Over the last few weeks, I have been putting together precinct-level data so that I can do some number crunching. But before I get into testing hypotheses that I have formulated, I wanted to see how well Hillary Clinton did in Florida State House and State Senate Districts. Today, I have finished (sort of) my state house evaluation.
Before I get into it, it should be noted that many of the state house districts are estimates. The reason for this is that one precinct might share two, or even three, state house districts. Therefore, it is hard to determine how a presidential election vote exactly splits. On the worksheet provided here, the “Est Diff” shows how much of the vote overlaps between one district and another. In the overall scheme of things, this overlap probably did not impact the overall “winner-loser” scenario, as those with high overlap usually voted heavily for Clinton or Trump. However, some precincts were removed if they overlapped but had no population (example: precinct over water).
Another note is that I am still waiting for Polk and Seminole County to finalize their numbers, as they still have their early and absentee voting in one lump sum and not divided into precincts. In the case of districts in Polk and Seminole, I use their precinct-level Election Day numbers. As far as a few districts in Broward County, I am still waiting to hear back from the SoE to see which precincts are located in these districts. Still, they are expected be strongly Democratic. In the end, only Florida House District 30 might see a change when final numbers come in.
Overall, Hillary Clinton is estimated to have won 51 Florida State House seats. In these House seats, Democrats failed to field any candidates in two of them. In House District 44 (a district I briefly ran in), Clinton won 51.6% of the vote, beating Trump by 7.8%, yet Eric Eisnaugle went unopposed (so much for Ryan Ray concluding this was a “GOP-leaning seat). In House District 89, Bill Hager was unopposed, despite Hillary Clinton winning the district narrowly by 0.5%. Finally, in House District 119, Jeanette Nunez would have been unopposed, Wendy Villanueva filed at the very last minute. Hillary Clinton winning 54.7% of the vote, with a huge 12.8% edge over Trump.
Hillary Clinton won 49 seats by 5% or more. Of those seats, Republicans had held eleven of them. In one of those, (44), the Democrats had no State House candidate (again, told you so). Another six of those (House District 103, 105, 110, 111,115, and 116) did not have any funding whatsoever from the Florida Democratic Party. That only left four Florida House Democratic seats (47, 114, 118, and last minute 119) in stronger Hillary districts which received Florida Democratic Party funding with Democrats winning two out of those three (114 and 118).
There were two seats where Hillary won, but by less than 5% (89 and 120). Hager (89) had no opposition, and Holly Raschein’s (120) Democratic opponent, Dan Horton, received no support from the Florida Democratic Party and only had $18,000 in campaign funds, a far cry from Raschein’s $549,000 war chest.
In addition to the 51 seats that Clinton won, there were also an addition eleven seats where Hillary is estimated to have come within 5% of Trump. In one of those, Larry Lee, Jr. was unopposed, a bullet the Democrats might have dodged considering Clinton’s poor showing in St. Lucie County. Patrick Henry in District 26 never received any funds from the FDP directly, but did win with solid financial backing from other sources. An additional five Democratic candidates (30, 59, 69, 72, and 93) did receive Florida Democratic Party funding, but the Republicans won against all of those Democratic candidates. This leaves four seats where Hillary Clinton came within 5% of Trump and the Florida Democratic Party did not back the Democratic candidate.
The Florida Democratic Party only targeted one district where Trump performed quite well, and that was Amanda Murphy’s District 36, which is fair enough since she is an incumbent. Trump won Murphy’s district by nearly 20%, yet she barely lost her race. Regardless of Trump’s performance, targeting Murphy was the right thing to do.
What is the most puzzling part of the Florida Democratic Party’s strategy is the funding of candidates in strong Democratic district. In Loranne Ausley’s district, where she won by 12% and Clinton won by 10%, the FDP gave her nearly $68,000. Tracy Davis in House District 13 received $15.000 from the Florida Democratic Party. Nicholas Duran (112) and David Richardson (113) also received thousands of dollars from the FDP, despite being in strong Democratic districts.
Overall, the Florida House is within reach for Democrats, if the wind blew in the right direction. However, there seems to be a lack of basic knowledge when it comes to understanding geography and voting behavior when it comes to advising the Florida Democratic Party on which races to target. Honestly, whoever does that work for them should be fired. Even so, there is no reason why Democrats cannot have, at minimum, at least 50 seats in the Florida House.