Category Archives: States

Ohio’s Lost Seat

Ohio’s Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 8, 2021 — In some of our previous redistricting articles, we’ve alluded to Ohio’s interesting situation. With a 16-member congressional delegation reducing to 15, it seemed unlikely that Republican map drawers would stretch the new map to 12R-3D from its current 12R-4D split. Outside pressures and other factors, however, suggest the first Buckeye State map could have such a partisan division.

Recently, news coming from Illinois suggests that Democratic leaders are looking at ways to reduce the Republican federal contingent in the Land of Lincoln from five House members to just three. If so, states like Ohio, where Republicans are in complete control of the redistricting process, face national pressure to maximize the partisan gain.

Another factor pointing to the Democrats losing the Ohio seat is that only one member to-date, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown), is not running for re-election. The eastern Ohio congressman is an announced US Senate candidate, meaning that his 13th District, which stretches from Akron to the Pennsylvania border, is largely unprotected.

As in Pennsylvania, where Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) is the lone House member not seeking re-election in his state because he, too, is running for the Senate, it is reasonable that the collapsed seat would be the one with no incumbent. Therefore, in both cases, Republican map drawers would have a defensible opportunity to collapse a Democratic seat. Furthermore, a Democratic power grab in Illinois, should that happen, makes Republican retribution in Ohio and Pennsylvania more likely.

Another transitional Ohio factor is the two new members coming into the House right after the Nov. 2 special election. Since the partisan primaries have already nominated candidates in a pair of vacated congressional districts that have consistently performed for each party, it became clear on primary night that Democrat Rep. Shontel Brown and Republican Rep. Mike Carey would be joining the delegation.

Brown’s 11th District that stretches from Cleveland to Akron is likely to be a key redistricting focal point. The 11th must gain 94,091 people to reach the new 15-District Ohio population quota of 786,630 individuals, which is the second most of any Buckeye State CD. Since this is also a majority minority seat, adding the necessary people from the Akron area would be a reasonable move, and such a population segment would have to come from Rep. Ryan’s 13th District.

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Michigan’s Lost Seat

Michigan Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 31, 2021 — Losing a congressional seat is nothing new to the Michigan delegation. Since the 1980 census, inclusive, the state has lost a district in every reapportionment and two in the 1990 iteration. Today, we continue our series about the states gaining and losing congressional districts under 2020 national reapportionment with a look at the Wolverine State.

Michigan is difficult to draw not only because of the consistent seat losses, but so many of the state’s districts abut immovable objects: i.e., an international or state border, or a body of water. Under the current map, 10 of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts at least partially border a country, state, or lake.

The Michigan per district population number for the 2020 census is a high 775,179 individuals. High per district resident numbers often occur when a state loses a seat. In this case, all of Michigan’s 14 districts must gain population, hence the underlying reason for another delegation reduction.

Another factor in making the state a rather unique draw for the new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that is tasked with creating the new congressional map for the initial time, is the areas needing to gain the most population lie in opposite ends of the state. This, added to the fact that over 70 percent of the current districts border an immovable object, means the 2021 redistricting process is a significant challenge for the eleven commissioners (4R; 3D; 4N) with no previous experience in drawing political maps.

The area with the largest population shortfall comes in the northern part of the state. Rep. Dale Kildee’s (D-Flushing/Flint) 5th District is the seat furthest away from the population quota, down 104,476 individuals. Directly to his west, Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th District is 77,325 people under quota, and to the north all the way to the Canadian border, Rep. Jack Bergman’s (R-Watersmeet) Upper Peninsula 1st District will require an additional 70,829 residents. Combined, these three seats are 252,630 people short of the population quota for three congressional districts.

The area in the second-most need of population is the city of Detroit. The two districts that encompass the city, Districts 13 (Rep. Rashida Tlaib-D) and 14 (Rep. Brenda Lawrence-D) are a combined 184,290 people short for a pair of districts. Because both CDs 13 and 14 and majority minority seats, it is more than probable that the commission won’t collapse these districts because of Voting Rights Act requirements.

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Census Patterns

By Jim Ellis

April 30, 2021 — Monday’s Census Bureau’s congressional apportionment and state population report continues to be digested, and its many surprises will potentially lead to legal action from unanticipated sources.

First, the ongoing Alabama lawsuit against the census counting methodology, among other issues, will likely be drastically altered since the Yellowhammer State did not lose its seventh district. An in-person hearing has been scheduled for Monday, May 3, in the state capital of Montgomery.

Second, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is already making noises that his state will sue over the apportionment formula that eliminated one of his state’s congressional districts by just 89 individuals. Others are questioning how the state, where projections forecast a loss of potentially two congressional districts, landed exactly on the national growth average and came within just a few people of not even losing one seat.

The 50-state population segmentation is interesting in that it again provides us clear growth and mobility patterns. Regionally, the immense area starting in the center of the country and moving west to the Pacific Ocean is the big population gainer. The Midwest and Northeast is the major loser, with the South and Southeast producing mixed data.

In the 17 states beginning at the eastern border of North Dakota and moving down all the way to Texas’ eastern border and then back through the entire west but not including Alaska and Hawaii, the regional population growth rate was 10.6 percent, or 3.2 points above the national growth rate of 7.4 percent.

If, however, the five states within this sector that fell below the national growth rate are removed, California (6.1 percent growth rate), Oklahoma (5.5 percent), Kansas (3.0 percent), New Mexico (2.8 percent), and Wyoming (2.3 percent), the regional average for the 12 states that exceeded the national growth rate becomes 13.4 percent, or a full six points above the US benchmark.

Therefore, the fact that this western region gained five of the seven new congressional seats is consistent with the recorded sector growth data.

The South/Southeast segment, which includes 11 states, produced inconsistent regional data. Area-wide, the average growth rate was 6.7 percent, or 0.7 percent below the national average. This is a surprising number considering the region gained two congressional seats in reapportionment.

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Political Overtime in Georgia & Maine

Note: Last week in the polling recount Update, a typographical error was made in one of the quoted Iowa polls. The Siena College/New York Times survey should have read: Sen. Joni Ernst (R) 45%, Theresa Greenfield (D) 44% (not 55-44%). We apologize for the mistake.


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2020 — There has been discussion about seeing a great number of political campaigns not being called on Election Night, thus creating what could become a rather long “political overtime” period. Laws in two states, however, could send key Senate races into political overtime, but for a different reason than not having all of the ballots either received or counted.

Georgia and Maine have unique laws that create a secondary election period should no candidate receive majority support in the general election. Many states employ runoff contests in nomination battles, but Georgia and Maine are two entities with special laws governing the general election should no majority be achieved. In this particular year, three US Senate races, in a cycle where the battle for chamber control is close and intense, could be forced into political overtime in just those two places.

In Georgia, all contenders failing to reach the 50 percent mark sends the contest into a general election runoff. Considering the 2020 calendar, that secondary election date is scheduled for Jan. 5, meaning that the current election cycle would then be expanded for an additional two months. If the majority hinges on the two Georgia seats, it won’t be until the new year until we would have the opportunity of knowing which party would lead the Senate in the next Congress.

In the Georgia-A seat, polling hasn’t yet put one of the candidates, Sen. David Perdue (R) or Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff, at or over the 50 percent mark. In the last 10 polls of the Perdue-Ossoff race, neither man has reached 50 percent when any of the three minor party or independent candidates were listed, or referred to, in the survey questionnaire.

The Georgia-B campaign, which is the special election to fill the balance of resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) final term, is certainly headed for political overtime. Here, the candidates are placed on the same ballot regardless of political party affiliation.

Polling throughout this election year suggests that none of the four major candidates, appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), Rev. Raphael Warnock (D), and businessman Matt Lieberman (D), are anywhere close to majority support. Therefore, the top two finishers on Nov. 3 would advance to the secondary election on Jan. 5.

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Michigan Reverses Direction
On Mail-In Ballot Oversight

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 20, 2020 — The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday reversed a lower court ruling that allowed a post-election ballot reception period that would have lasted until Nov. 17, and granted the process known as “ballot harvesting,” where another individual or individuals can deliver unspecified numbers of ballots for voters.

The three-judge high court unanimously overturned a ruling from Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens who made the original directive in deciding an election lawsuit that the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans, a union-funded organization, brought forth.

When the Michigan attorney general and secretary of state jointly decided not to appeal Judge Stephens’ ruling, the Republican controlled state House and Senate filed the motion and were granted standing. It is unclear now whether the Michigan Alliance will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

According to the Detroit News’s reporting, the original ruling contained the directive that the ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3. That clerical distinction, however, will be difficult to enforce once we advance into the post-election counting and challenge stage.

The US Postal Service, themselves, according to their employee practices handbook, indicate that many mail pieces do not require postmarks. In most of the 21 states that are now allowing the post-election reception period, the ballots will fall into one of these categories thus making the postmark question moot, and that will invariably lead to further lawsuits and litigation. Below is the official language for the postmark directives:

“Postmarks are not required for mailings bearing a permit, meter, or precanceled stamp for postage, nor to pieces with an indicia applied by various postage evidencing systems.”

The Appellate Court ruling means, at least until if and when the state Supreme Court addresses the issue, that there will be no post-election ballot reception period in Michigan. Ballot harvesting pertaining to individuals who are not immediate family members of the person wanting to vote absentee or is not an election office clerk, will again be prohibited. Therefore, all ballots are required to be in the possession of election authorities throughout Michigan’s counties before the polls close on Election Day, Nov. 3.

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