Category Archives: Redistricting

NH Predictions Hold; Forbes in VB

Feb. 10, 2016 — New Hampshire voters went to the polls yesterday for the long-anticipated New Hampshire presidential primary. A plethora of pre-primary political surveys suggested that Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders would win the respective Republican and Democratic primaries there. And they were right.

Though the media gives undue attention to this first-in-the-nation primary in relation to its size, long-term momentum is often built in the Granite State. For Republicans, New Hampshire possesses only 23 delegates (from a universe of 2,472), 20 of which are apportioned by today’s vote. On the Democratic side, this primary awards 32 delegates from an overall universe of 4,763.

With Trump placing first as the last 10 public polls all suggested –- in margins from nine to 21 points – he leads the pack of GOP candidates with a cumulative 18 total delegates even when combining his New Hampshire and Iowa totals. This still is less than two percent of the number that he, or any other contender, needs to clinch the nomination.

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North Carolina Chaos

Feb. 9, 2016 — Late Friday afternoon a federal three-judge panel sitting in Raleigh invalidated two North Carolina congressional districts even after absentee ballots had been issued throughout the state and votes are being cast. The North Carolina state primary is being held concurrently with the presidential vote on March 15. The court has ordered the state legislature to redraw the map by Feb. 19 so that the primary can move forward as scheduled.

The court, in ruling on a case filed more than a year ago, has thrown the primary campaigns into chaos. Republicans will immediately file a motion to stay the ruling with the US Supreme Court, but the identical move in Virginia was rejected on Feb. 1 in a similar case. The Virginia primary, however, is not until June 14, and that state has the option of choosing nominees in a convention format.

The North Carolina panel ruled that Districts 1 (Rep. G.K. Butterworth, D-Wilson) and 12 (Rep. Alma Adams, D-Greensboro) are unconstitutional because of racial gerrymandering. The judges stated that the legislative map drawers did not “narrowly tailor” the districts as they sought to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

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A Curious New Retirement

Jan. 19, 2016 — Rep. Scott Rigell’s (R-VA-2) announced retirement last week is surprising not just because it was unexpected. Since the Virginia redistricting situation that directly affects the southeastern part of the state is not fully decided, the political timing of such a declaration is precarious.

Clearly, Rigell’s decision not to seek a fourth term is being done for personal reasons and not political ones. His official statements suggest he has a “sense of accomplishment” regarding his service in Congress, and that “it’s time to come home.” If politics were involved, he would postpone a retirement announcement until the district lines are finalized, particularly because his 2nd District fares quite differently under the two redistricting plans.

The new court-ordered Virginia map would make Rep. Randy Forbes’ (R-VA-4) district virtually unwinnable for a Republican, but actually reinforces, from a GOP perspective, the Rigell seat and that of neighboring Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA-5). Interestingly, Hurt, also after three terms, announced his retirement just before Christmas.

But Virginia redistricting is far from settled despite the lower court’s action to institute their map. Republican appellants are asking the US Supreme Court to stay the lower court decision until the high court, itself, hears arguments on the new plan and renders its own decision.

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Florida Redistricting: The Latest

Jan. 14, 2016 — The Florida court-ordered redistricting saga continues with new developments regularly changing the political atmospherics. Back in early July, the Florida state Supreme Court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts – four Republican-held; four Democratic – for reasons of “partisan gerrymandering.”

The map has been changed, enacted, and now fully reported. Since the exact boundaries have found their way into the public domain, we can now see that virtually the entire state has been affected. Mandating boundary alterations in eight districts translated into changing 24 of the state’s 27 CDs. The only three to remain intact are a trio of Republican seats: FL-1 (Rep. Jeff Miller-Pensacola; northwest Florida Panhandle); FL-8 (Rep. Bill Posey; Cape Canaveral to Vero Beach); and FL-19 (Rep. Curt Clawson; Ft. Myers-Cape Coral to Marco Island).

One, Rep. Patrick Murphy’s (D-Jupiter) 18th District (Ft. Pierce to West Palm Beach), saw less than a one percent change. The two districts altered the most are Rep. Corrine Brown’s (D-Jacksonville) 5th District and GOP Rep. Dan Webster’s 10th CD (Orlando).

The Brown seat that formerly stretched from Jacksonville to Orlando, touching Gainesville and Sanford along the way, now encompasses territory from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. It is still heavily African American, but the original region has been divided over six districts. The largest portion of the 2011-drawn seat, a 40.1 percent population segment, is actually in Orlando. Her Jacksonville anchor maintains just 38.2 percent of the former FL-5 constituency.

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Yet Another Retirement;
Virginia Update

Jan. 11, 2016 — Rounding out the week is our third House retirement announcement, this time from Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Coweta County), a 12-year congressional veteran. The congressman will serve the remainder of this term and then potentially begin a campaign for the open governor’s position in 2018. Incumbent Nathan Deal (R) will be ineligible to seek a third term that year.

Westmoreland, who is in no political danger within the confines of the 3rd District and was unopposed in the last election, said it would not be fair to his current constituency to run for another office while ostensibly representing them in Washington.

Georgia’s 3rd District is located southwest of Atlanta, stretching from the Alabama border to the northeast almost directly into The ATL’s dominant outer suburban ring. The district’s largest population centers are LaGrange, Carrollton, and Griffin, along with the Pine Mountain region. It is a heavily Republican seat, as evidenced from Mitt Romney obtaining 66 percent voter support in the 2012 presidential contest. This, and the fact that few Democrats hold any office in the region, makes it clear that the Republican nomination contest will determine Westmoreland’s successor.

The Georgia state primary is scheduled for May 24, with the all-but-certain run-off slated for July 26. We can expect a large field of Republican candidates. Rep. Westmoreland’s retirement means that 36 seats will be open in the 2016 election cycle, 21 currently in Republican hands.

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Florida Lines Finally Approved

Dec. 4, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court finally enacted a congressional redistricting plan on Tuesday. The process began in early July when the high court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts and now culminates in approving a lower court judge’s statewide plan that changes 22 of the Sunshine State’s 27 CDs.

Currently, the delegation stands at 17R-10D. Democrats are poised for gains, but the actual increase may be smaller than intended. Two South Florida seats, those of Republicans Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), a freshman, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), a 14-term veteran and former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, appear designed to elect Democrats but these districts have a history of bucking voting trends at the congressional level. Though Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s 27th CD voted 53 percent for President Obama in 2012, the congresswoman didn’t even draw an opponent in 2014 and notched a 60-37 percent win when last contested.

There is little doubt that Democrats will convert Districts 10 and 13, while Republicans will take back District 2, a seat they lost in the 2014 election.

The Orlando-anchored 10th District becomes 15 points more Democratic on the Obama scale and switches 13 points when looking at gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s (D) performance in his 2014 statewide losing effort. Incumbent Rep. Dan Webster (R) can’t win this seat, but he may survive by moving into neighboring District 11, an open CD because Rep. Rich Nugent (R) is not seeking re-election. The 11th gains a significant chunk of Lake County from Webster’s current 10th, meaning the congressman will have a foothold in the new district. If he can win nomination, FL-11’s Republican history will allow him to continue his congressional career.

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Jindal Out of Presidential Race;
Virginia Redistricting Update

Nov. 19, 2015 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal became the third Republican casualty of this 2016 presidential contest by suspending his campaign Tuesday. He joins Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and ex-Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) on the GOP political sidelines. Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and ex-Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) have already exited stage left for the Democrats.

Gov. Jindal was hoping to make major inroads in Iowa, notching a respectable score there in the Feb. 1 Caucus vote, which theoretically could give him the momentum to become a top-tier candidate. But, his objective simply wasn’t coming to fruition. Though the governor was making some progress in Iowa – at least one poll had him as high as six percent – it was clear that his effort was falling short of what he needed to continue.

Therefore, 14 candidates remain, still the largest of all past Republican presidential fields. The Jindal exit won’t much change the flow of the campaign because he was not a factor anywhere but arguably Iowa. Never making the primetime debate, and his sagging popularity in his home state where even the Republican nominee to succeed him, Sen. David Vitter, is attempting to tie Democrat John Bel Edwards to his faltering Administration combined to place him in an untenable position for the national race. Hence, the obstacles proved too large for him to become viable. Continue reading