What will become of the 2020 Florida House races?
This may be the last congressional election in the sunny confines of Florida where they elect 27 people to the United States House of Representatives. In 2022, it could be something more like 28 or 29. You know another redraw of the map is coming soon, despite it having already been done twice in the last decade. Perhaps next time, Florida won’t draw themselves a map that gets thrown out in court.1
Yet, for now, this current map has one more go-around coming up in 2020. Below, we will tell you who we think will win these races.
US House Rating Scale
Here’s the chart showing how we rate the 2020 Florida House races. No tossups ever is the Electionarium promise.
2020 Florida House Races Current Prediction Summary: September 10
Current Florida US House Map
This is a very military-heavy seat in the Florida Panhandle, and therefore very Republican. Its voters love Donald Trump, and so does their congressman, Matt Gaetz. Both Trump and Gaetz will win this without a problem in November.
When the 2nd District included Tallahassee, Democrats got elected here. Not always, but it happened. However, now Tallahassee and Jacksonville are linked together in a gerrymandered district, leaving only Republican voters behind. Democrats will not have a lot of luck here.
Democrats may make a play for this seat if the map shifts in their favor, but this seat, which takes in the University of Florida, is Republican-leaning in nature. Since this district was redrawn, the outgoing incumbent, Ted Yoho, won his races comfortably, but not as comfortably as in the past. We are playing it safe for now considering this is an open seat, but the Democrats winning here would be a surprise.
The northeastern-most seat in Florida is a safe one in the Republican column. It has been for a long time, and it’s going to stay that way in 2020. Maybe it wouldn’t be as surprising as, if, say, the 1st District flipped, but it would be very shocking.
This district, believe it or not, used to be a lot more gerrymandered than this. However, the 5th as of today was designed to get two urban areas, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, in the same safe Democratic district. As such, incumbent Al Lawson has little to worry about on election night.
This was a seat the Republicans had mild worry about during the 2018 midterm elections. While there was a race here in the midterms in Daytona, the GOP won it and kept this longtime seat in their own hands. If the Republicans could hold this on the wrong end of a wave election, they are not in bad shape.
RATINGS CHANGE, SEPT. 10: D1 TO D2
SEPT. 10: The GOP is not making a strong play for this seat in 2020, and that would be a big margin for them to overturn.
APRIL 17: Democrats had a great win here in 2016 behind Stephanie Murphy, but this isn’t a solid blue seat. In fact, far from it. Murphy pushed her margin into the double digits in 2018, but will that come back down in 2020? Murphy carried this district at the same time Donald Trump did, so that lends itself to this being another close call this year. There is a crowded Republican field ready to take her on; however, Murphy has the advantage of incumbency.
Bill Posey of the GOP had no problem riding out the Democratic wave last time around and rarely faces a stiff electoral challenge. We are not envisioning that he will have a difficult time in 2020.
The 9th is a relatively Democratic district which takes a bite into Orlando, and Darren Soto’s congressional wins have been similar in nature. It would take a big shift for a Republican to win in this district when Donald Trump could lose here again by double-digits.
Of the districts centered in and around Orlando, this is the most Democratic. It would take some sort of political earthquake to get a Republican elected here.
The Villages, which we hear is Florida’s friendliest hometown, is in this district, and they vote Republican in big numbers on the federal level. GOP worries here for Daniel Webster will be very limited.
The GOP is not going to be very worried about this seat on Florida’s Gulf coast, either. In a good year for them, Democrats do not come close to picking off Gus Bilirakis, and tens of thousands of votes would have to flip from 2018 to get him out of office. Don’t count on it.
This is not an overwhelmingly Democratic seat but it’s Democratic enough that Charlie Crist has won here twice, and Hillary Clinton won a narrow victory in 2016. Crist will catch some extra GOP heat forever because he quit the party, but this is a less favorable district to them. Not impossible, as Republicans held it up until 2016, but the politics of the district lends itself more to a Democratic win.
Republicans have little chance of getting to Kathy Castor in this Tampa seat. This is historically a Democratic seat and nobody can give us a good reason yet why we should think otherwise.
Update: Ross Spano’s alleged issues with campaign finance violations caught up with him in this district and he lost the GOP primary. We have decided to keep the race at R1 (weak lean R) as of August 18.
Republican margins have gone down in this district since the map got redrawn again in the middle of the 2010s. Ross Spano came into this open seat race in 2018 and held it, but only winning by six points. Democrats are coming for this seat again, but we do think Spano should be favored for now. This is in between a “weak lean” and a “strong lean” for us, but if the downward trend of the GOP vote continues in this district, they could have a problem in 2020.
Vern Buchanan should have done better in this district than he did in 2018, but you know, that sort of thing happens in a wave election when you’re on the wrong end of it. Still, he won, and Democratic efforts to get him are unlikely to succeed. Back to the in-between rankings, this is somewhere in the middle of “strong lean” and “safe.”
Greg Steube is not at any particular risk in 2020. This was a heavy-duty Trump district in 2016 and Steube won this open seat easily during a Democratic wave election.
This is perhaps not a top Democratic target at this point, but could be on their expanded map of targets if the electorate shifts in their direction. Trump won around here and incumbent Brian Mast maintained fairly consistent electoral margins between his 2016 and 2018 runs. Mast should get out of this one with another win.
This is Republican territory on Florida’s southwest coast and even though this seat is coming open in 2020, the GOP will hold it. There is a wide field of Republicans running in this seat and from the opposing dugout, there are not many Democrats stepping up to the plate. It’s not a winning battle for them.
Alcee Hastings has never had a difficult general election in this area, having been here since the 1992 election. As long as this seat stays as blue as its current configuration, or even half as blue, he never will.
Donald Trump did not win in the seat containing Mar-a-Lago, but it appears Lois Frankel will in 2020. There are more left-leaning congressional districts in Florida than this one but this is still not the type of area where you would expect a GOP surge, Mar-a-Lago or not.
Democrats have better than decent success in this area. While the district’s boundaries have changed during his time in office, Ted Deutch hasn’t had a tough time in any configuration of his seat.
Former Democratic chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is being challenged by the Bernie Sanders wing of the party, but she is entrenched here. Her winning by single-digits would be a surprise around these parts.
Frederica Wilson and her stylish hats, when they make an appearance, are very safe going into the November election. This district has a large minority population and has a heavy Democratic bent.
RATING CHANGE, APRIL 25: R3 TO R4
April 25: Democrats officially took a pass on this race as the filing deadline passed and no opponents came forward to run here. Mario Diaz-Balart is now unopposed and a lock for re-election.
April 17: This is the last holdout Republican seat in what is considered by some to be South Florida, or anything from Palm Beach County and down the coast. Mario Diaz-Balart represents a lot of alligators in the Everglades, but also enough Republican voters that he’s been in office since 2003. Democrats haven’t laid a glove on him in years.
This was a Democratic pick in 2018 in which Debbie Mucarsel-Powell beat a moderate Republican incumbent. The GOP is going to give this another good whack in 2020 as they are running Carlos Gimenez, the mayor of Miami-Dade County. This is by design a more Democratic seat but the GOP has recruited well here and should keep this race competitive for Mucarsel-Powell.
Here was another Democratic pick during the Blue Wave election, and it was a close one. Donna Shalala has had a long career in academia and in public life, extending that by getting elected to the House in taking Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s old seat. Ros-Lehtinen was an institution in this area and won despite this district’s Democratic lean. We could have a rematch on our hands in 2020 between Shalala and Maria Elvira Salazar, a former TV presenter who lost this tight contest last time. Whereas most of the 2020 Florida House races are not in play, this race bears watching.
1: Mary Ellen Klas, “Florida Supreme Court approves congressional map drawn by challengers,” Miami Herald, December 2, 2015, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article47576450.html/)