Category Archives: Redistricting

New Mexico Lines Completed

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 2021 — Though only a three-congressional district state, New Mexico is playing an important role in the 2021 redistricting cycle. The state is one of only four where Democrats fully control the redistricting process and can make gains.

The map that passed the legislature Monday and which was immediately sent to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) for her signature appears to clinch the one-seat gain that national Democrats need from the state. On the other hand, it is likely that at least one of their current seats becomes more vulnerable.

Though Democrats have 15 legislative trifectas — that is where they hold the offices of governor, state Senate, and state House of Representatives — they effectively have only four for redistricting. In five of their trifecta states, redistricting has been sent to a citizens or politician (New Jersey) commission. In another six, they are maxed, meaning the Democrats already have all the seats that they can possibly win in each domain.

Ironically, the current Land of Enchantment map needed only minor adjustments to bring the redistricting plan into legal population compliance. The state’s per district resident quota is 705,841 individuals, and the three current districts were only between 3,082 and 11,290 people away from being in full compliance. Districts 2 and 3 needed to shed a combined 11,290 individuals to District 1, and the map would have balanced.

Instead, the Democratic leadership made major changes all centered around transforming freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell’s (R-Alamogordo) 2nd CD into a Democratic advantage. The US Department of Justice just filed suit against the Texas redistricting map under a partisan gerrymander argument, so it is curious to see whether they follow the same course and bring forth a similar partisan gerrymander lawsuit in New Mexico and Illinois, places where Democrats control the redistricting pen.

New Mexico is also interesting in that all three of the state’s delegation members, Reps. Melanie Stansbury, (D-Albuquerque) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-Santa Fe), as well as Herrell, are freshmen. In fact, Stansbury is even behind the other two in seniority since she won her seat in a June 1 special election to replace resigned Rep. Deb Haaland (D), who left the House to become US Interior Secretary in the Biden Administration.

For the first time, the redesigned New Mexico congressional map splits the state’s dominant city of Albuquerque. Drawing the southern 2nd District into the Albuquerque metropolitan area provides the Democrats the ability to enhance the party’s chances of flipping the seat. Throughout New Mexico’s history, the city has been fully contained within the 1st Congressional District.
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North Carolina in Political Abeyance

(Please click on map for expanded view.)


By Jim Ellis

Dec. 14, 2021 — Last week proved to be a topsy-turvy week in North Carolina politics, and situations are being created that won’t likely be resolved for some time.

First, a three-judge panel suspended the state’s Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline to allow consideration time for the filed partisan gerrymandering lawsuits. A day later, the en banc 15-member State Appellate Court overturned the judicial panel’s ruling and reinstated the Dec. 17 filing deadline. Just hours later, the state Supreme Court overruled the full Appellate Court and not only reinstated the original ruling suspending the candidate filing deadline, but postponed the North Carolina primary more than two months, moving it from March 8 to May 17.

The final ruling affects all candidates at every level because the primary now returns to the traditional May slot that North Carolina typically holds. The respective Democratic and Republican Party leaders moved the primary in 2020 to better position the state for the presidential nomination process. In the 2021 legislative session, the General Assembly took no action to move the primary back to May.

The judicial rulings also affect the statewide US Senate race. For example, ex-Congressman Mark Walker (R) is a Senate candidate who did not seek re-election to the House in 2020 because the late-decade court-ordered redistricting ruling tore his previous 6th District into several parts making the region unattainable for any Republican.

Many people on the right, including former President Donald Trump, are reportedly urging Walker to leave the Senate race and run in the state’s open 7th Congressional District. The newly created CD-7 in the Greensboro area, which Walker largely represented, would certainly be winnable for him. In actuality, he would only have to win a Republican primary. If this map stands, the new 7th will be safe for the GOP in any general election.

Currently, the former congressman trails badly in early US Senate polling, but he is planning to stay in the Senate race until at least the end of the year, or when the congressional map status becomes clear.

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Virginia Map Released

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2021 — The Virginia congressional redistricting map was just published and it contains some surprises. Unexpectedly, the overall plan features more competitive districts than the current map, and the state’s three female members each drew more difficult political situations. All eight males would have safe seats.

Because the Virginia Redistricting Commission members failed to produce a new congressional map by the stated deadline, the Supreme Court of Virginia was forced to assume map drawing responsibilities. The court hired two special masters, a Democrat and a Republican, to collaborate and produce a new federal map.

The 11-district plan enhances the political competition in two seats when compared to vote totals typically yielded from the current map and creates a new open seat that sets the scene for a highly contested Democratic primary. The districts of Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) clearly become more competitive, while Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) has no reasonable place to run.

Instead of placing the new 7th District in the central part of the state beginning in Henrico County where Rep. Spanberger resides, the seat is transferred to Northern Virginia and will occupy all of Prince William and Stafford counties along with the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Fredericksburg in addition to a small piece of southeastern Fairfax County. The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization rates the new 7th as D+14.

Immediately, two Democratic candidates who this year ran statewide — gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Hala Ayala, the lieutenant governor nominee — both expressed interest in running for the new seat. Both women are former state delegates. Though the new Prince William-anchored district is numbered seven, none of Spanberger’s current constituents reside here.

First District Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Montross) loses the Northern Virginia region he currently represents and sees his district move west. It picks up the western part of Henrico County and pairs him with Rep. Spanberger. With the statistics projecting the new 1st as R+16, it appears any Wittman-Spanberger campaign would end badly for the Democratic congresswoman.

The remaining parts of the Spanberger constituency have gone to Rep. Donald McEachin’s (D-Richmond) 4th District, and Rep. Wexton’s 10th CD. Such would force Rep. Spanberger to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent if she were to choose to run in one of these seats. In no situation does Rep. Spanberger have a reasonable victory path.

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Post Redistricting:
Competitive Seats, Part II

Nevada redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 10, 2021 — Continuing our redistricting report about the 20 multi-congressional district states that have completed the re-drawing process, today, we look at the domains from Montana through West Virginia.


Montana:

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission for the first time had a congressional map to draw. The state rose from at-large status to gaining a new district in reapportionment due to strong population growth. Montana is the first multi-district state to ever fall into at-large status, as it did in the 1990 census, and then regain a second district.

Though more Democratic maps were filed for commission consideration, the main Republican offered map was adopted. One of the Democratic commissioners voted for the plan, which allowed the GOP version to prevail. Still, all of the maps created an east and west seat, with the new western seat, labeled District 1, being the more competitive.

At-large Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) will run in the safely Republican eastern District 2, while former congressman and ex-US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be the early leader in the western district both in the Republican primary and general election. While relatively competitive, the 1st District will clearly nominate a Republican who will be the general election favorite.


Nebraska:

The unicameral legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) enacted a new congressional map that should again deliver a 3R-0D delegation. Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-Papillion/Omaha) marginal 2nd District – Joe Biden carried the district by more than 22,000 votes – is strengthened for the incumbent, but it still remains a competitive congressional domain.


Nevada:

The Democratic legislature and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) enacted a map that is designed to produce a 3D-1R map but, in attempting to maximize the Democratic stake, possibly all three of the party’s intended seats now fall into the potentially competitive realm.

In 2020, Clark County hosted two of the 53 districts nationally where the winning candidate scored less than 52 percent. In 3rd District Rep. Susie Lee’s (D-Las Vegas) case, her victory percentage was less than 49 percent. Fourth District incumbent Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) fared only slightly better at 50.7 percent. In order to strengthen these two districts, a large number of Democrats had to be taken from the previously safe seat of 1st District Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas).

The end result is three Democratic seats in the lower 50s. In a Republican year, and considering the GOP is beginning to score better with Hispanics who comprise more than 31 percent of the Clark County population, all three seats could conceivably host competitive challenge campaigns. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), the lone Republican incumbent in the Nevada delegation, gets a safe northern state seat.


North Carolina:

The courts have been playing ping pong with the North Carolina map this week. A three-judge panel first issued a stay order on the Tar Heel State’s Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline pertaining to a redistricting lawsuit before the court. A day later, the full 15-member state Appellate Court overturned the panel’s ruling, and restored the original filing deadline. Just this week, the state Supreme Court quickly reinstated the candidate filing stay and ordered the March 8 primary postponed until May 17.

The North Carolina map is the national Republicans’ best to date. If it survives the legal challenge, the GOP could net as many as three seats in the delegation. It appears that five seats will be open, with Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) and David Price (D-Chapel Hill) retiring, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) running for Senate, and with two more seats beign created through reapportionment and the map-drawing process.

Under the enacted map, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) and Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) are paired in a new 11th District, which would heavily favor the GOP nominee.


Ohio:

The legislature and Gov. Mike DeWine (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a one-seat gain, or could conceivably yield the Democrats a similar outcome. Three of the state’s 15 new districts are highly competitive — Ohio lost one seat in reapportionment — with two currently in Democratic hands and one under GOP control.

Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), and the open 13th District seat of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren), now located on the west side of Cleveland, are all tightly constructed partisan districts. In the remaining seats, Republicans hold a significant 10-2 advantage. Retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s (R-Rocky River) 16th District has effectively been collapsed.


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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.


Alabama:

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.


Arkansas:

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.


Colorado:

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.


Georgia:

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.


Idaho:

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.


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