Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Gerrymandering Wars Ignited

By Jim Ellis
Aug. 27, 2021 — In the past few days, Democratic leaders and news sources in two states, New York and Illinois, are suggesting that the party redistricting strategists will attempt to maximize Democratic US House gains. Republicans will then counter in similar states that they control.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), on her first official day in office after replacing resigned Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), bluntly answered a reporter’s question to the affirmative when asked if she would use her newfound power to maximize Democratic congressional gains through the redistricting process.

Earlier this week, news sources were reporting that Illinois Democratic map drawers, though no preliminary congressional map has yet been released, are attempting to draw a new 14D-3R map that would likely collapse Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) and Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) into a strong Democratic seat for the former and pairing for the latter with another downstate Republican.

Doing this would put added national pressure on Republicans in states such as Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Georgia – places where the GOP has full control of the redistricting process. Here, the states are either adding seats or in position to carve a sitting Democrat into unfriendly political territory.

With New York losing one seat, the prime district for elimination would appear obvious since Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) has already announced his retirement and his 23rd District is the lowest in population among all New York seats. Adjacent Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-New Hartford) 22nd CD is second lowest, so combining those two Upstate Republican districts into one appears to be a foregone conclusion. It remains to be seen if the Democratic leaders try to do more. The current delegation breaks 19D-8R but will reduce to 26 seats in the next Congress.

Of Illinois’ current 18 congressional districts, only one, that of Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), is over-populated and only by 10,986 people. While the Kinzinger seat is 61,125 individuals short of the state quota of 753,677 for the new 17-district map, his is not even close to being the most under-populated. He, however, sits between two Democratic seats that the party needs to protect, those of retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), whose 17th CD is 79,907 residents under quota, and Rep. Lauren Underwood’s (D-Naperville) 14th, where she had a close call in 2020 but is only 482 people short of quota.

While the 14th does not need many more people, it does need significantly more Democrats and they can be found by dividing Kinzinger’s 16th CD into pieces.

Redistricting is always full of surprises, so this analysis is merely educated speculation. If, however, the Democrats come away with gaining a net three or four seats from New York and Illinois combined, then how do the Republicans retaliate?

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A Pair of Flawed Polls Out Of
Florida and Pennsylvania

By Jim Ellis

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

Aug. 25, 2021 — We saw two polls released into the public domain covering major races from Florida and Pennsylvania, and both appear to have reliability failings.

In the Sunshine State, the Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll (released Aug. 22; 1,000 likely Florida voters, interactive voice response system) finds Sen. Marco Rubio (R) leading Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando), 55-45 percent. While the margin is reasonable and believable, the partisan segmentation is not.

In looking at Listener’s published crosstabs, the Democratic segment yields a 52.5 – 47.5 percent split in favor of Rubio. Among Republicans, the senator scores only a 58.1 – 41.9 percent result, again a bizarre count for an incumbent within his own party with no personal scandal at such an early time in the cycle. In an era of strict partisanship, these numbers are not fathomable. Therefore, the entire ballot test has a reliability risk.

To put the partisan numbers in perspective, as an example of a scandal-ridden politician’s standing within his own party, the Civiqs polling organization surveyed the New York Democratic electorate on a rolling track from Feb. 16 through this past Sunday (of 32,623 respondents participating at some point during the period) and found outgoing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorability at 47:36 percent positive to negative even while being forced to resign under the threat of impeachment.

Another flaw is the polling sample’s political persuasion division does not equate to Florida’s ratios. According to the July 31 voter registration report from the Florida Secretary of State’s office, Democrats have a partisan registration percentage of 36.0; Republicans’ 35.7; and Unaffiliateds’ 26.5. The Listener Group survey sample contained 45.0 percent Democrats, 43.8 percent Republicans, and 11.2 percent Unaffiliateds, far from the actual partisan share positions, and particularly so among those not belonging to one of the major political parties.

In Pennsylvania, the latest Franklin & Marshall College statewide survey was released (Aug. 9-15; 446 registered Pennsylvania voters, combination live interview and online). While the study provides a realistic picture as to where the voters are on issues of the day and favorability ratings on national and statewide figures, analyzing their ballot tests for the Republican and Democratic primaries for the state’s open US Senate race leaves something to be desired from a reliability standpoint.

The fundamental problem is that their sample sizes are much too low to accurately depict where these primary races stand.

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Census by District

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 17, 2021 — We can now see exactly where each congressional district in the country stands in terms of population. The Census Bureau delivered the state redistricting data last week, and the Daily Kos Elections site data team segmented the numbers into individual congressional districts.

Below is a chart of the 38 states that have more than two districts, isolating the CDs that are the most over and under populated. The “High” column depicts the district that is the most over-populated in the state, while the “Low” is the one requiring the most new residents. The “+/-” column shows how many districts in the particular state are over and under populated.

The most robust district is that of Texas freshman Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Richmond). His southwest Houston seat houses just under one million people, at an exact count of 972,309. The least populated seat is West Virginia’s 3rd District (Rep. Carol Miller-R): 326,267 people under quota. With all of the Mountain State seats seriously down, it is clear as to why West Virginia lost a seat in reapportionment.

There are only two states, Colorado and Oregon, where all of the current districts are over-populated. Both entities gain one seat in reapportionment. On the other end of the spectrum, Michigan and Pennsylvania saw all districts falling below their new population quota, and in Illinois, 17 of their current 18 do as well. All three states are losing a district.

It is not surprising that California lost a seat for the first time in history. A total of 35 of their current 53 seats require more population versus 18 that must shed residents. New York barely lost a seat, by just 89 people statewide, which is surprising when seeing 23 of their current 27 districts requiring additional population.

The states are now converting their new data into their redistricting software systems. After that, most will hold hearings for public input prior to district construction beginning.

STATE DIST INCUMBENT HIGH LOW +/-
Alabama 5 Mo Brooks (R) 43,348 4, 3
7 Terri Swell (D) -53,143
Arizona 5 Andy Biggs (R) 86,414 3, 6
2 Ann Kirkpatrick (D) -50,133
Arkansas 3 Steve Womack (R) 86,266 2, 2
4 Bruce Westerman (R) -66,283
California 45 Katie Porter (D) 53,645 18, 35
-1 40 Lucille Roybal-Allard (D) -70,139
Colorado 4 Ken Buck (R) 148,823 7, 0
+1 3 Lauren Boebert (R) 36,543
Connecticut 4 Jim Himes (D) 25,627 2, 3
2 Joe Courtney (D) -21,288
Florida 9 Darren Soto (D) 186,381 21, 6
+1 13 Charlie Crist (D) -41,756
Georgia 7 Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) 94,304 8, 6
2 Sanford Bishop (D) -92,108
Illinois 7 Danny Davis (D) 10,986 1, 17
-1 17 Cheri Bustos (D) -79,907
Indiana 5 Victoria Spartz (R) 50,921 5, 4
8 Larry Bucshon (R) -38,579
Iowa 3 Cindy Axne (D) 61,382 1, 3
4 Randy Feenstra (R) -31,730
Kansas 3 Sharice Davids (D) 57,816 1, 3
1 Tracey Mann (R) -33,697
Kentucky 6 Andy Barr (R) 33,300 4, 2
5 Hal Rogers (R) -57,592
Louisiana 6 Garret Graves (R) 40,173 3, 3
4 Mike Johnson (R) -47,947
Maryland 4 Anthony Brown (D) 26,772 6, 2
7 Kweisi Mfume (D) -68,401
Massachusetts 7 Ayanna Pressley (D) 18,714 4, 5
1 Richard Neal (D) -50,635
Michigan 11 Haley Stevens (D) -17,368 0, 14
-1 5 Dan Kildee (D) -104,476
Minnesota 3 Dean Phillips (D) 24,586 5, 3
7 Michelle Fischbach (D) -39,978
Mississippi 4 Steven Palazzo (R) 37,196 3, 1
2 Bennie Thompson (D) -65,829
Missouri 3 Blaine Luetkemeyer (R) 35,121 6, 2
1 Cori Bush (D) -54,618
Nebraska 2 Don Bacon (R) 47,170 2, 1
3 Adrian Smith (R) -53,152
Nevada 3 Susie Lee (D) 79,374 2, 2
1 Dina Titus (D) -73,332
New Jerseyy 8 Albio Sires (D) 47,314 5, 7
2 Jeff Van Drew (R) -41,606
New Mexico 2 Yvette Harrell (R) 8,181 2, 1
1 Melanie Stansbury (D) -11,264
New York 12 Carolyn Maloney (D) 34,717 4, 23
-1 23 Tom Reed (R) -83,462
North Carolina 2 Deborah Ross (D) 165,703 12, 1
+1 1 G.K. Butterfield (D) -6,238
Ohio 3 Joyce Beatty (D) 23,119 2, 14
-1 6 Bill Johnson (R) -99,512
Oklahoma 1 Kevin Hern (R) 36,806 3, 2
2 Markwayne Mullin (R) -69,793
Oregon 1 Suzanne Bonamici (D) 157,843 5, 0
+1 4 Peter DeFazio (D) 117,399
Pennsylvania 10 Scott Perry (R) -5,379 0, 18
-1 15 Glenn Thompson (R) -90,540
South Carolina 1 Nancy Mace (R) 87,689 3, 4
6 Jim Clyburn (D) -84,741
Tennessee 4 Scott DesJarlais (R) 62,976 5, 4
9 Steve Cohen (D) -77,122
Texas 22 Troy Nehls (R) 205,322 28, 8
+2 13 Ronny Jackson (R) -59,517
Utah 4 Burgess Owens (R) 65,265 1, 3
3 John Curtis (R) -31,190
Virginia 10 Jennifer Wexton (D) 100,750 6, 5
9 Morgan Griffith (R) -87,917
Washington 7 Pramila Jayapal (D) 28,862 6, 4
6 Derek Kilmer (D) -33,730
West Virginia 2 Alex Mooney (R) -275,777 0, 3
-1 3 Carol Miller (R) -326,627
Wisconsin 2 Mark Pocan (D) 52,678 2, 6
4 Gwen Moore (D) -41,320

Redistricting Is Now Underway

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 13, 2021 — Now four full months past the original deadline, the Census Bureau finally is scheduled to deliver to the states their census tract data, thus enabling the map-drawing process to begin.

While data was received yesterday, it will still be awhile before the public begins seeing even preliminary maps. The data must first be configured to the individual state’s redistricting software. Secondly, most state processes mandate hearings for public comment once the data is released. Each of these factors will happen prior to actual map construction. This notwithstanding, the critical element for each state, having the necessary data, is at long last occurring.

At the end of last year, we published a redistricting outlook that suggested Republicans, even though they control the process in a preponderance of states, could still find themselves down several seats in reapportionment and redistricting simply because of what could happen in the states that are gaining and losing congressional seats. (Go to: Ellis Insight Redistricting Outlook)

Some notable changes have occurred since the original piece was written, and now it appears the tables have turned toward the GOP as the party in best position to benefit nationally from the decennial district reconstruction process.

Below is a recap of the state situations that have changed:


Alabama: The original reapportionment prognostications suggested that Alabama would lose a congressional district. Republicans, because they control all but a Civil Rights-protected seat, were sure to take the loss. Likely due to a population surge in the latter part of the decade, Alabama did not lose a seat, thus the GOP saves a sure net loss.


Colorado: Though Colorado has adopted a redistricting commission for the first time, the swing toward the Democrats suggested that their party would gain the new seat. The Colorado commission is the first to release a congressional map, based upon Census Bureau estimates, and while the new 8th District looked solidly Democratic, the newly configured 7th District, currently Democratic, slightly favors the GOP.

Though this map is just a preliminary draw, should this be the direction in which the commission heads Republicans could actually reap a one seat gain when the 2022 election cycle concludes.


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Lamb Decision Affects Redistricting

Pennsylvania Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2021 — Last week’s news reports indicating that western Pennsylvania US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon/Pittsburgh) will enter the open Senate race on Aug. 6, could mean the congressional district he leaves behind becomes a redistricting victim.

Assuming the reports are accurate, and the congressman does launch a Senate campaign, he will be the only Pennsylvania US House delegation member to create an open seat. All others appear poised to run for re-election. This means the Lamb district will likely become the top option for elimination since reapportionment reduces by one the 18-member Keystone State delegation.

The Census Bureau is now telling the states they will finally begin receiving their redistricting data the during the week of Aug. 16. It appears the total data transmission will come in two waves, so all states should have what they need to begin holding public input hearings in early September, and then drawing districts. This is more than six months behind a typical redistricting calendar.

Based upon the latest available information, the state will have 17 congressional districts with a population number of what appears to be just under 765,000 individuals. Looking at the current 18 districts, all must gain population, hence the reason the state is losing another CD. Since 1930, Pennsylvania has lost more congressional districts than any other state.

The region requiring the least new population is Pennsylvania’s southeastern sector, in and around the city of Philadelphia. The western segment is the area that needs the most population with the exception of Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg/York) south-central 10th District that will require the lowest human increase, most likely fewer than 20,000 persons.

The three seats needing the greatest influx are all in west Pennsylvania, surrounding the city of Pittsburgh. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson’s (R-Howard) predominantly rural 15th CD looks to be the district most in need of additional residents, likely over 85,000 individuals. Next is Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-Butler) 16th District that begins north of Pittsburgh and moves all the way to Lake Erie. This seat would need approximately 80,000 more people. Third is the district south of Pittsburgh to the West Virginia border, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler’s (R-Peters Township) 14th CD, that must also gain another 80,000 bodies.

Lamb’s 17th District that encompasses almost half of Allegheny County, all of Beaver County, and a sliver of Butler, needs over 50,000 more people, which pairs well with Rep. Mike Doyle’s (D-Pittsburgh) downtown 18th District that will likely require approximately 65,000 new residents. Therefore, eliminating District 17 with now no incumbent to protect it would allow the downtown seat to be filled and remain solidly Democratic, but also meet the population needs in the districts to the south, southeast, and north of Pittsburgh.

Politically, such a configuration would likely change the 9R-9D delegation to 9R-8D, and that will be a hard sell for the Republican legislature to make to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, especially when he knows a partisan Democratic state Supreme Court could well have the final say once the inevitable lawsuits are filed.

Such a configuration involving the elimination of current District 17 works fairly seamlessly, though, particularly if the final map improves for the Democratic incumbents in the politically marginal eastern PA seats of District 7 (Rep. Susan Wild-D; Allentown/ Bethlehem/Easton), and 8 (Rep. Matt Cartwright-D; Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre/Mt. Pocono). This might be enough to sell a map that forces the Democrats to take the one-seat loss in the west.

There are many ways to re-configure congressional maps, and we will soon see many versions coming from Pennsylvania and all other multi-district states. Rep. Lamb’s move to the Senate race, however, if in fact he ultimately makes the statewide jump, will significantly change the course of Pennsylvania congressional redistricting.