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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Map An Interesting Start

So the first draft of the Congressional map for Florida is out and there is some significant chit-chat out there. It has been a while since I blogged, and I guess since I have bloviated myself about redistricting, this is a good time to chime in. My take, for what it is worth, is that is is actually a pretty good sign for Democrats next year in Florida.

Some are suggesting this ignores the Fair Districts amendment. I say, Duh!

No, that's not true. I do think this acknowledges the amendment, but only in a political sense and not by the letter of the law. It seems lawmakers are answering the amendment by making a district which doesn't benefit the GOP's ambitions. Given that the Republicans have a stranglehold on the Legislature here, that is a pretty good after-effect of passing the amendment. Does that make me a cynical partisan? I don't think so. Considering Florida is a state with a U.S. senator from each major party and which has been a swing state in the past FIVE presidential elections, it is just crazy how badly the GOP dominates the Congressional delegation from this state. Ultimately, the partisan make-up of our delegation is the greatest way to measure how fair the district lines are created, and this gives us a chance to balance the scales. Just a chance.

Before we start, here is a link to the map that is used today:

The Panhandle is almost unchanged, and I am not sure how much any tweaks would do. When we lost Boyd last year, we probably lost FL-02 for a good while. Boyd was a conservative Democrat, and the voters eventually decided it was time to switch him with a conservative Republican. I am not sure it will be so easy to get them to switch back, and I am not sure how much the modern Democratic Party wants a new Blue Dog. But things start to get interesting in Northeast Florida.

Right now, FL-04 is held by Republican Ander Crenshaw. But the district now has more Duvall County in it than has before. I don't think that means much this cycle, but if Jacksonville trends more Democratic, it could mean this seat comes into play when Crenshaw retires. An Hispanic seat in Central Florida (FL-27) almost surely will be Democratic, and Corrine Brown's seat, while an embarrassment to Fair Districts advocate, seems unlikely ever to switch red. Does Alan Grayson have a shot with this map? I think so, but he will have to convince Democrats of that. In the big picture, that is a good thing for liberals.

In South Florida, David Rivera's district is moving away from him, showing the Legislature may take my advice and hang the fucker out to dry. This is good news for any and everybody, as this freshman who has spent more time avoiding investigation than filing legislation, is a black eye on the state transcending party lines. It looks to me like Allen West is also in for a fight, convincing me more than ever that he is a one-term Congressman and the right's 2010 version of Grayson 2008.

So there is a lot in my opinion to like in this map. The most important thing to remember, in my opinion, is that it is a starting point. Considering the fear in many, many states with GOP legislatures, it is important to note this is a map that does not make anything worse for Democrats next year. Since our current map is so screwed up, that is hardly a consolation, I know, but this map, as it looks today, gives Democrats the chance to pick up seats next year, and the opportunity to get our House delegation in balance over the next decade. And this is only map one, so things are likely to get better. I view this all as good news.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Stop Calling New Frontrunners

I guess all of the pundits, blogs and media outlets are ready to declare Newt Gingrich as the new GOP frontrunner, even though everyone knows he is unlikely to win the nod, much less the presidency. This seems contrary, but it it true.

So can we just stop saying the term front-runner? Can we admit that Mitt Romney has not sewn this up, but that there is no way to tell today, in mid-November, who will start winning primaries, caucuses, and ultimately the nomination?

Here is the deal. Newt Gingrich won't win in Iowa or New Hampshire, and if he is a blip in the polls then, it will be amazing. Just as winning Ames meant nothing for Michele Bachmann, being ahead in the polls right now is not important for Newt Gingrich. If there is a front-runner today, it doesn't matter anyhow. Winning polls doesn't win elections.

Just saying.