Our project to calculate the 2020 presidential results for all 435 congressional districts nationwide ventures down to Florida, where Republicans flipped two House seats and again captured the state’s 29 electoral votes. You can find our detailed calculations here, a large-size map of the results here, and our permanent, bookmarkable link for all 435 districts here.
Democrats hoped that an improved political climate would allow Joe Biden to take Florida four years after Donald Trump edged out Hillary Clinton 49-48, but Trump instead prevailed by a stronger 51-48 margin. Trump carried the same 14 House districts he’d carried in 2016 as well as the 26th District, while Biden won the remaining 12 Clinton seats. Biden actually performed better than Clinton in 14 of the state’s 27 congressional districts, but Trump benefited from massive shifts in South Florida, especially in a trio of heavily Latino constituencies with large Cuban American populations.
At the heart of that threesome is the 26th District, which is likely the only Obama/Clinton/Trump district in the entire country. This seat, which includes the southwestern Miami area and the Florida Keys, saw Clinton expand on Barack Obama’s 55-44 win and take it 57-41, but that trend reversed itself dramatically last year as Trump carried it 53-47.
This 22-point swing to the right from 2016 wasn’t just the largest shift by margin in Florida, it’s the largest we’ve seen in either direction for any of the 320 congressional districts we’ve calculated presidential results for so far. Unsurprisingly, this transformation had deleterious effects for Democrats downballot as well, as Republican Carlos Gimenez unseated freshman Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell 52-48.
A similarly brutal swing also pummeled Team Blue in the neighboring 27th District, where Republican Maria Elvira Salazar likewise denied Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala a second term. This seat, which is made up of the southern Miami area and Coral Gables, had also moved to the left between 2012 and 2016, going from 53-46 Obama to 59-39 Clinton, but Biden’s margin got pancaked down to 51-48. That big drop doomed Shalala, who ran behind the ticket and lost her rematch to Salazar 51-49; two years earlier, it was Shalala who won 52-46.
Trump also vastly improved his fortunes in another nearby seat where he’d struggled in 2016. The 25th District, which stretches across the Everglades to include portions of the state’s Atlantic and Gulf coasts, had dipped from 54-45 for Mitt Romney to just 50-48 for Trump, but this time, it supported the top of the ticket by a huge 61-38 margin. Veteran Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who easily prevailed in 2018 despite the blue wave, won reelection unopposed this time.
Trump’s surge wasn’t confined to these three districts, though. Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson’s 24th District in the northern Miami area, which includes a large African American and Caribbean American population, remained safely blue turf, but it sank from 83-15 Clinton to 75-24 Biden. Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz’s 23rd District around Broward County, a diverse seat that’s also home to one of the largest Jewish populations in the country, also slipped from 62-36 Clinton to 58-41 Biden. One of those new Trump voters was Donald Trump, who registered to vote at his Mar-a-Lago lair in the district for 2020.
Veteran Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings’ 20th District, in the West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale areas, likewise fell from 80-18 Clinton to 77-22 Biden. Finally, Trump also made gains to the north in the 9th District, a suburban Orlando seat with a large Puerto Rican population. The shift wasn’t as large as it was in South Florida, but the constituency, which is held by Democratic Rep. Darren Soto, still moved from 55-42 Clinton to a narrower 53-46 for Biden.
None of these incumbents had trouble winning, but Sunshine State Democrats will be working hard to figure out how to reverse these trends in 2022, both to prevent further erosion in the House and to preserve their hopes of winning statewide.
Elsewhere, Democrats had hoped for a Biden surge to buoy them but didn’t see much of one. The 13th District around St. Petersburg had slid from 55-44 Obama to 50-46 Clinton, and Biden carried it by a similar 51-47 margin. Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist ended up winning 53-47 in a contest that attracted no serious outside spending. Biden also only made small gains compared to Clinton in several GOP-held seats that Team Blue targeted downballot but nevertheless stayed red, like the 15th, 16th, and 18th Districts.
A few areas did see some leftward movement. Republican Rep. John Rutherford’s 4th District in the Jacksonville and St. Augustine areas remained solidly red, but Trump’s margin shrunk from 62-34 to 60-39, the largest such shift in the state. Not coincidentally, Biden became the first Democrat to carry Duval County (whose government is consolidated with the city of Jacksonville) since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
The second-largest move to the left, perhaps surprisingly, was in Trump sycophant Matt Gaetz’s 1st District in the Panhandle, which Trump won 68-28 in 2016 but by a smaller 66-32 this time. Biden also continued to make gains in the 7th District, a suburban Orlando seat that was volatile turf at the start of the decade. The seat went from an extremely narrow win for Obama in 2012 to 51-44 Clinton, and Biden took it 55-44 last year as Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy was winning 55-43.
Unfortunately for Democrats, the next congressional map is likely to be worse than the current one. Florida voters passed two amendments to the state constitution in 2010 that attempted to ban partisan gerrymandering, and the state Supreme Court used those measures to curtail the GOP’s congressional and state Senate gerrymanders in 2015 and redraw the boundaries. The court, however, has moved hard to the right since then, making it unlikely to aggressively enforce these amendments again to stop Republicans from implementing a new gerrymander.
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