GOP super-majority in Florida House even closer to reality, new polls say

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Six weeks ago, SaintPetersBlog reported that the Florida GOP was poised to win a veto-proof majority in the Florida House. This assessment was based on a battery of polls conducted in more than a dozen competitive legislative races.

Since that first assessment, other reporters in the traditional media, Kathleen McGrory of the Miami Herald and Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, have echoed these findings with their own reporting. Meanwhile, incoming House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, who leads the House Republicans campaign efforts, has attempted to tramp down expectations.

Keeping those expectations in line is probably no longer a possibility for Crisafulli and Co. if the latest polling data is to believed.

Currently, the Florida House is divided 75-45 among Republicans and Democrats, meaning the GOP needs a net gain of five seats this election cycle to secure veto-proof control of the chamber.

The 2014 election cycle sets up where approximately 55 Republicans and 35 Democrats have either been re-elected without opposition or are in seats considered too safe to prompt a challenge from the opposing part. This left about 30 seats where demographics suggest the races could be competitive given the right candidate and campaign, but even most of these are seats which lean Republican and show no evidence of being in play this November.

Originally, we forecasted 16 or 17 seats being in play this cycle: House Districts 21, 27, 29, 30, 36, 47, 49, 59, 63, 65, 67, 68, 69, 112, 114, and 115.

After the first round of polling, we took HD 21, 27, 36, 59, 114, and 115 off the board. All of these seats are likely wins for the incumbent.

After a third round of polling, it’s clear that the almost all of the GOP challengers are leading the Democratic incumbents, even in House District 49, which we added to our final round of polling.

This website will be publishing today and tomorrow the full details of its polling in many of the seats listed above, but here’s the math that puts the GOP, not only on the verge of a veto-proof majority in the House, but maybe with a win big enough that it will have a seat or two to spare.

The Republican incumbents appear safe: Keith Perry, Ross Spano, Kathleen Peters, and Michael Bileca hold comfortable leads according to surveys by St. Pete Polls commissioned by SaintPetersBlog. Perry leads Democrat Jon Uman by 16Spano leads Democrat Donna Forre by 13Peters leads Democrat Scott Orsini by 11; and Bileca leads his Democrat Kristopher Decossard by 15. Democrat incumbent Amanda Murphy is up 7 on Republican Chris Gregg. Democrat incumbent Dwight Dudley once held a ten point lead over Republican challenger Bill Young, but that lead has been halved; the trouble for Young is that Gov. Rick Scott is polling horribly in this swing district.

The Democrat incumbents are in trouble: Mike Clelland, Karen Castor-Dentel, Linda Stewart, Mark Danish, and Jose Javier Rodriguez all trail their Republican challengers. Clelland trails Scott Plakon by 14Castor-Dentel is behind Bob Cortes by 10; Stewart is down ten to Mike Miller; Danish trails Shawn Harrison by 12; and JJR is down nine to Daniel Diaz Leyva. Even Joe Saunders is in trouble!

The Democrats are playing all defense: There is not one single House seat on the board where a Democrat is poised to knock off a Republican incumbent. We polled HD 89 after hearing that Republican incumbent Bill Hager might be in trouble, but our survey indicates that he is out of the woods.

Were all of these numbers to hold, the Republicans would hold an 81-39 veto-proof majority in the House, giving them the votes needed to further run ramshod over House Democrats. Many procedural maneuvers require a two-thirds vote of the chamber.

Crisafulli, the titular head of the GOP’s House campaign operation, has to be pleased with where his party finds itself eight weeks before the election. Crisafulli, an accidental but widely respected Speaker D, has been a relentless fundraiser for his caucus, while also be something of a taskmaster when it comes to making sure his colleagues do what they need to do and raise enough money on their own to win.

With less than a week before the election, it appears Crisafulli’s work is about to pay off.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.