By Jim Ellis
Nov. 19, 2021 — The Ohio legislature has sent the new congressional and state legislative maps to Gov. Mike DeWine (R) for his approval. Ohio loses one seat in reapportionment.
As expected, the new map radically changes the seats that outgoing members Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) currently hold. Rep. Ryan, running for the Senate, sees his eastern Ohio 13th District collapsed, with a sizable chunk of Akron remaining in the seat and the remainder going to Rep. Bob Gibbs’ (R-Lakeville) 7th District.
Instead of moving east, as under the current map, the new 13th moves to the west, annexing Medina County and the western part of the Cleveland metro area in Cuyahoga County. Much of this territory comes from the retiring Rep. Gonzalez’s current 16th District, a seat whose territory gets absorbed in several neighboring CDs.
At first glance, the map looks to break 12R-3D, meaning Democrats would take the seat loss in typical election years. Three of the districts, however, two of which Democrats now hold, would become highly competitive.
The members with the most competitive districts would again be Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) in the 1st District, in addition to Marcy Kaptur’s (D-Toledo) 9th CD, and the open 13th District.
The safest members are Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati), though he loses a significant part of his anchor city, Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville), Warren Davidson (R-Troy), Shontel Brown (D-Cleveland), and Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville).
Reps. Mike Turner (R-Dayton), David Joyce (R-Russell Township, and Mike Carey (R-Columbus) all would get reliable Republican districts, but not overwhelmingly so. Turner’s composite improves his marginal district a net three points in his party’s favor. Rep. Joyce sees his partisan complexion remaining at about a 10-point positive district for him when comparing the composite average to the 2020 presidential results.
Freshman Rep. Carey, who just won his seat in a special election on Nov. 2, would see his new district move approximately a net six points closer to the Democrats, but still gives him an approximate eight-point favorable composite score.
Rep. Chabot, who has had several competitive elections after his initial win in 1994, to the point of losing the seat in 2008 only to re-claim it in 2010, sees his district become a tick more Democratic, as the composite numbers, according to the Dave’s Redistricting App, break only 50-47 percent toward the Republicans. This, as compared to the current 1st District that broke 51-48 percent for former President Trump in 2020.
Rep. Kaptur loses the Cleveland portion of her district, keeps her anchor city of Toledo and all of Lucas County, but picks up many more rural Republican counties to compensate for leaving Cuyahoga.
Her current district stretches almost like a pair of headphones from Cleveland west along the lake line all the way to Toledo. It was a safely Democratic seat, but she had to defeat former Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the 2010 Democratic primary as the two were paired in the last redistricting when Ohio again lost a congressional seat in reapportionment.
Her new 9th District splits virtually evenly on the composite, tipping 49-48 percent toward the Republicans. This means she will see a highly competitive general election here, for a member who has never dropped below 55 percent of the vote in any general election since originally winning in 1982. Should the congresswoman seek a 21st term, the 2022 general election will likely be the most competitive she has ever faced. If Rep. Kaptur retires, the district would remain competitive, but the new Republican nominee would enjoy at least a slight edge.
The new open 13th District splits almost as evenly as Ms. Kaptur’s 9th CD. The composite average here is also 49-48 percent, but in favor of the Democrats, so their eventual nominee would also enjoy a very slight edge.
In the end, the new Ohio map could host two of the most competitive general elections in the country in the state’s new districts 9 and 13. In all, the map should break 12R-3D, but in a good Republican year, that margin could stretch to 13-2, yet just as quickly rebound for the Democrats to 11-4 in years when they benefit from the political winds.