Post Redistricting:
Competitive Seats, Part I

Click on interactive map above to see Illinois Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 9, 2021 — Redistricting has now been completed in 20 multi-congressional district states, so this is a good time to examine the races viewed as competitive in the places with new district boundaries. Today, we look at domains from Alabama through Massachusetts. Part II will include the second half of the alphabet.


The Alabama legislature and Gov. Kay Ivey (R) completed their work and delivered a plan similar to the 6R-1D map that is currently in place. At one point, it appeared Alabama would lose a congressional seat, but such proved not the case. Therefore, redistricting became relatively simple in a state where Republicans dominate politically.

Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-Birmingham) Voting Rights seat was the most under-populated CD needing 53,143 individuals to meet Alabama’s 717,754 per district resident quota. Such a people swing was easily completed because Reps. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) 5th District and Gary Palmer’s (R-Hoover) 6th CD were over-populated.


The state’s new four-district congressional plan easily passed the Republican legislature, but was enacted without Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) signature. The main change was making Rep. French Hill’s (R-Little Rock) 2nd District more Republican. The map is likely to continue performing favorably for all four Republican incumbents.


The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission was the first entity to complete the new maps, and with the state Supreme Court giving final approval in late October, it is unlikely that we will see lawsuits being filed. The map gives all seven current incumbents a place to run with only Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Arvada) 7th District becoming substantially more competitive. Perlmutter will still be the clear favorite to win again next November, but his current 60-37 percent Biden district is gone.

The major difference for the coming decade is the addition of a new 8th District, and the commission members decided to make this seat competitive. Sitting north and northeast of Denver and encompassing the cities of Thornton, Westminster, and Greeley, this new district gives the Democrats only a slight one-point advantage. In 2022, this seat will certainly be in play for both parties.


The legislature and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a gain of one seat. The big difference comes in the northern Atlanta suburbs.

Returning Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-Marietta) 6th District to a Republican domain sees her declaring for re-election in the adjacent 7th District where she will face freshman Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) in a primary battle. Also in the race is state Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville) who says she is the only candidate who actually lives in the district.

The new 7th contains more of Rep. Bourdeaux’s territory, but McBath likely has the stronger ideological base. This will be a tight and hard-fought nomination contest, but the winner earns a safe Democratic district for the general election.


The Gem State was the nation’s second fastest-growing entity in the previous decade, but they did not gain a third congressional seat. The map drawers only needed to swap 35,338 individuals from Rep. Russ Fulcher’s (R-Meridian) 1st District to Rep. Mike Simpson’s (R-Idaho Falls) 2nd CD in order to meet the state’s huge 919,513 per district population quota, the largest in the nation.

Should the Idaho growth trend continue in its current pattern, expect the state to earn a third district in the 2030 reapportionment. This map will remain safely 2R-0D.


The Democratic legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) created a new gerrymandered congressional map that will cost the minority Republicans a net loss of three seats, counting absorbing the state’s one-seat reduction in reapportionment.

Adding a second Hispanic seat in Chicago forces a pairing between Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and freshman Marie Newman (D-La Grange) in a new 6th District. Rep. Casten has stronger institutional support, but the new 6th contains a bit more of Rep. Newman’s current constituency and she has more support from the ideological base.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) was left without a district, so he is not seeking re-election. Freshman Rep. Mary Miller (R-Oakland) will either choose an incumbent pairing campaign with Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) in the new 15th CD or Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) in the southern Illinois 12th District.

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) loses his base city of Peoria, but gets a new meandering 16th District that begins on the Wisconsin border and travels to the center of the state. The seat, however, is one that LaHood can win and hold.

Democrats attempted to strengthen the open 17th District by stretching it through the cities of Rockford, Rock Island, Moline, Galesburg, Peoria, and Bloomington, but a strong Republican such as 2020 nominee Esther Joy King is expected to run a competitive campaign here. The early prognostications suggest the state will break 14D-3R.


The state legislature and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) adopted a nine-district map that will likely retain the 7R-2D partisan division. The main change was making freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-Noblesville) 5th District more Republican, which was relatively easy to do since it is this Hoosier State seat that was forced to shed the most population, 50,921 residents.


The Hawkeye State employs a unique redistricting method. The Legislative Services Agency is tasked with drawing formulaic maps, of which the legislature can veto. Such was the case concerning the first draft plan that would have likely cost the Republicans a seat.

The second draw was approved, and we now see a four-district map that features only one safe seat, the 4th District of freshman Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull). Though former President Trump carried all four of the state’s districts, he did so with very tight margins in Districts 1-3.

Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) and Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) will face competitive challengers, as will Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines). The political climate will greatly affect the three competitive districts not only in 2022, but potentially for the balance of the decade.


The new two-district Pine Tree State map is similar to the previous design except that a net 23,031 people had to move from Rep. Chellie Pingree’s (D-North Haven/Portland) 1st District to Rep. Jared Golden’s (D-Lewiston) 2nd CD. This was done largely by moving the capital city of Augusta from the 1st to the 2nd.

The people switch made the 2nd slightly more Democratic for Rep. Golden, but former President Trump would have still carried the seat. With ex-Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) attempting a political comeback next year, the ME-2 campaign will be one of the most competitive in the nation.


The Democratic legislature and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker agreed on a new congressional map that will keep the state’s 9D-0R delegation intact. The Bay State remained relatively constant in a population context, with the exception of having to add 50,635 individuals to Rep. Richard Neal’s (D-Springfield) western Massachusetts 1st District.

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