Senate Race Ratings – September 21st

Recent polling indicates the Democrats will have a hard time making the gains initially expected this cycle in Senate chamber. The FDP launched what should be an effective ad campaign on behalf of Frank Bruno in SD-8, a seat which the Democrats must win if we are to believe the party is making headway in state legislative races.

In Senate District 4, Ambassador Nancy Soderberg continues to attract high profile support from around the country but the numbers in the seat mean that Republican Aaron Bean remains an overwhelming favorite.

Last week, in Senate District 18 Wilton Simpson who was an overwhelming favorite is now unopposed as his Democratic opponent Joshua Smith has dropped out, and the local party failed to find a replacement. Smith becomes the fifth Democrat to drop out of a legislative race after the close of qualifying as compared with ZERO Republicans who have dropped out since filing closed.

This week, no changes were made to our ratings. However, we are doing a second rating with zero “toss-ups.” Under this rating the chamber would be 27 R and 13 D, even though the map was drawn with at least 15 D seats (and only 23 R seats) according to an analysis by the Tampa Bay Times.

Last month we wrote the following, which still applies:
With the advent of “Fair Districts” came Legislative maps less gerrymandered for partisan purposes than in previous cycles. In the House this has produced a map with fewer than 60 safe or likely Republican seats and if the Democrats could ever get their act together they could capture the chamber in the next few cycles. However, the Senate paints an entirely different picture. Don Gaetz and his allies drew a map that was full of incumbent protection and partisan motivated meandering districts- yet the Supreme Court by a 5-2 margin found this map to be constitutional.

In March, a Tampa Bay Times analysis found that the new Senate map had 23 strong Republican seats, 15 strong Democratic seats and 2 swing districts. Our own TPH analysis concurred with those numbers. But the Democrats have failed to field a candidate in one of the strong ‘Democratic seats, SD 22, where Jeff Brandes will be the new Senator. The two “toss-up” seats are Jack Latvala’s SD-20 where the Democrats pose no threat and the open 8th, the only seriously contested Senate seat in the state where the Democrats have recruited the best possible candidate in Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno.

Additionally, four seats in “strong Democratic” column could very well be represented by Republicans after the election. Darren Soto in the heavily Democratic SD-14 and Gwen Margolis in the almost as heavily Democratic SD-35 have drawn the strongest possible Republican opponents in their districts. SD-14 is a district that Barack Obama got close to 68% of the two-party vote in last Presidential election, but I would expect many ticket splitters as Republican Will McBride is a likable and well respected local attorney.

Latest ratings after the jump:


Safe D Likely D Leans D Toss Up Leans R Likely R Safe R
SD 12 (Open) SD 3 (Montford) SD 14 (Open) SD 8 (Open) SD 4 (Open) SD 1 (Gaetz)
SD 19 (Open) SD 9 (Gibson) SD 35 (Margolis) SD 34 (Bogdanoff/Sachs) SD 7 (Open) SD 2 (Evers)
SD 27 (Open) SD 25 (Open) SD 10 (Simmons) SD 5 (Dean)
SD 29 (Ring) SD 15 (Open) SD 6 (Thrasher)
SD 31 (Smith) SD 21 (Open) SD 11 (Hays)
SD 33 (Sobel) SD 24 (Open) SD 13 (Gardiner)
SD 36 (Braynon) SD 32 (Negron) SD 16 (Altman)
SD 39 (Open) SD 17 (Open)
SD 18 (Open)
SD 20 (Latvala)
SD 22 (Open)
SD 23 (Richter)
SD 26 (Open)
SD 28 (Open)
SD 30 (Benacquisto)
SD 37 (Flores)
SD 38 (Garcia)
SD 40 (Diaz De La Portilla)


Both toss-ups (SD-8 and SD-34) are assigned to the GOP as current polling indicates the Republicans are slightly favored to win both races.