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A lawsuit over redistricting is currently playing out in court this week as plaintiffs sued the state of Florida for violating their state's newly passed Fair Districts amendments. Those constitutional amendments prohibit districts from being drawn for the benefit of a political party or incumbent while prioritizing the preservation of city and county integrity. Given the blatant disregard by Republicans for the amendment seen below and that the left leaning bloc on the Florida Supreme Court has a five to two majority, the odds of success are good for the plaintiffs. Republicans though aren't headed for complete disaster as it is very possible that the court simply sends the map back to the legislature or only imposes small changes of their own. In this diary however I wanted to look at what a completely non-partisan, start from scratch map might look like.

 photo FloridaCongressionalMap2012_zps6ccf0393.png
 photo FloridaCDData2012_zps5eb393c9.png

Starting with the Republican-drawn districts in effect for 2012 and 2014 you can see they are fairly blatantly partisan. Obama won Florida yet carried only 11 of 27 districts while Democrats hold only 10. The most egregious violation is almost certainly the 5th district which snakes from Jacksonville to Orlando to pack Democrats and while Republicans profess that this is required by the Voting Rights Act, the district is not even majority black and is not compact by any rational standard. Other violations include removing St. Petersburg from the 13th and using water contiguity to place it in the safe Democratic 14th, along with stretching the 25th from Miami to Naples, and another faux VRA 20th district packing in Democrats that reaches from West Palm Beach through the Everglades to Fort Lauderdale.

Head below the fold to see my proposed alternative map and its detailed impact.

 photo FloridaStateView_zps090b694b.png
(click through for a much larger image)
 photo FloridaSummary_zps4e61f70d.png

Here is my interpretation of what a non-partisan map would look like that is based on communities of interest and city and county integrity while still adhering to the VRA. Moving north to south, the highly competitive 2nd district becomes about half a point more Democratic which could make a difference given how strongly contested the seat is this year. The 3rd district goes from safely Republican to only modestly so with the inclusion of heavily Blue Dog Democratic areas. Bill Nelson won it by nearly four points in 2012 and Alex Sink only lost it by about four in 2010 and given how extreme Ted Yoho is, the district has the potential for an upset.

In Jacksonville the 5th is completely redrawn to consist of just the city itself in Duval County. It is no longer safely Democratic, but Republicans would have a difficult time winning a district that voted for Obama by nearly six points in the Deep South. However incumbent Corrine Brown would certainly be at risk, even in the primary as well, but the district would still be likely to elect a black Democrat such as Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown. Once the 5th no longer soaks up Democrats though, districts like the 6th in Daytona Beach are highly competitive. That seat now voted for Romney by about two points, but for Obama by five in 2008 and would likely be a tossup. The 7th district in the suburbs north of Orlando actually voted for Obama by one point in 2012 and while incumbent John Mica is fairly entrenched, it would be a great opportunity if open or in a wave.

In Orlando itself Democrats would gain an entirely new safe majority-minority district with Republican Dan Webster's 10th giving Obama over 60 percent of the vote and likely electing narrow 2012 loser Val Demings, who is African-American. Alan Grayson in the 9th would no longer have a safe district, but given how he has kept his head down in his second term and the Democratic trending district voted for Obama by over nine percent in 2012, he would likely be okay short of a wave.

 photo FLNon-PartisanMapFL-13_zps9bc185a3.png

In the Tampa Bay area the biggest change comes to the 13th which Republicans just recently won very narrowly in a low turnout special election. The sections in pink are removed from the district while those in light green including St. Petersburg proper are added. That moves the district from a narrow one point Obama margin to just over 10 points, making it very difficult for freshman David Jolly to win reelection. The adjacent 14th remains safely Democratic despite Obama's margin narrowing, while to the north and east the 12th and 15th become marginally more Democratic and the 16th to the south somewhat less so.

 photo FloridaMiamiView_zps8be2b910.png

In southeast Florida the 18th, where freshman Patrick Murphy narrowly won a marquee race against tea party firebrand Allen West in 2012, unfortunately moves about one to two points more Republican. However Murphy appears to have a clear advantage in 2014 and would by no means be unable to win in 2016 under these lines, but if or when he eventually runs statewide the district would be a probable loss. Making up for that however, the 22nd district in north Palm Beach County becomes rock solid for Democrats, moving from an Obama win of just under 10 to nearly 20 points. The 20th northeast Broward County is still heavily black at nearly 38 percent of the voting age population and over a 43 percent plurality overall.

Finally there are the four VRA districts in the Miami area, which itself swung strongly Democratic in 2012. The 24th remains majority black and the 25th, 26th, and 27th are all over 2/3rds Hispanic. The 26th moves from marginal to safe Democratic for freshman Joe Garcia at nearly 58 percent Obama while the 25th turns from a Romney district into one Obama carried by nine percent, giving Democrats a solid pick up opportunity. In turn the 27th becomes about two points more Republican but given how entrenched Republican incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is that doesn't harm Democrats.

Overall this map would likely see Democrats gain at least two seats with the 10th and 13th while the 6th and 25th would be very good offensive opportunities and the 3rd and 7th at least on the table. Republicans would stand a better chance in the 5th and 18th but are by no means destined to take those seats when redrawn this way. While I strongly doubt the court-imposed map will look exactly like this, similar changes to north Florida and the Orlando area and especially the 13th in St. Petersburg look likely.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I love the smell of non-partisan districting (5+ / 0-)

    in the morning. Smells like victory.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:09:38 AM PDT

    •  But the issue was/is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peacestpete, wayoutinthestix, PHScott

      That this was supposed to have happened and did not.  Thus the lawsuit...

      If I recall we have to amendments to vote on - 1 for the state legislative districts and the other for the congressional districts.  Both passed with about 63% of the vote.

      But when has the legislature here in Florida actually cared about "rules"?

      •  You have to give them credit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PHScott

        The FL GOP got away with an illegal gerrymander for at least two election cycles.  They managed to drag out the court fight to the extent that we'll only see a legal map for 3 of the 5 election cycles this decade.

      •  and how about their plan to allow Gov to (0+ / 0-)

        appoint state SC judges whose terms won't start till after the new Gov is sworn in. And create new SC judgeships to pack the court with more conservatives and dilute the current majority.

        "You are what you write, not what you look like."

        by PHScott on Wed May 21, 2014 at 01:44:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  They tried that in 2012 and failed (0+ / 0-)

          They have to amend the Florida Constitution to change the Supreme Court, and that takes 60% of the vote here (thank heavens). The court packing was on the ballot in 2012 and didn't even come too close to 50%.

          (-2.38, -3.28) Independent thinker

          by TrueBlueDem on Fri May 30, 2014 at 08:24:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” -The Doctor

    by KingofSpades on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:22:06 AM PDT

  •  Maybe for a part 2 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peacestpete, PHScott

    you could do one that's based on the current map and undoes some inexcusable stuff (like FL-13 and 5 and 10).

    “The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” -The Doctor

    by KingofSpades on Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:23:18 AM PDT

  •  Fantastic work (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, PHScott

    I think we find that non-partisan redistricting can only help democrats in almost all states.  Even states like Illinois and Maryland are such that I don't think it would hurt us very much.

    There should be a push to eliminate gerrymandering in all states.  It undermines democracy and it's wrong.

    26, OH-16, fiscal moderate, foreign policy liberal, social libertarian 2012 Daily Kos Elections Pick'Em Champion

    by StephenCLE on Wed May 21, 2014 at 12:00:16 PM PDT

  •  The area including Duval County (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, PHScott

    looks odd.

    #4 especially.

    Other than that, the KingofSpades comment is a bull's eye.

    Nice work.

    "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- after Paul "False Prophet" Ryan

    by waterstreet2013 on Wed May 21, 2014 at 12:00:33 PM PDT

  •  Well Ron DeSantis would probably run in FL-06 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PHScott

    He's my awful current rep and a tea party type.  I just don't see him having much chance of holding that re-drawn FL-06.

  •  I like the map, (0+ / 0-)

    except, again, for the 5th district. I think there is a definite impetus to hook downtown Jacksonville with Gainesville; as there has been a Jacksonville-Gainesville district for a long time.

    "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

    by ArkDem14 on Sun May 25, 2014 at 06:54:19 PM PDT

    •  What reason could there possibly be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ProudNewEnglander

      if you aren't required by the VRA? It only makes the district about 5% more black anyway. Think about a similar case of NC-12 where the equivalent argument would be that the district has to go from Charlotte (or alternately the Triad) to the black portions of smaller cities such as Lexington, etc. There's no VRA jurisprudence forcing Jacksonville to Gainesville and that's the only reason those cities were ever linked in the first place when the Bush DoJ threatened to deny pre-clearance in 1991.

      •  They are much closer than Charlotte (0+ / 0-)

        and Greensboro and it has to do with one, keeping the district a minority opportunity district while not black majority, which seems important for me.

        "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

        by ArkDem14 on Sun May 25, 2014 at 10:31:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  A 31% AA district (0+ / 0-)

          that voted for Obama is a minority-opportunity district.

          (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

          by ProudNewEnglander on Mon May 26, 2014 at 07:39:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I disagree. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            James Allen

            Not in the south. In the midwest, in the northeast, sure, but not necessarily in this district, and particularly with the turnout issues for black voters in Duval County. Secondly there are close cultural and economic relationships between the two cities and downtown Jacksonville fits in better with Gainesville than it does with all the white, suburban McMansion territory that this map ties it together with. It's another case where misguided attempts at maintaining county unity and geographic compactness does not respect communities of interest. It's simply good map-mapping and less likely to get tossed out in courts, as this set up severely weakens the voting power of black voters in the district, and likely disadvantages black voters in Gainesville.

            The thing is, local Floridians who have been working maps or viewing this process, have repeatedly agreed with me on this and pointed out this specific issue with maps that draw a Duval-exclusive district.

            "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

            by ArkDem14 on Mon May 26, 2014 at 10:58:04 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I guess it's hard for me to see (0+ / 0-)

              how you'd connect Jacksonville and Gainesville without also including a lot of white, suburban McMansions in Duval and/or Clay County. And the FL Supreme Court isn't going to draw a skinny, tendril-like district to connect the two.

              The choices are, either an all-Duval district or a Jax-Gainesville district that also includes lots of white suburban conservatives between the two cities. I personally would prefer the all-Duval district.

              If you think there's a third choice, then can you post your map?

              (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

              by ProudNewEnglander on Mon May 26, 2014 at 04:00:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I had one a long time ago (0+ / 0-)

                I think I've lost it. I'll try to go recreate it, though for whatever reason the redistricting app has gotten horribly slow with big states.

                "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

                by ArkDem14 on Mon May 26, 2014 at 06:01:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Here: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ProudNewEnglander

                 photo Jacksonville-Gainesville_zps10e9190d.png

                URL=[IMG]http://i759.photobucket.com/...[/IMG][/URL]

                It violates no municipal boundaries, and only includes one additional county split. Remains a minority-majority district, and gives Obama 61% of the vote. This is a district that much better adheres to communities of interest. Jacksonville and Gainesville have very close ties, culturally and economically. This district is only slightly more messy, but a better representation of the needs of those communities for representation, particularly the black community in North Florida which has traditionally been exceptionally marginalized.

                Culturally, ethnically, and the like, this is a better district and I think local politicos will back me up on this. And what's more, it takes nothing away from Stephen's otherwise great map. Lumping Gainesville in with all of super conservative and fast-Republican trending north Florida and Jacksonville exurbs is to put it in a district it has virtually nothing in common with. The same with dumping all those lower income hispanic and black voters in central Duval with the ultra-rich to upper middle class, nearly all white suburbs in an area with a history of tenuous racial relationships. It'd be like drawing Sanford Bishop's district into the South Atlanta suburbs in order to make a marginally more competitive South Georgia district.

                "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

                by ArkDem14 on Mon May 26, 2014 at 08:42:59 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That is an interesting district (0+ / 0-)

                  and it's better-looking than I thought it would be.

                  I fully agree that lumping Alachua with the conservative areas to its north and west is not a good CoI. A better CoI, in my opinion, would be having Alachua go with Marion, and then take in maybe Putnam or some of Lake as well. But your idea is quite interesting.

                  If you are intent on keeping the district below 50% white, then your way probably is the best way to do it. Fortunately, Jacksonville is getting more diverse (it gained 85,000 people in the 2000s - 38K were black and only 14K were white), so by 2020 it may be possible to draw a district that is less than 50% white while staying entirely in Duval.

                  Personally, I'm dying to see what the FL courts actually come up with.

                  (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

                  by ProudNewEnglander on Tue May 27, 2014 at 07:15:16 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Probably, (0+ / 0-)

                    and this district can be made even neater, if neatness was an emphasis.

                    "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

                    by ArkDem14 on Tue May 27, 2014 at 02:25:15 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  if the current supreme court revisits it (0+ / 0-)

          I think they're likely to say race can't be used as a consideration in drawing districts.

          In reality, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing. - Rousseau, The Social Contract, note 5

          by James Allen on Mon May 26, 2014 at 12:41:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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