How Ron DeSantis’ badly gerrymandered congressional map helped Republicans flip the House: report
Earlier this year, far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis aggressively pushed a congressional map that his Democratic critics attacked as gerrymandering on steroids. Florida Democrats argued that the map gave Republicans a painfully unfair advantage in the Sunshine State. And according to reporting in the Miami Herald, that map helped Republicans flip the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterms.
The midterms were full of disappointments for Republicans. Democrats kept their U.S. Senate majority and won key gubernatorial races in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin and other swing states. Republicans, however, did manage to flip the House, although not by the 30 or 40 seats they were hoping for. Republicans will have a narrow U.S. House majority, probably in the single digits, in 2023.
But one state where Republicans really did enjoy a major red wave was Florida. DeSantis campaigned from the far right yet enjoyed a landslide reelection victory, defeating his Democratic challenger Charlie Crist (a former Republican) by 19 percent. Incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio defeated Democrat Val Demings by 16 percent, and Florida Republicans had plenty of victories in the U.S. House as well as the Florida State Legislature.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid has been arguing that Florida should no longer be considered a swing state — it is now a full-fledged red state. And in light of how badly Democrats performed in the Sunshine State in the 2022 midterms, it’s hard to disagree with her.
The fact that Florida has become so GOP-leaning is bad news for Democrats in presidential elections; the state has 29 electoral votes, and that number will increase to 30 in 2024.
And it is bad news for Democrats because of the advantage Republicans have in Florida with gerrymandered U.S. House districts.
In an article published by the Herald on November 17, reporter Romy Ellenbogen explains, “Florida Senate National Republicans’ goal of regaining full control of Congress in a sweeping red wave didn’t materialize on Election Day. Democrats maintained control of the Senate, but Republicans won control of the House late Wednesday, (November 16). The exact size of their majority is unclear, as some races are still having votes counted. Four new members of the Republican majority came from Florida, where voters sent 20 Republicans to Congress, compared to 16 the cycle prior.”
Ellenbogen notes that DeSantis has “touted what he called the ‘greatest Republican victory in the history of the state of Florida’ up and down the ballot, including the congressional victories.” And she adds that “DeSantis’ office also played a significant role in how the congressional districts were crafted.”
Ellenbogen points out that earlier this year, “watchdog groups” filed a lawsuit against DeSantis over his congressional map, but it didn’t help Democrats in the midterms.
“Watchdog groups filed a lawsuit arguing the map violated both the (Florida) State Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, but the courts chose not to hear the case before the election,” Ellenbogen observes. “The lawsuit is ongoing, and the governor’s staff could be deposed. The draft plan showed Republicans had the voting advantage in 20 out of Florida’s 28 seats — which is how the results came in on Election Day. Some of the groups suing Florida over the redistricting process pointed to the election results as evidence of the unfairness of the redistricting plan, and said they will continue to push for maps that ‘do not favor one political party over the other, as the DeSantis map used this election cycle does.’”
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