Category Archives: Redistricting

Texas Maps Tossed

For the better part of this year, the Texas congressional and legislative maps have been before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The state submitted their proposed district lines to this body for pre-clearance purposes, in compliance with the Voting Rights Act, instead of the Obama Department of Justice.

Clearly Attorney General Greg Abbott and the Texas Republican legal brain trust felt their approval chances were better going this route than the traditional one – the DoJ. It turns out they were wrong. The Court, yesterday, rejected all of their submissions: congressional, state Senate, and state House. Abbott said Texas will immediately appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court, so the interim maps, ironically drawn by a different federal panel, will hold for the 2012 general elections.

The DC high court ruled that the state eroded the Latino community’s “clout” and took the “economic guts” from the African-American districts. The decision was broader than many believed would be the case, particularly because the San Antonio federal three-judge panel had already drawn interim maps based upon US Supreme Court direction as it pertained to legislative intent. The main areas of concern are the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, particularly as it relates to new District 33 (open seat), which stretches between the two major cities, the Austin-San Antonio corridor, and District 23 (Rep. Quico Canseco) that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso. But, if the African-American districts are also affected, then Houston could come into play, as well.

This ruling suggests major changes will come next year, as Texas redistricting will apparently, once again, begin anew.

Arizona’s Primary: A Look at A Hotly Contested State

Arizona voters go to the polls tomorrow to choose Senatorial and US House nominees in a myriad of places.

Looking at the Senate, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ-6) has enjoyed the inside track for both the primary and general elections since Sen. Jon Kyl (R) announced his retirement. Businessman Wil Cardon appeared to be mounting a serious early challenge but has curiously lessened his activity level as the election draws near, clearly a sign he has lost optimism about his chances of pushing past Flake to capture the Republican nomination. For the Democrats, former surgeon general Richard Carmona’s primary victory has long been a foregone conclusion. Assuming it’s Flake vs. Carmona after tomorrow, the Republican would begin the official general election campaign as the favorite.

The state gained a congressional seat in reapportionment and the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission used it to shape a much different state map for the next 10 years. The Democrats should benefit the most from the plan, but more so beyond 2012 considering the changing demographics as the ensuing decade unfolds. For this election cycle several of the districts are highly competitive, making Arizona one of the most hotly contested of all states.

In the expansive 1st District that encompasses most of the northern and eastern geography, former representative Ann Kirkpatrick (D), who held a similar district for one term until freshman Rep. Paul Gosar (R) unseated her two years ago, is mounting her political comeback and will easily win the Democratic nomination tomorrow. She will likely face former state senator Jonathan Paton (R) in the general election. On paper, this seat could go either way but it seems to have more Democratic tendencies. Such was clearly Gosar’s thought pattern, thus explaining his departure to the 4th District and eschewing re-election in the new AZ-1 even though he currently represents 75 percent of its constituents.

In the new 2nd District, formerly numbered 8 in Arizona’s southeastern corner around the city of Tucson, newly elected Rep. Ron Barber (D) is running for a full term. He won the right to replace his former boss, ex-representative Gabrielle Giffords (D) who resigned the seat earlier this year to concentrate on her physical recovery from the tragic shooting that also wounded Barber. The new congressman will undoubtedly face Gulf War veteran Martha McSally who placed second to former GOP nominee Jesse Kelly in the 2012 special election. Kelly lost to Giffords by two points in 2010. A new poll shows Barber ahead of McSally by only five points, but he is the clear favorite in the general election race, nonetheless. Expect new Democratic polling numbers to soon show him pulling away.

In the new western state 4th District, the safest Republican seat in Arizona, the aforementioned Rep. Gosar seeks his second term in office. However, former state senator Ron Gould is attracting major support from conservative and Tea Party organizations to the tune of over $750,000 in uncoordinated independent expenditures; he will provide the congressman’s principal primary opposition. The winner of tomorrow’s contest takes the seat in November.

Turning to the Phoenix suburban 5th District, former representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ-1) and ex-state House speaker Kirk Adams vie for the Republican nomination in what has been a spirited and relatively expensive campaign. Similar to the situation in District 4, the winner of tomorrow’s Republican race will win the general election. In this case, the eventual GOP nominee replaces Rep. Jeff Flake who vacated the seat to run for the Senate.

The big shoot-out is in the Scottsdale-based District 6, where an incumbent Republican pairing battle will conclude between freshman Reps. Ben Quayle (R-AZ-3) and David Schweikert (R-AZ-5). Quayle represents two-thirds of the current constituency as compared to his colleague’s one-third. He has raised over $2 million to Schweikert’s $1.5 million. Either man can win. Each says he is more conservative than his opponent. Both claim the other should be running in the new marginal 9th District; one of them will prove to be right. The winner keeps the safe Republican seat for the rest of the decade; the loser will be out of politics at least for the short-term.

The new open eastern Phoenix suburban 9th District, the seat added in reapportionment, plays as a marginal domain in 2012 but will trend more Democratic as the decade progresses. No less than seven candidates have raised more than $200,000 for this race, with former state Democratic chairman and Clinton Administration official Andrei Cherny and ex-state senator Kyrsten Sinema (D) raising well over $800,000 apiece. The Republicans feature three current and formal local office holders including 2010 congressional candidate and Paradise Valley Mayor Vernon Parker. The eventual Democratic nominee will have the early advantage, but this race is clearly a free-for-all tomorrow and possibly in November.

House Realignment Scorecard

The conventional wisdom during the past 18 months was that Democrats were going to make modest gains in the post-redistricting House, but such prognostications are changing. Considering the re-maps from a national perspective without regard to campaign competition factors, the Republicans are the ones who now appear to have the slight advantage.

The outlook is changing because none of the major Republican seat-risk situations appear to be producing multiple losses. Neither the New York, Florida, California, Virginia, nor Texas map is, on the surface, going to add large numbers of new Democratic House members solely because of plan configuration.

Since we now know where the new seats are going and where the lost districts are coming from, more complete analyses can be rendered. While the straight numbers suggest that Democrats must score a net gain of 25 districts to re-capture the House majority by a single seat, the adjusted post-redistricting number actually increases that figure to 29.

The basis for such a conclusion is in accounting for the 12 seats that have shifted states along with several obvious conversion districts. Other factors are equally as viable in projecting an overall House partisan balance figure, but how competitive various seats are in states like California and New York can be debated in another column. For now, looking at the placement and displacement of the new seats, along with what appear to be some obvious open-seat campaigns going decidedly toward either a Democratic or Republican nominee, lead us to a +4 Republican gain figure.

Let’s first look at the multiple-seat gain or loss states, which tend to be a wash in terms of partisan divide. In Texas, the biggest gainer, the new seats of TX-25, 33, 34, and 36 are headed for a 2R-2D split. In Florida, their two new districts, FL-9 and FL-22, look to be leaning Democratic (certainly so for FL-22), but the campaign evolving in the new 9th puts the outcome in question. Republicans have recruited a strong candidate in local county commissioner John Quinones, while the Democrats are again tapping controversial one-term ex-Rep. Alan Grayson who was defeated for re-election in 2010.

On the multiple-seat reduction side, both Ohio and New York also appear to be neutralizing themselves between the parties. Both sides look to lose one net seat in each state.

But it is among the single-seat gaining and losing states where the GOP has scored well. The Republicans look to be coming out on top in gainers like Georgia (GA-9), South Carolina (SC-7), and Utah (UT-2). Democrats will have a slight edge in Arizona’s new district (AZ-9), and are likely winners in Nevada (NV-4), and Washington (WA-10).

In the states losing congressional representation, while New York and Ohio don’t give either party a clear advantage, Democrats are forced to absorb the loss in Massachusetts (MA-10), New Jersey (NJ-13), Michigan (MI-15), Pennsylvania (PA-4), and Missouri (MO-3). Republicans take the hit in Illinois (IL-19) and Louisiana (LA-7).

The GOP looks to be headed for conversion victories in Arkansas (AR-4, Rep. Mike Ross retiring), Oklahoma (OK-2, Rep. Dan Boren retiring), and likely in Indiana (IN-2, Rep. Joe Donnelly running for Senate). They will also gain three to four seats in North Carolina, but those are neutralized by what appear to be similar gains for Democrats in Illinois. All totaled, before the campaigns hit their stretch drive, it is the GOP that now enjoys a slight post-redistricting advantage and makes a 2012 House majority change even more remote.

Weekly Redistricting Update

The federal three-judge panel in Kansas adopted and released the state’s new congressional plan, meaning all 43 multi-district states have now completed the redistricting process.

Litigation drags on in Florida and North Carolina, but it is likely that both of those enacted maps will be in effect for the 2012 elections, meaning the national political stage is set for November. Changes for 2014 and beyond could occur in Florida and North Carolina, however, in addition to Texas and West Virginia, where new maps will be drawn after the 2012 election due to previous legal rulings.

Weekly Redistricting Update

Last week we reviewed the North Carolina congressional political situation, the state where Republicans are best positioned to make multi-seat 2012 election gains. Today, we look at the Democrats’ best potential state – Illinois. Originally designed to swing four or even five seats in the Democrats’ favor, will the map live up to those rather lofty expectations?

ILLINOIS (current delegation: 11R-8D; loses one seat) – Because 2010 was such a Republican year in state legislative races nationally, pressure was on the Democratic legislature and governor to make major gains for their party in redistricting. Illinois is the only big state where Democrats have full control over the process. There is no question that Republicans will take a significant hit in the Land of Lincoln, especially with favorite son Barack Obama again leading the national Democratic ticket, but stretching the swing to five seats may be unrealistic. On the other hand, the Republicans’ limiting their losses to only two is also a major task.

Two-thirds of the 18 seats appear safe for one party or the other, now that the 16th District Republican incumbent pairing has been decided. As you will remember from the March 20 Illinois primary, freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger defeated 10-term veteran Don Manzullo. Kinzinger has no Democratic general election opposition.

We’ll focus on key districts that are either “toss ups” or “likely” to go to go one way or the other:

District 8: Rep. Joe Walsh (R) – In addition to Reps. Kinzinger and Manzullo getting difficult redistricting draws, freshman Joe Walsh did so, too. Originally paired with Rep. Randy Hultgren (R) in new District 14, Walsh decided his chances of political survival were better by fighting it out in a new Democratic seat than by challenging a fellow Republican for a safe seat. Though one can understand a member wanting to fight against a member of the opposition party rather than his own, Walsh’s task in the new 8th appears daunting.

Facing former Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth, who easily won the Democratic primary in March, Walsh must be categorized as a decided underdog. Duckworth, a wounded decorated war veteran, came within three points of defeating Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam (R) when the much more Republican-leaning 6th District was open in 2006. The outlook here must be rated as: LIKELY DEMOCRATIC

District 10: Rep. Robert Dold (R) – Another freshman Republican incumbent getting a bad draw is Rep. Bob Dold. Though the seat is equal to the previously mentioned 8th District in presidential vote, Mr. Dold at least keeps 61 percent of his current constituency intact. He will face attorney Brad Schneider in the general election. Schneider defeated national liberal activist Ilya Sheyman, who had previously been a moveon.org organizer. The result was a mild surprise as late-race primary polling had projected Sheyman to some rather substantial leads.

Though the numbers craft this seat as a Democratic district, Dold has proven himself to be a very strong candidate and has the ability to win this most difficult race. IL-10 must be rated as a TOSS-UP.

District 11: Rep. Judy Biggert (R) – Seven-term veteran congresswoman Biggert is yet another GOP incumbent with re-election trouble. Though the new 11th CD is Democratic on paper (Obama 61-37 percent), the candidate match-up gives Biggert the advantage in terms of people previously represented. In this race, former 14th District Rep. Bill Foster (D), who was defeated for re-election in 2010, is Biggert’s general election opponent.

While Biggert currently represents 48 percent of the new 11th’s constituents, Foster’s carry-over from his previous seat is only 26 percent. So, while Foster has a clear partisan advantage here, Biggert begins as the more well-known candidate. The 26 percent of the district that is new to both political contestants, the Joliet area, is where this race will be decided. In a presidential year, especially with President Obama on the ticket in Illinois, the partisan advantage is greater than in the mid-term years. Therefore, this race could be categorized as Lean Democratic but, at this point, a TOSS-UP rating is more realistic at least until the general election campaign becomes better defined.

District 12: Rep. Jerry Costello (D) – The retirement of veteran Democratic Rep. Costello gives the GOP an unexpected opening in this southwestern Illinois congressional district. The Obama number here is 55 percent, making it identical with Republican-held District 13, which is discussed below. Ninety-three percent of the territory is consistent with current IL-12 but, without Costello in the race, this Democratic advantage is negated. The Republicans nominated their 2010 lieutenant governor nominee Jason Plummer for this House seat, and the party chieftains believe they have a legitimate chance at converting the open seat and thwarting the Democratic gain potential. The Democratic nominee is St. Clair County former Regional Schools Superintendent Brad Harriman, who has not before run in a multi-county campaign. This race is one to watch as it develops. The seat was drawn to elect a Democrat, but it is clearly the weakest such seat in the state. Right now, the historical voting trends suggest a Democratic victory, but a TOSS-UP is possible should Plummer catch fire.

District 13: Rep. Tim Johnson (R) – Originally, Reps. Johnson and John Shimkus (R-IL-19) were placed together in new District 15, a safe Republican seat that encompasses southeastern Illinois. When Johnson moved instead into marginal District 13, the pairing problem was resolved and everything looked to be cutting the GOP incumbent’s way for victory in November.

After winning the March 20 primary, however, Rep. Johnson surprisingly decided to discontinue his re-election campaign and retire. The party leaders have now chosen former congressional aide and GOP state party executive director Rodney Davis as the replacement nominee. The Democrats, in a primary election so close that it took several weeks to decide as late overseas ballots could have altered the outcome, chose 2010 nominee David Gill, a physician who twice lost to Johnson. The seat is marginal and both candidates are off to a slow start because of the Johnson retirement and the Democratic primary deadlock. Right now, the race appears to be a toss-up, but headed toward the LEAN REPUBLICAN rating due to overall historical election trends. More must develop here before painting a true picture of this race.

District 17: Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) –
Another 2010 upset winner, Republican Bobby Schilling, is also in a difficult re-election situation under the new redistricting map. Though his current western Illinois 17th District went 56-42 percent for President Obama in 2008, the new 17th increases his swing by a net eight points, 60-38 percent. This is principally because the city of Rockford was added to IL-17, bringing it over from the Manzullo-Kinzinger pairing in CD 16. So, what would have been a difficult Schilling re-election scenario under the current lines, is even tougher now.

Rep. Schilling’s general election opponent is East Moline Alderwoman Cherie Bustos, a public relations executive who won an impressive Democratic primary election. With only 46 percent of Schilling’s territory remaining consistent in the new seat, this race will play closer to an open seat than a challenger campaign. With Schilling already proving he can win a tough race with his 2010 upset of Rep. Phil Hare, this race is a difficult one for both sides. This campaign is a pure TOSS-UP.