FiveThirtyEight foresees trouble for Mario Diaz-Balart, Ross Spano - Florida Politics

FiveThirtyEight foresees trouble for Mario Diaz-Balart, Ross Spano

With nominees now settled in all of Florida’s Congressional races this fall, prominent political forecasting website FiveThirtyEight has adjusted its forecasting model and suggests two more districts could be in play.

The seats? Florida’s 25th Congressional District, now represented by Republican Mario Diaz-Balart, and Florida’s 15th Congressional District, represented by retiring Republican Dennis Ross.

FiveThirtyEight analyst Nathaniel Rakish writes that while the site’s statistical model still predicts a 33-seat gain for Democrats, the same as before Tuesday’s state primary, election results did shake up the model in a way that shows promise for Democrats in Lakeland and Hialeah.

For the moment, the FiveThirtyEight only counts one district, Florida’s 27th Congressional District, as a “gimme” for Democrats to take away this fall.

The site gives Democrat Donna Shalala a 39 out of 40 chance of flipping that district, where incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen last year announced her retirement. Shalala faces Republican Maria Elvira Salazar.

“Florida’s 27th District has a FiveThirtyEight partisan lean of D+10, making it the most Democratic district currently represented by a Republican,” Rakish notes.

For now, that’s the only district the FiveThirtyEight model predicts will almost certainly go from red to blue, but Rakish writes two more districts could easily become toss-ups or Democrat-favored in a “best-case scenario” for Democrats.

Rakish says fundraising prowess got the site’s attention in CD 15.

“It’s an R+13 district, but Republican incumbent Dennis Ross is retiring, and Democratic candidate Kristen Carlson has raised almost double the individual contributions that Republican Ross Spano has,” Rakish notes. “Carlson likewise has a 1 in 4 chance of winning.”

The FiveThirtyEight also gives Democrat Mary Barzee Flores a 1 in 4 chance of unseating Diaz-Balart.

The website, founded by legendary analyst Nate Silver, continues to be one of the less bullish sites on Democratic gains this fall, despite giving the blue team a 5 out of 7 chance of taking the House. And Rakish’s analysis notably ignored several Congressional districts.

For example, Five ThirtyEight continues to list Florida’s 26th Congressional District, represented by Republican Carlos Curbelo, as “Lean Republican” and gives him a 3 in 5 chance of being re-elected.

But Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball counts Curbelo’s district as a tossup.

Cook Political Report previously pegged Curbelo as a tossup, but recently moved the seat to Lean Republican.

At the same time, Cook counts Diaz-Balart’s seat as “Likely Republican” and Ross’s district as “Lean Republican,” a category that also includes Florida’s 16th Congressional District, represented by Republican Vern Buchanan, and Florida’s 18th Congressional District, represented by Republican Brian Mast.

Sabato counts Buchanan’s district in the “Lean Republican” column but counts the seats held by Mast, Diaz-Balart and Ross all as “Likely Republican.”

FiveThirtyEight gives Buchanan a 7 in 8 chance of re-election and Mast a 14 in 15 chance of victory.

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.
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