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Florida is a perennial bellwether state. Only once in the last 50 years has the winner of the presidential election lost Florida (Bill Clinton in 1992).

Despite this, Republicans have long held control on the state level. Republicans have controlled the Florida State Senate since 1994, and currently have a 23-16 majority (with one vacancy). Republicans have controlled the Florida State House since 1996, and currently have a 76-41 majority (with three vacancies). Florida is a Republican trifecta state, with Republicans controlling the governorship and both houses of the state legislature.

This year, however, there are meaningful opportunities for Democrats to win back power.

The Opportunity

To win the majority, Democrats need to pick up 5 seats in the State Senate, and 20 seats in the State House. This year, Democrats have the opportunity to win back both chambers.

EveryDistrict’s Legislative District Index (LDI) ranks state legislative districts on a scale from 100 to -100, using statewide elections data. Districts with a score of 100 would vote for statewide Democratic candidates by 100 points (with the Democratic candidate receiving 100% of the vote); districts with a score of -100 would vote for statewide Republican candidates by 100 points (with the Republican candidate receiving 100% of the vote).

EveryDistrict divides winnable districts into three categories: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. Tier I districts lean Democratic but are held by a Republican state legislator. Tier II districts lean slightly Republican, with a range of 0 up to -5. Tier III districts lean slightly more Republican, with a range of -5 up to -10. For more information about EveryDistrict’s LDI, please click here.

Only the even-numbered State Senate districts are on the ballot this year. In the State Senate there are two seats that lean Democratic (Tier I)-Senate Districts 18 and 36 in Tampa and Miami areas, respectively-and one Tier II seat, District 8, centered around Gainesville, home of UF. Then, there are another three seats in the Tier III category: Senate Districts 20, 22, and 24. Districts 20 and 22 are along the I-4 corridor, while 24 is in St. Petersburg.

In the State House, there are two seats that lean Democratic (Tier I): House Districts 103 and 120, both in South Florida. There are another 18 that lean slightly Republican. In the Tier II category are House Districts 30, 47, 63, 67, 69, 105, and 115. In the Tier III category are House Districts 21, 27, 36, 42, 53, 59, 72, 83, 89, 93, and 119. Perhaps not surprisingly, these districts are clustered mostly around the Orlando, Tampa, and Miami metro areas.

What’s At Stake

Florida, like many Republican-controlled states, has been on the front lines of fighting the Affordable Care Act and has refused to expand Medicaid. Florida was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by 26 states seeking to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Florida has consistently performed poorly in assessing its health care system; the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund ranked it 48 out of 50.

In Florida, more than 10 percent of the adult population is prohibited from voting because they’ve had felony convictions. While most states restore voting rights to felons after they’ve completed their sentences, Florida’s arbitrary system requires those who have completed their sentences and probation to ask the governor and other Cabinet members to restore their right to vote. In November, voters will have a choice; they can vote on a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would restore voting eligibility to most felons once they’ve completed their sentences.


EveryDistrict endorses candidates in competitive districts that are committed to moving their communities forward, have strong connections to their districts, and have a campaign strategy in place to win. In Florida, EveryDistrict has endorsed: Janet Cruz (SD 18), Jason Haeseler (HD 21), Joy Goff-Marcil (HD 30), Linda Jack (HD 36), Barbara Cady (HD 42), Anna Eskamani (HD 47), Jennifer Webb (HD 69), Javier Estevez (HD 105), and Jeffrey Solomon (HD 115).