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Analysis: Senate Dems redistricting alternative would create more competition

As the Florida Senate's full redistricting committee prepares to give its stamp of approval to its Senate and Congressional reapportionment maps today, Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich has offered up two options for them to consider, one for each map. See the Herald/Times analysis of the maps here.

Surprise: each of Rich's proposals reduce the Democratic packing in the Senate and Congressional seats proposed by Republicans, designs more competitive Republican seats, and create more Democrat-leaning districts. Download Senate_compare

Let's start with the Senate, since this map may be the closest to completion after today. The House subcommittee on Monday already rubber stamped the first proposed Senate drawn by Republican leaders and there is no indication they're prepared to tamper with it. The only question now is how many votes will the Senate map get from Democrats. Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami, told the Herald/Times she likes the GOP-drawn map. She and six of the other Democrats on the committee voted for the GOP's proposal, but that was before Rich proposed the alternative.

According to a Herald/Times analysis of the voting performance in the 2008 and 2010 statewide elections, Richs' Senate map creates 20 Republican-leaning districts, 16 Democrat-leaning  and four districts that could be considered toss-up. By contrast, the map proposed by the Senate's GOP leadership creates 14 Democrat-leaning districts, 24 Republican-leaning districts and two competitive districts.

Rich's proposed map also ends the meandering Jacksonville-based district of the Republican map -- now held by Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Democrat -- and makes it much more compact within Duval County. Her map treats the Tampa Bay area about the same way the Republicans do -- merging east Tampa with south St. Pete and a piece of Manatee County. The districts in the Orlando area are more compact on the Democrats' version. In Miami, both maps have long,narrow districts running up the Miami-area coast but in the Democrat's map the district performs better for Democrats while in the GOP map it performs better for Republicans.

The biggest change may be the way Rich handles minority districts -- she makes all districts more diverse and less racially packed. Six of the Democrat-drawn districts have 50 percent or more minority voters: Nos. 29, 33, 35, 36, 38, 40. None have a district that is 90 percent white but 16 are 80-89.9 percent white. By contrast, eight GOP-drawn districts have 50 percent or more minority voters: Nos. 14, 19, 33, 34, 37, 38, 39, 40. One district is 90 percent white -- No. 28 -- and 15 districts are 80-89.9 percent white.

When it comes to party registration, Rich's map has 50 percent or more registered Democrats in seven districts: Nos. 3, 5, 6, 18, 29, 32 and 33. There are 50 percent or more registered Republicans in only one Democrat-drawn district: No. 4. By contrast, the map prepared by Senate leadership has 50 percent or more registered Democrats in eight districts: Nos. 5, 6, 12, 19, 31, 34, 38, 40 but only one district with 50 percent or more registered Republicans: No. 1.

-- Tampa Bay Times Researcher Darla Cameron provided the analysis for this report.