A common historical trend in American politics is that the president’s party loses seats in the midterm election. This phenomenon is considered an evaluation and referendum on the incumbent president by voters.
Dating back to 1946, just after the end of World War II, the president’s party has suffered losses in the House of Representatives in all but two midterm election years, 1998 and 2002. The two years in which the incumbent president’s party picked up seats happened to coincide with tumultuous times in U.S. politics.
During President Clinton’s second term and notorious impeachment scandal, Democrats were expected to lose seats, but instead, the party’s voters were motivated and elected five new Democrats to the House in 1998. In 2002, Republicans picked up eight House seats after then-President George W. Bush led the country into battle against Afghanistan and Iraq after the tragic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
Similarly, the president’s party tends to lose ground in the Senate in most midterm elections, but not as often as in the House. The president’s party picked up Senate seats in five out of the last 20 midterms. Compared to the retention of seats in the House, party control of Senate seats is less likely to be affected during midterm elections.
Florida is a Republican stronghold, and in the year following the election of a Democratic president, the majority-red state is expected to stay that way. However, data collected by FiveThirtyEight highlights three key swing districts in this year’s midterm elections for U.S. House of Representatives: district 9 in Orlando, district 13 in Tampa, and district 27 in Miami.
The most competitive U.S. House race in Florida is district 27 in Miami-Dade County, which leans Democratic. Data shows the swing district seat, currently occupied by Republican Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, could be flipped.
Florida’s 27th congressional district represents more than 750,000 residents over 344 square miles in Miami, including Coral Gables, Kendall and parts of Miami Beach. Control of the seat has wavered back and forth over the past few years. Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen held the seat since the district’s creation in 2013 up until 2019 when Democrat Donna Shalala won the seat and kept it until 2021.
Ken Russell is serving his second term as a commissioner for the city of Miami and is a candidate in the Democratic primary for district 27. Russell wants to break the paradigm that Democrats can’t hold onto or win seats in midterms after winning the presidential election. “That’s the myth they want us to believe, that’s what has happened in the past,” he said.
Russell added that what’s different about this midterm election is that Republicans have overstepped the bounds and manipulated the state’s law in their favor through partisan legislation. No matter whether it’s the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, the 15-week abortion ban or gun reforms, Russell said many single voter issues are motivating Floridians to head to the polls in this year’s midterm election.
Primary elections in Florida will be held on August 23. The winners from each party will face off in the general election on November 8, determining the future control of the United States Congress.