Tag Archives: gerrymandering

Florida’s Midterm Election Outcomes Bring More Continuity and Less Change

3 Nov

Yes, the words  continuity and change can be considered opposites, but the Senate, Congressional, Gubernatorial, Amendment, and State Legislature electoral choices have resulted in mixed outcomes for the future of Floridians. Aside from the Tea Party Movement hype and the approval of Amendments 5 & 6, overall Florida remains a RED state.

A Tea Party-Republican Win for Senator Elect-Marco Rubio

Demographically, Cuban-Americans in South Florida continue to be a political force and their embrace of American Conservative ideology has produced a candidate that provides a little bit of diversity for a homogeneous Republican Party and even more homogenous Tea Party Movement.  Politically, Marco Rubio is a very smart and well spoken candidate, who was able to use the anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, and anti-big government rhetoric to inspire the Conservative base. Rallying the base was important to increase voter turnout, in a three way race against Independent Charlie Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek.  Charlie Crist, a former Moderate Republican, was unable to keep his early public opinion lead over Rubio. Kendric Meek’s campaign never took off because the bad economy set off an anti-Washington sentiment among voters. Moreover, without a party organization to back up Charlie Crist’s campaign, he was unable to obtain clear wins outside the urban areas of South Florida, Tampa, and Tallahassee. Although Republican Marco Rubio was able to claim an early win, his victory speech was sober, religious, and a warning to Republicans because this win was a “second chance.”  Marco Rubio is still an enigma, because in the Primary he embraced the support given by conservative  Republicans and the Tea Party movement, yet in the Midterm campaign he became a centrist, especially when he discussed the future of Social Security. Either way, Rubio’s Senate win brings the Tea Party movement’s influence into Florida and national politics, which is a change. Finally, in terms of making Senate gains, Rubio’s win did not change the balance of power in Washington, since this seat was previously held by Republican Mel Martinez.

Marco Rubio’s Winning Speech

U.S. Congressional Gains Continue Reflect Florida’s Republican Dominance

All incumbent Republicans held their seats by wide margins, which reflects how congressional districts drawn after the  2000 Census favor the Republican Party. The few Democrat incumbents in safe seats won by wide margins as well. Democrat Incumbents lost in swing, battleground districts, like District 22 in Palm Beach and Broward Counties, Districts 24 and 8 in the Orlando Area. District 22, which includes the city of Boca Raton, elected an African-American Tea Party Movement-Republican Allen West, who beat two-term Democrat Ron Klein. West’s win is no real surprise because this district had been historically Republican controlled through Clay Shaw from 1993-2007, it was drawn specifically for a Republican in 2002, but Klein rode the Democratic wave in 2006 when Democrats took over Congress. The Tea Party’s influence and its anti- big government, anti-immigrant, anti-tax rhetoric, had an impact in this swing district to mobilize the Republican base. Moreover, the money spent in West’s campaign was visible throughout District 22, where West raised $5,562,880 to Ron Klein’s $$3,317,560.

Allen West in His Words

and more….

The Competitive Gubernatorial Seat Remains in Republican Hands

Republicans have held the Gubernatorial seat since 1999 with Jeb Bush.  The surprising change this election year was the seat was a very close competitive seat! Republican Rick Scott who barely met the 7 year Florida Resident requirement, put $73 million of his own money towards his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. After bombarding the airwaves with negative ads, he beat Florida’s Attorney General, Republican Bill McCollum. Then he defeated Democrat Alex Sink by a slim margin, with less than 50% of the vote– Scott received 48.9% to Sink’s 47.6% and won by 70,000 votes. He is not a Florida native, he ran against the Republican establishment, as CEO of the largest Hospital Chain he faced Medicare Fraud charges, and his company was given a historical fine for Medicare Fraud. Given Scott’s aggressive campaigning and cloudy management record, it will be interesting to see how he will govern.

The Republican Cannibalism between Repubicans Rick Scott’s and  Bill McCollum

and Local News Analysis of Rick Scott’s Past With Medicare Fraud via a McCullom Attack Ad

Florida Republican Party Ad Against Alex Sink

Sink Campaign Attack on Rick Scott for Medicare Fraud

The Approval of Amendments 5 and 6 May Bring Representational Change to Florida

Currently there are no guidelines for drawing U.S. Congressional or Florida House districts. So Florida politicians can draw representational districts so that they favor one party over another by looking at U.S. census and voter demographic data. This practice of drawing biased districts is called gerrymandering. Florida Voters approved Amendements 5 and 6, with 62% of the vote, to set guidelines for U.S. Congressional redistricting. Amendments 5 & 6 could influence serveral issues: how the districts are drawn, the political party make up of the districts, and the competitive nature of the districts. Florida politicians may have to work harder to obtain votes, instead of drawing biased districts, securing “safe seats,” and lumping minorities into Majority-minority districts.

Voter Turnout in Florida Was Not a Significant Change Compared to 2006’s Midterm Election

Voter turnout was about 48%, which is a moderate to low voter turnout during a midterm election. It is just a percentage point higher, than the 47% voter turnout of the 2006 midterm wave election, which gave Democrats control of the Senate and Congress. However if you look at turnout rates of other years, the turnout during a Midterm election has not been in the 40 percentage points since 1998, which was 49% during Bill Clinton’s successful Presidency. So although elections in Florida have become more competitive and contentious, Florida voter turnout is moderate to low. The highest voter turnout during a midterm election was 66% recorded in 1994 when Republicans took over Congress with the famous “Contract with America,” and the lowest turnout was 37% in 1958. The highest recorded voter turnout in Florida was 83% in 1992 for the Presidential election of Bill Clinton.

The State Legislature Remains in Republican Hands

It is no surprise that Republicans retain control of the Florida Legislature because they have designed the representational districts to create safe political seats. So, Florida remains a very RED state.


Make Florida Politicians SWEAT IT!! Vote YES on Constitutional Amendments 5 and 6

18 Oct

Ever feel like there is no competition in local electoral politics? That every time you vote is useless, because the incumbent legislator has already won without any significant challenge? Do you live in a district in which the incumbent has always had it easy for 15-plus years??

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, Kendrick Meek, Mario Diaz-Balart. Miami Herald Photograph

Have you ever wondered… Why Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wins every time in a district that covers two counties and includes the cities of Miami Beach and Key West, which are demographically diverse and vote for Democrats in local elections? Or why the Republican Diaz-Balart brothers never seem to lose an election, and Mario Diaz-Balart easily moves from one district to another with ease? Or why Democrat Kendrick Meek, running for U.S. Senate, represented the same District 17 as his mother? Why the current forerunner in Districts 17 and 21, Frederica Wilson and Mario Diaz-Balart, have no competition? Or why, aside from the few Minority-majority districts in Florida cities, the rest of the political map in Florida is RED favoring mostly Republicans?

You are not wondering alone…

Lack of competition in Florida politics is not a figment of your imagination. Florida politicians have drawn political districts to their liking, thus creating politically biased electoral maps. Biased redistricting (the practice of drawing biased political maps a.k.a gerrymandering) lumps Hispanics and African-Americans into majority ethnic districts, and also favors one political party over another, thus reducing the number of moderate candidates and voters.

Biased redistricting reduces political competition

Politicians intentionally bias redistricting (every 10 years with census demographic changes), to REDUCE POLITICAL COMPETITION, and to obtain easy electoral wins for Republican or Democrat incumbents for an extended period of time, i.e. 20+ years. Gerrymandering is not unique to Florida, and happens in all other 49 states as well. Whereas redistricting favors Republicans in Florida, in the North East redistricting favors Democrats. Biased redistricting is the most un-democratic and un-competitive aspect of the American democratic system.

Biased redistricting increases POLITICAL POLARIZATION

Gerrymandering reduces competition and increases POLITICAL POLARIZATION, because moderates (candidates and voters) are muted from the electoral process—resulting in the election of very conservative candidates or very liberal candidates who represent their biased districts in the U.S. Congress and in state legislatures. Polarization is the reason why politicians bicker along party-lines, and do not find common ground for solving critical problems.

Voting YES on Florida Constitutional Amendments 5 and 6 is a start to greater political competition and less gridlock….

Florida Constitutional Amendments 5 and 6 ask voters to prevent party biases, while at the same time, respecting the right of ethnic and language minorities to participate in the political process. These amendments set standards for U.S. Congress and Florida House districts that could increase political competition and accountability.

Opposition to Amendments 5 and 6 by Minority Politicians is Unfounded

Minority leaders, whether Hispanic or African American, like Mario Diaz-Balart argue that this amendment reduces minority representation in politics. This is a misleading argument because if districts were drawn fairly, candidates (regardless of race) would have to cater to the needs of Hispanic and African-American communities. Instead, voters get little to no choice and districts favor one party over another, as it currently occurs in District 17.

Make politicians SWEAT IT!

Do not let politicians choose the voters, so they can secure easy political wins on Election Day.

Vote YES on Amendments 5 and 6

See the Demographics for Florida Districts below. Ros-Lehtinen’s district 18, Diaz-Balart 21, and Kendric Meek’s former district 17.

District Demographics for Ros Lehetinen’s District 18

Race and ethnicity District U.S.
White 27.7% 65.9%
Black 5.1% 12.1%
Hispanic 64.8% 15.1%
Asian 1.3% 4.3%
Native American 0.1% 0.7%

Source: New York Times 2010 Elections

District Demographics for Mario Diaz-Balart’s District 21

Race and ethnicity District U.S.
White 16.0% 65.9%
Black 7.4% 12.1%
Hispanic 73.5% 15.1%
Asian 2.2% 4.3%
Native American 0.1% 0.7%

Source: New York Times 2010 Elections

District Demographics for Kendrick Meek and now Frederica Wilson’s District 17

Source: New York Times 2010 Elections

Race and ethnicity District U.S.
White 15.6% 65.9%
Black 55.8% 12.1%
Hispanic 25.1% 15.1%
Asian 1.9% 4.3%
Native American 0.2% 0.7%