Redistricting Challenges – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2022 — Yesterday, we covered the US House members whose districts have changed to the point of having seats where a majority of their new constituencies are unfamiliar. Today, we delve deeper.

To reiterate, a total of 28 states have now completed their redistricting process, and 41 incumbents seeking re-election in these places will be in new seats where a majority of the electorate has not previously seen their names on the congressional ballot.

Interestingly, many of the changes are positive for some of the members in question, because the new constituents are favorable to the incumbent’s party. Others, however, face potentially tough re-nomination or re-election battles, and some will see challenges coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

In 16 specific instances the outlook is seriously negative as nine Democratic members and five Republicans face major challenges toward continuing their congressional careers.

The members in the worst situations are those paired with another incumbent. Illinois Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) faces freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange). Casten has only a quarter of the new Chicago suburban constituency as compared to Newman’s 42.9 percent carryover factor. Her home base in La Grange, however, is not included in the new 6th District.

Remaining in Illinois, neither paired Republican Reps. Mary Miller (R-Oakland) nor Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) have large constituencies in the new 15th CD. Rep. Miller has only a 34.7 percent carryover factor from the current 15th but is larger than her opponent’s, Mr. Davis, 30.8 percent figure coming from his 13th CD.

Michigan Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) has announced that he will run in his state’s new 4th District, meaning a pairing with veteran Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph). He has only 25.1 percent of his constituents in the new 4th as compared to Upton’s much stronger 68.8 percent carryover factor. Still, Rep. Upton says he is unsure as to whether he will seek re-election to a 19th term.

Staying in Michigan, Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomington Township) has decided to enter in a paired battle with Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills). He has only 26.7 percent of his current 9th District constituency in the new 11th CD as compared to Rep. Stevens’ having 46.1 percent coming from her current 11th District. Her home base of Rochester Hills, however, does not carryover, while Rep. Levin’s base in Bloomington Township becomes the anchor population in the new CD.

West Virginia lost a seat in reapportionment, meaning two of the three Republican members would be forced to square off against each other. Such is the case for Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) in the state’s new 2nd District. Rep. Mooney sees only one-third of his constituents coming from his current 2nd District, while two-thirds of Rep. McKinley’s 1st District voters come to the new 2nd.

The only inter-party pairing comes in North Carolina as Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) and Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) will apparently do battle for the new 11th District. This seat contains only 30 percent of her current 5th District constituents as compared to 38.9 percent carryover from Rep. Manning’s 6th CD. The new 11th, however, favors Republicans with a R+16 rating from the FiveThirtyEight statistical website.

California Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) finds only 20.8 percent of his NorCal 3rd CD coming into the Bay Area-anchored 8th District. While he is the only congressional incumbent in this district, he will undoubtedly face strong intra-party opposition in what is a heavily Democratic new 8th District.

Also in California, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) has chosen to run the Orange County coastal 47th District that contains only 38.5 percent crossover constituency from her current 45th CD. She will face heavy opposition from former state Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R) in a competitive general election seat.

A final change from the Virginia state Supreme Court gave Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) some of her current constituency in a new 7th District, but three-quarters of the voter base is new to her, and will be competitive in a general election battle.

Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) sees 49.6 percent of his constituents coming with him to the new 5th CD, and it appears he will see a competitive general election battle, as well.

We can expect further incumbents to be placed in challenging and unfamiliar political situations as the remaining states complete their own redistricting maps. The district redistribution statistics are from the Daily Kos Elections site’s publicly released data.

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