Florida’s proposed new congressional map looks pretty familiar

The Florida legislature, which has been tasked with redrawing the state's congressional map less than three months before the 2014 election, issued its proposed redraw Thursday.

A Leon County judge ruled last week that the districts must be redrawn this year after ruling earlier that the districts drafted for Reps. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Dan Webster (R-Fla.) were drawn to benefit the GOP politically — in violation of the state's new redistricting guidelines.

As expected, the changes made on the proposed map are relatively minor, with Brown ceding some heavily African American territory that was drawn into her district in an attempt to make it majority black. You'll notice above that Brown's district — No. 5 — is significantly less craggy under the redraw. It's also slightly less black — about 48 percent, vs. 50 percent before.

It's common practice for Republicans to draw as many black voters (who vote overwhelmingly Democratic) into a single district as possible. This allows more nearby districts to be conservative-leaning.

Webster's district loses some conservative voters to Brown in the process, most notably in Orange County (the little piece that jutted out at the eastern edge of Webster's district under the old map). Several other districts also would change from the previous maps under the new proposal, but the new map wouldn't be hugely different from the current one — politically or otherwise. Most of the districts involved are safe for one party or another, with Webster being the one possible exception.

His district, which was about 10 percent African American under the previously drawn map, will be 12.2 percent black if the new proposal is adopted. The district under the old lines went for Mitt Romney 54 to 46 in the 2012 presidential election. The new lines make is slightly less red, but still clearly favoring the GOP.

Republicans control 17 of the 27 congressional districts in Florida, despite the state's status as a swing state. The Republican-controlled legislature was able to shore up some of its more vulnerable incumbents after the decennial redistricting process, including Webster, whose pre-2012 district was a swing seat.

The proposed map is not the final redraw. Legislators will continue to hash out their differences in the weeks ahead, with Democrats and liberal groups likely to push for bigger changes. There also remain questions about whether the maps will be ready in time for the state's Aug. 26 primary. Some mail-in ballots have already been returned.

For now, it looks like the redraw probably won't have a huge impact on the GOP's House majority in Florida or nationally.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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