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Florida’s New State House Map

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I did a blog entry several weeks ago on Florida’s new congressional map, and now and going to do posts on the state house and state senate maps passed as well.  I am continuing first with the state house maps, which reapportioned the 120 seats of Florida’s lower chamber.   Similar to how I broke down the congressional map, I will look at the demographic and political breakdown of the the state house map.

First lets take a look at the map itself…. you can see it below..

This map makes some changes to the current lines under the state house plan now, but many districts aren’t changed that much.  The Republicans where clearly aiming to ensure their majority is maintained.  This map has plenty of creative ways to pack minorities and Democrats just enough to ensure they maintain a strategic advantage when it comes to the state house elections in 2012.

Worst Districts

There are several districts that appear to be in clear violation of amendments 5 and 6 (see my congressional analysis for more detail on those), which mandated more compactness with the district lines.  Lets take a look at some of them

First on our list is House District 70, which stretches across the Tampa bay and dives down into Manattee county in order to create a 45% African American District.   Nothing about this district seems compact, as it goes over waterways it does not need to, and sneaks south like a spike in order to pack in African American voters, thus ensuring the districts around it to the south are less Democratic than they would be.

Down in South Florida we have district 81, which packs African Americans in Palm Beach, and then seeps its way down to Delray Beach to pack in more African American .  The result is a that the district on the coast (not colorized in this image) to the east of this one, is a swing seat despite Palm Beach being a very blue county.  The packing of the African American voters here is what helps Republicans have shots at any seats in this area.

Demographic Analysis

The demographic breakdown of the state house maps results in several minority districts in key area of the state, and especially the South Florida area.

In this map (click it for a larger version) green districts are hispanic seats, blue districts are african american seats, and red districts are white seats.  Lighter shades of these colors indicate a plurality, but not a majority (in other words, a light red seat means that the district is mostly white, but that the white population remains below 50%).

Here are some zoom ins for key areas…

And now south florida..

The maps show that Hispanic districts are heavily concentrated in South Florida.  African American districts exist in major city centers of the state (Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Maimi, Orlando, and Palm Beach).

Lets take a look at a map of the house districts colorized based of the percentage that is African American alone.

This maps shows where the concentration of African American voters are in the state of Florida.  It shows that even in districts that are not majority or plurality african america, there are several districts where their is a strong bloc of voters that can help effect the election results (these types of districts are known as “influence” districts).

Next we look at a the districts based on Hispanic percentage

We see that the hispanic voters are largely concentrated in South Florida, with a few districts up in the central Florida region.   In many parts of the country, districts that are heavily hispanic are also heavily Democratic.  However, a large swath of hispanic voters in Florida are specifically Cuban, a group that trends Republican.   A map of the percentage of hispanics that are cuban is below..

Several of these districts have over 50% of the hispanic residents identifying as Cuban.  In addition, the three highlighted districts are so heavily hispanic/cuban that they are flat out 50% or more Cuban overall (not just as a percentage of the Hispanic community).  These three districts are highly likely to always elect a Republican.

Partisan Breakdown

The partisan breakdown of the districts shows a clear Republican edge.   The plan currently has Barack Obama winning 55 of 120 districts, less than 50%.   In addition, only 47 districts voted for Alex Sink in the 2010 Governor’s Race, when she narrowly lost to Republican Rick Scott.  Overall, 66 Districts voted for both Republicans John McCain and Rick Scott.  These 66 districts are therefor very likely to be solid Republican seats.  46 seats voted for both Obama and Sink, and the last 8 switched between Democrat and Republican between the 2008 Presidential Race and 2010 Governor Race.

Here is a map of the Presidential results broken down by district

zoom in of Central Florida

zoom in of south Florida

Now look at this map, which shows the McCain/Scott districts in RED, the Obama/Sink districts in BLUE, and the swing districts in GREEN

central florida

south florida

Overall these maps show democratic strength is concentrated in the major city areas and south Florida.

Conclusion

Overall the Republicans should be very happy with this map.  It allows them to preserve their majority with a fairly comfortable margin, offering Democrats little opportunity to take control of the chamber in this swing state.   It does so by packing minorities wherever possible and totally going against the FAIR DISTRICTS amendments that where passed in 2010.

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