Who will control the redistricting process? A state-by-state analysis

by: Taniel

Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 14:00


Heading into the next round of redistricting, which will occur in 2011, both parties would love nothing more than to draw friendly maps by controlling the entire process by which a state redraws its congressional map.

In most states, a party needs to hold the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the legislature to pull off a gerrymander. As such, the 37 gubernatorial races and hundreds of legislative races to be decided this November will determine which states get Democratic-drawn maps, Republican-drawn maps or bipartisan maps is a major stake of the 2010 cycle.

Sure, In some states the suspense is already over. In Indiana,  for instance, we already know Republicans will have the power to impose their own map, while in Nevada and Missouri control is near certain to be split. But in many states, it all remains entirely up in the air. For instance: Can Democrats undo GOP gerrymanders in Texas, Florida or Pennsylvania?  Can Republicans force a compromise in blue states like New York,  California and Illinois?

Obviously, all redistricting battles are not created equal. The  stakes are particularly high in states with a history of gerrymandered  maps and aggressive state parties willing to push their advantage, as  well as in states that are expected to gain or lose a congressional seat  since their congressional maps will necessarily be overhauled.

Arguably the most important battle will occur in  Texas, where Democrats have a shot at regaining a say after shutting out during Tom Delay's mid-decade redistricting scheme in 2003. While it is too late for Democrats to undo the damage done by Delay's map, Texas is scheduled to add at least three (possibly four) seats and how they are drawn could have a major impact on the composition of the House.

In four other states in which the GOP drew friendly maps last  time around, Democrats are hoping to gain enough power to force  bipartisan deals and thus improve their odds in House races. In Florida and Georgia, Democrats will have to win the gubernatorial race; in Ohio and Pennsylvania,  they can either keep the Governor's Mansion or defend their majorities  in the state House. (An all-Democratic map is impossible in all of these  states.)

Inversely, there are states in which the best Republicans can do is avoid an all-Democratic map. In particular, capturing New York's state Senate  would allow Republicans to remain relevant in the Empire State and  prevent state Democrats from targeting one of the few remaining GOP congresspeople for extinction. Democrats could also reap big benefits if they can control the entire process in Michigan (seems unlikely at this point), Minnesota or Illinois.

Here's a full breakdown of who might control the redistricting process in the 36 states that leave it in the hands of politicians. In parentheses are the levels of powers that are in play for every state:

Republican control
Split control
Democratic control
Indiana
Kansas
Nebraska
Utah
Louisiana
Mississippi
Missouri
Nevada
Virginia
Arkansas
Connecticut
North Carolina
West Virginia
Florida (Gov)
Georgia (Gov)
Ohio (Gov, House)
Oklahoma (Gov)
Pennsylvania (Gov, House)
South Carolina (Gov)
Tennessee (Gov, Sen, House)
Texas (Gov, House)
California (Gov)
Colorado (Gov, Ass., Sen)
Illinois (Gov)
Kentucky
Maryland (Gov)
Massachusetts (Gov)
Minnesota (Gov)
Michigan (Gov, Sen)
New Hampshire (House, Sen)
New Mexico (Gov)
New York (Sen)
Oregon (Gov, Sen)
Rhode Island (Gov, Sen)
Alabama (Gov, House, Sen)
Wisconsin (Gov, Ass., Sen)

Besides the seven states that only have one congressional district (AK, DE, MT, ND, SD, VT and WY), an additional seven use  independent or strictly bipartisan commissions:  Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Washington.

A full state-by-state analysis is available after the jump.

Taniel :: Who will control the redistricting process? A state-by-state analysis

         Near certain Democratic control

Arkansas Gov: Dem House: Dem Sen: Dem

Democrats have gigantic majorities in both chambers and are  highly likely to hold the Governorship, though Governor Mike Beebe's has  looked smaller than usual in recent polls.
Connecticut Gov: Irrelevant House: Dem Sen: Dem

Democrats have daunting majorities in both chambers of  the legislature, and since the Governor has no veto power over  congressional maps the result of the competitive gubernatorial race will  have no impact.
North Carolina Gov: Dem House: Dem Sen: Dem

Governor Bev Perdue is in power until 2013 and North Carolina is a blue-enough state at the local level that it's tough to envision Democrats losing control of either chamber. That said, if the outlook gets worse for them the GOP might still have a shot at getting a say in the process.

West Virginia Gov: Dem House: Dem Sen: Dem

Democrats have gigantic majorities in both chambers and will hold the Governorship through January 2013, even if Joe Manchin moves to the U.S. Senate.

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         Near certain Republican control

Indiana Gov: GOP House: In play Sen: GOP

Republicans will control the state Senate and the Governorship, but Democrats currently have a 52-48 edge in the state House. While the GOP is hoping to gain a majority in that chamber, thus gaining full control of the process, they are obviously not sure of achieving their goal. So why am I listing Indiana in this category? Because state law does not require the two chambers to compromise: If there is a disagreement, whichever party holds the governorship can ram its plan through. Sure, the GOP can play nice, but the inverse situation played out in 2001 so there's no reason for Mitch Daniels to give Democrats much say.

Kansas Gov: GOP House: GOP Sen: GOP

Republicans control the state legislature, and Sam Brownback is all but certain to become Governor come January. That should help the GOP weaken whatever Democratic opening remains in what is currently KS-02 and KS-03. However, it is worth noting that state Republicans often split between moderate and conservative factions and redistricting is one issue on which Democrats could find some allies on the other side of the aisle.

Nebraska Gov: GOP House: GOP Sen: GOP

Republicans safely control the legislature and the Governor's Mansion.
Utah Gov: GOP House: GOP Sen: GOP

Might Democrat Peter Corroon pull off an upset and oust Governor  Gary Herbert? Possibly. But that remains such an unlikely scenario to  that we can leave Utah in the safely GOP column.

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         Near certain split control

Louisiana Gov: GOP House: Dem Sen: Dem

Governor Bobby Jindal is in office until January 2012 while the legislature will remain in Democratic hands.

Mississippi Gov: GOP House: Dem Sen: Dem

Local elections will not be held until November 2011, so the next round of redistricting will probably be conducted by the incumbent Governor (Republican Haley Barbour) and the incumbent legislature, controlled by Democrats.
Missouri Gov: Dem House: GOP Sen: GOP

No state-level elections are scheduled until 2012, so we  know for sure that a Democratic Governor and Republican legislature will  preside over the redistricting process, making for a bipartisan map.  The state could potentially lose a district, which would heighten the  stakes.

Nevada Gov: GOP House: Dem Sen: In play

The state will add a congressional district in 2011, making  this redistricting particularly important. Given their strong majority  in the state Assembly and a relatively promising situation in the  state Senate, Democrats would have been in a great position to enjoy  full control if the GOP had not nominated such a strong gubernatorial  candidate: Brian Sandoval leads Democrat Rory Reid by daunting margins,  all but ensuring split control.

Virginia Gov: GOP House: GOP Sen: Dem

Local elections will not be held until 2013, so we already know which incumbents will be responsible for the next round of redistricting. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell will be helped by the GOP majority in the House of Delegates, but Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the Senate. (Their standing would have been far more fragile had they not picked-up a seat in a special election in January 2010; there are still rumors that a Democratic lawmaker might change parties or that McDonnell will appoint Democratic state Senators to government positions to force special elections.)

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          Democratic control or split control:

Colorado Gov: In play House: In play Sen: In play

The GOP's implosion in the state's until-recently tight  gubernatorial race should have huge consequences for redistricting.  Democrats have majorities in both chambers of the legislature, so  retaining the Governor's Mansion would give them full control -  reversing the GOP's full control from 2001. Today, this seems like the  most likely outcome. However, the GOP is hoping to pick-up the state  Assembly, in which Democrats have a 37-27 majority, and they have not  lost all hope of capturing the governorship.

Kentucky Gov: Dem House: Dem Sen: In play

With Governor Beshear in office until January 2012 and Democrats enjoying 64-35 majority in the state House, the party is sure to have a say in the redistricting process. All eyes will be on the state Senate, which the GOP controls by a narrow 20-17. Democrats have mounted pick-up efforts in special elections over the past few years, and they have some hope of taking full control come November.

Michigan Gov: In play House: Dem Sen: In play

That Republicans have some enjoying of reversing Democrats' large majority in the state House (66-43) is a testament to how tough Michigan has become - though this scenario still remains improbable enough that I am not listing the state House as being in play.

While Democrats could win the open Governor's race and capture the state Senate thanks to a large number of open seats (Republicans currently control it 22-17), the most likely scenario is that the process will be split. Note that Michigan's previous map was drawn by an all-GOP process and it is friendly to Republicans, so even a bipartisan map is an improvement for Democrats.

New Hampshire Gov: Dem House: In play Sen: In play

The huge blue wave of 2006 carried Democrats to unexpectedly gigantic gains in both chambers of the legislature - and the GOP is hoping to return the favor in 2010. No matter what happens in legislative races, Governor John Lynch looks safe.

New York Gov: Dem House: Dem Sen: In play

With Democrats sure to control the Governor's Mansion (Andrew Cuomo has a huge lead in polls) and the state Assembly, all eyes are on the narrowly divided state Senate which Republicans are hoping to regain after just 2 years in the minority.

Oregon Gov: In play House: Dem Sen: In play

While Democrats currently hold the Governorship, the state  Senate and the state House, Republicans are going after all three in  2010. While the House looks out of reach (Democrats have a 36-24 edge),  the Senate (Democrats are up 18-12) and most notably the Governorship,  where polls show a tight race, could go either way.

CA, IL, MD, MA, MN, NM, RI Gov: In play House: Dem Sen: Dem

The situation is exactly the same in each of these states. Democrats are safely in control of both chambers of the state legislature, so each state's gubernatorial race will determine whether they enjoy full control over the redistricting process or whether they need to compromise. (A note about California: State politicians have a history of drawing maps protecting incumbents of both parties, so the stakes might not be as high as you'd expect.)

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         Republican control or split control:

Florida Gov: In play House: GOP Sen: GOP

A very important state in terms of redistricting, since the last GOP gerrymander allowed the party to dominate the state's congressional delegation despite Florida's competitive nature. With Republicans in solid control of the legislature, the best Democrats can hope for is forcing a bipartisan map - which would already be a big improvement - by carrying Alex Sink to victory in the Governor's race; her fortunes have  considerably improved in recent weeks due to a bloodbath in the GOP primary.

Georgia Gov: In play House: GOP Sen: GOP

When they took control of the state legislature in 2004, Republicans pushed through a mid-decade redistricting plan that made life much harder for Democratic incumbents. Democrats would love nothing more than have a say in the next round, and their only hope of achieving that is for former Governor Roy Barnes to win his job back. The race is currently a toss-up.

Ohio and Pennsylvania Gov: In play House: In play Sen: GOP

Two of the most important redistricting battles are likely to be fought in these states, where the slightest redrawings could change the fortunes of many congresspeople. Interestingly, the situation in both is exactly the same. Republicans have a strong majority in the state Senate, so they are sure to have a voice in the process; the question is whether they can seize full control by winning the Governor's Mansion and regaining the state Houses, both of which are currently in Democratic control.

The situation is far more promising for Republicans in Pennsylvania: Their gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett is currently favored and they have a strong shot at closing their 104-99 deficit in the House. At this point, it would be a huge achievement if Democrats can keep a foot in the process. Democrats' odds are better in Ohio, but everything is possible. Governor Ted Strickland is in a dead heat and Democrats' 53-46 majority in the House could be reversed.

Oklahoma Gov: In play House: GOP Sen: GOP

Republicans are likely to control the entire redistricting process, not that it should matter that much since Democratic Rep. Dan Boren already represents a massively red district. That said, Democrats could invite themselves to the redistricting table if Jari Askins can overcome the state's red lean to win the Governor's race.

Tennessee Gov: In play House: In play Sen: In play

Technically, Democrats can hope to gain full control over the redistricting process - but that would require them to pull quite an unlikely sweep: win the Governor's Mansion, which the GOP is currently clearly favored to pick-up; and pick-up the state Senate and the state House, in which they are down 19-14 and 50-49, respectively. By far the more interesting question is whether the GOP can secure all three levels of power. Complicating matter is the bizarre situation in the House, where in 2009 Democrats managed to install a moderate Republican in the Speaker position in an unusual power-sharing agreement.

Texas Gov: In play House: In play Sen: GOP

With Texas set to add at least 3 new congressional districts,  the stakes are huge for Democrats to regain at least some say in the  process - and we all remember what happened when they lost control of  the legislature in 2002. Heading into the next round of redistricting,  Republicans are hoping to keep full control but Democrats have a shot at  regaining either the Governor's Mansion (Houston Mayor Bill White  trails incumbent Rick Perry by single-digits in polls) or the state  House (they are currently down 77-73).

South Carolina Gov: In play House: GOP Sen: GOP

The more likely scenario is for Republicans to fully control  the redistricting process, since they have solid majorities in the  legislature and are favored to retain the Governor's Mansion. However,  the possibility that Vince Shaheen defeats Niki Haley in the gubernatorial race cannot be ruled out.

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         Republican control, Democratic control or split control:

Alabama Gov: In play House: In play Sen: In play

You would think Democrats' 60 to 45 majority in the state House is large enough to guarantee them control in the next legislature, but the GOP is confident enough it will score large gains that the lower chamber looks vulnerable - just like the upper chamber, which Democrats control 20-15.

With Republicans favored to defend the open gubernatorial race, that could give them a shot at controlling all levels of power. That said, all it would take is for Ron Sparks to become Governor and for his party to not lose too much ground in legislative races for Democrats to have full control. But does any of this matter? Even if Bobby Bright survives in AL-02, how much worse could Republicans make his seat?

Wisconsin Gov: In play House: In play Sen: In play

Everything is up in the air in the Badger State! At the moment, Democrats control both chambers and the governorship at the moment.. Yet, the open Governor's race is one of the tightest in the country, and the Democratic advantage is tenuous in both chambers (18-15 in the Senate, 52-46 in the House).


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Great Summary (4.00 / 3)
Thanks for an extremely well written diary.  These races are so important long-term and it is great to see a global summary.  

Although 2010 shows all signs of being a year for republican gains, I am fantasizing about waking up the morning after the election to learn that the democrats hold the governorships in CA, TX, FL, OH, and GA.  That would splash cold water on any republican claim of a huge year.  And, as you say, each race is winnable, although every one is tough and the republicans have just as good a chance of sweeping them all.   Here is where a few votes in a few places can make a big difference for a decade.  Same is true, of course, on a control of a number of state chambers.  

Another note.  Florida may pass redistricting reform, taking the process away from the legislature.  


True (0.00 / 0)
I did not make note of possible changes in redistricting law - but Florida, California and Oregon (and possibly other states) might pass initiatives taking redistricting out of politicians' hands.

True (0.00 / 0)
I did not make note of possible changes in redistricting law - but Florida, California and Oregon (and possibly other states) might pass initiatives taking redistricting out of politicians' hands.

Oregon and California should just say no (4.00 / 1)
depoliticizing the process is, I fear most likely to occur in Dem controlled states and would amount, therefore, to unilateral disarmament. If Brown wins we should be taking the Delay treatment to the California delegation and in Oregon we can redraw to make the 2nd to be competitive once again and the 5th much less competitive. Let's spread some of Earl's enormous margins into the 2nd and the 5th and lock that state down.

If Dr. Kitzhaber actually loses to Dudley I may have to poke out my eyes.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
Right (0.00 / 0)
If Prop 20 passes, then Congressional districts would be drawn by the Prop 11 commission. This would almost certainly reduce the number of Democrats, though perhaps not by a large number (Central Valley and Inland Empire Dems would be vulnerable). It would also force Pelosi to tie down resources in California, instead of elsewhere.

Of course, Prop 27 would abolish the Prop 11 commission entirely and leave all redistricting - for both state and federal seats - in the hands of the Legislature, which would be highly likely to produce another 2001-style incumbent protection plan.


[ Parent ]
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