For Florida Democrats, the dream 2016 scenario goes like this: A Democrat gets elected to Congress in Tampa. Another one in Orlando. A third in Miami. The party picks up three seats, suddenly holding almost half of the state’s congressional delegation.
But Thursday’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court ordering that the state’s congressional map be redrawn doesn’t guarantee the Democrats’ wishes will come true.
The court’s 5-2 decision landed as a political bombshell 16 months before an election in the country’s largest swing state. Two of the districts directly affected already have nationally watched competitive races. Yet it’s too early to know exactly how everything will play out, especially considering how the state Democratic Party has struggled to seize past opportunities.
Much will depend on the Republican-controlled Florida House and Senate, which are responsible for creating the new boundaries. The court wants eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts redrawn in 100 days, though more districts will almost certainly be affected.
What gives Democrats hope is that the eight targeted districts are in the state’s most populated — read: most liberal — areas: Three are based in Miami-Dade County and two in Broward and Palm Beach; two lie in the Tampa Bay area, and one stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando.