Inspired by everyone from Larry Sabato and his crystal ball to my blogging colleagues at the Political Hurricane, I have decided to offer my own forecast of Florida’s 2012 state legislative races, beginning with the Florida Senate
Every three weeks, I’ll update the rankings of the State Senate races, which are based on a formula of district performance, fundraising, media coverage, and most important, good ol’ fashioned horse-sense.
In these initial rankings, after redistricting and qualifying, the Republican lock on the Florida Senate is as strong as expected, but not as firm as two years ago. Right now, I predict the Republicans to hold at least 25 seats after November — down from the 28 they control now, but more than what the Times/Herald forecast after the Supreme Court approved the new map. The Democrats should hold at least 13 seats after the 2012 elections.
That leaves two seats as genuine toss-ups. Democrat Frank Bruno vs. Republican Dorothy Hukill in SD 8 should be the marquee race of the cycle. The contest between Democrat Maria Sachs and Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff will also be very competitive, but it leans just enough for Sachs, that I’ve put it in the Lean Democrat category.
Unlike my friends at the Political Hurricane, I am not buying any of this random-Democrat-filing-at-the-last-minute crap until I see some fundraising reports. So, very strong Republicans like Jack Latvala and Wilton Simpson are in the Safe GOP column, rather than the lesser Likely GOP column.
SD 4 absolutely belongs in the Safe GOP column, but Democrat Nancy Soderberg is such an intriguing candidate that I am holding off from putting it there right now. Plus, the primary between Republicans Aaron Bean and Mike Weinstein is bound to get very messy.
SD 14 between Democrat Darren Soto and Republican Will McBride should be a Safe Democrat seat, but McBride’s resources and reputation are keeping the race in the Likely Democrat category.
SD 31, a very Democratic district, is between two guys with basically the same name, so voters could get confused. This is Florida, after all. To make matters worse for Democrat Chris Smith, Republican Chris Smithmyer will appear first on the ballot.
If you would like to download the Excel spreadsheet I created to track the races, just click on the Scribd file below and have at it.