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Last night's narrow 2 percent loss by former state CFO Alex Sink to congressman-elect and lobbyist David Jolly was quite heartbreaking, but for all the campaign spin and pundit 2014 pearl clutching you might have read, there's one lesson we can take away as almost guaranteed. Is it that non-presidential turnout is fraught with perils, Alex Sink was a poor candidate, or that Obamacare was toxic? Nope, the answer is that Republican gerrymandering alone is the overwhelming reason Republicans won Tuesday. How can I be so sure of that? Here's how.

President Obama won Florida's 13th congressional district by a narrow 1.4 percent two party vote margin over Romney which was closer than his nearly 4 percent win nationwide. However Pinellas County has one dark blue stronghold of St. Petersburg that Republicans gerrymandered out of the district to protect it for their party. In 2010 Floridians voted to amend their state constitution so that districts would be drawn in a fair manner by making them "as equal in population as feasible" and use "city, county and geographical boundaries."

Just looking at the district you can see that those criteria were blatantly ignored and to correct that, I've restored the missing parts of St. Petersburg in light green and removed the excess parts of northern Pinellas County in pink. I cannot see any logical reason why this district should be drawn to carve out the heavily black, poor, and Democratic parts of the city, especially with it being on a peninsula!

 photo FLNon-PartisanMapFL-13_zps9bc185a3.png

Had these district lines been in effect Obama would have carried the seat by 10.2 percent. I would bet you a very hefty sum that the 8.8 percent change in margin would have been more than enough to carry Alex Sink to victory.

It is abhorrent that the Republican Party's positions of power rely so heavily on manipulating the rules and do so entirely here. Gerrymandering a house majority safe from public opinion allows them to exercise complete disregard for democracy. Fortunately, Democratic and good government groups have sued the Florida GOP and thus far the left-leaning state supreme court has been inclined to hear those challenges, making it possible their gerrymander might get overturned in time for 2016. But for now we're left with austerity-supporting social conservative lobbyist David Jolly representing a district he wouldn't have otherwise won and that should leave all of you disgusted.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That's not an excuse (6+ / 0-)

    We all know the GOP gerrymandered these districts to all hell.  However, FL-13 is an R+1 and it was an open election.  Sink had the money, the name recognition and she was running against a fatally flawed candidate with no legislative experience who happened to have been a lobbyist.  

    She lost by 3,500 votes.  

    She ran a terrible campaign.  Again.  

    If the Dem party is to win back the House it is imperative that they win these R+1 and R+2 seats with weak incumbents or open races.  

    This was a gimme and she dropped the ball.  You can blame gerrymandering only so much.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 08:23:59 AM PDT

  •  In a re-draw this district can have a liberal Dem (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not hoping abroad the endless argument that DisNoir pushes out. Gerrymandering is the main reason, and you are right: the fact is Sink would have won in a proper and fair district.

    I don't know how Sink would vote had she won. She might vote liberal or she might vote moderate...her past suggests she's moderate but that's because she was elected statewide in a tilt R state and ran for governor in a tilt R state in a solid R year.

    But if the district was fair, as you drew it, I would prefer a solid and proven liberal run for the Dems, because this district moves so far to the left with downtown St Pete included that we're not at risk of losing if we run someone who can easily be painted as a far-left Dem

  •  There has to be a special kind of pride (0+ / 0-)

    felt by Republicans who know, in their hearts, that they might well get creamed, were it not for the combination of cynical gerrymandering and their incessant attempts at voter suppression.

    When you're fully occupied struggling to rig the game, there's so little time to concentrate on issues and formulating coherent positions that would make all that rigging unnecessary.

  •  Stephen, assuming you added (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueSasha, sturunner

    Those north Pinellas portions to FL-14 (i.e., just a simple swap), how would that district be affected?

    Get the Daily Kos Elections Digest in your inbox every weekday. Sign up here.

    by David Nir on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 10:06:16 AM PDT

  •  Doesn't matter Stephen (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueSasha

    If we just run true progressives we can win anywhere lol.

    /snark

    Jokes aside, I am really mad about last night.  Jolly made it by the skin of his teeth in this gerrymandered district, and it's so blatant.  It's a damn peninsula, and they carved out the tip of it to stuff into the Dem vote sink in Tampa...using water contiguity!

    Anyone who hasn't seen it, must check out Stephen's comprehensive rundown of gerrymandering across the country.  It's clear that John Boehner is only Speaker of the House because of systematic gerrymandering, most prominently in Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, New Jersey, and Wisconsin.  That is why the median district in the House went to Romney by a few points, despite the country obviously not.

    We're going to keep coming up short as long as these seats are drawn like this.  Republicans knew what they were doing when they drew these maps.

    •  Special Elections are more about base turnout (0+ / 0-)

      Which is probably the one area Sink came up short as a candidate. She also made a few mistakes that damaged her. While Obama narrowly won this district, it's more Republican downballot, which explains why any Republican would have built in advantages during a special election dynamic, especially without much of a national advantage for either party in the generic PVI.

      "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

      by ArkDem14 on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 11:38:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is it really more Republican downballot though? (0+ / 0-)

        In party registration sure, but Sink won it narrowly while losing the state compared to Obama winning it by barely more than his statewide win. In fact looking at the weighted 2010-2012 average of statewide races the district was 0.6% more Dem than the state and Obama did 0.3% better than his statewide percentage. Basically no different.

        To me what makes it more Republican is that their bench is strong (though why they nominated Jolly I have no idea) and ours is weak. But by partisanship it's pretty much the same up and downballot.

        •  I disagree, (0+ / 0-)

          Pinellas county has traditionally been dominated by the Republican party. Until recently, the Democratic party couldn't even win mayoral races in heavily Democratic St. Petersburg. The county government a large number of its legislative districts, even marginal ones, routinely elect Republicans and its elected Republicans to the house since the 1950s. The fact that the area has trended Democratic and now has a marginal Democratic lean for statewide and national races, isn't what I meant when I talked about downballot.

          Turnout dynamics were much lower than for statewide races, even off-year ones, which points to an electorate more akin to the one that continually votes in local elections and gives Republicans dominance of local elections.

          More generally, I think it can be said, without too much controversy, that Sink was a good candidate in terms of name recognition and fundraising, and not much else, and that she's a very uninspiring politician with wooden debate and stump skills and that apparently people prefer career lobbyists to bankers.

          "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

          by ArkDem14 on Thu Mar 13, 2014 at 05:21:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  FL-13 is blatantly illegal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CF of Aus

    St. Petersburg doesn't even connect to Tampa by bridge. Hopefully the state Supreme Court strikes it down, and hard.

    26, Practical Progressive Democratic Socialist (-9.38, -8.51), Gay, IN-02 - Defeat Wacky Jackie!

    by HoosierD42 on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 01:17:38 PM PDT

  •  Gerrymandering is a problem (0+ / 0-)

    but it's the result of Republicans thinking and acting strategically. They realize how important mid-term and off-year elections are, and apparently they understand how to ensure they are the majority party during a census year.

    Voter apathy is the problem. If everyone who is eligible to vote would vote, our government would look very differently now.

    They drafted a plan years ago when they saw the writing on the wall (via ALEC, the Kochs, etc.) and they are doggedly implementing their plan. And for now, they are succeeding.

    Dum Spiro Spero - While I Breathe, I Hope (SC's state motto)

    by SCVeteran on Wed Mar 12, 2014 at 01:58:36 PM PDT

  •  Gerrymandering or not, poor Dem turnout (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    equern

    in off-year elections is a continuing problem that Democrats need to deal with.

    The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - FDR. Obama Nation. -6.13 -6.15

    by ecostar on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 07:36:13 AM PDT

    •  Agreed, agreed, agreed! (0+ / 0-)

      I fear for our prospects in November. Mostly because to many people, there's little reason to vote.

      If OUR party doesn't get the hint that the era of "all politics is local" is dead and buried along with Tip O'Neil, we in for another drubbing in this off-year election.

      EVERY election from here on out is NATIONAL. And if we don't get it, we can't possibly hope to win.

      What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

      by equern on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 02:59:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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