Where the FDP and House Caucus stand today

450px-Old_Florida_CapitolWith the 2015 Legislative Session in full swing the focus has shifted from political legislative considerations. Still the Florida Democratic Party is chugging along hiring Philip Thompson as Deputy Executive Director and lauding Jeri Muoio’s West Palm Beach Mayoral reelection, though the party had little to do with her success. The continued emphasis on rules reform and the work of the LEAD Task Force seem to be hardening opinions – those convinced the FDP is doing a good job are hailing these developments while those who represent dissident factions or those progressives who have checked out on the party completely (probably the single largest group of active Democrats in the state) are largely unconvinced by the changes and uninterested in further developments.

House Caucus internal politics appear as fluid as ever with the some Democratic members are expressing frustration with the leadership while others are hailing an era of harmony and unity within the ranks.

The unity behind Rep. Janet Cruz’s elevation as House Minority Leader Designee is an encouraging sign for a party whose numbers in the legislature are wholly unrepresentative of the state’s population and of the districts that were carved during the 2012 redistricting. While in the State Senate the map was drawn with a partisan intent in mind, and Democrats probably can only get to 15 or 16 seats on the current map (they currently have 14 seats), the House is completely different matter.

The map in the House was drawn with 54 districts that were carried by President Obama in 2008. Democrats who claimed that somehow a majority of districts should be performing Democratic because a majority of registered voters in the state were Democrats completely miss the fact that many registered Democrats are Dixiecrats in the Panhandle and the interior of the state. They also more importantly forget that many many Democrats are packed in the urban areas, especially in south Florida, thus producing overwhelmingly compact and Democratic performing districts throughout the tri-county area.

With the Democrats numbers at 39, let’s lay out some basic math as to the winnable districts:

  • Seven (7) House Republicans currently sit in districts carried by Democrats at the top of the ticket (Obama 08′, 12′, Sink 10′, Crist 14′).
  • Sixteen (16) House Republicans currently sit in districts carried by President Obama in 2012
  • Sixteen (16) House Republicans currently sit in districts carried by Governor Crist in 2012
  • Twenty One (21) House Republicans currently sit in districts carried by EITHER  (not necessarily both) President Obama in 2012 or Governor Crist in 2014
  • Nine (9) House Republicans currently sit in districts carried by BOTH President Obama in 2012 and Governor Crist in 2014.
  • Zero (0) House Democrats sit in districts carried by either Mitt Romney in 2012 or Rick Scott in 2014.

Part of the discrepancy between Crist and Obama districts revolve around southeast Florida. President Obama carried a number of Cuban-American oriented House Districts in Miami-Dade County in 2012 that Charlie Crist lost in 2014. We’ve already spent lots of time discussing the backsliding of Hispanic votes in 2014 throughout Florida and especially Miami-Dade County. This is especially apparent when looking at where Crist performed worse than Obama (Orlando-area Hispanic oriented districts show the same trend). Broward and Palm Beach Counties have three traditionally Republican but trending Democratic districts along the coast. All three of these districts shifted from support of President Obama in 2008 to support of Mitt Romney in 2012, largely due to concerns about the Administration’s policies on Israel. In 2014, all three coastal districts shifted back to favoring Democrats at the top of the ticket in supporting Charlie Crist.

When looking objectively at the map, Democrats should at a minimum be somewhere between 46 and 51 seats. The party could have as many as 57 or 58 seats thought that is difficult given the substantial institutional advantages the GOP has developed with transactional types that dominate donations in state legislative campaigns.

Unlike past cycles, the current House Victory leadership seems to be taking a logical and incremental approach to gaining seats that should be in the Democratic column. However, given these numbers impatience among rank-in-file Democrats and even some House members is likely to be quite high. Unfortunately, years of neglect cannot be reversed overnight, but 2016 and 2018 must be good cycles for the Democrats in the House in order to set up 2020 and the possibility of having a real impact on the next reapportionment.




  1. Blue Dog Dem · ·

    Great analysis. Must read.


  2. Really interesting numbers. So Ds should st a minimum have 46 seats and at a maximum have 60. Yet we have 39!

    Yes the FDP is a JOKE!


  3. Many independent voters are young progressive minded 18 to 40 year olds who don’t identify with either party because of the corruption factor. We need candidates that are populists who espouse the importance of higher wages and lower taxes for the middle class and social issues such as universal early childhood education and social justice. The independent is the key to turn Florida blue. That’s what the FDP need to concentrate on for 2016.


  4. Democratic Operative · ·

    Look at this logically. At a minimum we should be at 51 seats. 46 easy as stated above and then let’s say 5 of the 14 (about 37%) of the competitive seats talked about in this article based on winning about 2 out of every 5 competitive races which should be a bare MINIMUM.

    Instead we sit with 39 seats, 7 Republicans in solidly D seats, and are winning ZERO competitive elections. While we laud the JJR win, fact is that is a district trending more heavily D. Dudley’s seat probably was won thanks to Crist being from St Petersburg.

    So we almost lost TWO MORE Democratic seats this cycle. That would have been minus 8.

    The excuses wear thin after years and years of this. We win a minimal amount of seats in Presidential years only to give them back in off years. It’s a trend the GOP surely relishes as they are hanging on to massive majorities in this competitive purple state!


  5. True Blue · ·

    Pafford is a good policy guy but couldn’t keep the caucus together on the water bill as Katy pointed out last week. He’s not much of a leader.

    The FDP itself is a complete farce. Most of us as you state Kartik in this article have decided to simply ignore or work around the party.

    It is a colossal waste of time and energy. Petty people trying to keep what’s theirs starting from the Chairwoman Allison Tant whose own contributions to this party through the years have been minimal. You, Kartik have actually done far more for Democrats in this state through the years than her as have most of your readers. Then you get these people like Jon Ausman, Alan Clendenin, Brett Berlin, Rick Boylan, Mitach Caesar, etc who just want access and status. No wonder the party does not accomplish anything ever.

    A total joke of a party. Most elected officials are self promoters also. The cliques around DWS, Grayson, Patrick Murphy etc are all bad news. I think any Senate candidate we field will come with personal and associate baggage.

    These numbers you have laid out in this article speak for themselves. They are embarrassing.


  6. Hank Porter · ·

    Some important nuance to your piece is the difference in number of seats in which the top-ticket candidate won with a plurality (+1 vote) versus seats in which top-ticket won a majority (50%+1vote).

    Both the 12Presidential and 14Gubenatorial had one or more third party candidates in the races, while most competitive House races did not. As result, House candidates needed a majority of votes, while top-ticket only needed plurality to win.

    A good example is a seat like HD30 (Castor Dentel/Cortes) in which Crist beat Scott 46.7% to 46.6% where the Libertarian candidate picking up nearly 6% of the vote. Its true that Crist “won” the district, but also true the Scott + Wylie earned +53% in the district. It’s not immediately obvious that should count as top-ticket success.

    By my count, House district counts with top-ticket numbers(#):

    – Obama12 – Plurality #4
    – Obama12 – Majority #11
    – Crist14 – Plurality #10
    – Crist14 – Majority #6


    1. Fla Democrat · ·

      To add to this many of the Obama seats as Kartik says in his article were Cuban seats. Those are not Dem seats. We might see a trend in the future but right now I would not consider those pick up opportunities other than maybe Fresen with Baez.

      So the number is misleading. Crist got hammered I am guessing in some of those places and now that Obama has adopted Crist’s positions on Cuba 2016 might be bad there also.


  7. Fla Democrat · ·

    It is possible the Cuban seats in Miami going Obama in 2012 was a one-off. So to say we could push to 60 is a stretch. Too early to tell if those seats are really trending Dem.

    With that in mind, 39 is unacceptable and quite honesty 46 would not be acceptable either. 50 or 51 is about where we should be.


  8. The real issue is how irrelevant the party is and how poorly they handle media and the political game. Completely unseasoned.


  9. Gordon Gecko · ·

    The FDP is inept. Plain and simple.


  10. Terrie Rizzo, Palm Beach County DEC Chair · ·

    Hello Kartik, This is Terrie Rizzo. Apologies for the belated response, but it’s been a pretty busy week(!) However, I wanted to address the line above regarding Jeri Muoio’s West Palm Beach mayoral re-election race which states that “the party had little to do with her success”. In fairness, you and others may not realize how actively the party was engaged. Our PBC county party endorsed Jeri & aggressively worked on GOTV, did mail pieces to Democrats, made multiple rounds of robocalls both to re-sign absentee requests plus GOTV for election day, worked precincts, ran phonebanks, helped set up & promote campaign activities, had many DEC/party members volunteering with the campaign, and helped produce a record-shattering Vote By Mail turnout countywide and especially in this particular election. Additionally, the FDP fully supported our request for assistance in this critical race & mobilized the Democratic Women’s Clubs of Florida & DECs statewide to do virtual phonebanking for both the absentee ballot chase & Election Day GOTV. Jeri Muoio and the Muoio campaign themselves have credited and thanked the party, and our SOE is quoted as saying that we (the party) got many voters to the polls who had never before voted in municipal elections. It may not have been obvious, but the party worked hard on GOTV, and I believe Jeri’s decisive win by nearly 2-1 was certainly in part a result of the party’s efforts!


  11. Terrie Rizzo, Palm Beach County DEC Chair · ·

    Accidentally cut off my “thank you”! T


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