The race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District between Charlie Crist and Republican Anna Paulina Luna might be a safer bet than realized for the Democratic incumbent.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a a lead election prognosticator run by the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, changed the incumbent’s rating from “Likely Democrat” to “Safe Democrat” on Thursday.
In a recent release of prediction changes, the non-partisan organization forecasted a favorable turn to Democrats, almost exclusively, moving two Senate races left, as well as just under a dozen House contests.
The “Safe Democrat” mark might give Crist a sigh of relief as he faces his first formidable opponent since his election to the U.S. House in 2016 when he ran against then-Republican incumbent David Jolly.
Crist faces Anna Paulina Luna, a young Republican with pro-Trump chops and a strong voice against what the GOP is increasingly labeling socialism, even among traditionally moderate Democrats like Crist.
Luna’s primary win came in a quick turnaround leading up to the August election. Luna defeated Amanda Makki, the GOP establishment favorite, with 36% of the vote.
The district was under GOP control for more than four decades before Crist nabbed it, thanks largely to redistricting that shifted voter registration advantage to Democrats.
According to a recent St. Pete Polls survey, Crist is going into the General Election with a 16-point lead over Luna. Sixteen points is about the same margin of victory by which Crist defeated Republican George Buck in 2018.
Luna’s anti-socialism platform may have been the right message in a GOP primary, but it’s unclear how Luna can beat Crist in a district where Democrats hold a nearly 27,000 voter edge.
Democrats are more active in CD 13 than Republicans, according to a St. Pete Polls analysis of all registered voters in the district. For the sake of that analysis, St. Pete Polls considered an active voter any voter who cast a ballot in the last four years.
Democrats comprise 38% of all registered voters in the district, compared to just 33% Republicans. Of those, 40% of registered Democrats are considered active compared to just 36% of registered Republicans.
Not surprisingly, Crist leads overwhelmingly among Democrats with 82% support. He only has support among 22% of registered Republicans, though his share of cross-party support is higher than Luna’s 12% support among Democrats.
To have a shot, Luna will have to stretch her appeal across party lines. Her campaign hopes to relate to urban voting blocs to boost her cross-over appeal. The campaign is also relying on swing voters.
Despite Crist’s monetary advantage and incumbent status, the district has plenty of voters outside the two main parties to tap. Democrats outnumber Republicans by 26,678 voters, but there are more than 146,896 non-partisan or third-party voters among the district’s 512,570 voters.