Category Archives: Apportionment

California’s Lost Seat

By Jim Ellis

July 7, 2021 — For the first time in history, California loses a congressional seat in reapportionment, and the public input session that was scheduled to begin yesterday continues the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s Phase 2 process. This week, the commission members continue listening to testimony about how the districts should be drawn for the state’s congressional delegation and both houses of the Golden State’s legislature.

Sitting adjacent to each other are the following California congressional seats: CA-32 (Rep. Grace Napolitano; D-Norwalk), CA-38 (Rep. Linda Sanchez; D-Whittier), CA-40 (Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard; D-Downey), and CA-44 (Rep. Nanette Diaz-Barragan; D-San Pedro).

After California, along with the other 49 states, receives its census tract information after the Aug. 15 negotiated deadline, the five Democrats, five Republicans, and four non-affiliated CCRC members will study and organize the data until their Phase 3 line drawing process commences in September. The commission was created through a 2010 ballot proposition that removed redistricting power from the legislature and instituted a citizens panel to create the new post-census maps every 10 years. This is the body’s second redistricting cycle.

The commission timeline was crafted after the state of Ohio sued the Census Bureau to force a faster distribution of the state redistricting data. Originally, using COVID as their principal excuse, the Bureau leadership set Oct. 1 as their distribution deadline goal. In typical years, states would have received the census tract information months ago. The Ohio lawsuit was settled with the two sides agreeing on an Aug. 15 deadline that is now in effect for the whole country.

The commission members are now tasked with changing the state’s 53-member congressional delegation into a map that features only 52 seats. And now, the question of just which area will lose the district must be tackled.

Looking at the latest public district data, that through July 1, 2019, we see some patterns providing key clues. It is understood that the last year of the census is not included in these numbers, and reports suggest that the final 12 months of the 10-year cycle resulted in significant change for the state as the number of people leaving for other places substantially increased. In fact, for the first time, California actually has fewer people than it did in a preceding year.

The most significant loss appears to come in central Los Angeles County. Looking at the current 53 districts, the seat with the lowest population is Rep. Adam’s Schiff’s (D-Burbank) San Fernando Valley 28th CD. But the cluster of seats in the heart of Los Angeles suggests an area where two seats can easily be collapsed.

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Oregon’s New Seat

Current Oregon US Congressional Districts Map


By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2021 — Oregon earned a sixth congressional seat in the 2021 apportionment, but exactly where that district will be placed on the Beaver State’s new map is not particularly obvious.

Like most states, Oregon handles redistricting through the legislative process and Democrats have firm control of all three legs of the legislative stool. In addition to Gov. Kate Brown (D), the party has a 18-11 margin in the state Senate with one Independent. Their majority in the state House of Representatives is similarly large, 37-22, with one vacancy. Yet, the partisan breakdown of the state might make drawing a solid 5D-1R map surprisingly somewhat difficult.

Currently, the five congressional districts are not obviously gerrymandered, as the seats are drawn in block form. Naturally, all but two cluster around the Portland metropolitan area, the state’s dominant population region.

The five incumbents are all senior, with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Washington County) being the most junior with her original election coming in a special 2012 contest. The delegation dean is House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) who was first elected in 1986.

As you can see from the following chart, using 2019 population numbers since the Census Bureau will not be delivering census tract data to the states until after Aug. 15, the five districts are remarkably equivalent in relation to population size.

DISTRICT INCUMBENT 2020% POPULATION REG. VOTERS
1 BONAMICI 64.6% 858,875 570,186
2 BENTZ 59.9% 841,022 598,375
3 BLUMENAUER 73.0% 853,116 588,614
4 DeFAZIO 51.5% 820,504 588,508
5 SCHRADER 51.9% 844,220 578,609

The population figures suggest that each district will have to shed between 115,000 to 155,000 people in order to create six CDs with equal population, likely a number around 710,000 individuals for this state.

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Colorado Releases First New Map


District 1 – Rep. Donna DeGette (D-Denver)
District 2 – Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette/Boulder)
District 3 – Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt/Western Slope)
District 4 – Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor/East Colorado)
District 5 – Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)
District 6 – Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)
District 7 – New Seat
District 8 – Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada/Thornton)


By Jim Ellis

June 28, 2021 — The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission, using only Census Bureau estimates because no state has yet received its census tract information and won’t until at least Aug. 15, released a preliminary new eight-district US House map late last week. Colorado is one of the states that gained a congressional seat under the 2020 national reapportionment.

The published commission map will not be the final version because population estimates and statistical sampling cannot be used for redistricting purposes per a 1999 US Supreme Court ruling (Department of Commerce v. US House of Representatives). Therefore, if this map is to become the basis for the actual plan, it will have to be adjusted after Colorado is presented with its census tract data.

This is the first redistricting cycle where Colorado has opted for the commission process. The new congressional map looks similar to the current seven-district design, in that the basic configurations of the seats and anchor population centers remain consistent with the notable exception of Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Arvada) current 7th District.

What appears designed as the new seat, District 8, takes a key population center from the 7th, the Arvada-Westminster-Thornton corridor, and makes it the new 8th CD anchor. This means the new 8th begins just north of Denver in Adams County and consumes about 85 percent of the local entity before moving slightly west to capture small Broomfield County and parts of Jefferson and Boulder counties. It then continues northeast to encompass a portion of Weld County.

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New Seat Location in North Carolina

North Carolina’s 12 Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

May 21, 2021 — With the new reapportionment map public and the states gaining congressional districts now certain, we can begin to speculate where the new CDs might land. Today, we look at North Carolina, which continues to be one of the most important states from a national redistricting perspective.

The Census Bureau’s apportionment report, released on April 26, almost five months after their Jan. 1 deadline, contained the smallest transfer of congressional seats since the World War II era.

Just seven seats are moving from one state to another. As mentioned above, one of the recipients is North Carolina, the state that came the closest to gaining in the last census, missing by just a few thousand people. Today, we speculate as to how a new North Carolina congressional map might unfold.

The 2020 individual state population data has not yet been distributed and is not expected until October, apparently at the earliest. Once the specific state data is made public, the redistricting process can begin, but for now we can only use the latest available data (July 2019) for estimation purposes.

In examining the population numbers for each of the 13 current North Carolina congressional districts, we see that all must shed population to reach the state’s Census Bureau target number of 746,711 individuals, hence, the reason for the Tar Heel State gaining a new district.

In North Carolina, the state legislature has sole jurisdiction over redistricting. The governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over the maps both houses jointly produce. This means the Republicans will control the process since they hold majorities in both the state House and Senate.

No matter what map is drawn, we can count on seeing post-redistricting litigation. In the previous decade, the courts twice altered the original map because of various lawsuits. The final iteration broke 8-5 in favor of the Republicans after the state Supreme Court redrew sections of the state and in effect awarded two previously Republican seats in Raleigh and Greensboro, respectively, to the Democrats.

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The House Opens – Part II

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2021 — In our second of the two-part series on the House open seats, today we analyze the eight Republican open seats from six states.

Two of the House’s five vacancies are currently Republican held and will be filled in special elections conducted from late June through Nov. 2. The six regular cycle Republican openings result from retirement decisions (2), and members seeking a different office (4).


AL-5 – Rep. Mo Brooks – running for Senate

Rep. Brooks (R-Huntsville), with former President Trump’s endorsement (which has proven extremely strong in other Republican primaries), is running for the Senate. Now that we know Alabama is not losing a seat in reapportionment, the open 5th District will elect a new member, and the 2022 Republican primary becomes the key focus.

Ex-President Trump carried this district in November with a 63-36 percent victory margin. Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong (R) looks like the strongest candidate making an early announcement. Madison County encompasses half of the 5th District.


GA-10 – Rep. Jody Hice – running for secretary of state

In late March, Rep. Hice (R-Greensboro) announced that he will challenge Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the 2022 Republican primary. Raffensperger has come under heavy attack for his handling of the 2020 election, which makes him very vulnerable in a Republican primary.

As with all 14 of Georgia’s congressional districts, the 10th will be re-drawn as part of redistricting, but the GOP is in control of the process so we can count on this seat remaining safely Republican. We can expect a crowded GOP primary followed by a two-person runoff. The eventual Republican nominee then becomes a prohibitive favorite to the hold the seat in the 2022 general election.


NY-1 – Rep. Lee Zeldin – running for governor

With Rep. Zeldin (R-Shirley) in the governor’s race, the open eastern Long Island 1st District will likely host a competitive general election campaign. Already, one of the 2020 Democratic candidates, Suffolk County legislator Bridget Fleming, has announced her candidacy for the open seat. Nancy Goroff, the 2020 Democratic nominee who lost a 56-44 percent race to Rep. Zeldin, confirms that she is considering returning for a second campaign. We can expect NY-1 to be a hotly contested open seat next year and will be at least a moderate Democratic conversion opportunity race.


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