Monthly Archives: January 2022

Analyzing Arizona

Click on map to go to Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s interactive map.

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 10, 2022 — Now that the new redistricting maps have been finalized in as many as 27 states, analysts can produce more detailed data about how the new seats will perform politically.

Such is the case in Arizona, as the Phoenix-based Data Orbital firm has published a new report about the Grand Canyon State’s congressional and state legislative maps. The DO research paints a more detailed picture of what we might expect in the 2022 elections.

At first glance, it appeared that the Arizona map might be one of the nation’s most competitive. The new Data Orbital information certainly supports such a conclusion, and tells us that two incumbents actually have more difficult situations than suggested at first glance, one a possibly easier road to re-election, and a third district that will likely produce razor-thin margins for either party in at least the decade’s early elections.

It was clear that Reps. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) and Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) were placed in more competitive situations than their current CDs yield, but the more detailed historical data finds that their respective roads to re-election are even rockier.

The Data Orbital firm measured each district through five statewide elections from 2020 and 2018, overlaid the partisan registration figures, added the new registration trends, and took into account district electorate performance in high and lower turnout situations.

Using all of this data, we see that Rep. O’Halleran clearly has the worst draw and his chances for re-election this year appear dim. His new 2nd District (previously numbered 1) went Republican in all five of the tested elections; Republicans have the edge in current and new voter registration, and the Republican candidates performed better in both high and low turnout elections.

In all, the Republican nominees averaged vote margins of more than 10 percent over their Democratic counterparts. There is no statistical measure where Democrats outperformed Republicans in the new 2nd District, which places Rep. O’Halleran in the most difficult position of all the incumbents seeking re-election.

Rep. Schweikert, who won his last re-election in the current 6th District with only 52 percent, sees a much tougher road ahead of him in 2022 within the confines of the new 1st District.

In the five tested races — 2020 presidential, 2020 Senate, 2020 congressional, 2018 gubernatorial, and 2018 attorney general — Republicans only won two. The winning percentage for the Republican victories, however, is much higher than the three Democratic victories – the Dems only scored a cumulative winning average of 1.2 percent — so Schweikert certainly has a chance of winning another term. The GOP does score an overall performance margin advantage of 4.1 percent and leads the Democrats in party registration, among new registrants, and in both low and high turnout elections.

At first glance, it appeared that Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) would have a more difficult re-election situation than what the deeper dive numbers suggest. Democrats won four of the five tested elections, the overall vote average favors the Democratic candidates by 5.6 percentage points, and while registration breaks almost evenly among the Democrats, Republicans, and Independents, the vote performance figures suggest that the Independent sector clearly leans Democratic. While Independents overwhelming lead the new registration category, the Democrats also outperform the Republicans by 2.4 percentage points.

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Rep. Lawrence to Retire;
Open US House Seats Now Up to 44

By Jim Ellis

Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield)

Jan. 7, 2022 — Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) became the latest Democratic incumbent to announce her retirement. She is the 25th Dem to not seek re-election as compared to 11 Republicans.

Saying, “this is the right time to turn the page and spend more time with my family — my husband, daughter, son and granddaughter — and put them first,” Lawrence made official her decision not to seek a fifth term next year. She is 67 years old. Prior to her election to Congress, Lawrence served as Southfield’s mayor for 14 years. She is the only African American in the Michigan delegation and the lone Wolverine State Democrat to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.

It is speculated upon that the new Michigan map influenced her retirement decision, but Rep. Lawrence said she was confident of being able to be re-elected in the new 12th District. Though her home base of Southfield was included in MI-12, the cities of Dearborn, Westland, and the western part of Wayne County would have, for her, been foreign political turf.

In her closing comments to the Detroit Free Press newspaper, Rep. Lawrence said, “I’m incredibly grateful for the people of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District who have placed their trust in me — in me, a little Black girl from the east side of Detroit.”

The Lawrence decision greatly changes the Detroit area congressional campaigns. Immediately upon Rep. Lawrence announcing her retirement plans, neighboring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) declared that she will seek re-election in the 12th District, saying that she currently represents more of this CD than the downtown Detroit-anchored MI-13. This leaves the 13th open and will create a major Democratic primary battle. CD-13 is a majority African American district and heavily Democratic, meaning that winning the party primary is tantamount to election in November.

A group of current and former Detroit state legislators announced Wednesday that they are filing a lawsuit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, saying the new congressional, state Senate, and state House of Representatives’ boundaries discriminate against black voters, and therefore violate the Voting Rights Act. If the lawsuit successfully overturns the Detroit district draws, new mapping instructions could be forced upon the commission before the 2022 election.

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Rep. Bobby Rush to Retire

US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 6, 2022 — From Illinois Black Panther Party co-founder to 30-year member of Congress, US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) after the first of the year announced that he will not seek a 16th term next year. Rush becomes the 24th Democrat to leave the House either for retirement or seeking another elective office. A 25th Democratic seat, that of the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), will be filled next week (Jan. 11) in a special election.

Bobby Rush co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, but left for the Democratic Party in 1974. He was elected to the Chicago City Council in 1983, and then to the US House in the 1992 election. In addition to his civil rights activism and background, his claim to national fame was defeating then-state Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic congressional primary of 2000.

Obama, of course, would go onto win the US Senate election in 2004, and the presidency in 2008. Interestingly, former President Obama is not the only recent president who lost a race for the House of Representatives. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also failed to win a district contest.

Illinois’ 1st District is heavily Democratic, even in its new form that meanders farther away from its south Chicago population anchor. The new 1st stretches all the way to the city of Wilmington, some 60 miles from the traditional heart of IL-1.

Likely anticipating that Rush would retire, seven Democrats had previously announced their 2022 candidacies, but none are elected officials. With the incumbent retirement now official, we can expect a number of Chicago Democratic politicians to enter the open race. As many as 11 sitting state and local officials are being mentioned as possible candidates in addition to Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton.

Regardless of who files before the March 14 candidate declaration deadline, the June 28 Democratic primary winner will easily claim the seat in November. While the new 1st is a bit more Republican than Rep. Rush’s current CD, the new district is still overwhelmingly Democratic and majority minority under the Democratic legislature’s gerrymandered map. According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site, the new 1st is a D+41, down from the current 1st District rating of D+47.

Of the 24 Democratic incumbents not seeking re-election, 17 are retiring and seven are seeking another office, from US Senate and governor to state attorney general and big city mayor.

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Michigan’s Anti-Incumbent Map

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2022 — One of the biggest complaints most commonly aired about redistricting is that it favors incumbents, but such is not the case with the recently completed Wolverine State congressional map. In fact, the members of the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission appear to have gone out of their way to upend the state’s sitting federal office holders.

The current 14-seat map features seven Democrats and seven Republicans with two of the seats converting from Republican to Democrat in the 2018 election. Michigan loses a seat in reapportionment, and it became apparent from the start that the Republicans would absorb the loss because a great deal of the population growth deficit was coming from the middle section of the lower peninsula.

That proved to be the case, but the cut was a bit different than expected. Considering the population deficit and Michigan’s geography, i.e., being surrounded by lakes, Canada, and other states, the most logical district for collapse appeared to be Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th District because it sat in the middle of the area that the population change clearly affected.

While the Moolenaar district was certainly altered in a significant manner, it was the western district of Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) that was broken into small pieces.

While true that Moolenaar was technically paired with Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) because his home city of Midland was placed in the new 8th District, a new safe Republican 2nd CD that contains much of the current Moolenaar district lies available for him to the west. While Rep. Kildee sees his home Flint/Flushing area remaining intact, he finds himself in a more competitive seat and may be facing a challenge from former congressman, attorney general, state appellate judge, and ex-US Senate and gubernatorial GOP nominee Bill Schuette in a seat that can now conceivably elect a Republican.

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Arizona’s Competitive Map

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 4, 2022 — The Grand Canyon State of Arizona was one of the places to complete the redistricting process toward the end of 2021 when the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission members approved a new congressional plan. The new district boundaries will create one of the most competitive US House maps in the country.

The current 5D-4R map could easily swing from 6D-3R all the way to 3D-6R depending upon the political winds in any given election year. Among the current incumbents, Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona), David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills), and Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) all see more competitive new seats.

The commission members also changed the district numbers, making voter history comparisons a bit more confusing. They did provide political data that summarizes certain past elections for each new seat, however. The data chart covers 10 statewide race results from 2016 through 2020.

Rep. O’Halleran’s 1st District, which stretches throughout most of eastern Arizona, is now labeled #2 and becomes much more Republican despite adding Native American population. In fact, the historical average is majority Republican, at 53.6 percent. The FiveThirtyEight statistical projection rates the new 2nd as the fourth most Republican district in the state at R+15.

Under the previous map, FiveThirtyEight rated the O’Halleran seat at R+8. Rep. O’Halleran, though acknowledging he will have a more difficult re-election battle, has already announced that he will run in the new 2nd.

Prior to the map release, two-term GOP state Rep. Walt Blackman, a Bronze Star Medal recipient for combat in Iraq and the first African American Republican to be elected to the state House, announced for the congressional seat, and now appears to be in even stronger political position opposite Rep. O’Halleran.

Rep. Schweikert’s 6th District electorate that includes the Scottsdale area, returned him for a sixth term with only a 52-48 percent margin in a CD that FiveThirtyEight rated R+13. The new 1st District has a 51.3 percent Republican average vote. The FiveThirtyEight rating for the new confines is R+7, meaning that Schweikert can again expect a competitive general election challenge.

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