In next year’s elections and beyond, Republicans are maneuvering for a structural advantage. Democrats are attempting to get the most out of their limited clout, marginalized groups are pressing state authorities to increase their voting power, and lawsuits lurk ominously on the horizon.
The redistricting process for the decennial census is already underway. It’s a good opportunity to check in on where things are now that draft maps are starting to flow out of legislatures and redistricting commissions.
Because state legislative maps must be revised, redistricting is taking place in every state, including those with only one congressional district. However, we’ll concentrate on congressional maps in a few of the states where voters’ decisions will influence the battle for controlling the house next year.
Some other states, such as Texas, which is gaining two seats and may be a gold mine for Republicans, are still too early in the process to publish anything significant, but keep an eye on it.
We’ve noted the potential shift of political control in each state. But keep in mind that there’s still time for proposals to alter.
Joe Neguse, a Democrat, and Lauren Boebert, a Republican, would have been placed in the same district if Colorado’s redistricting panel had redrawn a draft plan that merged liberal Boulder with conservative rural regions.
They’ll be kept apart in the new draft. As Colorado wins an eighth congressional seat, it will create five Democratic-leaning districts and three Republican-leaning districts, an improvement for Democrats over the present 4-3 balance.
Georgia Republicans are focusing their efforts on Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux, two Democrats who flipped two House districts in the Atlanta suburbs in 2018 and 2020. Legislators are anticipated to combine more of them into one district while adding conservative exurban regions to the second, as the suburbs become more blue.
Democrats in Illinois have yet to draw out a new congressional map. However, if their aggressive redistricting of the state legislature is any indication of their strategy, Illinois, which is losing a House member, may shift from 13 Democrats to 14 Republicans in the House. Democrats may do this by turning Rodney Davis’s red district blue and wiping out Adam Kinzinger’s. By adding Democratic regions to swing seats like Lauren Underwood’s, they might potentially protect them.
In September 2021, the Republican-controlled Indiana legislature unveiled a proposed plan that would safeguard Republicans’ sole vulnerable seat. The proposed map would shift parts of Indianapolis’ increasingly blue suburbs to the Democratic-leaning Seventh District, ensuring the contested Fifth District for Republican incumbent Victoria Spartz.
A proposed map was unveiled by Iowa’s nonpartisan redistricting commission, which would establish one safe Democratic district, one contested district, and two safe Republican districts. However, the Republican-controlled state legislature may reject the design since it would offer Democrats a solid chance of capturing two of Iowa’s four House seats. (However, it would essentially limit Democrats to two seats, barring them from having three in 2019 and 2020, as they did.)
Maryland’s redistricting committee recently unveiled a draft map that would add a second Republican district to the state’s delegation, making it 6-2 instead of 7-1 in Democratic favor. Given that the state legislature has the last word and that Democrats control majorities in both chambers, the odds of such a plan becoming law are little to none. Democrats would rather move in the opposite direction and remove Andy Harris’s single Republican seat.
Republicans could make a nearby district safer for a Republican incumbent, Ann Wagner, by cramming more Democratic votes into the deep-blue district that encompasses St. Louis and is represented by Cori Bush. On the opposite side of the state, an aggressive gerrymander might conceivably allow Republicans to flip Emanuel Cleaver’s district, which contains Kansas City. Republicans, on the other hand, do not appear to desire to go that far.
After Representative Don Bacon faced tough contests in 2018 and 2020 — and after President Biden narrowly won the district last year — Nebraska Republicans may tamper with the Second District, which contains Omaha, to make it redder. (Nebraska is one of just two states, the other being Maine, that distributes some electoral votes based on congressional district.)
New Hampshire has regularly voted for Democrats in presidential elections and is completely represented by Democrats in Congress. However, Republicans have been elected to state positions, and it is these Republicans who will be in charge of the redistricting process. That means the competitive First District, which Chris Pappas represents, may be reconfigured to be safe red.
An independent redistricting commission is contemplating realigning the state, splitting it east-west instead of north-south, and generating more competitive districts than exist now. However, Democratic lawmakers will have the ultimate word, and they may aim to switch all three of the state’s House seats back to Democrats after one of them, Yvette Herrell, switched to a Republican last year.
New York has a nonpartisan redistricting committee, but its recommendations aren’t enforceable, and its members are having trouble agreeing on anything. The governor and the legislature, both Democrats, are likely to ignore the commission and draw their own borders.
By combining conservative areas represented by Chris Jacobs, Tom Reed, Elise Stefanik, Claudia Tenney, Andrew Garbarino, and Lee Zeldin into three districts instead of six, they could unseat at least four Republican incumbents in Congress. They could also add liberal parts of Brooklyn to Nicole Malliotakis’ swing district, which includes Staten Island.
Democrats and Republicans recently unveiled proposed maps that would send Oregon’s House delegation in opposing ways. The delegation now consists of four Democrats and one Republican, with a sixth member on the way. The Democratic plan would turn the new seat blue, resulting in a 5-1 vote split. Although Oregon is a blue state, the Republican proposal would produce more contested seats, yet it might result in a 4-2 Republican majority.
By moving some left-leaning voters from the competitive First District, which is represented by a Republican, Nancy Mace, to the heavily Democratic Sixth District, which is represented by Jim Clyburn, Republicans gained an edge in the House. Mace, who narrowly defeated a first-term Democrat, Joe Cunningham, last year, would be secure in the First District if he pursued this tactic.
Tennessee’s redistricting is under Republican leadership. They haven’t produced draft maps as of September 2021, but the Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman revealed last week that they were considering splitting Nashville, a rare Democratic stronghold, into numerous House districts. Republicans would be able to defeat Representative Jim Cooper and take eight of Tennessee’s nine House seats, up from seven now.