By Jim Ellis
Oct. 12, 2021 — The Daily Kos Elections website’s statistical team has already published presidential election numbers for some of the states that have completed their redistricting process. Therefore, we have a bit more information about the new districts in Oregon and Maine, which allows us to better analyze the political landscape.
In Oregon, the Daily Kos team has published the Biden-Trump 2020 numbers for the new six Beaver State congressional districts, which makes comparing with previous data possible.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici’s (D-Washington County) 1st District actually makes her previously safe northwestern Oregon seat even stronger. This new district gives her all of downtown Portland. President Biden posted a 68-29 percent margin in the new 1st, a net 10-point increase from his spread in the current district (63-34 percent).
The state’s lone Republican district, OR-2, also sees its percentages increasing for the incumbent’s benefit, who is freshman Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario/East Oregon). Instead of finding a 56-42 percent margin in former President Donald Trump’s favor, the new 2nd expands to 61-37 percent, a similar net 10-point improvement for the GOP as the Democrats saw in District 1.
Making the 2nd District so overwhelmingly Republican is reflective of the Democratic legislature’s plan to pack as many GOP voters as possible into the 2nd to facilitate achieving their goal of drawing a 5D-1R statewide map.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s (D-Portland) 3rd District, previously the Democrats’ safest Oregon seat, remains so, but with a slightly smaller margin. Under the newly adopted district lines, President Biden would have recorded a 73-25 percent victory as opposed to his 74-23 percent spread under the current map.
Perhaps the biggest change on the Oregon map, other than adding a new district, was making the Eugene-anchored 4th District safer for veteran representative and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield).
The Biden margin in the previous 4th was 51-47 percent, and the congressman only recorded 51.5 percent in his 2020 re-election victory, one of the smallest of his 18 electoral triumphs. In the new 4th, President Biden’s victory spread would have been 55-42 percent, a net Democratic gain of nine percentage points.
The 5th District likely becomes the most competitive on the map. The current district yielded Biden a 54-44 percent margin, while Rep. Kurt Schrader’s (D-Canby/Salem) winning total dropped to just under 52 percent. Under the new district lines, President Biden would have recorded a 53-44 percent win in the new 5th, one point under his performance in the contemporary 5th.
Though such a change doesn’t appear major, we must consider that the new 5th only contains only 47 percent of Rep. Schrader’s previous constituency and the Democratic registration numbers, when they are published, will undoubtedly show a significant reduction. Therefore, expect the 5th to host the most competitive of the 2022 Oregon congressional elections.
As is often the case, the legislative redistricting committee’s leader tends to find him or herself in strong position to run for a newly created US House seat. On Friday we saw state Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), the redistricting committee co-chair who was a key figure in producing the new map, declaring that she will run for the new 6th District seat next year.
Previously, former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith (D) and ex-Portland School Board member Derry Jackson (D) had previously announced. Two Republicans, including Dundee Mayor David Russ, are also already in the race.
The new 6th plays toward the Democrats, but a Republican nominee would have some chance of winning here in a wave Republican year. President Biden would have carried the new seat with a 55-42 percent margin in 2020.
Potential competition does portend for the 4th, 5th, and 6th Districts despite President Biden scoring well in each of the newly configured seats. Former President Trump is unpopular in Oregon, and the partisan division within the districts will prove better for future Republican candidates than was evident for Trump.
The two Maine districts were also analyzed. The major shift from the previous map was transferring the capital city of Augusta from the heavily Democratic 1st District to the politically marginal 2nd CD. The change actually affects less of a partisan swing than first thought.
Looking at the presidential numbers, we will remember that Trump carried the ME-2 seat that Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) represents, thus providing the ex-president with an extra electoral vote, because Maine is one of two states that splits its distribution. In 2020, the Trump victory spread was 52.3 – 44.8 percent. Under the new boundaries, his 2nd District vote would have been 51.6 – 45.5 percent, a negligible change. First reports suggested that the swing might have reached a net four percentage points.
In Rep. Chellie Pingree’s (D-North Haven/Portland) 1st CD, the new numbers return virtually the same presidential margin as the current 1st. In the newly drawn district, President Biden would have posted a 60-37 percent victory, almost identical to his margin under the current map.