New congressional district map may not be a game-changer

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Most Democrats are cheering the Florida Circuit Court’s judge ruling Thursday throwing out the congressional district map drawn by the GOP-controlled Legislature.

But at least one expert who studies congressional races says Democrats shouldn’t get too giddy, even if it helps put the Orlando-area seat — now held by Republican Daniel Webster — back into play.

David Wasserman, who monitors House races for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, said there are several reasons why not much might change in a state where Republicans control 17 of the state’s 27 congressional seats.

First, there’s little time to take advantage of the ruling in this fall’s elections, largely because the filing deadline for candidates has passed. In addition, the Florida Legislature is expected to appeal the ruling, further delaying any remedy.

Second, any changes to the map might affect Webster and Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, but maybe only marginally, and probably no one else. And third, even redrawing the districts would not tremendously help Democrats whose voters are generally concentrated in the state’s urban corridors. The decidedly GOP District 8 seat held by Republican Bill Posey of Rockledge, for example, probably wouldn’t change parties even if the boundaries were adjusted.

Writing on Cook’s Web site, Wasserman said it could take weeks before it’s clear whether there’s any impact at all.

“Democrats should be encouraged that courts have shown any openness whatsoever to crack open the GOP-drawn map,” he wrote. “However, nothing in the ruling suggests a remedial map would enhance Democratic prospects in more than one or two seats. That’s hardly a game-changer.”