Category Archives: Reapportionment

Illinois Redistricting Map Released

By Jim Ellis

The new Illinois redistricting plan, featuring 17 new districts that twist, turn, and meander throughout the state.

Oct. 19, 2021 — It had been speculated that the Illinois Democrats were attempting to draw a new congressional map to reduce the state’s Republican contingent from five members to three. The new plan, featuring 17 new districts that twist, turn, and meander throughout the state, appears to accomplish their goal.

Democratic leaders from the House and Senate Redistricting committees defend their actions, saying the plan is “designed to comply with federal law and ensure the broad diversity of the state is reflected in the elected officials sent to represent Illinois in Washington, D.C.” The map must still clear both houses of the Illinois legislature and obtain Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) signature before becoming law but with Democrats holding big partisan majorities, enactment seems certain.

Republicans and even some analytical observers say the map is a blatant partisan gerrymander designed to net the Democrats three seats nationally. Under this plan, 14 at least “lean Democratic” districts are created opposite three Republicans. The current map stands at 13D-5R, but Illinois loses a congressional seat in reapportionment.

Therefore, if the map performs as designed, the Republicans will be down a net three seats nationally because the Democrats would convert two GOP districts while the latter party absorbs the loss of the 18th seat that went to another state.

A potential legal problem, in addition to a political gerrymandering lawsuit, is the lack of drawing a second Hispanic seat in Chicago, and the Mexican American Legal Defense Foundation (MALDEF) is reportedly poised to file suit. As was the case in the last decade, the demographic numbers appear high enough for Hispanics to have two seats within Chicago. Such a second seat was not drawn in 2011, and it is again not created on this map, but the black majority seats are reinforced.

One of the re-draw’s top targets is Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). His current 16th District is divided into several parts in an effort to sustain the marginal Democratic district that Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) is relinquishing in western Illinois, and help strengthen Rep. Lauren Underwood’s (D-Naperville) district in the Chicago metro area. Under the current map, Underwood won a second term with just a 51-49 percent margin.

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Michigan’s Redistricting Complexities

One of the draft Congressional maps put forward by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission for public review this week.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 18, 2021 — In this redistricting cycle’s early going, one state appears to be adopting a unique map-drawing approach, and its design likely assures a long and challenging legal process to follow.

The 13-member Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has drafted 10 maps of the congressional, state Senate, and state House maps and made them available for public testimony and comments at a series of upcoming public hearings. Within the series, four relate to the congressional boundaries with the remaining six being divided evenly between the state Senate and House.

The multiple congressional maps go in several different geographical directions and radically alter the state’s district layout to the point of even changing the entire numbering system.

It appears the basis could be in place for many lawsuits and possibly from people or organizations associated with both parties, since the final version will likely draw complaints from both Republicans and Democrats. This would be particularly true if the final map collapses a Voting Rights Act minority district as one version features.

While four draft maps were released, the congressional plan base outline seems to be in place. Remember that Michigan will lose one congressional seat, reducing the delegation size to 13 members, and we will inevitably see at least one pairing of incumbents. At this point, no sitting member has indicated that he or she will retire.

The map versions suggest several options for the Detroit metro area; for example, meaning Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) could all find themselves in some type of a paired situation.

Looking at what little partisan political numbers are available, most of the maps point to the Democrats gaining a net of one seat, but some of the districts would be competitive to the degree of making the final outcome unclear.

Below is a synopsis of where each current member could land:

• District 1: Rep. Jack Bergman (R) – looks to receive a strongly Republican northern Michigan seat bordering Canada from the upper peninsula that will drop even further into the lower peninsula. Labeled District 12.

• District 2: Rep. Bill Huizenga (R) – could be in a paired situation with either Reps. Fred Upton (R) or John Moolenaar (R), as the commissioners take his current 2nd District to the southeast instead of due east or north as expected. The primary winner would get a safe Republican district. Labeled District 9, though Huizenga could run in a new District 13 in a potential pairing with Moolenaar.

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Maps to the Max

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13, 2021 — We’re beginning to see preliminary congressional redistricting plans appear around the country, and it seems both parties are attempting to draw maps to their maximum political advantage where possible.

We’ve seen the Democrats attempt to draw a 5D-1R map in Oregon. It appears on the surface that they may have succeeded, but at the very least, Rep. Kurt Schrader’s (D-Canby/Salem) 5th District looks to be highly competitive in the general election, so such a party division outcome is not yet a given.

Speculation coming from New York, Illinois, and New Mexico, suggest the Democrats will attempt to stretch their advantage in those states, the only ones they fully control for redistricting, to a risky maximum. Sources in New York indicate the Democratic leadership is attempting to craft a map that would convert five of the Republicans’ current eight seats in the state delegation to the Democrats.

In Illinois, the potential plan suggests the Democratic leadership will attempt to take the Republicans down to just three seats in the delegation from their current five. Illinois lost a seat in reapportionment, meaning the Land of Lincoln delegation will return to Washington with 17 instead of 18 members.

In New Mexico, plans have surfaced to attempt to draw the state’s lone Republican 2nd District into the Democratic column. This requires bringing the 2nd into the Albuquerque metro area for the first time since becoming a three-seat state.

While the aforementioned draws are possible, doing so could create enough politically marginal districts that the plans backfire at least to a degree.

Republicans look to be retaliating in the states that they control outright, meaning places that have not created a redistricting commission or where they don’t already control the maximum number of seats.

The first North Carolina plan was just released, and if passed, the Republicans could net three seats, gaining two when compared to the current plan, while the Democrats lose one. North Carolina is another of the states that is gaining a congressional district from national reapportionment.

The proposed map looks to make major changes and takes advantage of Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) leaving the delegation to run statewide for the Senate. This allows the GOP to effectively draw two new seats instead of one. Though the Democrats control the governorship in the person of Roy Cooper, under North Carolina law the state chief executive has no role in redistricting. Therefore, if maps pass both houses of the state legislature, they are enacted. Republicans have significant majorities in both the state House and Senate.

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New Redistricting Numbers

Oregon 2022 Congressional Districts (Go to Daily Kos story on Oregon’s new House map)

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.

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Colorado Map Under Fire

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission members released for public input the third congressional map — and second staff offering. (Click on map to see bigger map, more detail)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 7, 2021 — As we reported last week, the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission, on an 11-1 vote, sent to the state Supreme Court an eight-district congressional map for legal approval. The commission members met the Sept. 28 deadline that the voter-passed initiatives mandated. Also under the measures, the high court has until Dec. 15 to approve the map.

Already, talk of legal challenges has begun. At least two organized groups according to the Colorado Sun news site, the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy and Research Organization and the national Campaign Legal Center, are considering filing challenges to the map based upon its grouping of Hispanic voters. The latter group is an unofficial legal arm for the national Democratic Party.

Additionally, the Colorado Democratic Party is also considering a challenge based upon the competitive nature of the overall map, citing the language outlined in the two initiatives that created the new redistricting process, Amendments Y and Z from the 2018 election.

State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Wolcott), the Senate President Pro Tempore, who is actively challenging Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) in the western slope 3rd District, is suspending her fundraising efforts until she sees what the court rules in relation to the congressional map, which she opposes. Concerning the entire map, but especially regarding the 3rd District, Sen. Donovan said the plan is, “an inexplicable change given that Colorado has grown significantly more Democratic since the last redistricting process 10 years ago.”

It’s interesting that the Democrats are beginning to object on a competitive argument. The commission plan favors them, though the new 8th District is clearly a swing seat. This, and the surrounding districts, comprise the heart of their argument regarding Hispanic voting power. The partisan arguments clearly concern the 3rd District, especially since their top priority is to unseat the conservative firebrand, Rep. Boebert.

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