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‘Sabato’s Crystal Ball’ bolsters Vern Buchanan, dings others

Political prognosticator Larry Sabato upgraded Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan’s re-election, while downgrading the chances for Republican Rep. Brian Mast, and suggested it may be harder for the GOP to hold Ron DeSantis’ old seat.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball political rankings shifted today by moving Florida’s 16th Congressional District into the “Likely Republican” column. That’s good news for Buchanan and a blow to Democratic challenger David Shapiro.

“One GOP incumbent whose position seems to be improved is Rep. Vern Buchanan,” writes Kyle Kondik, managing editor for Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

“Democrats may have better Florida opportunities in FL-6, an open seat, as well as against Mast, a first-term member who holds the GOP-leaning seat former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) left behind in his unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2016.”

The shift in Buchanan’s standing follows a spate of favorable polling for the incumbent. It also comes on the heels of the Tampa Bay Times moving Buchanan out of the “Vulnerable” column in its own standings.

But Sabato’s shift in rankings proves more daunting for the GOP in Florida’s 18th and 6th Congressional districts.

Incumbent Mast, Sabato notes, holds a seat held by Democrats in the recent past. Murphy had previously defeated incumbent Allen West there in 2012, a strong Democratic year.

Now Sabato says there seems to be a greater chance for challenger Lauren Baer to flip the seat blue once more.

Of course, other prognosticators like Cook Political Report still have the seat in “Likely Republican” territory.

And then the Sabato rankings reinforced the notion Republican Michael Waltz faces a real fight with Democrat Nancy Soderberg. Just yesterday, Cook Political Report also moved the race into the “Leans Republican” column.

In general, Kondik writes that Sabato’s Crystal Ball wants to shift more races out of “Toss-Up” classification as the Nov. 6 general election draws closer.

But with two of three Florida House races on their list making a move for the middle, Democrats surely hope at least those contests can still make it there before final votes get cast.

Written By

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

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