Category Archives: Redistricting

North Carolina’s Rep. Cawthorn Switching Districts in 2022

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2021 — With the newly enacted North Carolina congressional map being vetted and analyzed, candidates for the various districts are beginning to come forth. One surprising move is the decision from freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) to run in new District 13 instead of where his home and the majority of his current constituents reside, in new District 14.

Rep. Madison Cawthorn

Cawthorn, at at the age of 26, is the youngest member of Congress; he was elected to represent the 11th District in 2020, succeeding Mark Meadows, the former Trump chief of staff who left the US House to enter the White House. The 11th has traditionally been the number for the district that sits in the Tar Heel State’s far western corner, anchored in Asheville and nestled among the Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina borders, but the newly enacted congressional map changes its number to 14.

Though the seat in its present configuration has become strongly Republican, that was not always the case. Throughout the 1980’s the district became one of the most politically marginal CDs in the country. During that entire decade, the 11th switched repeatedly back and forth between Democrat James Clarke and Republican Billy Hendon.

Once businessman and former state legislator Charles Taylor defeated Rep. Clarke in 1990, he was able to hold the district for eight consecutive terms until losing in 2006 to Democrat Heath Shuler, the former star University of Tennessee quarterback and NFL player. Shuler represented the district for three terms before retiring, leading to Meadows winning the first of his four elections. Rep. Cawthorn then recorded a 55-42 percent win in 2020 to keep the seat in the Republican column.

The new iteration of the westernmost North Carolina district returns to a more politically marginal status with a statistical history producing Republican victories in the low 50s rather than the high 50s. The adjacent new open 13th District, which annexes the western part of the Charlotte metropolitan area and moves to the Buncombe County line, becomes the region’s new safe Republican seat.

Continue reading

Nevada and Utah Maps Released

Nevada 2021 proposed Congressional redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 12, 2021 — Two new proposed redistricting maps were released early in the week, both of which the Dave’s Redistricting App personnel, from the statistical analysis website that specializes in redistricting, call partisan gerrymanders. Democrats drew the Nevada map in anticipation of the special state legislative session beginning next week; Republicans crafted the Utah plan that has now cleared both houses of the state legislature.

In 2020, two of the Las Vegas area congressional districts turned in close re-election victories for Democratic incumbents, Rep. Susie Lee (District 3: 49-46 percent) and Rep. Steven Horsford (District 4: 51-46 percent). The Democratic controlled legislature is looking to improve their districts, from a partisan perspective, but that comes at the expense of Rep. Dina Titus’ downtown Las Vegas CD (District 1) that will become more competitive should this map be enacted as currently drawn. Titus’ 2020 victory spread was 62-33 percent.

Utah 2021 proposed Congressional redistricting map (click on map to see larger view)

The Utah Republican legislature’s redistricting team has designed a new map that would give all four Republican incumbents equivalently strong GOP districts. The big winner is freshman Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Salt Lake City), who sees his marginal district grow from one that produced only his plurality Republican victory over then-Rep. Ben McAdams (D) into the safest Republican seat in the state.

As with many of the smaller population western states with an expansive land mass and one metropolitan area that dominates the entity, the Republican map drawers chose a pie-shaped option, that is a plan where all of the state’s congressional districts share a piece of, in this case, the Salt Lake City metro area.

The Nevada map, on paper, is designed to send three Democrats and one Republican to the US House. The lone Republican, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), will again have the northern 2nd District, a seat too far from Las Vegas to take any part of the metro area.

The geography, and the number of people in Nevada’s northern sector, makes drawing a 4D-0R map almost impossible. Therefore, in order to help craft three districts that Democrats should win in typical election years, the map drawers packed as many Republican voters as possible into the one northern district.

Dave’s Redistricting App’s analysts divided the new districts on a partisan basis, but their percentages are estimates. Almost 30 percent of the Nevada electorate registers as Nonpartisan, so dividing only into Democrat and Republican segments may not be particularly accurate.

Continue reading

Iowa Map Enacted

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 10, 2021 — Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed the new Iowa redistricting map package, legislation that contained the new US House, state Senate, and state House of Representatives maps. The new congressional plan makes what appear to be minor changes to the state’s four districts, while again crafting a new quartet that would have voted in unison for former President Donald Trump. As is the case on the current map, Trump’s district victory margins featured varying percentages.

The Iowa redistricting system is unique. Some believe the state redistricts through a commission, but that is not the case. Rather, a state legislative committee is tasked with drawing the three-map plans and presenting them to the legislature for final approval. The plans must be submitted as a package, and the legislators may only vote up or down on the whole group, as no amendments to any of the maps are allowed.

The committee also employs a formulaic algorithm to create the districts without regard to political proclivities or deference to incumbents. If three map packages are rejected, the legislature then takes full control of the process.

The adopted package is the second plan iteration. The committee staff first put forth a series of maps that failed to make it through the first state Senate committee of jurisdiction. That congressional map was much different than the ultimately enacted plan. In the first draw, freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) would have been placed in a decidedly Democratic district that would have made her an underdog for re-election in 2022.

It is likely, however, that alone was not the reason for the Senate committee members rejecting the map package. The committee staff created two separate pairings of three incumbent senators apiece, thus dooming the entire package. Once returned, the congressional map plan, using a changed formula, returned to a similar configuration as under the current map.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading