Category Archives: Redistricting

Redistricting-Forced
Contested Pairings

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2022 — Redistricting has largely been responsible for six sets of congressional pairings — that is where two incumbents are forced to compete against each other in one new district. Each party sees three intra-party pairings, with the first being decided in West Virginia on May 10.

New polling was released in the Mountain State contest, which features Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) battling in a new northern 2nd District. West Virginia lost its third district in national reapportionment, and even though the GOP controls the redistricting pen, the party obviously had to absorb the lost seat since all three current House members are Republicans.

Rep. Mooney, being in the middle district of the original three, always the least advantageous geographical position, had his district split between the northern and southern seat. All but one percent of Rep. McKinley’s current 1st District is contained in new District 2, while just 49 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current 2nd carries over to the new 2nd. All of Rep. Carol Miller’s (R-Huntington) current 3rd District is fully contained within the new 1st as well as 51 percent of Rep. Mooney’s current WV-2.

Two early 2022 surveys, in January from Public Opinion Strategies and February from WPA Intelligence, found similar leads of 45-32 percent and 43-28 percent for Rep. Mooney. This week, however, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce released their North Star Opinion Research survey (March 13-15; 400 WV-2 likely voters) and their results found Rep. McKinley rebounding to record a 38-33 percent edge. With polling showing a tightening of the race, we can expect a close finish in what should be regarded as a toss-up campaign.

Georgia

The Georgia Democrat pairing between Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) and Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) in the new Atlanta suburban 7th CD looks to be leaning toward the latter woman even though she sees a very low constituent carryover factor from her current 6th District.

This race will likely be decided on May 24, but since Georgia is a runoff state, there is always the mathematical possibility that the minor candidates could force a secondary election because their combined vote could be enough to keep both major contenders from reaching the 50 percent plateau.

An early January Data for Progress survey found Rep. McBath holding a nine point lead, 40-31 percent, despite the fact that only 12 percent of the new 7th comes from Rep. McBath’s 6th, as compared to 57 percent of the new population base who currently live in Rep. Bourdeaux’s district. On the other hand, McBath is much stronger with the regional Democratic base voter than is Bourdeaux.

Michigan

Two other paired contests are even tighter. Though the Michigan Democratic pairing between Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) won’t be decided until the Aug. 2 Democratic primary, two recently released surveys already detect a dead heat.

Lake Research Partners released data from their Feb. 15-20 survey that found the two Democratic members tied with 36 percent support apiece. Earlier in the month, Target Insyght found an almost identical conclusion from their ballot test question, with Reps. Stevens and Levin tied at 41 percent. In January, Impact Research released their study that posted Rep. Stevens to a seven-point advantage, 42-35 percent.

In this situation, Rep. Stevens sees a 45 percent carryover factor from her current 11th District, while Rep. Levin will have only 25 percent of his current 9th District constituency in the new 11th.

In Congressman Levin’s favor, however, is home base status. The Bloomfield Township region, which provided the base vote for his father, Sander Levin, whose career in the House lasted 36 years, and his uncle, the late Sen. Carl Levin who served his own 36 years in Congress, is fully intact within the new 11th. Conversely, Stevens’ home precincts within the Rochester Hills area are not included in the new 11th. This likely gives Levin the advantage of having the more driven supporters, which matters greatly in a lower turnout primary election.

Illinois

Turning to Illinois, in a race that will be settled in the June 28 primary, Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and freshman Marie Newman (D-La Grange) also appear locked in a tight battle for political survival in the western Chicago suburbs. Unlike all the other paired districts that are safe for the winning paired member, the IL-6 CD could become a general election battleground.

In the new 6th, Rep. Newman sees more of her constituents comprising the new district, as just over 41 percent of her current 3rd District voters will be present in the new 6th. This number compares favorably to Rep. Casten’s constituent carryover factor of just 23.5 percent coming from the current 6th. Like in the aforementioned Michigan pairing, one member’s home base is within the district, in this case Casten’s, while the other, Newman’s La Grange region, is not.

Also, as in two of the other pairings, we see an early cycle even split between the two candidates. According to a Victoria Research Feb. 10-15 survey, the two House members were tied at 37 percent apiece.

No polling data is available for the other two pairings — the Illinois Republican battle between Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) in the new 15th CD, and Michigan Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) in their state’s new District 4.

Davis has the advantage with the establishment Republicans while Rep. Miller, with former President Trump’s endorsement, is the ideological base vote favorite.

Despite running more than $200,000 in ads for the upcoming primary, Michigan Rep. Upton still says he has not yet committed to running again. He has until the April 19 candidate filing deadline to make a final decision. Upton has the geographical advantage in the new 4th (64 percent carryover to 25 percent), but Huizenga has the Trump endorsement and is stronger with the ideological base.


House redistribution statistics can be found on the Daily Kos Elections website.

House Candidates File in Two Competitive States

By Jim Ellis

Candidate filings have closed in both Nevada and Iowa.

March 23, 2022 — Though both are only four-district congressional states, Iowa and Nevada will both host a large number of highly competitive US House races this year, and now the candidates have filed.

The Senate races in both states are already well defined and will come to a head in the general election. In Iowa, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) is on the ballot for an eighth term having been first elected in 1980, and it is clear that he will face former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) in the general election.

In Nevada, first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) defends her seat most likely against former Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), but he must first deflect a credible Republican primary challenge from businessman and disabled Afghan War veteran Sam Brown.

The Hawkeye State House races feature only one safe member, freshman Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City). The other three races will again host tight campaigns as they did in 2020, which of course includes Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory.

In the new 1st District, Miller-Meeks will again campaign in a district not much different than the 2nd District that she carried by the slimmest of margins in the last election. She won’t again face former state Sen. Rita Hart (D), however. Despite coming agonizingly close to victory in 2020, Hart declined to seek a re-match this year. Democrats only filed one candidate, so state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) and incumbent Miller-Meeks will compete in a venue that is likely to yield another close finish.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids), who knocked off then-Rep. Finkenauer in what was Iowa’s 1st District, finds herself in a slightly more Republican 2nd District. Like in the new 1st CD, the Democrats filed only one candidate. In this seat, the Democrat nominee will be state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha) a former news anchor at the same television station where Hinson also reported the news. The new 2nd rates as R+6 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

In the Des Moines-anchored 3rd CD, Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) has won two plurality victories and looks to face another difficult re-election campaign in a seat that rates R+2. State Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) looks to be the strongest Republican of the three GOP contenders and is the favorite to win the nomination. This will become a top national Republican conversion opportunity.

Not previously mentioned as a potential candidate against Nevada Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) in a new 1st District that is much more Republican, former 4th District Congressman Cresent Hardy (R) filed at the deadline on Friday to officially enter the race.

Rep. Titus has expressed displeasure at the configuration of her new district that FiveThirtyEight calculates went from a current D+22 rating to a D+4 under the new plan. Dave’s Redistricting App finds the average 1st CD Democratic vote at 52.6 percent and the Republican percentage at 42.3 percent. This is considerably better than the seat where Titus averaged 62.1 percent in the five elections conducted during the previous decade.

As many as four other Republicans may qualify for the primary ballot, but Hardy appears to be the most formidable of the contenders. The new 1st District contest, in a CD that encompasses part of Las Vegas before moving south to include the cities of Henderson and Boulder City, will become competitive in the fall but is still an uphill battle for any Republican nominee.

Frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian (R), who last year was elected to the Douglas County Commission after a long string of electoral defeats, is again running for Congress. This will be his fourth quest for the US House in a third different district, on top of two Senate races. Previously, he lost a pair of campaigns in the 3rd CD and one in the 4th District.

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Pennsylvania Candidate Filings Close

Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight.com’s interactive redistricting map.


By Jim Ellis

March 18, 2022 — Pennsylvania’s candidate filing period closed late Tuesday, yielding official May 17 primary candidates for the Keystone State’s federal and state offices. A total of 11 contenders are competing in the Republican gubernatorial primary, while Attorney General Josh Shapiro is unopposed on the Democratic side. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

The Senate race is also a crowded affair, with seven Republicans compared to five candidates in the Democrat primary. The Senate contest is also open because Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not seeking a third term. A total of 66 Democrat, Republican, and some minor party candidates filed for the congressional races. The state’s Independent and minor party filing deadline does not conclude until Aug. 1.

Among the Republican gubernatorial candidates are two former US House members, Lou Barletta and Melissa Hart, two state senators, Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), former US Attorney Bill McSwain, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, and former Delaware County Commissioner Dave White. Shapiro will begin the general election campaign as the favorite, if for no other reason than seeing the eventual Republican nominee having to fight through a tough crowded primary.

The Senate race features primaries on both sides. The Democrats are in basically a two-way affair between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who leads in all polls and fundraising, and US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh). Both Democrats are from western Pennsylvania, but Fetterman should have the advantage in the vote-rich southeastern PA region considering his statewide ties, thus making him the favorite for the party nomination.

Two candidates on the Republican side have been spending heavily to attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the field, and they look to have succeeded. Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is leading in the latest two statewide surveys over television doctor Mehmet Oz. Former US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos are the trailing candidates.

The Pennsylvania Senate general election will be one of the most important in the nation, and the results will go a long way toward determining which party will control the majority in the next Congress.

In the congressional races, Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Swarthmore), Dan Meuser (R-Dallas), Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), John Joyce (R-Hollidaysburg/Altoona), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters Township), Glenn Thompson (R-Howard/State College), and Mike Kelly (R-Butler) all should have easy rides to re-election. Rep. Reschenthaler has no Republican or Democratic opposition post-filing. Rep. Joyce faces only one minor Republican opponent.

Rep. Fred Keller’s (R-Middleburg) safe Republican 12th District was eliminated because Pennsylvania lost a seat in national reapportionment. He originally was going to challenge Rep. Meuser in the 9th District Republican primary, but later decided to retire.

Pennsylvania hosts four major congressional races: two open seats and two top challenger efforts against vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Rep. Lamb’s open 17th District, which sits west of Pittsburgh and stretches to the Ohio border, has a rating of D+1 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization; this is the type of seat that Republicans must convert if they are to win the majority in November.

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Illinois 2022 Candidate Filings Close

Illinois Congressional redistricting map; to see an interactive map, click here: FiveThirtyEight

By Jim Ellis

March 17, 2022 — Candidate filing in Illinois closed on Monday, and while the post-filing qualification process (most notably insufficient or invalid petition signatures) could disqualify some of those submitting documents, the candidate field for the delayed June 28 primary election is basically set.

Originally, the Illinois primary was scheduled for its typical calendar slot in March, but the legislature decided to delay the primary before redistricting began, incorrectly anticipating that they would have trouble completing the process. Instead, the Illinois Democratic political leadership produced and passed into law arguably the most gerrymandered map in the country.

Though Illinois is a strongly Democratic state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) will seek a second term opposed by a surprisingly large Republican field. The most notable contenders, though none are likely to topple the governor in November, are state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) is on the ballot for a second term and has drawn a field of eight Republican candidates, with the likely leader being attorney Kathy Salvi, wife of former US Senate nominee Al Salvi, a favorite of conservatives. Sen. Duckworth will be safe for re-election.

While the US House map is designed to produce 14 Democrat victories in the delegation’s 17 seats, adopting the maximum partisan map could make some of the majority party seats weak, thus creating some unexpected competition in the general election.

Incumbents with safe seats are:

  • Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson)
  • Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Schaumburg)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston)
  • Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield)
  • Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro)

The lineup features four open seats and two paired incumbent situations. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) is retiring after serving 15 terms in the House. The Democrat primary will determine his successor, and the fight is among 20 candidates, including former Chicago Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norrington-Reaves, who Rep. Rush has endorsed; Jonathan Jackson, son of Rev. Jesse Jackson and brother of former Chicago US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.; and state Sen. Jacqui Collins (D-Chicago).

The new 3rd District is a created open seat — one drawn through redistricting. This seat is 44 percent Hispanic and is designed as the city’s second Hispanic influenced district. The leading candidates for the seat, again to be decided in the Democrat primary, are state Sen. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) and Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas.

The new 13th CD is also a created open seat, and one that stretches from Champaign through Decatur then Springfield and all the way into the Illinois side of the St. Louis suburbs. The district is also designed to elect a Democrat, but the general election could become at least somewhat competitive. Former Obama Administration official Nikki Budzinski appears to have the inside track to the party nomination, thus making her the favorite in the general election.

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DCCC’s Red to Blue Targets

By Jim Ellis

March 14, 2022 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their first targets in what they call their Red to Blue program or, in other words, the districts they hope to convert from Republican to Democrat. Curiously, two districts on the list are already blue.

Below is a look at the DCCC’s dozen released targets:


CA-22: Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.4% in District 21

• FiveThirtyEight: D+10
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 42.3% R / 55.1% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)

By the numbers, this is one of the Democrats’ best national targets, but Rep. Valadao has consistently won in Democratic seats. He lost in 2018, but won the seat back two years later. Assemblyman Salas is the Democrats’ top recruitment target. Despite the lopsided Democratic numerical advantage, the finish here will again likely be razor-thin.


CA-45: Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County)
2020 Win Percentage: 51.1% in District 48

• FiveThirtyEight: D+5
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 45.8% R / 52.2% D
Endorsed Candidate: Jay Chen – Community College Trustee

Freshman Rep. Steel is another Republican to whom the California Citizens Redistricting Commission members were not kind. Moving into the more inland Orange County district from her coastal seat, Steel has been a well known figure in Orange County politics for many years, particularly with her service time on the Orange County Board of Supervisors before winning the congressional seat.

A D+5 seat is exactly the type the Republicans must win to achieve their goal of re-taking the majority. With national redistricting cutting against them, the GOP must win a sizable number of the 22 seats so far within the Even to D+5 category.


CO-7: Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) – Open Seat
2020 Win Percentage: 59.1%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 43.8% R / 51.7% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Brittany Petterson (D-Lakewood)

This district does not really belong on the list since it is already a blue seat. Democrats are favored to hold the seat and Sen. Petterson is clearly their candidate to do so.


IA-1: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% (6 votes districtwide) in District 2

• FiveThirtyEight: R+4
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 49.7% R / 46.8% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City)

Rep. Miller-Meeks won the closest race in the country in 2020, a literal six-vote affair against former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D). This year, the congresswoman will see a different opponent since Hart chose not to return for a re-match. State Rep. Bohannan has two Democratic opponents, but she should have little trouble in winning the party nomination on June 7.

This will be another close eastern Iowa campaign, and this district is actually one point more Democratic than the previous 2nd according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization. This is a top Democratic target, but Rep. Milller-Meeks will be favored assuming the political climate remains favorable for Republicans.


IA-2: Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% in District 1

• FiveThirtyEight: R+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 51.1% R / 45.4% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha)

In the first redistricting map presented last year, Rep. Hinson would likely have been defeated. With the legislature rejecting that draw, a new one emerged. This gives the congresswoman a more favorable seat but one this is still highly competitive. Democrats have recruited a strong candidate in Sen. Mathis. She has no primary opposition at this time. In a favorable GOP political climate, this seat would become difficult for the Democrats to convert despite its statistical closeness.
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North Carolina Races – Part II

Click on above image or here to go to FiveThirtyEight interactive redistricting map.


By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2022 — Today’s update is the second part of our look at the new North Carolina political map. In this edition, we examine the state’s 14 new US House districts.

Incumbents who look to be in strong position under the new map and won’t get much of a challenge are the following (the rating figure comes from the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization):

  • Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh; D+24)
  • Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville; R+29)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk; R+24)
  • Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro; D+9)
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-Wilmington; R+16)
  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Union County; R+38)
  • Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman; R+43)
  • Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte; D+25)

The state will feature four open seats in the 2022 election. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) is retiring after serving what will be nine full terms, leaving his 1st District as an open seat. Rep. Butterfield complained that the original draw makes the seat less favorable for an African-American candidate to win. The new district increases the black population percentage by a point, to just over 41 percent. The total minority population registers almost 50 percent of the new 1st, with a 49.9 percent number.

Four Democrats filed for the seat, and the leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Don Davis (D-Snow Hill) and ex-state senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. Seven Republicans filed including 2020 nominee Sandy Smith, who held Rep. Butterfield to a 54-46 percent re-election victory, and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson. FiveThirtyEight rates this seat as D+5, so we can expect the GOP to target this race.

Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill) is also retiring. He is completing 17 non-consecutive terms in the House, having lost his seat in the 1994 election after originally coming to the House in the 1986 vote. He returned to Congress in the 1996 election. Eight Democrats are vying for the party nomination and the seat in the May primary.

Since the new 4th is rated D+30, claiming the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning the general election. The leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Valerie Foushee (D-Carrboro), Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, and country singer and 2014 congressional nominee Clay Aiken.

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North Carolina Races Set – Part I

2022 North Carolina Congressional Redistricting Map

By Jim Ellis

March 8, 2022 — The chaotic Tar Heel State political scene quelled on Friday as the postponed candidate filing period finally came to a close. Today we look at the recent North Carolina redistricting past and future, along with an analysis of the open Senate race. Tomorrow, we examine the state’s 14 new US House districts.

The North Carolina state Supreme Court’s approved map will be in place for the 2022 midterm election, and as a result the candidate slate is less competitive than the originally conceived congressional plan would have yielded. While the Democrats won this most recent political battle, the state’s redistricting war, a fight between the legislature and state Supreme Court that has resulted in four different congressional maps being in passed into law and ultimately rejected since 2010, will likely continue.

The Republican legislature controls the redistricting pen because the North Carolina governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over this subject matter. Democrats control the state Supreme Court with a 4-3 partisan majority, but there is at least an even chance that the balance of power will change after the midterm election.

Two of the Democratic judges are on the ballot this year and no Republicans. One of the two, Justice Robin Hudson, is not seeking re-election, so GOP chances of winning at least one of the two races are enhanced. If they succeed, Republicans will hold the court majority after the first of the year.

Since a court map is only an interim plan, the legislature can replace it at any time. Since the state high court did approve the legislature’s latest version of the state House and Senate maps, Republicans stand a strong chance of maintaining their majorities in both houses. Therefore, re-drawing the congressional map in 2023 should the NC Supreme Court have a different complexion could mean that the GOP would be able to enact a stronger plan next year.

Originally, North Carolina arguably looked to be the Republicans’ most important redistricting state in that it was one of just two places where the party could gain multiple congressional seats and the only one where a potential three-seat increase was within the realm of possibility. The outlook for the final 2022 map, however, gives the Democrats an advantage. It now appears more likely that the Dems will gain one or even two seats in the delegation.

The North Carolina judicial decision is a major blow to House Republican national prospects. While the party still has a good chance of re-taking the majority they lost in the 2018 election, the difficulty factor has increased through adverse court decisions here and in several other states.

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