Control of Congress goes through Florida
Bottom Line: Now that the primaries are behind us we can look ahead to what lies ahead. It’s not always true that as Florida goes, so goes the country but it’s about as safe of a bet as there is in politics. Generally, it’s Presidential politics we’re talking about with Florida being decisive. But this time we may not have to wait that long. Control of Congress likely hinges on what happens here this year – both the house and the senate. In my initial projections for November’s elections it’s like this. If Governor Scott beats Bill Nelson, Republicans will control the Senate in 2019. If Democrats win two of the three most vulnerable South Florida Congressional races they’ll control the House. I’ll explain.
Democrats currently need to flip two seats in the senate and 23 additional seats in the house to gain control this year. With the senate map being far more favorable for Republicans this year than Democrats, Democrats are in a position in which they must hold serve on virtually all seats they currently hold while picking off a couple of vulnerable Republicans like Dan Heller’s seat in Nevada or the seats being vacated by Senators Flake and Corker in Arizona and Tennessee. That’s an uphill battle as it is, but if Democrats have Florida’s seat flip from Nelson to Scott...simply, if Nelson wins Democrats have around 50-50 chance of winning the senate. If Scott wins, it’s virtually non-existent. The outcome in the house is even more dramatic.
Three of the most vulnerable Republicans in the country are in South Florida. They are districts 18 represented by Brian Mast, 26, represented by Carlos Curbelo and 27 represented by the retiring Ros-Lehtinen. In my early projections, using information from this week’s midterm elections update, the party that wins at least two of the three of those races will win the house. Dig in a little deeper and this paints the picture of how precarious the Republican’s control of the house really is this cycle. Republicans hold an advantage of 5% in district 18 and President Trump won it by 9 points. If Mast loses this seat it’s likely a wave election for Democrats.
In district 26 it’s been the story of Carlos Curbelo’s ability to bridge the political divide and odds up to now. The district was created after the last Census, holds a Democratic advantage of 6% and broke for Hillary Clinton by a whooping 16% in 2016. Not only did Carlos win his race, he won by a remarkable 12 points. There’s not a more Democratic leaning district in the country represented by a Republican. And that’s not even the most precarious race for Republicans in South Florida. District 27 has been another political anomaly that could be ending this cycle. The second most Democratic district in the country that’s represented by a Republican is the 27th. It was also created by the 2010 census but the popular Congresswoman Ilenna Ros-Lehtinen moved into this district race from her previous district which had been 18. Democrats hold a 5% voter advantage but Hillary Clinton won this district by a mammoth 20% margin. That made Ros-Lehtinen 10-point win incredibly impressive. With her retirement it’s the most likely pickup in Florida and one of the top three most likely pickups for Democrats nationally.
Watch the outcomes of these races and you’ll likely be watching what’s happening nationally in November.