This data is for the Florida Senate. Information on the Florida House Numbers can be found here.
The Florida Senate currently has a 26 – 14 Republican majority. This means we need to pick up 6 seats to reach 50% in the chamber and 7 seats to win back the majority. We have two election cycles to accomplish this, but we will only have an opportunity at each Senate seat once, since only about half of the districts are up for grabs in any given election (except for years ending in 2).
Something that should be noted is that winning Senate seats can be much more difficult than winning House seats. Open seat contests are less frequent. In some cases we are facing entrenched incumbents who have already served for many years. In other cases, the districts are served by high-ranking officials (President, Pro Tempore, Majority Leader, etc..) and finally often it is the case we must take on candidates who were very popular in their State House districts. For all these reasons, I think our chances at taking back the Senate are lower than the chances of taking back the House, though it's close because we only need six or seven more seats in the Senate. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to take a look at the partisan appeal of the districts first to see where our best chances of potential victory could be. In part 2, I’ll take a look at individual districts in the swing categories, examining past performance by our candidates in the most recent elections, possible retirements, and our top likely targets.
Here are the district maps for the Florida Senate.
2000 Democratic Performance(Presidential) # x 2008 signifies the number of races that will be contested in 2008
Statewide Performance: 49 %
Category 1: 70 – 100, 3 districts (2 x 2008), 3 D, 0 R
Category 2: 60 – 69, 8 districts (5 x 2008), 8 D, 0 R
Category 3: 54 – 59, 2 districts (1 x 2008), 2 D, 0 R
Category 4: 47 – 53, 7 districts (4 x 2008, all R), 1 D, 6 R
Category 5: 41 – 46, 12 districts (6 x 2008), 0 D, 12 R
Category 6: 31 – 40, 5 districts (1 x 2008), 0 D, 5 R
Category 7: 0 – 30, 3 districts (1 x 2008), 0 D, 3 R
Due to gerrymandering, we already face a field of seats that is stacked against us despite the even split in the state. Democratic voters have mostly been thrown into the 11 districts that make up the first two categories, while Republicans have been spread out mostly into Category 5 districts, which favor the Republican Party. Democrats hold all 15 seats in the lean-Democratic districts and one seat (Charlie Justice in the 16th district) in Category 4. Republicans, likewise, hold all 20 seats that lean to their side. They also hold six of the seven swing districts in Category 4. Basically, if we want to win back the Senate we are going to have to win as many of these as possible and for every seat we don’t win in Cat. 4, we’ll have to win one in Cat. 5. Remember we need to take six seats from the Republicans.
Democrats have shown the ability to compete in some of the category 5 races, so certainly we could a have a shot at a few of these. In 2006, for example, the Democratic candidate lost by only four points 52 % - 48 % in an open seat contest in the 10th district (Gore – 41%). In this case, Democrats faced very controversial Republican Rhonda Storms. In 2010, I’m sure Democrats will also give her another strong challenge.
If seats open up on the Republican side our chances of winning seats will naturally increase. In the 25th district (Cat. 4) represented by Jeff Atwater, Democrats did not even bother to field a challenger in his most recent re-election battle in 2004. Several high-profile Democrats may be stepping up to take him on in 2008, however, and it looks like there is a good chance he could be taken down if former state Sen. Skip Campbell runs. If well-financed Democrats were to step up in any of the incumbent-held districts, then that would give us better chances of winning. More on this in Part 2.
That finishes this part of the analysis. Now we have some data on districts, so we can make better judgments on what districts we should be challenging in the future. In part 2, I’ll actually take a closer look at the individual districts that will have elections in 2008, particularly in categories 4 and 5.
Category 1: 18, 29 (x), 33 (x)
Category 2: 01 (x), 19 (x), 30, 31 (x), 32, 34, 35 (x), 39 (x)
Category 3: 06, 27 (x)
Category 4: 07 (x), 11 (x), 13 (x), 14, 16, 25 (x), 28
Category 5: 03 (x), 09 (x), 10, 12, 15 (x), 17 (x), 20, 21 (x), 22, 23 (x), 24, 26
Category 6: 02, 08, 36, 37 (x), 38
Category 7: 04, 05 (x), 40