How Vulnerable are Districts Hillary Clinton Won? Preliminary Analysis of Florida By Paul Joyce
The Utica College Center for Public Affairs and Election Research recently began analyzing all 23 GOP controlled House districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 with an eye on 2018. Only one of the three Texas seats and two of seven California seats appear to be particularly vulnerable at this point. This piece examines Florida.
Hillary Clinton won FL-26 and FL-27, which also elected GOP House Representatives. These districts are located in the Southern part of the state and were created in 2012 through redistricting. District 26 includes Monroe County and part of Miami-Dade County. District 27 entirely consists of Miami Dade County and includes much of Miami.
Clinton won FL-26 by 16 percent in 2016. The district is viewed as one of the most vulnerable in 2018. Incumbent Carlos Curbelo, who is just 37 years old, defeated incumbent Joe Garcia in the 2014 midterm to win the seat and beat Garcia again in 2016 by 12 percent to retain it.
According to GovTrack, there are just ten Republican members of Congress who are more liberal than Curbelo. Curbelo helped form the Climate Solutions Caucus, a bipartisan group in the House that seeks to address climate change, and has been one of the Republicans most critical of President Donald Trump.
Curbelo refused to vote for Trump, citing moral reasons, and was outspoken about the shortcomings of the AHCA, though he ultimately voted for it. Curbelo was critical of James Comey’s firing and made national news as the first Republican Congressman to suggest that Trump may have obstructed justice, an impeachable offense. Curbelo supported the Justice Department’s decision to appoint Robert Mueller as a special counsel.
Clinton won FL-27 by nearly twenty points in 2016. The current representative, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, has held the seat since it was created in 2013 and has been in Congress since 1989. She represented the 18th district until redistricting placed her in the newly created 27th district prior to 2012. Ros-Lehtinen won re-election in 2016 by nearly ten points.
Like Curbelo, Ros-Lehtinen is a moderate Republican who opposed Trump from the start. Ros-Lehtinen voted against the AHCA and opposed to the Comey firing. She was particularly critical of Trump for sharing classified information with the Russians, stating “if we handle classified info in a sloppy way, our allies may choose to no longer share info with us.”
Carlos Curbelo’s chances for reelection in FL-26 are fairly good all things considered. Curbelo will benefit from incumbency advantage coupled with a consistently critical approach to the Trump presidency. Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement in May, making FL-27 a highly contested open seat in 2018.
Consistent with previous findings in Texas and California, preliminary analysis in Florida point to a mixed bag in regards to GOP vulnerability in 2018. These districts are newer, so there is less of a track record. Nevertheless, both GOP Representatives were re-elected by healthy margins and have distanced themselves from their unpopular party leader.
Paul Joyce is an MPA Candidate at the University of Albany.