Veteran political analyst Charlie Cook surveys redistricting across the country, and sees large potential gains for Democrats in Florida’s congressional delegation with the implementation of the “Fair Districts” amendments:
In Florida, where Democrats hold just six of the state’s 25 congressional districts, their exposure is somewhat limited. Republican legislators still hold the authority to draw the new 27-seat map, but the Fair Districts Florida ballot amendments passed in 2010 may limit their ability to split counties and otherwise engage in egregious gerrymandering. Still, Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, whose district snakes from Jacksonville to Gainesville to Orlando, and odd-bedfellow Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart are filing suit to block Fair Districts in federal court.
Democrats know that a “fair” map in Florida would grant them up to 10 safe districts and as many as 13 more in which they could compete. But they also know that the outcome is contingent upon dismantling Brown’s substantially African-American 3rd District and replacing it with one Democratic seat in Jacksonville and two Democratic seats in Orlando. Republicans, whose goal is to protect all 19 of their members and add two new ones, will obviously refuse to draw such a map even if they fail to block Fair Districts. But Democrats believe that the courts will overturn a GOP map if it doesn’t do a good job of adhering to the Fair Districts criteria. [Emphasis added.]
Right now, Democrats hold just six out of Florida’s 25 seats, despite the state having more registered Democratic than Republican voters. Two seats will be added under reapportionment, bringing the total to 27.
The new state party chairman also expects big potential gains in both chambers of the statehouse, the St. Petersburg Times adds:
State Democratic chairman Rod Smith estimates that there are currently four state Senate seats where both Democrats and Republicans have a shot at winning and fewer than 25 competitive state House districts. Those numbers would double with the new system, Smith estimates.
Smith has said one of his priorities as chairman will be to defend Amendments 5 and 6, arguing that Florida is one of the most “malapportioned” states in the country.