Here is something amazing:
Florida voted for Barack Obama for president – the first Democrat to win since Bill Clinton in 1996 and the first northern Democrat since FDR in 1994.
Florida also ousted two Republican Congressmen: Tom Feeney and Rick Keller.
Hillsborough County voters sent Republican incumbent County Commissioner Brian Blair packing.
The mood was anti-incumbent, and anti-Republican.
Except on the state legislative races. Going into election night, the Republicans held a 77-43 edge in the State House and 26-14 edge in the State Senate. Coming out, the numbers are the same.
Florida House of Represenatives
Two districts switched in the House: District 32 saw incumbent Democrat Tony Sasso (who won in a special election) ousted by Republican Steve Crisafully. To be sure, the Republican Party of Florida had this seat as target number one. Surprisingly, District 81 – an open seat held by term-limited Republican Gayle Harrell – was carried by Democrat Adam Fetterman over Republican Michael DiTerlizzi.
Locally, almost all incumbent legislators won big – and none of them lost. The closest races were in House District 48 where Republican Representative Peter Nehr beat Democrat Carl Zimmerman by 2% in a rematch of 2006. In House Distrct 69, Democratic Representative Keith Fitzgerald won by 5% in another 2006 rematch over Republican Laura Benson. The rest of the incumbents all won by double-digits.
On the other side of the Capitol, the Senate races were just as predictable. The only close race was in Orlando’s District 19 where incumbent Democrat Gary Siplin held off Republican challenger Belinda Ortiz by 1%. The next closest race was 16% (58-42). That is a strong incumbent advantage.
In all, these numbers are fairly surprising. Given the general environment, the fact we had so few upsets has two factors: undervoting and lack of competitive races — even in open seats. Until the Democrats can (or perhaps if they ever can) field viable candidates in more races, the Florida Legislature will continue to be very Republican.