Florida’s 2nd District is in many ways the original Florida district. The state’s population was largely clustered in the northern portions of the state until the waning days of the 19th century, when the Florida East Coast Railroad opened Miami to the rest of the country; subsequent districts were split off from north Florida as the population moved southward. Today, the area probably has more culturally in common with southern Georgia than with the rest of the state. There is little Hispanic influence here, but there is a large African-American population, as well as a large number of state employees. Before 2010, the district had never elected a Republican, one of the few places in the South where that remained true (though a Democrat switched parties and promptly lost the next election in the late 1980s).
But in 2010, Democrat Allen Boyd was upset by Steve Southerland. Many assumed the district had flipped for good. Southerland has been a controversial figure, winning only narrowly in 2012. He’d probably be in solid shape for 2014, but his sharp-edged persona has kept him from nailing down the Republican-tilting district. He faces a high quality challenger in Gwen Graham, daughter of the popular former governor and senator. Even if she loses, this race would probably set her up well for 2016, when African-American turnout will be higher.