This Sarasota state house race could be a 2018 bellwether — and it appears virtually tied

A legacy Republican candidate in a red district may be facing some unexpected headwinds.

click to enlarge A partial map of Florida's 72nd house district. - Screen shot,
Screen shot,
A partial map of Florida's 72nd house district.

Florida's 72nd state house district covers areas east and south of Sarasota, including Siesta Key to the west, Fruitville to the north and South Venice to the south.

It's a district in which Republican candidates often beat Democrats by double digits.

So in the special election to replace former Rep. Alexandra Miller (R-Sarasota), GOP candidate James Buchanan — who's the son of longtime Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan — should be a shoo-in against Democratic opponent Margaret Good, right?

Except, this is 2018, and the Trump backlash appears to be in full swing.

A St. Pete Polls survey out this week suggests a close race between the two despite the district's solid redness — not that Good would have an easy time flipping the seat.

Buchanan is leading Good by just three points, 49.1 to 46.1. Libertarian Alison Foxall has 3.2 percent of the vote, meanwhile, and 1.6 percent of voters remain unsure.

Given how Republicans tend to lead Dems in this district, it could be a sign that the 2018 midterms will be a boon to Democrats. The party has had some successes in recent elections, namely in the St. Pete mayoral race and the Alabama U.S. Senate race. The Democrat won in both instances, though it is unclear whether their ability to use an unpopular Republican president against the GOP candidates was a key factor.

The polling itself may also underrepresent Democrats.

St. Pete Polls had surveyed St. Pete voters in the lead-up to the city's (ostensibly nonpartisan) mayoral race between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker. Polling often showed Baker in the lead, even if Kriseman bested him in both the August primary and the November runoff. Some attributed the surveys' Republican skewing to the fact that St. Pete Polls only calls landlines while an increasing number of people, most of them younger and more liberal, only use mobile phones.

The District 72 special election is Feb. 13.

About The Author

Scroll to read more Columns articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.