Category Archives: Apportionment

COVID & Redistricting

By Jim Ellis

April 29, 2020 — The deadline for the Census Bureau to release the new population data is March 31, 2021, but with the entire process being delayed due to COVID-19 precautions, the ability to meet the requirement is becoming more difficult by the day. Already, the Bureau has been delayed in dispatching their door-to-door teams necessary in obtaining the responses from people who did not return their mail tabulation form.

The Trump Administration is reportedly suggesting that the March 31 deadline be postponed to sometime in the summer of 2021. If this happens, we will see a series of redistricting problems ignited in the states. First, the political leaders in New Jersey and Virginia, places that have 2021 elections and need their new state legislative lines in place well before that date, would find themselves in a difficult position.

Initially, the two states would certainly have to postpone their primary elections because both nominate their general election candidates in June. Beyond that, it is possible they would have to even postpone their general elections into 2020 or run in the obsolete boundaries that were drawn back in 2011. In either case, we could expect lawsuits being launched from whichever party loses a particular electoral contest.

Other states would be affected, too. Many have legal deadlines in place mandating that the new redistricting maps for state legislature and the US House delegation be adopted before the legislative sessions ends. Most states recess before mid-summer, which would mean special sessions being called if the legislature is to act.

The problem intensifies in the states that are either gaining or losing congressional districts in reapportionment. Currently, it appears that seven states will add seats to their delegations (the best projections suggest that Texas will gain three, Florida two, and Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon one apiece), while 10 will lose single districts (Alabama, California [for the first time in history], Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia).

The aforementioned apportionment is based upon calculations released publicly and not, of course, using the actual numbers. Therefore, we could see some differences between these projections and what the formulas actually produce when the Census Bureau finally can produce the updated real figures.

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New House Census Projections

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2020 — The Census Bureau just released its new population growth estimates for the 12-month period between July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019. Their data allows us to assess just which states will likely gain and lose congressional districts in 2020 reapportionment, both in terms of the real numbers just presented and for projecting the final count once the decade’s final-year patterns are calculated and the census is actually conducted.

The national population growth rate was analyzed to be 0.5 percent, down from the peak period of the decade, the July 1, 2014 through July 1, 2015 time segment, when the growth factor reached 0.73 percent. The population patterns of movement to the south and west continue, with the northeast actually seeing a population decrease during the aforementioned reported 12-month period that ended on July 1. The Midwest is not keeping up with the national rate of growth, either, but not losing overall population.

Ten states actually lost population during the reported period, led by West Virginia’s 0.7 percent drop. Alaska declined by 0.5 percent, with New York and Illinois each losing 0.4 percent. Hawaii dropped by 0.3 percent, Connecticut, Louisiana and Mississippi 0.2 percent, and Vermont (0.1 percent). New Jersey is the tenth population reduction state, but it lost only 3,835 people from a population of more than 8.9 million individuals for a 0.0004 percent decrease.

The fastest growing states at this point in the decade are Idaho (2.1 percent since July 1, 2010), Nevada, Arizona, and Utah (all at 1.7 percent increase during the same period), Texas and South Carolina (1.3 percent), Washington and Colorado (1.2 percent), Florida (1.1 percent), and North Carolina (1.0 percent).

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Unending North Carolina Redistricting

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 20, 2019 — If it seems like the North Carolina redistricting process has dragged on for the entire decade, then your senses are correct, because it has. After seeing a mid-decade re-draw before the 2016 elections, another set of lines will be in place for 2020, and then another plan for the ensuing electoral decade beginning in 2022 will be enacted during the regular decennial process. North Carolina is a sure bet to gain a new congressional seat in 2020 reapportionment.

Last week, the Republican legislature produced a new map per court order that will concede two more seats to the Democrats. This plan is not final, however, as the new map still has must clear the legal process and certainly the Democrats will challenge in an attempt to get more. Republicans will counter and attempt to move the process away from the state three-judge panel which has been favorable to the Democratic arguments, and into federal court where they feel their own points may be given a more sympathetic hearing.

Racial gerrymandering was the subject of the original challenges, but when those arguments led to a new map without a net gain of Democratic seats, the plaintiffs filed political gerrymandering lawsuits. With the Supreme Court basically returning the political gerrymandering arguments back to the state courts, the Democrats, at least in North Carolina, are in much better position to get a map that better reflects their intended outcome.

With the current split being 10R-3D, which of the current members are in the deepest trouble under the new map? Though the map looks fundamentally similar to the current plan, there are sizable differences in district configuration from a political context.

The Daily Kos Elections site ran a voting analysis of the new seats, and it appears a new Tar Heel State delegation under this map would feature eight Republicans and five Democrats, or a net gain of two seats for the latter party.

The two current incumbents who would not likely return under the plan are Reps. George Holding (R-Raleigh) and Mark Walker (R-Greensboro). Their districts go from being a plus-10 Trump district for Holding to a minus-14 CD, and for Walker an original plus-15 Trump to a minus-11.

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Another One Bites the Dust:
Rep. Martha Roby to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)

July 30, 2019 — In the past week, three Republican House members made public their intention not to seek re-election including one this weekend. The action brings the grand total of open seats to 13, still a low number but one that is beginning to grow exponentially.

Now joining Reps. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) and Pete Olson (R-TX) in the recent retirement category is Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery). The congresswoman released an electronic message indicating that she will not seek a sixth term and thanked her family and the people of her state’s 2nd District for the opportunity of serving in the US House for what will be a full decade.

Unlike in 2018, Roby looked to have a clear path to re-election. In the last campaign cycle, she drew a significant primary challenge because of negative comments she made about President Trump during the 2016 electoral contest. But the president endorsed her in the ’18 GOP nomination campaign and she scored a solid 68-32 percent win opposite former Democratic Congressman Bobby Bright in the Republican run-off.

Against four primary opponents, however, Rep. Roby only managed 39 percent of the vote, thus forcing the run-off. She rebounded nicely in the secondary election, and then went onto post a 61 percent victory in the general election. So far, no one from either party has come forward to challenge her, thus, Roby announces her retirement devoid of political pressure.

Alabama’s US Congressional Districts

Alabama’s 2nd District occupies the southeastern corner of the state, from the capital city of Montgomery to the Florida border on the south and Georgia to the east. It contains 14 whole counties and almost two-thirds of Montgomery County.

The seat is solidly Republican. President Trump posted a whopping 65-33 percent win here against Hillary Clinton, even topping Mitt Romney’s 63-36 percent margin over President Obama in 2012. In her five congressional general elections, Roby averaged 58.4 percent of the vote, but that figure is a bit misleading. She unseated then-Rep. Bright in 2010 with 51.1 percent and then survived a surprisingly close call in 2016 when she defeated a relatively unknown Democrat with only a 48.8 – 40.5 percent point spread. In her other three generals, she recorded victory percentages of 64, 67, and 61.

While the open seat figure is creeping upward, the majority of what will be incumbent-less campaigns are still non-competitive for next year’s election season. The overwhelming number of the 13 opens are Republican-held (10R-3D), and it appears at this early point in the election cycle that five of the districts will feature seriously contested general election contests, including four currently in GOP hands.

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Apportionment Projections:
Who is Gaining, Who is Losing

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2019 — Late last year, we covered the new Census Bureau report for the states gaining and losing population during the past 12-month period. Now, we see the agency’s latest just-released numbers for the decade through this past July. Armed with the new data, outside mathematicians have made apportionment projections to provide a more defined picture as to which states will be gaining or losing US House seats in the 2020 post-census reapportionment.

With two years remaining in the present decade, trends can still change and we must remember that the reapportionment formula is complex, but the new projections give us a strong idea as to just how many seats, give or take a small variance, will transfer. At this point, according to the Washington, DC-based Election Data Services, it appears that as many as 22 seats could change location affecting 17 states.

Texas, having gained 3.55 million people since the 2010 census, looks to be adding as many as three seats for the 2022 elections and beyond. This will give the Lone Star State 39 seats during the next decade, and 41 electoral votes in the succeeding presidential elections.

Florida was the second largest gainer with just under 2.5 million new residents, meaning the Sunshine State will likely gain two seats, going from 27 to 29. In terms of raw numbers, California gained more than 2.3 million people, but it actually dropped a tenth of a point below the national growth average of 6.3 percent for the past eight years. This means the Golden State is currently on the hook to actually lose a district for the first time in history.

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