In 2010, Florida’s voters passed two constitutional amendments aimed at reducing partisan gerrymandering. Amendments 5 and 6 held that districts must not be drawn to “favor or disfavor” a party or incumbent or dilute the influence of minority voters. Democrats and advocates for redistricting reform hailed the passage of the measures, arguing that they could kneecap the GOP’s ability to continue its domination of a congressional map in what is otherwise a swing state. We’re about to find out whether there’s any truth to that. Republicans held 19 of the state’s 25 districts following the 2010 election. With the amendments in effect and the state’s map expanded to 27 districts in 2012, Democrats added four seats, for a total of 10 of the state’s 27 districts. But that had as much or more to do with the GOP losing a few swing seats than with the new redistricting rules. Indeed, the rules weren’t really legally tested until this year, when a judge last month ruled that two of them needed to be redrawn because they were drawn for partisan purposes. The GOP-controlled state legislature approved a new new map this week, with very minimal changes.
According to numbers crunched by redistricting expert Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, only seven districts underwent changes in the redrawn map. Two heavily Democratic districts became about two points less Democratic, while two GOP-leaning seats became less than a point more Democratic. Neither of those latter two districts is in play this November.
The new map now awaits Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) signature and will be reviewed by the judge who struck down the original map.
If it passes muster with the courts in anything like its present form, it will have been a pretty major victory for the GOP in overcoming the so-called Fair Districts amendments — and an equally large setback for redistricting reformers seeking to rein in partisan gerrymandering.