By Jim Ellis
Feb. 24, 2022 — As more states complete their redistricting process and additional data becomes available, we are beginning to catch a glimpse of each party’s path to either keeping or re-claiming the House majority in the coming midterm election.
The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization along with the Dave’s Redistricting App operation are the two data groups that are charting each district as the states complete their decennial task of drawing new congressional district boundaries.
At this point, we have usable projection data from the two organizations in 350 of the nation’s 435 congressional districts, meaning newly completed maps in all but eight states. (FiveThirtyEight has not yet analyzed the new North Carolina map because the court has not yet given final approval, but Dave’s App has calculated based upon the version now before the judicial panel.) As an aside, several of the outstanding states are large, including Florida (28 congressional districts), Ohio (15 CDs: map was complete but rejected before the state Supreme Court), and Pennsylvania (17 CDs).
At this point we can see, after analyzing each of the 350 completed districts, that redistricting in and of itself will return only a narrow advantage to one party or the other. Considering the still incomplete outstanding states, it is unclear which political entity may earn a slight advantage once the entire process is finalized. Currently, newly created maps are complete (or pending court approval) in 42 states, including five of the six at-large domains whose single-state districts are included in the aforementioned aggregate number.
The FiveThirtyEight projections and Dave’s Redistricting App agree on party advantage in 344 of the completed districts even though they used different mathematical formulas and election complexion to arrive at their conclusions. Therefore, the assigned D or R-plus ratings from FiveThirtyEight consistently align with Dave’s numerical projections for Democratic and Republican strength in each of the 344 CDs.
Of the six districts where the two organizations disagree over party advantage, in each of the half-dozen CDs, the FiveThirtyEight data has projected a stronger Republican number. Three of the six lie in the state of Michigan.
The conflicting districts are:
|STATE-DIST||MEMBER||FiveThirtyEight||DAVE R||DAVE D|
(Note: a “New Seat” is one drawn in a state that was awarded an extra seat, or two in the case of Texas, through national reapportionment. A “created seat” is a new open district that came as a result of the redistricting process.)
Totaling the 344 districts where FiveThirtyEight and the Dave’s App are in agreement as to party advantage, the Democrats would gain 12 Republican, new, or created districts; while the GOP would gain 10 Democratic, new, or created seats.
If the FiveThirtyEight projection number is correct among the six conflicted districts, the Republican gain number would go as high as 16 if the party candidates were to sweep the group, which would translate into a R+4 national edge coming from the redistricting process. Conversely, if Dave’s App is correct and the Democrats gained all six, they would net an eight-seat advantage, which could certainly change the majority picture.
Of course, more goes into determining a political winner than raw statistical analysis, and incumbency, the candidates, their campaigns, and the political climate matter greatly in determining the final outcome of each electoral contest.
Therefore, if Republicans are to achieve the gains they are currently boldly predicting, the party candidates must win a sizable number of newly drawn districts that favor the Democrats. In looking just at the seats with a plus-Democrat range of 1 to 6 percentage points, a total of 22 lie in this category. Increasing the range to a total of nine percentage points, an additional 14 seats are added for a total of 36 offensive Republican districts. This, in addition to the six conflicted seats.
From the other perspective, there are 16 Republican seats within the same nine-point advantage realm that will be Democratic conversion targets. Adding all of the targeted numbers together, 58 seats will conceivably be in play this November, not counting any other pre-determined partisan split that might not unfold as predicted, or the competitive seats in the incomplete eight redistricting states, or the many seats with contested primaries.
At this point, what can be said definitively, is that the statistical analysis suggests that we are at least on the precipice of a highly competitive 2022 House campaign season.