Category Archives: Redistricting

The Redistricting Prelude

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 18, 2020 — The Census Bureau continues to make progress in completing the decennial population count and it appears the national apportionment report, which details how many congressional seats each state’s population earns, will be delivered to Congress in early January. Because of COVID, the apportionment process has been slightly delayed since the report typically has a year-end deadline.

Once apportionment is known, states then begin receiving their updated data necessary for drawing new congressional and state legislative districts. The states with the earliest primaries are the first to receive their data so they have adequate time to prepare their new congressional and state legislative boundaries.

In terms of apportionment, it is expected that Texas may gain approximately three seats and Florida two. The other gaining states are likely to be Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. Those losing seats appear to be Alabama, California (for the first time in history), Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. These estimates are not always completely correct, so this list could change when the actual apportionment is applied and publicly released.

A total of 34 states will draw their new districts solely through the legislative process. The remaining multi-member states operate through a type of commission, either an independent body or one under political control. Seven states are at-large meaning their congressional race is statewide. Rhode Island joins this group in 2021 as it will lose its second seat, while Montana will likely regain the district that was lost in the 1991 reapportionment.

In the Nov. 3 election, Republicans saw a net gain in state legislative seats around the country. Only one state saw its legislative chambers flip, however, the New Hampshire House and Senate moving from Democrat to Republican. This means Republicans will control 61 legislative chambers as compared to the Democrats’ 37. The Nebraska unicameral legislature is elected on a non-partisan basis, but Republicans control that chamber as well.

Republicans will again have the advantage in the states where the legislatures and governors determine the new map boundaries. Democrats, largely under the National Democratic Redistricting Committee that former Attorney General Eric Holder leads, targeted 13 states to protect or gain legislative chambers. They failed in all, as Republicans kept their majorities in each state they previously controlled and flipped New Hampshire to their column.

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Sights on 2022: The 52 Percent Club

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 12, 2020 — The 2020 election isn’t officially even in the books yet, but we do have enough info to surmise who might be some of the most competitive early targets in the 2022 elections.

Looking at the non-incoming freshmen House members, we see 24 Democratic and four Republican districts where the incumbent recorded 52 percent of the vote and below. Such a re-election performance paints a target on these members in anticipation of the next campaign.

Redistricting, however, will be a wild card for many members and potential candidates, and some who found themselves locked in close 2020 contests could greatly benefit from a re-draw. Of the 24 Democrats in this category, 10 are located in states that are positioned to lose congressional representation, which could possibly make the affected districts even more vulnerable.

Conversely, three of these incumbents are in states projected to gain additional seats, thus likely making it easier for them to improve their political standing.

Only four veteran Republicans found themselves falling in the 52 percent or below group, and two of the four are from states that will lose congressional representation.

Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are expected to lose seats while look to gain one apiece. Texas could add as many as three to its delegation.

Below are the affected members who would become potential early 2022 cycle political targets:


DEMOCRATS

STATE-DISTRICT WINNER PERCENT
AZ-1 Tom O’Halleran (D) 51.7
IA-3 Rep. Cindy Axne (D) 49.0
IL-14 Rep. Lauren Underwood (D) 50.4
IL-17 Rep. Cheri Bustos (D) 51.9
MI-11 Rep. Haley Stevens (D) 50.2
MI-8 Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) 50.9
MN-2 Rep. Angie Craig (D) 48.2
NH-1 Rep. Chris Pappas (D) 51.4
NJ-7 Rep. Tom Malinowski (D) 51.5
NV-3 Rep. Susie Lee (D) 49.2
NV-4 Rep. Steven Horsford (D) 50.8
NY-19 Rep Antonio Delgado (D) 50.3
NY-4 Rep. Kathleen Rice (D) 52.0
OR-4 Rep. Peter DeFazio (D) 51.7
OR-5 Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) 52.0
PA-17 Rep. Conor Lamb (D) 51.1
PA-8 Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) 51.7
PA-7 Rep. Susan Wild (D) 51.8
TX-7 Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D) 50.7
TX-32 Rep. Colin Allred (D) 51.9
VA-7 Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) 51.0
VA-2 Rep. Elaine Luria (D) 51.6
WA-8 Rep. Kim Schrier (D) 51.8
WI-3 Rep. Ron Kind (D) 51.5

GOP

STATE-DISTRICT WINNER PERCENT
MN-1 Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) 48.6
NE-2 Rep. Don Bacon (R) 50.9
OH-1 Rep. Steve Chabot (R) 51.9
MO-2 Rep. Ann Wagner (R) 52.0

The Decisions Within the Election

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 30, 2020 — The 2020 election cycle has been unique in many ways, but a series of significant decisions, typically through judicial rulings, will likely have a long-lasting effect upon the way the various states administer their elections.

Expanded early voting is likely here to stay. With more than 66 million people already voting through Wednesday, we can expect the states to continue with this relatively new process. Currently, only four states do not have some form of early voting.

Whether we see a continuance of the post-election ballot reception period may be another matter. There is likely to be controversy over this practice that 21 states will feature beginning next week. If the presidential race is close and gets bogged down in the political overtime, the negative aspects of counting votes that come in after the election could come to the forefront.

We have also seen changes in some states, most of which came in previous years, over their primary voting procedures. With reapportionment and redistricting on the political horizon, we are seeing states place measures on Tuesday’s ballot that could bring even more change to electoral systems around the country.

According to research presented from the University of Virginia’s Dr. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball publication and the Ballotpedia organization, voters in nine states will be deciding measures that could alter even further the way future elections are conducted. As we have seen develop, states adopting changes lead to further states following suit. Therefore, if many of the measures receive voter approval Tuesday, other states may also begin adopting some of these practices.

We start with states potentially changing their primary systems to a variation of the jungle primary system. Currently, Louisiana, where the procedure began, California, and Washington use the top-two qualifying system. In those states, all candidates are placed on the same primary ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election irrespective of political party affiliation. Louisiana can elect a candidate outright if he or she receives majority support in the primary election because the state schedules the primary concurrently with the national general election.

Voters in Florida have a ballot proposition to decide if they want their state to adopt the jungle primary system. The Sunshine State voters are also considering a proposition that would allow changes voted through initiative only to take effect if the measure passes in two general elections. Therefore, should this latter idea attain approval, it, and all of the other passed measures, would be delayed until they again pass in a subsequent election.

Alaska voters are looking at another variation of the jungle primary. They are considering a measure where the primary would produce four finishers, thus setting up multi-candidate general elections.

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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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