Category Archives: Redistricting

The Losing Regions – Part II

All the best for a great holiday break. The Political Updates will return on Monday, Jan. 4.

A look at how things might play out in key states in the redistricting tug of wars

By Jim Ellis
Dec. 24, 2020 — Continuing our two-part series of examining reapportionment projections for states expected to lose congressional seats, today we look at an additional four states with CDs on the chopping block: Illinois, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

At this point, it appears a total of ten states are in the losing category. Yesterday, we covered Alabama, California, Michigan, and Minnesota. The remaining two, Rhode Island and West Virginia, are moving to at-large and two district status, respectively, meaning their new maps become obvious.

The new apportionment, originally due at the end of this year but delayed due to COVID, could be released sometime in January.


Illinois

Illinois is a sure loser and one of the few states where the overall population is less (over 158,000 people) according the latest available numbers (July 2019) than registered 10 years ago. Therefore, Illinois is in the rare situation of losing congressional representation not because the population failed to keep pace with the rate of growth, but rather due to the entity actually having fewer people.

This leads to speculation that the state could lose two seats because even in such a scenario the per district population number would be under 800,000 individuals. A two-seat loss would still render the state with a lesser per district total population figure than some of the other states losing one.

All current 18 Illinois CDs need to gain population even under a one-seat loss scenario. Making such calculations we see that the new rudimentary per district population figure would be approximately 745,401 individuals, less than the number projected for most states. Typically, states losing congressional districts feature much higher numbers. This adds to the speculation that the state could drop a second CD.

If the loss is only one, as the current projection formula suggests, the southern part of the state would appear to take the hit. This means that Republicans, while holding only five of the state’s current 18 districts, would likely lose a seat. Aside from Rep. Cheri Bustos’ (D-Moline) 17th District anchored in the Quad Cities region, which has the largest population number to gain, over 79,000 people, the remaining seven of the top eight districts needing a population increase come from the Downstate region.

The figures suggest that combining the five central and southern districts of Reps. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville), incoming freshman Mary Miller (R), Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon), and Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) into four districts would be the most likely scenario unless the Bustos district is collapsed. Considering that the Democrats control the redistricting process, it is probable that the former scenario would be the one adopted.


New York

Like Illinois, New York, while having slightly more people than they did in 2010 (just over 75,000 more according to July 2019 estimated figures), could be on the cusp of losing two seats. Of their current 27 districts, 24 must gain population. Only the seats of Reps. Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), Gregory Meeks (D-Queens), and Adriano Espaillat (D-Bronx) are in the position of shedding residents. All others need a population influx even to reach the approximated 748,213 figure that appears be present at this point for a 26-District model.

As in Illinois, a two-seat loss would still keep the per district number at well under 800,000, much less than other states that are projected to lose congressional representation.

Also as in Illinois, the non-urban area looks to need the largest population gain (meaning Upstate, in this case), would contain the area most prone to lose a seat. This means, also as in Illinois, that the party in a small minority, the Republicans, is most likely the one on the chopping block.

Continue reading

The Losing Regions – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 23, 2020 — With the Census Bureau readying the national apportionment formula to present to the Clerk of the House at some point next month, it is a reasonable time to again look at the states projected to lose congressional districts and begin to determine where a dragging population could cost a region its current representation.

Today, we look at four states projected to lose a district: Alabama, California, Michigan, and Minnesota. Tomorrow, we will examine Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Rhode Island and West Virginia are also going to lose seats but because they are two- and three-district states, the new redistricting map becomes obvious, particularly in the former’s case.


Alabama

The Alabama population suggests that it is too small to keep its seventh congressional district, but such makes the remaining six districts very large, likely well over population figures of 800,000 residents apiece. It is an ironic problem for the states losing districts in that the remaining CDs actually become much larger. If Alabama is on the losing end in final reapportionment, the scenario of dropping a district and making the remaining seats much larger will certainly come to pass.

As with all redistricting, those in a corner of a state, i.e., either bordered by another state, body of water, or country are in the best shape because their districts can only expand or contract one or two ways. In Alabama, the 1st and 5th CDs, those of incoming Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) and Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) are in the most favorable geographic positions.

The district appearing to lose the most population is Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-Birmingham) 7th CD, but this is a protected Civil Rights district meaning it must be protected. The seat could need to gain almost 150,000 people according to rudimentary calculations, and the most likely place for the increase comes from Montgomery County at the expense of the 2nd District and possibly the 3rd.

The 2nd District, even when bordered by states on two sides, appears the most vulnerable to collapse. Needing to likely gain over 140,000 individuals before almost certainly losing population to the current 7th District, the collapsing of the 2nd and 3rd Districts into one seat appears to be a potential outcome. This would place incoming freshman Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and veteran Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Anniston) in the same district.


California

For the first time in history, California looks to lose congressional representation. In the last census, the state remained constant for the first time. In every previous census apportionment, the Golden State had gained representation. In the 1980 census, for example, California gained seven new congressional districts. Now, it appears they will reduce representation from 53 to 52 seats, but still be the most populous state by a wide stretch.

The region not keeping up with the rate of growth appears to occur in the southern California expanse from Bakersfield through Los Angeles County and portions of Riverside, Orange, and San Bernardino Counties. Such a region covers 18 congressional districts, 16 of which will need to gain population under a rudimentary calculation suggesting that each of the state’s 52 CDs will require approximately 760,000 residents. Of the 18 districts, Democrats represent 15 and Republicans’ three.

Only two of these 18 districts, those of Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) and Norma Torres (D-Pomona), are either at or slightly over the approximated population goal.

Continue reading

Florida Data

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 18, 2020 — Continuing with our project this week of analyzing statewide data now that official final election results are being published from around the country, today we look at the Sunshine State of Florida, another key redistricting state.

Though having only three-quarters of Texas’ population, the Florida presidential turnout came within only a few hundred to equaling that of the Lone Star State (FL: 11,067,366; TX: 11,315,056).

On the statewide tally, President Trump carried Florida with a 51.2 – 47.5 percent margin over former vice president Joe Biden. The result represents a net 2.2 percentage increase for the president when compared with his 2016 statewide total, while Biden’s performance registered a decline of 0.3 percent from Hillary Clinton’s Sunshine State aggregate vote.

The House performance detected in California and Texas, showing that the average victorious congressional candidate performed better within their particular district than President Trump, was not nearly as pronounced in Florida.

On average, Texas US House Republican candidates ran 2.8 percentage points better than Trump, and the average California GOP House candidate ran 4.2 points ahead of the president’s statewide percentage. In Florida, however, the number was virtually equal to the president’s, with the average House Republican contender running just 0.2 percent above Trump’s statewide total.

Because two of the Republican incumbents, Reps. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami/Hialeah), ran either without Democratic opposition (Dunn) or totally unopposed (Diaz-Balart) the Florida Secretary of State does not record votes in such a district. Therefore, for purposes of this exercise, a projected result of 65-35 percent for the two congressional districts was added as an estimated total. This percentage spread was extrapolated when comparing the performance of Republican and Democratic congressional candidates in similar Florida districts.

To review, in California, Democratic House incumbent performance fell below their 2018 recorded vote in 33 of 44 districts, while results improved for four of the six Republican incumbents on the ballot. In Texas, vote percentages for 11 of the 16 Republican incumbents seeking re-election improved from 2018, while the Democratic incumbent performance index declined for all 13 who ran for a succeeding term.

Continue reading

Texas Data

By Jim Ellis

Texas US House Districts

Dec. 17, 2020 — Yesterday, we analyzed the California official 2020 Statement of the Vote and today we turn out attention to voting statistics from the Lone Star State of Texas, a particularly interesting domain for the coming redistricting process. Estimates project that Texas will gain three congressional districts from reapportionment, which should become official at some point in January.

Despite predictions of a “blue wave” hitting Texas and putting the state in play for Joe Biden, Republicans once again swept the competitive races. Though President Trump’s margin did decline from 2016, his 52-46 percent margin was still more than comfortable, especially when considering he was simultaneously losing the nationwide vote.

As was the case in California, down-ballot GOP candidates, as a rule, performed better than President Trump. Sen. John Cornyn (R) was re-elected, and the GOP won 23 congressional races in the state, accounting for almost 11 percent of their party’s national total.

Sen. Cornyn topped 53 percent of the vote in recording a nine-point win over his Democratic opponent, retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar. In the 23 victorious Republican House races, the winning GOP candidate outpaced President Trump in 19 districts most of which were competitive at least to a degree.

Compared with the Democratic improvement in elections two years ago, the GOP rebounded in 2020. A total of 16 Republican incumbents sought re-election, and 11 of those improved their vote percentages from 2018. Additionally, all five of those falling below their previous benchmark did so by less than one percentage point.

For the Democrats, all 13 of their House incumbents saw a downgrade in their voter support from 2018. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), who fought off a tough Democratic primary challenge in early March, saw the biggest drop for any Texas House incumbent, falling from 84.4 percent in 2018 to a 58.3 percent win in November. The more serious drop, however, was for Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) who won re-election to a third term from his South Texas district with just 50.5 percent of the vote against an opponent who spent only $404,000. Gonzalez’s victory percentage slipped from 59.7 percent in 2018.

The TX-15 district is largely a Mexican border seat that starts just east San Antonio in the Seguin area and travels south all the way through the city of McAllen in Hidalgo County. The latter entity hosts three-quarters of the 15th District’s population. Republicans, including President Trump, improved their standing throughout the Mexican border area in the 2020 election, which was a principal reason that Democratic gains in the Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio metropolitan areas were somewhat offset.

Statewide turnout was up a strong 23.7 percent when compared to 2016, enabling the state to exceed 11 million voters (11,315,056) for the first time. The Texas population grew 3.9 percent during that same time interval.

Continue reading

The Redistricting Prelude

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 18, 2020 — The Census Bureau continues to make progress in completing the decennial population count and it appears the national apportionment report, which details how many congressional seats each state’s population earns, will be delivered to Congress in early January. Because of COVID, the apportionment process has been slightly delayed since the report typically has a year-end deadline.

Once apportionment is known, states then begin receiving their updated data necessary for drawing new congressional and state legislative districts. The states with the earliest primaries are the first to receive their data so they have adequate time to prepare their new congressional and state legislative boundaries.

In terms of apportionment, it is expected that Texas may gain approximately three seats and Florida two. The other gaining states are likely to be Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. Those losing seats appear to be Alabama, California (for the first time in history), Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia. These estimates are not always completely correct, so this list could change when the actual apportionment is applied and publicly released.

A total of 34 states will draw their new districts solely through the legislative process. The remaining multi-member states operate through a type of commission, either an independent body or one under political control. Seven states are at-large meaning their congressional race is statewide. Rhode Island joins this group in 2021 as it will lose its second seat, while Montana will likely regain the district that was lost in the 1991 reapportionment.

In the Nov. 3 election, Republicans saw a net gain in state legislative seats around the country. Only one state saw its legislative chambers flip, however, the New Hampshire House and Senate moving from Democrat to Republican. This means Republicans will control 61 legislative chambers as compared to the Democrats’ 37. The Nebraska unicameral legislature is elected on a non-partisan basis, but Republicans control that chamber as well.

Republicans will again have the advantage in the states where the legislatures and governors determine the new map boundaries. Democrats, largely under the National Democratic Redistricting Committee that former Attorney General Eric Holder leads, targeted 13 states to protect or gain legislative chambers. They failed in all, as Republicans kept their majorities in each state they previously controlled and flipped New Hampshire to their column.

Continue reading