Category Archives: Election Analysis

Redistricting Challenges – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2022 — Today we begin a two-part series about incumbent US House members who could be considered redistricting “victims”, meaning those who find themselves in districts with a largely unfamiliar constituency.

A total of 27 states have completed their redistricting process, and 41 incumbents seeking re-election in these places will be in new seats where a majority of the electorate has not previously seen their names on the congressional ballot.

Interestingly, many of the changes are positive for some of the members in question, because the new constituents are favorable to the incumbent’s party. Others, however, face potentially tough re-nomination or re-election battles, and some will see challenges coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

Interestingly, the four incumbents with the most new constituents, those having a district where a range from just 10 to 20 percent of their current electorates are present in the new CD, actually chose to run in the new places. Each eschewed a seat where they have a larger number of current voters.


Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) has the least carryover of any member from a redistricting completed state. Moving from his current 35th District into the new 37th CD means just 10.0 percent of his current constituents reside in the succeeding district. Placing Doggett here was not the intent of the map drawers, however, as the 37th was meant to be one of the state’s two new seats, a Democratic district fully contained within Austin’s Travis County.

Doggett’s 35th District is now the open seat, in a domain that again stretches from Austin to San Antonio. Had he stayed in the 35th, a total of 60.7 percent of his constituency would have remained constant, according to the Daily Kos Elections site statisticians who have calculated the redistribution percentages for all of the states that have completed redistricting.

Rep. Doggett faces little in the way of Democratic primary opposition, and the new 37th is a similar Austin-anchored seat to his original 10th District in which he began his US House career back in 1995.

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) chose to run in the 13th District, which was designed to be that state’s new seat. Despite having only 11.1 percent of his current constituency in the new district, Rep. Cawthorn likes his chances. The 13th lies closer to the Charlotte metro area in comparison to his current western North Carolina seat.

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Hassan Improves; NH Voters Sour

By Jim Ellis

New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan (D)

Jan. 24, 2022 — The New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, NH just completed one of their regular statewide political surveys, and while Sen. Maggie Hassan’s (D) standing has improved since their last poll, the sample participants’ underlying attitude numbers are among the most negative in the country.

In what might be the quintessential political swing state since the turn of the century, these early results spell bad news for Democrats less than 11 months from the midterm elections. In a state that Joe Biden carried with a seven-point margin in 2020, the congressional generic number now favors Republicans in a 46-40 percent clip.

St. Anselm’s poll conducted over the Jan. 11-12 period surveyed online 1,215 registered Granite State voters. Led by a Right Track-Wrong Track (direction US is headed) response ratio of a hideous 16:74 percent, only Gov. Chris Sununu (R) finds himself in a favorable realm (53:44 percent), but even his positive index has dropped a net 36 points from his rating a year ago when compared with the Institute’s February 2021 survey.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D) job approval of 48:48 percent is the next best of the office holders tested. President Biden records a 41:58 percent positive to negative ratio. Former President Donald Trump, however, is not in much better shape with a personal approval score of 43:55 percent.

Though Sen. Hassan’s job approval has dropped to 45:51 percent, her standing against potential Republican opponents has improved. This is the first published statewide poll conducted since Gov. Sununu announced that he would not challenge her. Therefore, the GOP is left with potential 2022 candidates of much lesser standing. In earlier polling paired against Gov. Sununu, Hassan consistently trailed.

Retired army general and 2020 US Senate candidate Don Bolduc fares best among the tested Republicans, but still trailing Sen. Hassan, 43-36 percent. She tops recent Senate campaign entries Chuck Morse, the Granite State Senate president, 41-27 percent, and former Londonderry Town Manager Kevin Smith, 42-24 percent. On the other hand, the Senator not exceeding 43 percent against candidates largely unfamiliar to the respondent universe – 33 percent have not heard of Bolduc, 47 percent couldn’t identify Morse, and Smith was unknown to 59 percent — still must be considered weak.

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Two More House Dems to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 20, 2022 — Setting off a game of political musical chairs, eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced Tuesday that he will not seek a ninth term later this year. Rhode Island US Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) also announced that he will not seek re-election later this year.

CA-9; CA-13; current CA-22

Eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced his retirement this week.

Originally elected to a Bay Area-anchored district in 2006 when he defeated veteran Rep. Richard Pombo (R), McNerney’s then-11th District was moved into the San Joaquin Valley because of 2011 redistricting. The new 9th District will still be anchored in the city of Stockton, but the updated version is somewhat more Republican than the current CA-9. The Congressman would have been favored for re-election, however.

Immediately upon McNerney’s announcement, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock), who had decided to seek re-election in the new 13th District after his current 10th District was divided into various parts under the new redistricting plan, declared that he will run to succeed the retiring congressman. The 9th CD is slightly more Democratic than the CA-13, but it is still cast as a relatively competitive general election seat.

With Rep. Harder abandoning his re-election plans in CA-13, state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) quickly announced that he will run for Congress in the suddenly open district that stretches north to south from Modesto to Fresno through Merced and Madera Counties.

California’s Central Valley is in a state of political flux. With the special election for resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) underway in the neighboring current 22nd District and the candidates having no place to run in the regular election, the 13th District could now become an attractive landing spot for one or more of the GOP special election contenders.

A Republican will be an underdog in the new 13th, but at least the candidate would have a fighting chance to win a full term and the opportunity of seeking re-election if successful.

Former Rep. Nunes’ CA-22, a Republican seat that occupies parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties, was torn to pieces as part of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission plan, as was Rep. Harder’s CD in the agricultural region’s northern section. As a result, a Republican district, numbered 5, was created northeast of Fresno to the outskirts of Sacramento that Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) will claim. This is where Rep. Nunes would have run for re-election had he stayed in Congress.

Two swing Democratic districts, the aforementioned 9th and 13th, and two stronger Democratic seats — the 21st that contains downtown Fresno where Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) will seek re-election, and the new 22nd District to the west from where Republican Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) is endangered in the general election — were also created.

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Ohio Congressional Map Tossed

The Ohio State Supreme Court invalidated the state’s newly enacted congressional map and returned the plan to the Ohio state legislature to be redrawn. The state lost a seat in reapportionment. (Map: Dave’s Redistricting App)


By Jim Ellis

Jan. 19, 2022 — The Ohio State Supreme Court, on a 4-3 vote with the Republican Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor voting with the three Democratic members, last Friday invalidated the state’s newly enacted congressional map and returned the plan to be redrawn. The decision may result in a blow to Republican hopes of re-capturing the US House majority as the Ohio draw is one of the party’s most important maps.

The high court’s action followed a similar 4-3 decision the previous day to reject the state House and Senate maps. All of the plans were invalidated for the same reason: they did not meet the competitiveness provision in the Ohio redistricting proposition that the people’s vote enacted prior to the commencement of the re-mapping process. The justices claimed the plan must better reflect the partisan statewide voting pattern, a measure that favors Republicans but not to the extent of the district ratios projected for the jettisoned maps.

The current Ohio congressional map stands at 12 Republicans and four Democrats. The state lost a seat in reapportionment, so the advisory redistricting commission members and the legislature were tasked with creating a new 15-district congressional plan.

By most accounts, the new map would have likely elected 10 Republicans and two Democrats, while featuring three politically marginal districts, those of Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) and an open seat largely created because Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) and Tim Ryan (D-Warren) are leaving their seats to retire and run for the Senate, respectively. Therefore, the state’s electoral split could have swung anywhere from 10R-5D all the way to 13R-2D.

The ruling likely creates the greatest change for two of the aforementioned members. The court specifically cited the Hamilton County draw in Rep. Chabot’s seat that attached a swath into downtown Cincinnati. This created a city attachment to Butler County, thus placing it in Rep. Warren Davidson’s (R-Troy) strongly Republican 8th District. As a result, the 1st District became more Republican for Chabot, but still left him with a swing seat at best.

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New York Rep. John Katko to Retire

New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 18, 2021 — New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) announced Friday that he will not seek a fifth term later this year, creating a 47th open seat for the 2022 US House elections.

Katko, who indicated that he and his wife buried all four of their parents during the past three years, which he said was “gut-wrenching,” says he now desires more time with his family. He leaves a seat where he has averaged 56.5 percent of the vote as one of only eight Republicans from the 27-member Empire State delegation.

Other factors may also have played a role in his retirement decision. Redistricting appeared to be creating some re-election problems for Rep. Katko, as had former President Donald Trump.

New York lost a seat in reapportionment — a district collapse that will come from the Upstate region. Early maps suggested that Katko’s Syracuse-anchored seat would be combined with Rep. Claudia Tenney’s 22nd District, which would result in a paired incumbent situation before the primary winner likely would face another competitive general election campaign.

In the past two election cycles, Rep. Katko’s opponent was college professor Dana Balter (D), and her challenges resulted in expensive and hard fought 53-43 percent (2020) and 52-47 percent (2018) victories. Balter spent $2.7 million and $3.3 million in her two successive races against Rep. Katko, totaling $6 million, which he countered with a combined $6.3 million. Additionally, both candidates received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from their respective political parties and outside groups.

The NY-24 seat is one of only nine districts where the electorate supported President Biden and elected a Republican to the House. In the current Congress, the 24th is one of just three districts that Hillary Clinton carried while electing a Republican Representative. Katko had repeatedly proven himself as an effective and successful political candidate.

In a paired 2022 situation against Rep. Tenney, however, the retiring congressman would have faced increasing pressure from his political right largely because of his vote to impeach former President Trump. Additionally, the New York Conservative Party leadership said they would not allow Katko to run with their ballot line in the 2022 general election. In New York, a candidate can run with more than one party designation.

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