As lawmakers prepare to draw and approve new district maps, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has prepared a comprehensive assessment of how the partisan leans in the state’s current districts have shifted over time.
The Florida Partisan Performance indexes, or FPPs, cover all 120 state House districts and 40 state Senate districts as well as the state’s 67 counties. Similar to Cook PVI ratings, the indexes assess the relative partisan lean of each district or county compared to the state as a whole.
For state legislative districts, the scores are calculated by comparing the district’s election results to the presidential results in 2016 and 2020 as well as the gubernatorial election in 2018.
Since the 2012 General Election, Republican nominees have been on a four-election winning streak, but none of these victories has been by more than 3.3 percentage points and the average margin of victory in the four gubernatorial or presidential contests over is just 1.5%.
Based on those elections, Florida’s baseline is a 2-point advantage for Republicans.
That’s reflected in the House, where the Chamber’s analysis shows 59 seats are either solidly Republican or are leaning toward the GOP. Democrats, by comparison, are either slightly or solidly favored in 41 seats. The remaining 20 are swing seats, defined as falling between R+1 and D+3 over the past three elections.
Given the clear partisan split in the House, Republicans are often the victors in tossup districts — the chamber is currently split 78-42. In 2020, GOP candidates won in 19 of 20 swing districts. Democrats’ best year in recent history was 2018, when they won six tossup districts.
The difference-maker is a clear trend of House Republican candidates over-performing their top-of-ticket counterparts — the average GOP House candidate earned a 3.2% higher share of the two-party vote in swing districts than Donald Trump.
The Senate is a little more even at 24-16, but the GOP still holds a clear advantage. Republicans are favored in 20 Senate seats, 14 of which are considered “solid Republican.” Democrats are favored in 15 districts, including 11 considered “solid Democratic.”
While that leaves five swing seats, the election calendar adds a wrinkle.
“One difference between the two chambers is that Democrats have overall performed better in Senate swing seats than in the House, though the nature of the Senate election calendar has acted as a contributing factor to this,” the analysis notes.
Currently, Republicans hold three of the five swing seats — SD 8, SD 9 and SD 39 — as well as the Democratic leaning SD 37, which Sen. Ileana Garcia flipped last year by a handful of votes in a controversial election. Democrats hold two swing seats — SD 18 and SD 40.
Again, the FPPs show down-ballot Republicans have generally over-performed compared to the candidate at the top of the ticket.
“For Senate candidates this over-performance has been smaller than in House races, just 1.6% across the five Senate Swing seats the last time each was contested, but these differences have been essential for maintaining comfortable Republican control,” the analysis reads.
The Florida Partisan Performance indexes will be available to the public online for the next three months.
Additionally, the Chamber will be releasing a series of Florida Partisan Performance Regional Reports on a weekly basis.
The first regional report, covering Northwest Florida, is out now with a report on the Tampa Bay area to follow this week. The report schedule also includes releases for Southwest Florida, Orlando, Broward, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Palm Beach/Treasure Coast, Gainesville and Miami.