WASHINGTON – With the elections over and the Democrats in control of the White House and both houses of Congress, officials from both parties are preparing for a new battle with a different balance of power: the redesign of Congress cards that give Republicans the advantage many state legislations across the country, including on major battlefields.
Republicans have complete control over redistribution in 18 states, including Florida, North Carolina and Texas, whose populations are growing and which are expected to gain seats according to the 2020 tabulated census. Some electoral professionals believe that the G.O.P. could recapture the house in 2022 only on the basis of profits from newly drawn districts.
Republicans are already discussing redesigning two suburban boroughs in Atlanta to be held by Democrats one of them more Republicans; cut out Democratic bits from a Houston district that Republicans lost in 2018; and to dismantle a northeast Ohio district held by Democrats since 1985.
“I would say that in two years’ time the national vote could be the same as this year, and one reallocation alone would easily be enough to change who controls the chamber,” said Samuel S. Wang, Princeton Gerrymandering director. Project. He estimated that redistribution alone could give Republicans three seats, and North Carolina, Georgia and Florida another five seats.
If the Democrats have a 222-211 lead, the Republicans would likely only have to move six seats to regain the majority. Dr. However, Wang and other good government experts warned that other factors could determine the majority.
Democrats will try to redraw districts in their favor in states like New York, Illinois and Maryland, they said. Some battlefield states have passed bipartisan, independent redistribution commissions. And President Biden didn’t spark a wave of downballot victories for Democrats in the November election, leaving fewer surprise winners who could easily lose their seats in 2022.
While the partisan war on Capitol Hill attracts most of the national attention, the struggles over redistribution are among the most violent and momentous in the American government. Redistribution and redistribution occur every 10 years after the census, with states with the fastest growing populations receiving seats in Congress at the expense of those with slower growing or shrinking populations. The balance of power established by Gerrymandering can give each party an advantage that lasts for several election cycles. Legal proceedings, even if successful, can take years to nullify these benefits.
This year, Texas (with possibly three new seats) and Florida (two) are expected to be the biggest winners, while Illinois, New York and, for the first time, California will each lose their seats once the Census Bureau makes the reallocation numbers official. This could give Republicans an inherent advantage in the November 2022 midterm elections – regardless of Mr Biden’s popularity at the time.
The office is not expected to deliver its data by the end of July, a few months behind schedule, leaving lawmakers and redistribution commissions far less than usual to draw the cards and deal with inevitable legal challenges before the primaries Start in 2022.
Democrats have struggled with redistribution in slippery terrain since the Republicans led the table in the 2010 midterm elections and drew cheap cards in 2011 and 2012. Though the courts invalidated them in states like Pennsylvania and North Carolina, many still remain.
Although the Democrats took control of the House in 2018, “the ongoing effects of partisan gerrymandering, disproportionately controlled by Republican lawmakers, make it difficult for Democrats to maintain or gain control,” said Bernard Grofman, professor of politics at the University of California, Irvine, “because they must probably win closer to 52 percent of the national vote, or definitely more than 51 percent.”
A number of states have set up independent card-drawing commissions on the grounds that people without a legitimate interest would be more likely to draw fairer cards. Some well-governed groups and political scientists have advocated further change, such as: than the use of algorithms Determine district boundaries, although there is widespread debate about what would be effective in removing the party-political lean of the process.
For the most part, Republicans have adopted an attitude that has implications for the elections towards the mapping process. Adam Kincaid, the executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, the party’s main card-making organization, said his energies will be focused on the inevitable litigation that will follow this year’s Partisan card drawing.
“If there weren’t any lawsuits in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida, Republicans would be in the majority today,” said Kincaid. The things to focus on are “defending the maps drawn by Republican lawmakers and more aggressively persecuting Democratic Gerrymanders in the blue states.”
As they try to redesign the voting cards, Republicans discuss how aggressive they should be. They can push the envelope and try to get as many seats as possible in 2022, which puts them at risk of losing more seats in the growing suburbs that attract waves of Democrats in the years to come. Or, they can aim for a smaller number of Republican districts that can create a more permanent majority with the potential to last the decade.
The central redistribution battlefields are in Texas and Florida. Although both states are Republican-controlled, the population growth is largely due to black and suburban people – demographics that tended towards Democrats during the Trump era.
“Your ability to manipulate the 30-seat card like you did last time is no longer on the table,” said Kelly Ward Burton, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “If the card looks fair, we’ll end up with more competitive seats than we do now.”
However, the combination of sophisticated map-making software and reduced map-drawing time will give Republican lawmakers a far freer hand to enact favorable districts next year. And Republicans in states like Texas and Georgia will benefit from the 2013 Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act that removed the requirement that they get federal redistribution approval.
“I’m very concerned,” said Manny Diaz, the former Miami mayor who became the new chairman of the Florida Democratic Party this month. He spends his early weeks as chairman devising a plan to challenge and balance the Republican efforts.
A decade ago, Mr. Diaz led the efforts of Fair Districts Now to propose a constitutional amendment that includes guidelines for redistribution in Florida. The voters approved the measure in 2010 in time for the 2011 redistribution. But Republicans in the Legislature ignored many of the principles and installed a heavily outlined map that helped Republicans win 17 of the 27 House seats in 2012 while President Barack Obama won re-election.
Although there were almost immediate legal challenges, it wasn’t until 2015 The Supreme Court struck down The redrawn map said eight districts had been aggressively turned around the Republicans.
In Texas, there is a similar concern among the electorate. On Thursday, the Senate Redistribution Committee held a virtual hearing and welcomed public comments. For over two hours, requests came from across the state: Please draw fair cards.
“I believe Gerrymandering poses an existential threat to the nation,” said Rick Kennedy, who lives in Austin and ran as a Democrat for Congress in 2018 and 2020.
Although the redistribution dates are pending, Phil King, the Republican who chairs the redistribution committee at the Texas State House, said that almost all of the population growth came from the Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio triangle. He noted that the committee may need to expand some rural areas to urban areas to keep the population at around 850,000 per district.
“If you’re in west Texas, where most counties are 10 to 20,000 people, you need to reach into these urban areas to add some population,” King said.
These shards in urban areas, however, are what democrats and groups of good governments denounce as a distorted form of wandering that weakens the political voice of one area by spreading it to other districts – and one that disproportionately affects people of skin color.
“We will continue to monitor racial and partisan gerrymandering of packing in urban areas,” said Allison Riggs, interim executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, citing a gerrymandering tactic aimed at creating a highly partisan district through “Pack” it with supporters. Ms. Riggs argued gerrymandering lawsuits against the 2010 Republican-drawn maps in Florida, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
Democrats will draw lines for far fewer congressional seats. The largest Democratic state, California, is outsourcing redistribution to a commission, as are Colorado, Virginia, and Washington. And Mr. Kincaid said Republicans were preparing to challenge Democratic cards in states like Illinois, Maryland and New Mexico.
In New York, where Democrats control redistribution for the first time since 1991, half the Republican Congress delegation – either seven or eight members, depending on the outcome of an indecisive race – could see their districts disappear if the Democrats pursue the most aggressive gerrymandering, the there are .
“It is to be expected that if New York voters gave the Democrats majority control over both houses of the legislature, this could create an opportunity that has not existed in the past,” said New York representative Sean Patrick Maloney Chairman of the Democratic Congress Campaign Committee.
Some campaign experts argued that 10 years ago Republicans were so successful at drawing cards that it would be difficult for them to increase their advantage now.
“The Democrats won the House in 2018, even though there were some very gerrymandered states,” said Jonathan Cervas, a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University who studies gerrymandering.
Democrats are also more strongly positioned nationally than they were in 2011. Major battlefield states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have shared government with Democratic governors who could veto cards to spark likely court battles. In Virginia, the Democrats took control of the state government in 2019, and in 2020 voters approved a non-partisan redistribution commission, removing the ability for one party to dominate district redesign.
Other battlefield states like Michigan and Arizona have set up independent commissions in lieu of partisan legislatures that will draw the new maps.
Ben Diamond, a Florida State representative who is leading democratic restructuring efforts there, calls on his colleagues in the legislature to commit to “transparency and public engagement” and “a sound planned course of action.”
He added, “The sooner we can determine how this work should be done from a public engagement and transparency perspective, the better.”