Like previous maps submitted by DeSantis’ office, the latest offering would likely reduce the number of districts where Black voters are a plurality and would make it difficult for Democrats to win anywhere north of Orlando or outside major cities.
The map is almost certain to get approval from the Republican-controlled legislature when state lawmakers meet next week in a special session to finalize the once-a-decade work of reapportioning the state’s congressional lines. Though the state Constitution puts lawmakers in charge of redistricting, GOP legislative leaders announced this week that they would cede those duties to DeSantis, ending a power struggle between the two branches of government that has lasted for months.
“I mean, we are not going to have a 200-mile gerrymander that divvies up people based on the color of their skin,” DeSantis said. “That is wrong. That is not the way we’ve governed in the state of Florida.”
Republican lawmakers in Florida had previously warned that diminishing the power of Black voters would violate the state’s voter-approved constitutional amendment known as Fair Districts, which requires lawmakers to give minority communities an opportunity to “elect representatives of their choice.”
Republicans could have teamed up with Democratic lawmakers to override the governor’s veto. Or they could have let the courts decide. But they were unwilling to continue the standoff with their party’s most popular elected leader and ultimately caved.
The map would also push parts of St. Petersburg into a Tampa-based district, making it likely that two Democratic-held seats in Tampa Bay become one.
Matthew Isbell, a top Democratic map consultant, projected that the latest DeSantis map has 20 districts that would have voted for then-President Donald Trump in 2020 and eight that would have voted for now-President Joe Biden. If those outcomes are predictive of how voters in those districts will cast ballots this November, it would mean Republicans would gain four additional House seats and Democrats would lose three.
Republicans currently hold a 16-11 advantage in Florida’s US House delegation. The state added a 28th district following the 2020 US census.