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
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)
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.

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Redistricting: the most important under-appreciated aspect of the 2010 elections

by: Paul Rosenberg

Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 14:15

I knew going into Netroots Nation that I had to attend the panel on redistricting.  How could I not, considering the GOP's renegade raid on the Texas congressional delegation in 2003?  The video of the event can be seen at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) website, here.  A preview press release from the DLCC explained:

"Redistricting and the Fate of Progressive Politics explains what the stakes are in this year's state legislative elections," Sargeant explained.  "Right now, Republicans will control the drawing of 106 congressional seats.  If Republicans were to pick up just 10 key state legislative seats this fall, they will gerrymander 134 congressional districts for themselves.  If the GOP pick up 55 key state legislative seats, they will draw 178 of the 435 congressional districts-178 districts designed to elect Republicans.

"On the other hand, if Democrats were to win 10 key state legislative seats in this fall's elections, we will prevent the GOP from gerrymandering its way into an artificial majority that will affect congressional elections and politics for the next decade."

I can't possibly stress the importance of redistricting too much, and I plan to be blogging about it repeatedly through the elections and beyond.  But I want to start things off fairly simply.  My points are simple:

    (1) Whatever your take on Democratic Party politics--and I'm personally quite critical of how Democrats (from Obama on down) have failed to break out of the Reaganite mindset--we can only do better by expanding the number of safe seats, and beyond that, the competitive ones. The stronger the Democratic majority, the more robust the internal debate can be.

    (2) There are no guarantees, only opportunities, and this is a classic example of how opportunities are made.

    (3) The current legislative landscape favors Democrats in redistricting. However...

    (4) The make-up of Congress due to redistricting is extremely sensative to the outcome of key legislative races--both for potentially increasing Democratic strength and for undermining it.

    (5) Democrats can make legislative gains--as they did in 2003-04, even when the national outlook isn't favorable.

    (6) The GOP has been focused on redistricting for a couple of decades now, and the Democrats are finally getting into the game with a similar level of seriousness. Now is the optimal time for all of us to join in and help out.

Here are a few charts cribbed from the DLCC to help drive some of these points home.  First, we see how Democrats have lost ground at the last two redistrictings, gaining ground in between:

As I said above, the current legislative landscape favors Democrats in redistricting:

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Future of the Electorate: 2010 Reapportionment

by: Chris Bowers

Thu May 07, 2009 at 15:48

See also The Future Electorate: Race and Ethnicity, The Future of the Electorate: Religion, and Electorate Becoming Increasingly LGBT

Today's look at the future of the electorate focuses not on cultural demographics, but rather on reapportionment of the Electoral College and U.S. House seats. Here are three possible outcomes for the post-2010 reapportionment, which will first be used in the 2012 elections for both President and U.S. House:

2010 Reapportionment
State Guaranteed Possible Outside Chance
AZ +1 +2 +2
CA 0 0 -1
FL +1 +1 +1
GA +1 +1 +1
IA -1 -1 -1
IL 0 -1 -1
LA -1 -1 -1
MA -1 -1 -1
MI -1 -1 -1
MN 0 -1 -1
MO 0 -1 -1
NC 0 0 +1
NJ -1 -1 -1
NV +1 +1 +1
NY -1 -1 -1
OH -1 -2 -2
OR 0 +1 +1
PA -1 -1 -1
SC 0 +1 +1
TX +3 +4 +4
UT +1 +1 +1
Here are the different electoral changes for 2012, based on these models:

  • Guaranteed: Obama 361-177 McCain.
    With Republicans winning Florida, Indiana, Nebraska-02, North Carolina, and Ohio (the "low hanging fruit"), it becomes Obama 287-251 Republican. The key states for Obama to hold would be Virginia (13), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), Minnesota (10), New Hampshire (4) and Pennsylvania (20). Republicans would need 18 electoral votes from that group in order to tie, and 19 to win outright.

  • Possible: Obama 359-179 McCain.
    The same scenario as above, but the low-hanging Republican fruit makes it Obama 285-253 Republican. They would need 16 electoral votes from the key swing states to tie, and 17 to win.

  • Outside Chance: Obama 359-179 McCain
    The same scenario as above, but after the low-hanging fruit Republicans would need 15 electoral votes to tie, and 16 to win.
In the extended entry, I look at the 2020 and 2030 reapportionments, which are more positive for Democrats.
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Biggest Races Regarding Redistricting

by: Mike Lux

Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 10:30

Cross-posted on Huffington Post

I am going to write a series of pieces (hopefully) over the next 24 hours laying out the biggest individual races as we head into the final two weeks of the election. My first one is on the state legislative level.  

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Some state legislatures should be prioritized

by: amberwaves

Fri Sep 19, 2008 at 23:58

Are state legislature races getting the priority they deserve? According to Tim Storey of the National Magazine of Policy and Politics, there are 28 of 84 legislatures that could go either way.  Some of them are in large states that would dramatically impact redistricting in 2011.
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House Races: Money, Incumbency, and More (II)

by: dreaminonempty

Wed Nov 28, 2007 at 17:37

( - promoted by Chris Bowers)

We know money and several other factors have major effects on House races.  But after we account for these major factors, how much advantage does incumbency give a candidate?  A gerrymandered district?  Getting caught in a scandal?

Yesterday I showed some regressions for Republican performance in House races for the years 2002, 2004, and 2006 that take account of incumbent party, fundraising ratio, and district partisan makeup.

Using these, we can tell how well we expect a Republican to do given certain conditions.  However, the regressions are not perfect - the data don't fall along the lines plotted.  There's plenty of room for other factors to be involved.  We can use the differences between what we expect and what actually happened - the residuals - to tease out the effects of additional conditions.  Below, a pack of factors, from the most important - money, party, district - to the less important ones - incumbency, gerrymandering, longevity - to the more interesting ones - scandal and failure.

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Did GOP Gerrymander Itself Out of Power?

by: dreaminonempty

Mon Nov 19, 2007 at 15:47

I'll start by showing the Permanent Republican Majority in its current form in the House - the distribution of seats according to the percent of the vote Bush had in 2000 in each district.  I've added a smooth curve through the data:

Free Image Hosting at
Click to enlarge.

Here's the distribution of Democratic House seats:

Free Image Hosting at
Click to enlarge.

The Blue Wave of the Democrats is clearly eroding that red cliff.  And there's a good 60 or so Republicans - some in oh-so-carefully gerrymandered districts - teetering right on the edge….  it looks like a couple dozen have fallen in. 

Below, the evolution of the House from 1993 to today, and a bit about redistricting. 

Cross posted at Daily Kos and Swing State Project.

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Strategies to Create More and Better Democrats

by: RandomNonviolence

Mon Sep 03, 2007 at 18:08

In posts about the Bush Dogs, Chris and Matt call for "more and better Democrats". This actually implies two separate, but complementary goals, one to get More Democrats and another to get Better Democrats, and there are several complementary strategies to achieve each of these goals:
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