Tag Archives: gerrymander

Electoral College — Left Coast, Right Coast; Republicans Choose Nominee in VA-4; North Carolina Supreme Court Rejects Map

Electoral College Votes Per State, 2022 — blue moving more left, red moving more right


By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022

President

Electoral College: West Moving Left, East Moving Right — The researchers at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics have completed a study regarding the country’s ideological shift during the past 20-plus years. Tracking all 50 states’ presidential votes from the 2000-2020 elections, we first see all of the western states now voting Democratic in greater percentages with the exception of Wyoming. The biggest shifts came in Alaska, California, Colorado, and Utah, though two of those four states still regularly produce at least smaller majority or plurality Republican victories.

Conversely, the south and east have trended more Republican with the strongest swings generally occurring in central south with only Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia becoming more Democratic. Mid-Atlantic states such as New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have moved decidedly more Republican, though two of these four continue to regularly deliver clear Democratic majorities. Remaining constant in their voting pattern during this entire 20-year span are Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and South Carolina.

House

VA-4: Republicans Choose Special Election Nominee — Republicans re-nominated their 2020 and 2022 candidate in the Saturday, Dec. 17 “firehouse primary” through Ranked Choice Voting. The local 4th District Republican Party leadership did not release the actual results, only to say that pastor and US Navy veteran Leon Benjamin had defeated former Mecklenburg School Board member Dale Sturdifen, and non-profit advocacy organization director Derrick Hollie. Benjamin now advances to the Feb. 21 special general election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond). He will again be a decided underdog in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+30.

The Democratic firehouse primary will be held today. Four candidates filed to run: state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrisey (D-Richmond), former state Delegate Joseph Preston, and businessman Tavorise Marks. While the special election will be held in late February, Gov. Glenn Younkin’s (R) call required the parties to choose nominees by Dec. 23.

In another development, Colette McEachin, the late congressman’s widow, announced her endorsement of Sen. McClellan, joining most of the Virginia Democratic establishment who has already done so.

States

North Carolina: NC Supreme Court Tosses State Senate Map — The North Carolina state Supreme Court, with the 4-3 Democratic majority on the cusp of expiring, rejected the NC Senate map on a partisan vote as a partisan gerrymander. But, the action is likely to be short-lived and adds fuel to the speculation that the new legislature will re-draw all of the state’s redistricting maps after commencement. Doing so may well render moot the partisan gerrymandering case that the US Supreme Court recently heard.

Under North Carolina legislative procedure, the governor has no veto power over redistricting legislation, so whatever the legislature passes will become law. Because of the current court’s farewell action, the state Senate map must be re-configured. Since Republicans gained two seats on the state Supreme Court in the November election and will have a 5-2 majority beginning in January, the likelihood of not only the Senate map being redrawn but also the state House and congressional delegation plans is greater. The latter two maps are court-drawn interim placeholders, which the legislature can replace at any time.

NY Overreach = GOP Majority

CNN’s New York state redistricting map (more coverage on CNN)

By Jim Ellis — Nov. 22, 2022

House

New York State: Redistricting — There is an argument to be made that the New York Democratic redistricting brain trust helped create the new Republican US House majority. With their over-reach on the original map that the legislature and governor enacted, the end result became so egregious that even the Democratic lower and upper courts rejected the congressional map as a pure partisan gerrymander.

The original enacted plan would have yielded a 22D-4R partisan split in the NY congressional delegation of 26 members, thus costing the Republicans four of the eight Empire State seats they control in the current Congress.

Once the votes were cast on Nov. 8 in the districts that the judges’ special master drew to replace the legislature’s plan, the end result saw Republicans not losing four seats but rather gaining three in relation to the current map and seven when compared to the Democrats’ original draw.

Therefore, instead of the intended 22D-4R plan, the New York delegation now headed to Washington is comprised of 15 Democrats and 11 Republicans. With a small Republican majority of what ultimately may be 220-222 seats once the outstanding California and Alaska races are finally projected, the NY swing is arguably the difference in determining which party controls the House.

The Democrats’ map would have reduced the Republicans to just one seat on Long Island, taken the lone district they have in New York City, turned the GOP’s Syracuse seat strongly Democratic, and collapsed the southwestern Upstate seat of resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R) as the lost district in national reapportionment.

You will remember that New York lost a congressional seat by just 89 people when the Census Bureau announced each state’s congressional district compilation under the national reapportionment formula.

After striking down the legislature’s map and replacing it with their own special master’s plan, the court in effect restored much of New York to its historic congressional district pattern.

Under the legislature’s plan, Long Island’s 1st District (Rep. Lee Zeldin) was drawn from the far eastern part of Suffolk County all the way into Queens. This led to stashing a preponderance of the region’s Republican voters in Rep. Andrew Garbarino’s (R-Sayville) South Shore 2nd District. The concept then allowed the map architects to make Districts 3 and 4, both open in 2022 with Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) running unsuccessfully for governor and Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) retiring, safely Democratic. The court undid this design.

Now, the 1st District returns to a Suffolk County anchored seat, a CD that Republican Nick LaLota, a former local official and Navy veteran, won to succeed Rep. Zeldin. Rep. Garbarino is back but with a less Republican South Shore seat, which then created a marginal North Shore District 3 seat that Republican George Santos won 54-46 percent in a domain that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+4.

The biggest surprise in New York, and perhaps the country, came in Rep. Rice’s open 4th CD, where Republican Anthony D’Esposito defeated heavily favored Democrat Laura Gillen, 52-48 percent, in a district that actually became more Democratic under the court map at D+10.

The other Republican gains came in the Hudson Valley, where state Assemblyman Mike Lawler (R-South Salem) upset Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) in a D+7 District 17, and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) rebounded from a special congressional election loss in August to claim a 51-49 percent win in a new 19th District rated as R+1.

In the 18th District, state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R) came within a percentage point of sweeping the Hudson Valley seats for the GOP, but Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner) held onto the 18th CD seat after he had won the 19th District special election three months earlier.

The Republican victory string ended with tech executive Brandon Williams (R) defeating former intelligence officer Francis Conole (D) by a percentage point to hold the open Syracuse seat, and former New York Republican Party Nick Langworthy easily won the new 23rd District from which Rep. Reed resigned and Rep. Joe Sempolinski (R-Canisteo) is serving as a caretaker.

The New York 2022 election cycle illustrates just how important map drawing and judicial decisions are in determining US House elections. The New York courts, for example, created a much more competitive political playing field, which certainly led to different results than we would have seen under the legislature’s partisan draw.

Considering that the US Supreme Court is likely to make landmark Voting Rights Act rulings on the Alabama and North Carolina cases before June ends next year, we will likely see new redistricting maps being drawn in several states, and New York could be one of those places. Any newly constructed map would take effect in the 2024 election. A major Supreme Court decision will add yet another dimension to what already promises to be another hot House campaign cycle coming in the new term.

North Carolina Map Rejected

Rejected 2022 North Carolina Congressional Redistricting map (click on map above or here to go to an interactive map at DavesRedistricting.com)

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 8, 2022 — In what has almost been a decade-long game of gerrymander ping pong, the state Supreme Court on Friday rejected the new North Carolina congressional and state legislative maps, thus repeating their actions from the two previous times the panel’s majority disqualified a Republican legislature’s map.

The vote was 4-3, with all four Democrats voting in favor of declaring the map a partisan gerrymander, consistent with their past action, while the three Republicans voted to uphold the plans.

We are again looking at a relatively quick re-draw situation because the twice-postponed North Carolina primary is now scheduled for June 7. If an agreement cannot be reached, it is possible the candidate filing deadline and statewide primary are again postponed.

The high court’s move was expected, but this is a serious setback to Republicans from a national perspective since North Carolina appears to be the only state where the party can gain multiple seats through redistricting.

It is likely that the inter-party pairing of Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) and Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) will be re-drawn when a new congressional version is passed. The Greensboro area has been the major focal point of this and the previous maps, with the partisan Republican legislature and partisan Democratic court continuing to battle over a map that will eventually become the state’s 2022 political playing field.

As drawn, the legislature’s map — under North Carolina law and procedure, the governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over redistricting — would have returned either 10 Republicans and 4 Democrats or possibly has high as 11 Republicans and 3 Democrats. Under the current draw, the Republican advantage is 8-5.

North Carolina gained one seat under national reapportionment, and the last iteration of the state Supreme Court map, ordered before the 2020 election, resulted in the Republicans losing two seats, one in Raleigh and the other in the Greensboro area.

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A Pennsylvania Gerrymander or Not?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 4, 2019 — As more final voting data becomes available about the 2018 electoral patterns, new local analysis articles are being distributed that allow us to better understand why the results unfolded as they did.

Emily Previti published a piece for Pennsylvania’s Keystone Crossroads media site at the end of last week that details just how the congressional outcome might have changed if the state Supreme Court had not altered the Pennsylvania federal map.

The Pennsylvania high court ruled about a year before the last election that the 2011 redistricting legislative package was a political gerrymander in relation to the state’s constitution. The court then instituted new boundaries for the 2018 and 2020 elections, designed to bridge the gap until the next census, reapportionment, and redistricting processes begin again.

The court majority reasoned that the previous congressional map routinely yielding a 13R-5D congressional result was out of sync with a statewide electorate that usually favors Democrats, among other reasons. Yet, according to the Previti article, such may not have been the case.

Click on above map to see full story and interactive map at the Keystone Crossroads media site.

After overlaying the new court-imposed 18-district congressional map (above) that returned a 9R-9D result from the previous 12R-6D delegation split (the division changed when Democrat Conor Lamb won an early 2018 special election in a previously Republican 18th CD), Previti concludes that the same 9-9 split we see today may well have occurred even under the previous map.

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An Open Review – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2018 — With so many House retirements coming into focus within the past several weeks, it is a good time to review the list of 53 districts heading into their next election without an incumbent on the ballot.

Of the 53, Republicans currently hold 37 seats versus just 16 for the Democrats. Here’s the breakdown of how things look regarding all 53 seats right now:

2018-elections-open-seats

  • Safe Republican (19)
  • Likely Republican (6)
  • Likely Democrat (6)
  • Safe Democrat (6)
  • Lean Republican (5)
  • Lean Democrat (3)
  • Toss-up (8)

This configuration could change drastically if the Pennsylvania map is re-drawn in a court-ordered redistricting. The state Supreme Court has declared the Keystone State map a political gerrymander and has ordered a new plan drawn by Feb. 15.

The state Senate President Pro Tempore is responding, however, that the legislature will not comply with the court order to turn over statistical data need to draw a new map because the state court did not cite the legal provisions violated in making the current plan a gerrymander. Additionally, the US Supreme Court is sending signals that it may try to involve itself even though this case is filed against the Pennsylvania Constitution and not its federal counterpart. We can count on major action coming here within the next several days.

Furthermore, the US Supreme Court is in the process of deciding the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case, which will also affect active lawsuits in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia; in Pennsylvania, the political gerrymandering lawsuit realm is not directly part of this group because its case is filed within the state court system. But the Republicans have petitioned the federal high court to look at this case for other legal reasons.

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Two More Head Out the House Door

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 2, 2018
— The cavalcade of US House retirements continued with two more well known veteran members, one from each party, making public their intention to retire from Congress.

Counting this latest pair, the number of representatives not seeking re-election has now risen to 53 (37 Republicans; 16 Democrats). Four of the open seats are currently vacant and in special elections, though the MI-13 contest (former Rep. John Conyers, D-Detroit) will run concurrently with the regular cycle.

SC-4

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg, SC) | Facebook

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg, SC) | Facebook

Four-term GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg) announced that he will also retire at the end of the current Congress. Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, had signaled his desire to return to South Carolina as early as the 2014 election but continued to remain and now will do so just through the final year of the current term. Prior to assuming the leadership of the government reform committee, Gowdy came to national notoriety as chairman of the special House investigatory committee on the Benghazi situation.

Rep. Gowdy’s 4th Congressional District largely encompasses the Greenville-Spartanburg metropolitan area in the Palmetto State’s northwestern corner. As the Spartanburg County solicitor (known as district attorneys in most states), Gowdy ousted then-Rep. Bob Inglis in the 2010 Republican primary, and has easily been elected and re-elected ever since.

He was commonly viewed as a rising Republican star in the House but eschewed the opportunity to enter any internal leadership races. Gowdy says he will not be on the ballot for any office in 2018, and is planning to return to the South Carolina jurisprudence system.

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New Year House Preview

US-House-of-Representatives-balance-of-power-January-2018By Jim Ellis

Jan. 8, 2018 — Continuing our federal race outlook to set the political stage in this first week of the actual midterm election year, we now turn to the House races.

Republicans have a 24-seat margin (counting their three vacant seats that will go to special election in the early part of this year: PA-18, AZ-8, and OH-12), and though Democrats and most in the media claim that a new majority is just around the corner, a race-by-race House analysis shows that the road to converting the majority remains difficult to attain. This is so for several key reasons, not the least of which is the typical House incumbent retention factor. In 2016 the rate hit 97 percent (377 victories for the 389 House members who ran for re-election).

Additionally, even though President Trump’s job approval rating is historically low, we must remember that he won the 2016 national election with a personal approval index no higher than his present positive to negative ratios. And, even though congressional approval was well below 20 percent for the entire 2016 election year, Republicans lost only six House seats from their previous modern era record majority of 247 that was attained in the 2014 election.

When we have seen major seat changes occur in past elections, the winning party has done well in converting open seats. For the fourth election cycle in a row, the 2018 House cycle features an above average quantity of incumbent-less US House campaigns – the current number is 45, counting the two latest announced retirees, Reps. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Gregg Harper (R-MS).

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