Category Archives: Redistricting

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.

Continue reading

Texans Planning Moves

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2021 — The Texas congressional map was unveiled in the state Senate last week, and already many incumbents and challengers are making or announcing political plans based upon what they are seeing … but this congressional plan is a long way from enactment.

In the past few days we have seen Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) concede that he would consider moving to run in the open 34th District, which is due east of his own 15th CD and anchored in the city of Brownsville. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) is not seeking re-election to a sixth term, and he reportedly is favorable toward Gonzalez coming into his district.

The 34th remains solidly Democratic under the Senate introduced congressional map, but the 15th, already trending more Republican than in past elections, would actually have favored former President Trump by three percentage points under the proposed boundaries. Thus, Republicans would have a strong chance of winning here in an open seat race.

The 2020 GOP nominee, Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez, who held Rep. Gonzalez to a 50-48 percent re-election victory while spending barely over $400,000, has announced she is running again and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has already endorsed her for the 2022 race.

Gonzalez is not the only one working on his next political move. Wesley Hunt (R), who lost 51-47 percent to Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) in 2020, said months ago that he would run for the House again, but was mum on exactly where he would land in hopes that one of the new seats would fall into his area. Under this proposed map, the new 38th District does encompass part of the current Fletcher district, and it is highly favorable to an eventual Republican nominee.

For her part, Rep. Fletcher gets a much stronger Democratic district in southern Harris County and now into Ft. Bend County, which is one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Reports also suggest that Hunt has over $1 million in his campaign account at the reporting period ending Sept. 30 despite not previously declaring where he would run. He announced last week that he has chosen District 38 if this new map becomes law.

Late last week, Republican businessman and retired Air Force officer Steve Fowler announced his congressional candidacy in the 28th District, Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) seat that begins in San Antonio and spans to the Mexican border. Earlier this year, Jessica Cisneros, who held Cuellar to a 52-48 percent Democratic primary win in 2020, announced she is returning for a re-match.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) will also have a decision to make. The new 37th District is wholly contained within Travis County and safely Democratic. He could easily run in this seat, thus leaving his 35th CD that is co-anchored in Austin and San Antonio for a Hispanic Democrat to likely win.

Continue reading

Nebraska Redistricting Map Set; Surprises in Arizona Senate Polling

Nebraska’s new three-district congressional map

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 4, 2021 — The Cornhusker State of Nebraska has joined Oregon and Colorado in completing its redistricting process as Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) late last week signed into law the new three-district congressional map.

The new map is similar to the previous plan. It slightly improves Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-Papillon/Omaha) 2nd District while keeping the Omaha metro area together as a complete unit. The 2nd will remain competitive, though Rep. Bacon will be in stronger position to seek a fourth term. He was re-elected last November with a 51-46 percent margin in defeating Democrat Kara Eastman for the second time and defending himself against a $4.5 million opposition campaign.

Rep. Adrian Smith’s (R-Gering) 3rd District again stretches the width of the state, from Colorado and Wyoming all the way to Iowa and the northwestern corner of Missouri. This time the 3rd even goes so far as to border Omaha’s Douglas County.

It is likely the new Nebraska map will continue to send three Republicans to the House, though Democrats will undoubtedly return to target Rep. Bacon in District 2.

Arizona Senate

Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights tested the Arizona electorate as they regularly do (released Sept. 29 & Sept. 7-12; 882 registered Arizona voters, online opt-in panel) and finds freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D) leading all potential Republican general election opponents, but with percentages well below majority support in all tested instances.

As you will remember, Sen. Kelly, after a difficult and expensive 2020 campaign in which he raised an incredible $101 million to defeat appointed Martha McSally (R), won the special election, 51-49 percent, to fill the remainder of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term. He now returns to the campaign trail in order to win a full six-year term in 2022.

At this point, Attorney General Mark Brnovich, venture capitalist Blake Masters, solar energy company Jim Lamon, and retired Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Mick McGuire comprise the top tier of the Republican field. OHPI tested each man individually opposite Sen. Kelly.

Continue reading

Colorado Maps Completed


Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions’ Final Approved Congressional Plan

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 1, 2021 — The members of the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions completed their task of sending congressional and state legislative maps to the state Supreme Court at the assigned deadline, with all but one person supporting the final US House product.

The adopted map was based upon the third staff-produced map, with an amendment from Democratic commission member Martha Coleman (2nd CD) in a re-draw that affected Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Arvada) 7th District and the new 8th CD.

The staff offering became the commission’s working map. The initiative that created the redistricting panels awarded an inordinate amount of power to the professional staff in the event of a commission deadlock, meaning that a two-thirds majority is not achieved. In such a situation, the staff map would then be directly sent to the state Supreme Court at the assigned deadline. The high court has until Dec. 15 to approve the maps now officially in their possession.

The congressional map now features eight seats, since Colorado was awarded a new district in reapportionment. All of the considered maps placed the new seat in a similar location, with the final product featuring a new 8th CD lying north to northeast of Denver, and encompassing the municipal population centers of Thurston, Westminster, and Greeley.

All seven current incumbents receive districts they can win. Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) and Joe Neguse (D-Boulder) have the strongest Democratic seats, while Reps. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) have the safest Republican districts. Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) sees his 6th District substantially improve, while Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) and Perlmutter have districts that clearly favor their party, but which could yield a degree of competitiveness.

Rep. Boebert’s 3rd CD, or the Western Slope district, remains largely intact with the exception of moving further east along Colorado’s southern border. A great deal of the public input at the various hearings expressed the desire to unite many of the Hispanic and Native American communities in that region.

The changes don’t drastically change the political nature of her district, however. In Donald Trump’s two elections, the former president carried the 3rd by 12 and 6 points, respectively, in 2016 and 2020. The aggregate score on the new CO-3 is R+9. Therefore, the partisan complexion is largely unchanged, despite the addition of some different geography.

Continue reading

Oregon Completes Redistricting

Oregon’s new congressional map features six seats for the first time.

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2021 — Tuesday night, the state of Oregon became the first in the country to complete the redistricting process.

After Republicans decided not to break the quorum in the current legislative session because redistricting power in Oregon solely reverts to the Democratic Secretary of State if the legislature deadlocks, the Democratic House and Senate passed the new congressional, state Senate, and state House maps and sent them to Gov. Kate Brown (D). She immediately signed all three into law, thus the culmination of redistricting 2021 in the Beaver State.

The new congressional map features six seats for the first time, as Oregon was awarded a new district in reapportionment. The Democratic strategy was one of pushing the partisan envelope to the max, but the end result may force them to witness more competitive campaigns than they desire.

The final map looks to have two solid Democratic districts (1 & 3) and one safe Republican seat (2). The remaining three districts (4, 5 & 6) all lean Democratic to varying degrees. The Democrats’ idea is to create a 5D-1R map, but it’s possible in a good Republican year that the GOP gains two, and in a wave election could conceivably even add a third to their partisan column.

The 1st and 3rd Districts share the city of Portland, with CDs 5 and 6 coming into the metro area to annex some of the outer suburbs. The Portland area region is what gives those districts the Democrats the need to tip them further left.

The member in the most difficult situation is Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby). He won his 2020 re-election with only a 52-45 percent margin against a Republican opponent who spent just $221,000 on her campaign effort. More than half of Schrader’s current constituency is now in new District 6, and the partisan numbers in District 5 are slightly worse than they were in the previous version. Therefore, it is a virtual certainty that Rep. Schrader will draw significant Republican opposition in his new district.

An Oregon incumbent who needed an influx of Democrats is House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield). He defeated Republican Alek Skarlatos, 51-46 percent, after the GOP challenger raised and spent over $5.4 million. Of the three new potentially swing districts, the DeFazio 4th is now the strongest Democratic seat but still could play competitively in a wave Republican year.

Data research conducted by the staff at Dave’s Redistricting website and augmented through the Daily Kos Elections statistical analysis provides us with some early partisan details. The model races they use are from 2016 and 2018.

Below are the key population and partisan numbers for the new seats:

Continue reading