The Republican Party sees the advantage when redistricting hits the middle of the road

Republicans appear to be heading for substantial progress in next year’s midterm elections, even before many candidates formally declare their plans, as state legislatures and commissions in more than half of the US states have proposed or finalized new congressional district lines.

Of those 27 states, a dozen have completed the decennial redistricting process. Another six do not need to draw boundaries because they elect only one member in a general district.

States that have finished or are moving toward final maps give early hints of the advantages each party has taken as they prepare to fight for control of Congress.

Republicans appear poised to win at least one seat in the US House of Representatives through the redistricting process in Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. And Ohio lawmakers are contemplating a map that would change a delegation currently comprised of 12 Republicans and four Democrats to one that would favor 13 Republicans and just two Democrats.

The Republican Party will lose a seat in West Virginia, where the fully Republican Congressional delegation will drop from three members to two.

In some cases, Republican maps that appear to favor more Democratic candidates actually strengthen the GOP’s grip on a delegation. In Texas, the new maps approved by the governor. Greg abbottGreg Abbott Texas’ abortion access crisis will only get worse without federal action Overnight healthcare – Presented by Rare Access Action Project – Advocates lobby Congress to boost pandemic preparedness funding Astroworld’s death toll reaches 9 after a college student dies from her injuries MORE The (R) would improve the odds of Democrats in five congressional districts and Republicans in just two seats, but at the expense of five districts that were competitive along old map lines, effectively consolidating Republican control of the delegation during the next decade.

Republicans are pushing maps that double the gerrymandering of the last decade. They are clearly designed to block power. Their maps dilute the voting power of communities of color, eliminate competitive board seats and prop up incumbents, ”said Kelly Ward, who heads the Democratic National Redistricting Committee, her party’s primary coordinating agency. . “They want a durable house map that they control for the decade. That is your goal. That is their stated goal. ”

But Democrats have played their own power plays in states where they control the mapping process.

In Oregon, Democrats divided their base voters in Portland into three districts, two of which cross the Cascade Mountains, to have an advantage in five of the six districts of the United States House of Representatives. In Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker (D) is considering a map approved by the legislature that would cost the Republican Party two seats.

The Maryland legislature, controlled by a supermajority of Democratic members, is considering a plan that would target the only Republican member of the state’s Congress, Rep. Andy HarrisAndrew (Andy) Peter Harris Republican Legislator Says He Prescribed Ivermectin As Treatment For COVID-19 The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented By Uber – Upbeat Democrats After Biden Meetings Republicans Demanding Impeachment Against Blinken Are Forgetting A thing: the Constitution MORE (R) – a decade after another gerrymander carved out Rep Roscoe Bartlett’s district (R) for a long time.

A decade after Republicans took control of the redistricting process in most states for the first time in modern history, and after Democrats advanced their own rigged maps in states like Maryland and Illinois, lawmakers they’re taking fewer risks with visually disruptive and aggressive map lines, some watchdogs said.

“The extreme achievements in partisan gerrymandering 10 years ago are shrinking this year,” said Sam Wang, who heads the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, which monitors and rates reassignment proposals. “If the measure is raw energy, then things are going less badly than expected.”

That does not mean that neither side is giving ground in minority states. And those states where redistricting is finalized are already offering a real preview of what’s to come: a barrage of lawsuits that will take most states to court.

In Republican-leaning states, lawmakers have braced for the inevitable litigation.

“They are going to be sued no matter what, and that is what we have told them. It doesn’t stop you from being sued, that’s inevitable, ”said Adam Kincaid, who heads the National Republican Redistricting Trust, the Republican clearinghouse for redistricting efforts. “The most important thing to face in court is just listening to your attorneys.”

Oregon Republicans have already filed a lawsuit against the Democratic plan. North Carolina Democrats have sued over the Republican-backed map dividing Greensboro, dividing Rep. Kathy Manning’s (D) district among Republican-leaning seats.

“If Republicans drew fair maps that followed the law, we wouldn’t have to sue them. And they are not doing it. They are drawing illegal maps for their own power, ”Ward said. “I think we are going to have to sue them in the states they control, because the maps are unfair and illegal.”

Democrats didn’t even wait for lawmakers to come up with maps before filing a lawsuit in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Louisiana, states where both Democrats and Republicans have an interest in the redistricting process, where both sides anticipate a deadlock that the courts will have to solve.

Several states that will send the largest delegations to Congress are still debating key proposals, or have yet to publish any proposals.

California’s independent redistricting commission, charged with eliminating a seat for the first time in the state’s history, offered an initial proposal this week that would give Democrats a huge lead in 38 of the state’s 52 districts, and a clear lead in five more districts, one likely to win for Democrats. That initial map is likely to undergo substantial changes in the coming weeks.

Democrats are likely to make a play for more seats in New York, while Florida Republicans will likely push their lead in a state where Republican registered voters now outnumber Democrats for the first time. Commissions in Virginia and Washington are crafting proposals that could affect the balance of power in Congress over the next decade.

The district lines that have been enacted, and those that have yet to be formally approved, are sure to significantly narrow down one group in Congress: those with competitive seats. In most states where one party controls the reassignment process, competitive seats have been placed more clearly on the side of one party or the other.

“There is not as much competition anymore because of the way voters have been geographically classified, and what gerrymandering has done is take the rest off the table,” Princeton’s Wang said. “Empowering Democrats in Illinois does nothing to protect the rights of Republicans in Texas. Many of these battles focus on raw power rather than competitiveness. ”

Lawmakers are racing against the clock to finalize the border lines after a delay in data from the US census that governs the process forced states to begin their reassignment exercises later than planned. In some cases, that delay has helped speed up new map lines.

“The delay in the census made it much easier for the legislative leadership to move these maps faster,” Kincaid said. “There has been less time for people in the state capitals to adjust the maps when they have been proposed by the legislative leadership.”

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