Florida's Constitution says the Legislature must redraw the state's congressional and legislative district boundaries every 10 years, based on the most recent Census. The 2012 redistricting officially begins now, with new mapping tools for the public and an always-political spin. Here's what to expect this time around.
» As always, the line-drawing will be ultra-politicized:
Redistricting is so political that members of Congress hire their own lobbyists who glue themselves to the committee meetings in Tallahassee and scrutinize every proposed boundary adjustment. Predictably, the GOP, now dominant in both the state House and Senate, will attempt to structure the congressional and legislative districts to preserve as many safe seats for Republicans as it can. This year, because so much of Florida's population growth over the decade was Hispanic, leaders from the Hispanic community will try to land better representation in Washington and Tallahassee, particularly along the Interstate 4 corridor. Meanwhile, counties in southwest Florida already are speculating that they'll snag additional representation because of higher-than-average population growth over the past decade. "The interest groups will be out en masse, political interest groups and local groups that don't want to see their cities and counties divided," says Marian Johnson, senior vice president of political strategy at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. "And then you'll still have one little county drawn 70 different ways for 70 different reasons."