Florida’s political landscape is taking shape for November. We’re all familiar with Florida’s critical role as a swing state in close Presidential elections but that’s far from the only balance of power which will be determined based on how we vote. Two years ago, when Democrats gained control of the House of Representatives, their flipping of two South Florida seats, the 26th and 27th were endemic of what we’d see in other tight districts nationally. That’s where we’ll start in this week’s look at the Florida Election Series.
Florida’s 26th District was a key flip for Democrats in 2018 as incumbent Republican Carlos Curbelo fell to Debbie Mucarsel-Powell by 1.8%. This race is likely to be among the closest in Florida yet again and it could be a bell-weather as to whether Republicans will be able to regain control of the House or if Democrats will maintain their current advantage. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez won the Republican primary and figures to be a strong challenger in this race. In fact, as of now, you might call him the favorite. There’s been but one accredited poll in this race thus far, but it paints a picture of a race very much up for grabs. In the polls, Carlos Gimenez showed a five-point lead. With both politicians being well known to the community, this race shows strong potential to be a pickup for Republicans.
Florida’s 27th District was the other pickup for Democrats in Florida two years ago. This race wasn’t quite as close as the other. Once Republican Ilena Ros-Lehtinen decided to retire from Congress, former Clinton HHS Secretary Donna Shalala decided to enter the race challenging former Miami TV anchor Maria Elvira Salazar. Shalala won by six points. 2020 brings about a rematch. Six points isn’t insurmountable; however, most analysts view this race as safe for Democrats as Shalala theoretically benefits from incumbency and the district has a Democrat voter advantage. As such, no accredited polling has yet been conducted in the district.
The other South Florida Congressional race which will be most closely watched is Florida’s 18th. A Republican flip in 2016 when Brian Mast turned a 20% Republican loss in 2014, into a 13% win in 2016. Mast won reelection two years ago by 9 points. While the district had been considered fairly safe for Mast – recent revelations of off-color Facebook posts from nine and eleven years ago have raised new questions about whether this race is now in play. We don’t yet have any info we can point to as to the impact, if any, of the controversy but it’s something I’ll be watching.
As for the political makeup of the state generally... Here’s Florida’s voter registration in 2016:
- DEM: 37.8%
- GOP: 35.3%
Here’s the most recent voter registration:
- DEM: 37.2%
- GOP: 35.4%
Over four years ago, the percentage of Florida’s voters registered as Democrats has dropped by 0.6%. Over that same time, Republicans have gained 0.1%. The swing totals a net advantage for Republicans of 0.7% over Election Day four years ago. Republicans generally have a bit of a tailwind over the political makeup of Florida’s registered voters compared to four years ago.
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