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New Commission Compare
Elections, Florida, Municipal, Redistricting

New Jefferson Commission Map Still Hurts African-Americans

Three months ago, I wrote about Jefferson County, FL and its county commission/school board maps.  The commission map had become subject of a lawsuit over whether using the population of a prison towards the commission lines was gerrymandering.

I advise you to read about the past issues with the Jefferson Commission and the use of prison populations in local jurisdictions here.  In addition to the issue surrounding the use of a prison’s population, I argued that the commission districts disenfranchised African-Americans by only having one likely African-American seat out of five available.   I argued that another district had the potential to elect African-Americans, but was adversely affected by turnout fluctuations.

A federal judge ruled on the Jefferson map and found for the plaintiffs that sued the county, finding that the use of the prison was an unconstitutional gerrymander.  The decision was narrow and specific to Jefferson, and, potentially, counties with similar issues.  The court found that since the prison was such a large part of the county’s population of the district (over 30% if the population), the population deviation was far too large.  In addition, the court ruled that since the prison was a state-run prison and the county and school board had no say over the conditions/policies of the prison, there was a disconnect between the prisoners inside and the local elected officials.  Excerpts of this argument can be seen here.  You can click the images to enlarge.

IMG_4713IMG_4712

 

 

 

 

 

 

In essence, the court gave credence to the notion of prison populations being counted as part of congressional or legislative lines because state/federal lawmakers can exercise some authority and influence with prisons.  In addition, prisoners can write their lawmakers about issues or concerns they have.  The court found that prisoners can be considered constituents of high-level lawmakers, but not constituents of the Jefferson School Board or County Commission because those local boards have no say or influence with the prison that operates in their borders.

The court, however, did not address the racial disparity issues as much, and when a new map was submitted by the county, the court found the racial concerns raised to not be compelling enough to warrant another redraw and that the minority population of District Three was large enough, 40%, to give African-Americans a chance to win the seat.  I argue the new map is far too similar to the old when it comes to racial makeup and that the parties involved looked too closely at population versus voting performance.

The New Lines

With the order to redraw the district lines while not accounting for the population of the prison, the main issue was that District Three was dramatically underpopulated.   The commission’s consultants clearly took pains to draw new lines while at the same time maintaining the same general spirit of the old districts.

New Commission Compare

The chart below shows the raw population data and registration data for the old (current) and newly proposed districts.  Overall, the racial makeup of the districts remains largely the same.

Jeff District Pop

The third district had a solid African-American minority population, but it is virtually unchanged from the old lines.  District Three becomes less African-American in terms of overall population, but that is because the prison was removed.  The overall registration data for District Three did not change much.  However, District Two saw its African-American share of registration fall thanks to ceding some African-Americans and taking in more whites.  The shift in District Two is troubling, since taking in more whites was not needed to keep its population in the proper range, but overall District Two will remain an African-American seat.  The problem is District Three showing no electoral improvement for African-Americans from the old lines.

When looking at the electoral results, we see little change in the dynamics again.  District Two remains an African-American seat in performance while District Three is favorable to African-Americans in the August primaries, but less so in the general elections.   In a non-partisan August primary, the third district was 50% African-American in 2014, but it fell to 38% in November as more whites turned out.   While the Democratic primaries are more solidly African-American, I wrote in my initial article that local white Democrats can and have opted to run as NPA candidates to avoid the primary and run in the general elections, which are more white.  In addition, the African-American share of the August primary in District Three only topped 50% in 2014, and could easily fall this year if turnout fluctuates again.

New Commission Election Chart

My initial analysis delved more into registration shifts and racial dynamics in Jefferson, so I again urge you to refresh yourself on that here.  The old lines had clear issues with providing a second district with a good chance of electing an African-American, and the new lines have a near identical result.  The difference in District Three between the old and new lines is less than 1%.

There is a clear way to change these lines to better meet a goal of giving African-Americans a second shot at a county commission seat.  The commission could have shifted the lines many different ways.  The problems with the new lines for District Three is that they took in whiter regions and negated to take in African-American census blocks further south.

This map shows the old districts color-coded, with the new lines overlaid.  You can see District Three took in some portions of all the districts, notably 5, 4, and 1.

New Commission

Now, look at that map compared to the racial makeup of the census blocks of Jefferson County (with the new lines overlaid).

New Commission Race

The regions taken in from District 4 and 1 were heavily white, while heavily African-American regions deeper in District 5 were over-looked. A few African-American blocks were added in from Districts 5 and 1, resulting in a district with a near identical racial makeup as the old one, just with more actual eligible voters.

The new district lines remove the serious issue of prison gerrymandering in Jefferson.  However, further improvements are needed to the commission lines to better reflect the racial makeup of Jefferson.

2008 PPP Precinct
Elections, Florida

Florida Primary Preview

Florida’s presidential primary is right around the corner.  This article will look at both primaries as Trump tries to knock Rubio out in his home state and Clinton aims to rack up a big win to secure her delegate lead. Continue Reading

North Media
Elections, Florida

Media Market Analysis: Can Georgia and Alabama Primary results foretell North Florida?

Super Tuesday delivered strong for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Both candidates walked away with large delegate leads many states in their column.  Both did especially well in the southern primaries.   Trump won several of the southern primaries with double digit wins and Clinton dominated the south, getting more than 60% in Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Virginia.

Florida’s primary is 2 weeks away and the Alabama and Georgia results may offer a clue at at how the northern region of the state may vote.  Georgia and Alabama share three media markets with Florida, which include 21 of Florida’s 67 counties.

North Media

People living in these counties share news, ads and their geographic proximity links them.  The borders of the state do not stop the culture from merging.

As Florida Media guru Kevin Cate says regarding the Republican primary,

“Republican primary voters in these counties are sharing the same news, same jobs, and same lifestyles with many of their neighbors in North Florida.  Lower Alabama and Georgia voters are a predictor of how many North Florida voters have already, or will be voting.  Outliers may include Leon, Duval, an Clay, but when you start getting further outside of the population centers, the more similar the Republican primary electorate becomes — and they love Donald Trump.”

Cate is correct, the North Florida counties, many of them sharing a media market, are more conservative and rural, two groups Ted Cruz, but much more so Donald Trump, have done well with.  It is a region and block of voters that Rubio, however, has done especially poor with.  Rubio’s best groups are moderates and more urban/suburban settings — which are limited in the northern end of Florida.  Moderates only made up 18% in Georgia and 20% in Alabama, and Rubio still lost these voters to Trump by double digits.  Cruz’s struggle to stay in the game is hurt by Trump starting to tie or beat him with ‘Very Conservative’ voters, as he did on Super Tuesday in these two states.  This region is also an area where Gingrich did very well against Mitt Romney in 2012, further cementing the regions conservative bent.

2012 Republican Presidential Primary

 

On the Democratic side, the results give Clinton reason to believe her Florida showing, already polling at a 20% win, will include strong showings in North Florida.  Clinton dominated in both Georgia and Alabama, getting over 70% of the vote.  Clinton won whites and got over 80% of African-Americans across the south.

florida

Sanders has been counting on winning less-educated working class whites, and while it appears that plan worked in Oklahoma, it did not play out well in the other southern states.

The Three Markets

Lets look at each of the three media markets that Florida shares.  First up is the market shared with Alabama

Mobile

Republican Primary

The market covers the coastal and some inland counties in Alabama that sit right next to Florida’s western panhandle.  Trump won a resounding victory in Alabama’s Mobile market, getting 46% of the vote, with Cruz and Rubio all the way down at 19-18%.  Clinton, meanwhile, got 80% of the vote, winning every county and racking up a huge margin in Mobile.  The market in Alabama and Florida has large coastal communities and strong military presence via bases.   It is not hard to see the market as a whole voting similar across state lines.  Romney managed modest wins in Okaloosa in 2012, but that was followed by winning Mobile and Baldwin in the Alabama primary.  With Rubio tanking in both of those large Alabama counties, its unclear how well he will do well across the state line.  That will be a test of his home field advantage.

Democratic Primary

For each market I grabbed voter registration figures by race.  Alabama and Georgia do not have party registration, so to be consistent my Florida figures are also not broken down by party.  The Alabama region was much more African-American, which could allow Sanders to do better in the Florida region of the market.  However, for Sanders the question will be what the racial makeup of the closed Democratic primary is.  In 2014 the primary in the Florida section of this market was 33% African-American.  The market in Alabama may have been more African-American in Democratic primary turnout since many of the whites cast votes on the GOP side, but exact figures are not available yet.

 

The next market to look at is the Tallahassee – Thomasville Market

Tally Thomasville

Republican Primary

This market include the rural conservative counties of North Florida and South Georgia that surround Tallahassee and Thomasville. The results were similar to Alabama – a solid Trump win and a Clinton dominating.  Trump, like Gingrich, could do very well in the rural counties around Tallahassee (which will likely back Rubio).  Cruz did better in this market than in Alabama thanks to large Evangelical voters in the region, which will also be a factor in the counties surrounding Tallahassee.  Cruz could still do decent in the Florida counties in this market, while Rubio may not find many friends out of the capital.  Rubio’s only hope for this market is to rack up a large margin in Tallahassee to offset loses elsewhere.

Democratic Primary

Clinton is poised to do well in the market by winning African-Americans and holding her own with rural whites.  The demographics of these two region are closer as well across the state line.  In Florida’s portion of the market, over 43% of the Democratic Primary in 2014 was African-American, which is probably similar to what the share of the Georgia primary vote was.   This all points to a solid Clinton win in the market, though the margin will likely be determined by African-American turnout and how the large white liberal population of Tallahassee votes.  Sanders will be banking on large student turnout at FSU, TCC, and a good showing with FAMU students.

And last, the Jacksonville market

Jacks Brunswhich

Republican Primary

The Jacksonville and Tallahassee markets are fairly similar, with Trump winning big and Clinton dominating.  The Florida portions of this market are more dominated by Jacksonville and its suburbs, which will be important for Rubio as he tries to not get flat-lined in the North.  Rubio may do much better in this market than he did in the Georgia half, as suburbs in Duval, St Johns, and Clay should be friendly to him.  However, if Trump takes these regions or ties Rubio, then the Senator will be in for a long night in Florida.  Expect Rubio to fair poorly in the rural counties on the outskirts of the market.

Democratic Primary

Clinton has a solid win in the Georgia portion of the market, but it was he weakest showing of the three.  The lower African-American share is one key culprit.  The Florida market has similar demographics, meaning Sanders could have a better showing here.  However, the closed Democratic primary in Florida in 2014 for this market was 38%, which is likely similar to the Georgia half (like Alabama we dont have turnout figures yet).  If Clinton keeps up her trend of dominating with African-Americans and doing decent with whites, she will win this market.  However, Sanders would be able to shift the margin (though not likely win) with student turnout at the University of North Florida and by doing well with the liberal communities in Jacksonville.  That said, Clinton is still a favorite to win this region with a healthy margin.

Conclusion

With two weeks to Florida it is entirely possible different dynamics could emerge to change these projections.  Nevertheless, the Alabama and Georgia results give us an opportunity to see how the voters of North Florida, especially outside the urban areas, are inclined to vote.  These results are good for Trump and Clinton and bad for Sanders and Rubio.  Unless things change quick, the Florida panhandle could be Clinton and Trump country on March 15th.

 

Confederal Vote
Florida

A Trip Through History on the Florida Republicans who voted to keep a Confederate General Statue in the Capital

On February 23rd, the Florida House voted to remove a statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith.   The vote was pushed by Democrats and African-American lawmakers as part of a growing movement in southern states to remove old symbols of the Confederacy.  The Senate passed the removal 33-7 and the House concurred 83-32.  The map below shows the House vote.  All no votes came from Republicans. Continue Reading

Commission Compare Small
Florida, Municipal, Redistricting

Jefferson County Commission and School Board Districts Disenfranchise African-Americans

Jefferson County, Florida, a small Democratic-leaning county just to the east of Tallahassee, is currently being sued by the ACLU over its 5 single-member commission districts, which are used for both County Commission and School Board elections.  The suing parties say that the districts use prison gerrymandering to inflate the minority population of one district specifically, District 3.  The issue stems from Jefferson County Correctional Institution, a jail with over 1,100 inmates.   Prison populations are counted by the census for the location they are incarcerated in, not where they initially lived.   Continue Reading

mcimaps01twas2
Florida, Redistricting

‘Twas the Night Before the Redistricting Trial…

‘Twas the night before trial, and all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, save the click of my mouse;

The maps were all mounted by the desk with care,

In hopes that an end of the redistricting saga would soon be there;

The analysts were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of convex hull scores danced in their heads; Continue Reading

New District
Congressional, Elections, Florida, Redistricting

The New Florida 5th: There’s a feeling I get as I look to the West

Now that Florida’s Supreme Court has signed off on a Congressional map, the voters of Florida can finally know what districts they live in.  For voters in North Florida, this means dramatic changes to their current political situation.  Many voters west of Walton County will find themselves either in a safe Republican seat that stretches from Bay to Marion, the Florida 2nd; or a safe Democratic seat that goes from Gadsden to Jacksonville, the Florida 5th.  The new 5th district is designed to be an African-American district, replacing the Jacksonville to Orlando configuration of the past. Continue Reading