts in Miami-Dade. If Democrats won the 38th, that would have preserved that balance; otherwise the GOP would hold all 4.
What Democratic candidates for state senate were not counting on was the massive statewide landslides. In the US Senate race, Rubio won 28 of the 40 districts, leaving Demings with just 12.
On the Governor front, the results were even worse for Democrats. Two additional seats, the 25th and 37th, went to DeSantis. This left a 30-10 split.
In total four districts; 3, 10, 14, and 38, went from Biden to Rubio and DeSantis. An additional two, 25 and 37, backed DeSantis but stuck with Demings.
With these results, Cruz and Ausley lost in the 14th and 3rd respectively. Democrats failed to hold 38 and did not pick up 10. With a dem-leaning seat already eliminated with the decrease in southeast FL districts, this left the Democrats down four seats from how the year started.
2022 Races of Note
Here I want to discuss a few districts that were on the frontlines of the legislative battles. Several races will likely get more time and focus on future articles.
Similar to the state house, many down-ballot democrats outran the the top of the ticket. Compared to Crist, a majority of Democratic state senate candidates did better.
On the US Senate side, Demings did outrun most Democratic candidates.
Lets look at some of these races.
District 3, which covers Tallahassee and its surrounding areas, was one of the GOP’s best pickup opportunities. This Biden +3 seat is led by Tallahassee and majority-black Gadsden, but the red rurals add up to make the district fairly evenly split. The Republicans were targeting Senator Ausley by running Volunteer Florida head Corey Simon, an African-American Republican. With Simon likely able to take some of the black vote, a critical block for Democrats in this district, the possibility of a Simon win while Demings/Crist were narrowly carrying the district seemed real. In the end, this did not matter, as DeSantis and Rubio easily took the district, and Simon won as well.
Ausley, like many of her fellow legislative democratic candidates, managed to outrun Crist. However, the poor Democratic turnout, especially among black voters, doomed any Democratic prospects here. This marks the first time since reconstruction that a Republican has held the Tallahassee region in the state legislature. I have a detailed history article, with looks at these 2022 races in more detail, in the works - likely out later in the spring.
Down in the area north of Orlando is Senate District 10, Democrats were aiming to knock off Republican Senator Jason Brodeur, who was being dragged down by the ghost-candidate scandal of 2022. Read here for more details. Democrats had a good candidate in Democratic State Rep Joy Goff-Marcil, who granted was a weak fundraiser but had won tough races before. This was a Biden +4 seat, but wound up voting easily for Rubio and DeSantis, as well as GOP downballot.
The partisan turnout gap is on full display here. The district had a Democratic registration advantage of just over 1,000. In terms of votes cast, the GOP had an advantage of 18,000. Democrats can have a bright future in this region, and potentially flip it down the line. However, they must turn their voters out.
Over in Tampa and Senate District 14, Senator Janet Cruz had by far the strongest operation of an Incumbent Democrat. However, despite raising huge sums of cash and keeping up with the GOP in the add war, the countywide turnout problem for Democrats swept her as much as anyone else. Both Crist and Demings lost the district by solid margins.
The 12% GOP advantage in turnout doomed any Democratic hope. The fact that DeSantis narrowly won HD64, a Hispanic-access seat within this district, highlights how bad things were for Democrats there.
Meanwhile, back in Orlando, one district ended up being much closer than expected despite being off the radar for everyone. Democrat Vic Torres in the Hispanic-majority Senate District 25, had a narrower-than-expected re-election of 5%.
As you can see from my turnout article from a few weeks back, the 16% turnout advantage among Republicans led to an electorate much more conservative AND whiter.
Much of the GOP gains in this region come from bad Hispanic Democratic turnout. The district, despite being almost majority Hispanic in registration, saw a 10 point votes cast gap in favor of white voters. Luckily for Torres, the Republicans didn’t see the blood in the water, and his race was under the radar.
Finally, in Miami-Dade was Senate District 38. This was a high-profile and expensive contest for a seat that voted Biden by 8%. This district swung to be DeSantis by 10%.
Similar turnout story here. While GOP gains with Hispanics is a real Democratic problem, this district also saw Republicans with a 14% turnout advantage of Democrats. Among Hispanics, DEM turnout was just 42% to the GOP’s 62%. The turnout issue here killed Democratic candidate Janelle Perez in what should have been a winnable seat.
Looking to 2024
There are several districts here where Democrats could come back into play IF they improve their turnout operations. That said, not all seats will be up in 2024. While all districts were up due to redistricting, only the odd-numbered seats will be up again in 2024; with the rest up in 2026. This means Democrats are only realistically on offense in Senate District 3. On top of that, they will need to ensure Senate District 25 sees it’s Hispanic turnout improve to avoid a possible loss there; especially as the seat will be open with Torres term-limited. Senate 37, the home to Democratic Senator Jason Pizzo, also needs to swing back to the left. I plan to look more at 37, and the whole of Broward County, later in the year as well.
All for now!