Tag Archives: Redistricting

Today’s Election Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — Today is a significant Election Day, and the menu of races stretches beyond a Virginia governor’s race that has attracted the lion’s share of political attention.

While the VA governor’s race will of course be top of mind as results come in tonight and analysts attempt to assign precursor status to the contest regardless of the final result, other campaigns will also be of significance.

In the Virginia race, if Republican Glenn Youngkin scores an upset win, and the late indications are clearly moving his way, it may be cast as an affront to the Biden Administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress relating to their legislative agenda. In actuality, it is a more locally based issue, education, that should correctly be cast as the linchpin to describe a Youngkin victory.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) debate comment saying he did not believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” will actually prove to be the key turning point to a Youngkin victory should it materialize. In McAuliffe wins, then the talk of a coming Republican wave election next year will certainly dissipate at least in the short term.

In addition to the Virginia governor’s race, the remainder of the statewide ticket, the lieutenant governor and attorney general races could be of significance. If Winsome Sears (R), running for lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares (R), running for attorney general, both win their races to compliment a Youngkin victory, then talk of a clear precursor or budding Republican wave election will carry a more serious tone.

New Jersey voters will decide their governor’s contest as well. In Jersey, late polling, after seeing some closer numbers not even 10 days ago, seems to show Gov. Phil Murphy (D) pulling away from Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the closing week. The final result will likely be closer than most analysts would have projected at the beginning of the odd-numbered year election cycle, however.

In both Virginia and New Jersey, voters will also be electing members of the state legislature. In the Old Dominion, only the House of Delegates is on the ballot, as state senators, with their four year terms, won’t face the voters as a unit until the 2023 election cycle.

In the Garden State, both parties are projecting they will gain seats, but no one believes the strong Democratic majorities in the state Senate and Assembly are in any danger. In the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans need to convert a net six seats to re-claim the majority they lost in the 2019 election.

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Illinois Redistricting Advances;
Rep. Kinzinger Out

Latest Illinois Congressional redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — On Friday, the Illinois legislature voted to send a new congressional redistricting map to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), altering what they had drawn at the beginning of last week. This third map design came largely because of objections from both Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange) who had been paired in one Chicago suburban district for the 2022 party primary.

A recent court decision rejecting the Illinois state legislative maps influenced the Democratic leadership to draw a second congressional map. A 10-year argument as to whether a second Hispanic seat should be drawn in Chicago this time became the principle discussion point.

In the 2011 redistricting plan, such a seat wasn’t drawn, and also wasn’t part of this year’s original Illinois congressional map. Seeing the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) already threatening to sue over the first draw even before a final map had been adopted clearly was a factor in creating a second plan that did feature an additional Hispanic seat.

While this new third congressional version did assuage Rep. Casten and MALDEF, such was not the case for freshman Rep. Newman. She remains paired, but now with Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) in an inner city Hispanic district. This is an even more difficult situation for Newman. She appears to be a leadership target likely because she defeated Chicago machine Democrat Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, and this latest map could well be a payback for her challenging the local party authorities.

Another political casualty is Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). Facing a paired situation with Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) in a Republican primary for the newly drawn 16th District — mostly foreign territory for Kinzinger in a seat that stretches from the Wisconsin border all the way to central Illinois — the congressman announced on Friday that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.

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First California Map Released

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission released its first congressional redistricting map in rudimentary form, not even including district numbers.

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2021 — The California Citizens Redistricting Commission released its first congressional map, and, while a long way from completion, the first edition gives us an idea as to where the members are headed. Though the map was released for public comment, it is rudimentary in form, not even including district numbers.

Since California loses a seat in reapportionment, the mystery of which area and political party will absorb the seat loss appears to be answered. Using raw numbers, because all 18 congressional districts that are self-contained within or partially occupy Los Angeles County need more residents, the seat loss should come there.

Such is the case with this first commission map, and it is the district that Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) is vacating to run for mayor. Most of the current Bass district is collapsed into Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Los Angeles) seat under this first plan. If this were the final draw, Democrats would sustain the seat loss.

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report released a partial analysis of the map, and finds that each party would benefit in an equivalent number of seats. Using the Biden-Trump ’20 numbers, the incumbents getting the worst draws appear to be Reps. Darrell Issa (R-San Diego), Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), and Josh Harder (D-Turlock/Modesto).

The Issa seat in San Diego appears to annex the Democratic city of Chula Vista before expanding all the way to Arizona through Imperial and Riverside Counties. It would move from a Trump plus-6 to a Biden plus-3 according to the Wasserman analysis. The Issa district was radically changed even though the current version required only 3,240 more people to meet the state population quota of 760,350 residents per congressional district.

Rep. Nunes’ Central Valley district would move from a Trump plus-5 seat to a Biden plus-3 but still maintain most of the congressman’s political base. Rep. Nunes’ current 22nd District is one of 18 CDs that are over-populated, the sixth highest in fact, having to shed 27,443 individuals. Clearly, most of the exiting individuals are from Republican areas.

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The Trifecta States

By Jim Ellis

In the trifecta of political parties controlling the House, Senate and Executive branches in a state, how many will actually benefit from that power in the redistricting process?

Oct. 11, 2021 — As the redistricting cycle moves forward, predictions are being made as to which party will benefit most through the decennial district boundary drawing process. Most analyses favor the Republicans as the party best positioned to gain under 2021 redistricting largely because of the number of states they control outright, but this could be an over-statement.

When a state features one party in control of the governor’s mansion, state House, and state Senate, the horse racing term of “trifecta” is used to describe such a political situation. Since Republicans hold 23 trifectas and Democrats just 15, it appears on the surface that the GOP will be the big gainer in redistricting.

Let’s look a bit closer because the aggregate trifecta number doesn’t tell the whole story.

On the Republican side, though they control 23 states, their redistricting position is lessened when examining their ability to extract a net gain of congressional seats.

Of their 23, in one, West Virginia, they are a sure bet to lose a seat. In this case, Republicans hold all three of the state’s CDs, but reapportionment reduces the Mountain State to two districts. Therefore, Republicans will unavoidably absorb the loss.

In two of their states, Arizona and Montana, a non-politician commission will draw the maps. In another dozen (Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming) the GOP is already at the max level of partisan members and can’t stretch the new plan further.

In Iowa and Texas, though Republicans have trifecta control, legislative rules lessen their complete power; hence, the redistricting outcome is affected.

Finally, the GOP only has effective redistricting control in six states, and in two of those, Oklahoma and Tennessee, it could arguably backfire if the party tries to expand their ratio further. Therefore, it is in really just four states, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Ohio where we could see Republican redistricting gains.

The Democrats find themselves in similar position. From their 15 trifectas, they only have redistricting control in five, possibly, and realistically, three states. In five of their 15 (California, Colorado, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington) redistricting goes to a citizens’ commission.

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The Lost California Seat

Los Angeles, California-area Congressional Districts


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2021 — Continuing our series about the states losing seats in reapportionment and which members might be on the outside looking in, today we analyze the Golden State of California. The largest US House delegation will downsize one seat, meaning it will send 52 members to the next Congress.

To put the California population change into historical perspective, during the 1980 census the state gained seven new US House seats. In the 2010 census, for the first time in history, California did not add, and now we see actual reduction.

For the second time, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will draw the congressional map and under specific criteria. The districts are supposed to be constructed on a nonpartisan basis without regard to specific incumbents’ residences or political situation, adhere to the Voting Rights Act pertaining to their substantial number of majority minority districts, and keep cities and counties whole where possible.

Looking at the actual census population by district as opposed to the previously published census estimates, changes in which districts may be on the chopping block are evident. Under the estimates, it appeared that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) was the low population CD, but his 28th District seat now is 12th from the bottom. The new low is veteran Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), whose 40th District needs to gain 70,139 people.

Of the current 53 districts, 35 must gain population while 18 will shed; hence, the reason the state is losing a seat. From a county perspective, it appears the Los Angeles members will be most at risk. A total of 18 congressional districts encompass LA County including nine that are wholly-contained. The other nine districts cross county borders into such places as Kern, Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura.

Of the 18 districts wholly or partially within the LA County borders, Democrats represent 15 and Republicans just three. Only one of these 18, the 23rd District of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), must shed population. Though certain other places in the state are also resident-low, there is a good possibility that the seat reduction will come from one of the Los Angeles districts, particularly among the nine seats wholly within the county since all of those contiguous seats must gain residents.

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