Category Archives: Redistricting

Rep. Beutler Trailing in New Poll

Six-term Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 9, 2021 — Another of the House Republican Trump impeachment supporters appears to be having trouble back home. A new Trafalgar Group poll (Oct. 30-Nov. 2; 682 likely WA-3 primary voters; combination live interview, interactive voice response system, and text) finds six-term Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver) placing third in a field of four as a prelude to next year’s jungle primary.

According to Trafalgar, former Green Beret Joe Kent (R), who has former President Trump’s endorsement, leads the candidate field with 35 percent preference. Next is Democrat Brian Hennrich, a movie theatre technician, who records 24 percent. For this poll, Hennrich realistically serves as a placebo candidate to test Democratic support. Rep. Beutler then places third with 23 percent and another Republican, pastor and author Heidi St. John, posts 10 percent support. An additional eight percent said they would vote for “another Democrat.”

Surveys such as this will likely spur the Democrats to recruit a much stronger candidate in what plays as a marginal southwestern Evergreen State congressional district.

Washington is one of three states that employs a top-two jungle primary system. All candidates are placed on the same ballot and the top two finishers, regardless of percentage or party, advance into the general election. Therefore, this poll would suggest that Rep. Beutler, at least today, could be eliminated before the general election cycle even officially begins. Washington has a late primary, Aug. 2, 2022, so plenty of time remains for the congresswoman to right her political ship.

The Washington districts won’t likely change a great deal in redistricting. Washington redistricts by commission, and has since 1991. Because none of the state’s 10 districts need a major population influx, it is probable that most of the seats, and especially District 3 (largely because it must only shed 2,222 individuals) will remain relatively constant.

The 3rd District is nestled into the southwestern corner of the state, bordering Oregon and the Pacific Ocean. The seat needing to gain the most people is Rep. Derek Kilmer’s (D-Gig Harbor) 6th District, but the 33,730 residents it requires is still a relatively small number in comparison to some other states.

Currently, the Beutler district votes as a marginal Republican seat. Former President Trump carried WA-3 in 2020 with a 51-47 percent margin after posting a 50-42 percent showing against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Rep. Beutler, in what was billed as a competitive race at the beginning of the 2020 election cycle, scored a 56-43 percent re-election victory. She has averaged 57.6 percent of the vote in her six successful congressional elections.

Fundraising so far has been significant. The September 30 FEC reports find Rep. Beutler already raising $1.73 million for the cycle with $1.38 million cash-on-hand. Kent has also done well, especially for a challenger, raising $1.09 million with $837,000 in the bank. St. John (R) has also raised a respectable $334,000, and held just over $213,000 in her campaign account at the reporting period’s end.

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North Carolina Map Passes

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 8, 2021 –The North Carolina legislature passed a congressional redistricting map late last week featuring a new seat that pushes the state to a 14-member delegation, but court challenges are again inevitable.

Under North Carolina law, the governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over redistricting. Therefore, when the map cleared both legislative chambers, the plan became law.

The Tar Heel State legislature and the courts have battled over redistricting for most of the previous decade, with the judiciary changing the legislature’s maps no fewer than three times during that 10-year period.

The last court iteration, in which the Democratic controlled state Supreme Court added two Democratic seats at the GOP’s expense, created safe districts for their party in Raleigh and Greensboro. The effect transformed the delegation’s partisan division to eight Republicans and five Democrats.

Under the legislature’s new 2021 version, the members returned to the previous GOP model for the Greensboro area, while largely keeping the Democratic draw for central Raleigh. Though political data is not yet available for the 14 new districts, estimates suggest that the new plan will yield 10 Republican seats and four Democratic districts, at least for the 2022 election cycle.

With a March 8, 2022 primary and candidate filing opening in about a month on Dec. 6, it will be difficult to move quickly through the court process to stop the map before officially beginning the election cycle.

The new map displaces several members and is another example of the map drawers changing the district numbers, thus making it more difficult to make comparisons. The members most negatively affected are Reps. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), and Richard Hudson (R-Concord).

The Manning district currently covers all of Guilford County, including the cities of Greensboro and High Point, and moves west into Forsyth County to annex the city of Winston-Salem. The court’s 2020 draw was split four ways, giving Rep. Manning the choice of approximately four immediate districts in which she could run, all of which are Republican. Therefore, it appears at first glance without the aid of political data that she would have to choose among four bad options in order to attempt to continue her congressional career.

Rep. Foxx, who currently represents a western North Carolina 5th District that stretches from Virginia to South Carolina would now see her new 11th CD begin in the western mountains and stretch easterly along the Virginia border and south into the city of Greensboro. This may be a relatively Republican district, but the addition of Democratic Greensboro clearly changes the district’s complexion and takes Foxx into a region that she has not represented over her nine terms in Congress.

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Today’s Election Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — Today is a significant Election Day, and the menu of races stretches beyond a Virginia governor’s race that has attracted the lion’s share of political attention.

While the VA governor’s race will of course be top of mind as results come in tonight and analysts attempt to assign precursor status to the contest regardless of the final result, other campaigns will also be of significance.

In the Virginia race, if Republican Glenn Youngkin scores an upset win, and the late indications are clearly moving his way, it may be cast as an affront to the Biden Administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress relating to their legislative agenda. In actuality, it is a more locally based issue, education, that should correctly be cast as the linchpin to describe a Youngkin victory.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) debate comment saying he did not believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” will actually prove to be the key turning point to a Youngkin victory should it materialize. In McAuliffe wins, then the talk of a coming Republican wave election next year will certainly dissipate at least in the short term.

In addition to the Virginia governor’s race, the remainder of the statewide ticket, the lieutenant governor and attorney general races could be of significance. If Winsome Sears (R), running for lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares (R), running for attorney general, both win their races to compliment a Youngkin victory, then talk of a clear precursor or budding Republican wave election will carry a more serious tone.

New Jersey voters will decide their governor’s contest as well. In Jersey, late polling, after seeing some closer numbers not even 10 days ago, seems to show Gov. Phil Murphy (D) pulling away from Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the closing week. The final result will likely be closer than most analysts would have projected at the beginning of the odd-numbered year election cycle, however.

In both Virginia and New Jersey, voters will also be electing members of the state legislature. In the Old Dominion, only the House of Delegates is on the ballot, as state senators, with their four year terms, won’t face the voters as a unit until the 2023 election cycle.

In the Garden State, both parties are projecting they will gain seats, but no one believes the strong Democratic majorities in the state Senate and Assembly are in any danger. In the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans need to convert a net six seats to re-claim the majority they lost in the 2019 election.

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Illinois Redistricting Advances;
Rep. Kinzinger Out

Latest Illinois Congressional redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — On Friday, the Illinois legislature voted to send a new congressional redistricting map to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), altering what they had drawn at the beginning of last week. This third map design came largely because of objections from both Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange) who had been paired in one Chicago suburban district for the 2022 party primary.

A recent court decision rejecting the Illinois state legislative maps influenced the Democratic leadership to draw a second congressional map. A 10-year argument as to whether a second Hispanic seat should be drawn in Chicago this time became the principle discussion point.

In the 2011 redistricting plan, such a seat wasn’t drawn, and also wasn’t part of this year’s original Illinois congressional map. Seeing the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) already threatening to sue over the first draw even before a final map had been adopted clearly was a factor in creating a second plan that did feature an additional Hispanic seat.

While this new third congressional version did assuage Rep. Casten and MALDEF, such was not the case for freshman Rep. Newman. She remains paired, but now with Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) in an inner city Hispanic district. This is an even more difficult situation for Newman. She appears to be a leadership target likely because she defeated Chicago machine Democrat Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, and this latest map could well be a payback for her challenging the local party authorities.

Another political casualty is Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). Facing a paired situation with Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) in a Republican primary for the newly drawn 16th District — mostly foreign territory for Kinzinger in a seat that stretches from the Wisconsin border all the way to central Illinois — the congressman announced on Friday that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.

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First California Map Released

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission released its first congressional redistricting map in rudimentary form, not even including district numbers.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2021 — The California Citizens Redistricting Commission released its first congressional map, and, while a long way from completion, the first edition gives us an idea as to where the members are headed. Though the map was released for public comment, it is rudimentary in form, not even including district numbers.

Since California loses a seat in reapportionment, the mystery of which area and political party will absorb the seat loss appears to be answered. Using raw numbers, because all 18 congressional districts that are self-contained within or partially occupy Los Angeles County need more residents, the seat loss should come there.

Such is the case with this first commission map, and it is the district that Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) is vacating to run for mayor. Most of the current Bass district is collapsed into Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Los Angeles) seat under this first plan. If this were the final draw, Democrats would sustain the seat loss.

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report released a partial analysis of the map, and finds that each party would benefit in an equivalent number of seats. Using the Biden-Trump ’20 numbers, the incumbents getting the worst draws appear to be Reps. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego), Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), and Josh Harder (D-Turlock/Modesto).

The Issa seat in San Diego appears to annex the Democratic city of Chula Vista before expanding all the way to Arizona through Imperial and Riverside Counties. It would move from a Trump plus-6 to a Biden plus-3 according to the Wasserman analysis. The Issa district was radically changed even though the current version required only 3,240 more people to meet the state population quota of 760,350 residents per congressional district.

Rep. Nunes’ Central Valley district would move from a Trump plus-5 seat to a Biden plus-3 but still maintain most of the congressman’s political base. Rep. Nunes’ current 22nd District is one of 18 CDs that are over-populated, the sixth highest in fact, having to shed 27,443 individuals. Clearly, most of the exiting individuals are from Republican areas.

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Illinois Democrats
Alter Congressional Map

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 27, 2021 — A legal setback in court at the end of last week over the Illinois state legislative maps has apparently been part of the reason the Democratic leadership issued a new congressional map this Monday. The changes are very significant leading to three sets of incumbent pairings.

The overall partisan goal of creating a 14D-3R map from the current 13D-5R map looks on paper to be achieved, at least using the 2020 presidential race as a benchmark. The statisticians at Dave’s Redistricting App released their quick calculations to support the partisan division, but in previous data sets we saw the underlying races trending more Republican in some districts than the presidential race alone would have suggested.

Under this supposition, thinking the underlying races may show greater Republican strength when they are fully calculated, the new Illinois map may be a bit more competitive than meets the eye.

The big change is the creation of a second Hispanic plurality open seat in Chicago. The Mexican American Legal Defense Foundation was preparing to file suit on the first plan charging that, among other points and for the second time in two decades, the legislature bypassed the opportunity of drawing a second Hispanic seat in the city even though the numbers were clearly supporting such an addition. The various pressure points caused the leadership to draw a new map containing the second Hispanic district.

This draw causes a Democratic incumbent pairing in Chicago. Freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange), who defeated former Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, would be placed in the same district as second-term Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove). Originally, Rep. Newman was paired with GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) in a general election battle that would have favored her.

This new 6th District is one of the seats that could play a bit more competitive than the 55-43 percent Biden-Trump result last November yields. Certainly, the pairing winner, and Rep. Casten is at least considered the early favorite, would have a big advantage in the general election. A strong Republican candidate and a wave GOP election could make even the general election in this district interesting.

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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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