Cook Political Report reddens Florida congressional districts

Political Chess Game
Just 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans have districts that could easily swing.

Another election throwing red paint across Florida’s map has the Cook Political Report shading most of Florida’s congressional districts more Republican heading toward the next election.

The independent, non-partisan newsletter that analyzes partisan standings and trends has released its latest quadrennial “Partisan Voter Index” for each congressional seat across the country.

In Florida, the results should look good to many Republicans.

The new Cook PVI shows Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio teeing up his 2022 reelection campaign with an R+3 advantage in the statewide voter outlook.

For Florida’s 27 House districts, Republicans saw the Cook PVI ratings move in their direction in 15 districts, while Democrats saw improvements for their party in just five. Ratings for the remaining districts were unchanged.

Cook’s PVI of House seats analysis will be rendered moot in the next year or so as the 2020 census leads to a reapportionment of Congress. Florida is expected to have to find room for at least one and probably two more congressional districts. Consequently, Florida’s Republican-dominated map makers will redistrict House seats before the 2022 election.

“Although these district boundaries won’t be in place for 2022’s midterm elections due to upcoming redistricting, this dataset will serve as a useful baseline to compare old and new districts’ partisan leanings once new lines are finalized next year,” Cook offered in a writeup of the new ratings.

Cook calculates its ratings based on the last two presidential elections in each district. Both of those elections were won statewide in Florida by former President Donald Trump, as Republicans trended better than Democrats in many districts.

First introduced in 1997, the Cook PVI measures how each district performs at the presidential level compared to the nation as a whole. A score of D+2, for example, means that in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, that district performed an average of two points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+4 rating means the district performed four points more Republican.

The index delves deeper than voter registration numbers, because they reflect how people, including independent voters, actually vote.

This time, it looks as if there are five districts within five points, meaning close enough to swing without startling events.

The two Republicans who flipped seats from Democrats in the November General Election are in the state’s most vulnerable spots.

Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar’s 27th Congressional District is rated D+4, about the same as its voter registration would suggest, based on Florida’s most recent voter registration book closing, filed in October. Still, Republicans see some improvement, as Cook had rated it D+5 in 2017.

Cook lists Republican Rep. Carlos Gimenez‘s 26th District as D+1. Yet that’s not as daunting for Republicans as the 3-point advantage Democrats have in the latest voter registration there. CD 26 also was one of the most changed districts in the country for Cook. In the 2017 PVI assessment, Cook rated CD 26 as D+6.

Cook now rates Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist’s 13th Congressional District as an even split, even though the most recent voter book closing gave Democrats a 5-point advantage in registrations. In 2017, CD 13 was D+2.

Cook puts both Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Florida’s 7th Congressional District and Darren Soto in Florida’s 9th Congressional District in vulnerable spots. Cook rated them both D+3. According to voter registrations, Democrats should have a 5-point advantage in CD 7 and a 12-point advantage in CD 9. In 2017, Cook rated CD 7 as even, and CD 7 as D+5.

Four Democrats have relatively safe districts that are between D+6 and D+10, while six Republicans have districts that are between R+6 and R+10, in the latest Cook assessments. The remaining four Democrats and eight Republicans enjoy sure-thing districts that are more than +10 for their parties.

The safest seat belongs to Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson. Her 24th Congressional District is now rated D+28. That makes CD 24 the 29th bluest seat in the country, by Cook’s assessment. Still, the district is trending in the other direction. It was D+34 in 2017.

Florida’s 20th Congressional district also is rated D+28 for Democrats. Cook ranks it as the 32nd bluest seat in the country. That’s the district previously held by the late Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died earlier this month after a long battle with cancer. A Special Election will pick Hastings’ successor.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, under intense fire as the U.S. Department of Justice reportedly investigates him for sex trafficking and possibly other crimes, has the Republicans’ safest seat, in Florida’s 1st Congressional District. At R+20, it’s the 43rd reddest seat in the country, according to Cook.

Next door, Republican Rep. Neal Dunn ‘s 2nd Congressional District also is red R+20. Cook ranked CD 2 as the nation’s 50th reddest district.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


2 comments

  • PeterH

    April 19, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    If districts are turning red ….. that means Democrats are moving out. We’re definitely seeing a huge increase of bubbas here in South Florida.

  • Scott

    April 20, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    It’s doesn’t take a Florida Man Google search to see how backwards the sunshine state is. The fact that Matt Gaetz, who hasn’t yet been convicted but the accusations and his predictable response aren’t reassuring, has the safest seat in the state tells you what you need to know about the state I and 5 generations of my family call home

Comments are closed.


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