The majority of states have completed or come close to completing the duty of redistricting. While of course there are some that have not and in other cases like Minnesota, CO and TX which are embroiled in bitter court disputes the basic outline of redistricting effects can now be seen better.
Republicans entered the redistricting cycle at a significant advantage. Republicans had complete control of the executive and legislative branches of 17 states with 200 congressional districts between them. Democrats only completed controlled seven states with 49 districts between them. Eleven states had split party control with 85 districts between them. Eight states have their lines drawn by non-partisan commissions, making party control of government irrelevant, with 85 districts between them. Lastly, seven states are at-large districts (only have 1 district in the state).
When redistricting began most analysts said the GOP would benefit the most. This was not because the thought was the GOP might be able to gain new districts. Rather it was because the GOP could shore up the massive gains they made in 2010. Many freshmen/women Republicans who won in 2010 could have their districts made more Republican. For the most part this has held true. Republican freshman/women, have seen their districts made more Republican.
As of the writing of this post many states have already completed redistricting. But now PA, NJ, AZ and WA state (not quite done but close with a draft map) have completed their maps and these maps distinctively favor Republicans. It is quite possible the GOP could actually come out ahead gaining seats due to redistricting in 2012, that is if they hold the seats Democrats have made competitive of theirs. More so, Republicans have strengthened the likelihood of many freshmen/women Congressmen returning to Capitol Hill in 2012. Let’s do a quick recap of what redistricting looks like as of today.
First-off many states lost or gained seats due to reapportionment. The GOP states of Utah, SC, GA and TX all gained congressional seats. In every case, except TX which is embroiled in a SCOTUS case over its map the GOP is sure to make the new districts Republican. Meanwhile, the Democratic state of WA gained a new seat. But due to reapportionment Democratic states MI, NY, MA, NJ, NY and PA lost seats. This has hurt Democrats due to what Republicans have done in states like PA and MI. Only the GOP states of Missouri and Louisiana lost seats. Finally, swing states such as AZ and FL gained seats and this sets up the opportunity for the parties to gain or lose seats in the states (both use non-partisan commissions to draw their lines).
Democrats have turned the blue mega-states of CA and IL even more in their corner. Due to redistricting (even though in CA this was done through a supposedly non-partisan commission) Democrats are likely to gain 3-5 seats in each state. In CO a court gave clearance for a Democratic map to be used that puts a long-time suburban Republican seat in doubt. In Maryland, Democrats drew a map that makes competitive one of the two Republican seats. Finally in Nevada a court approved map endangers one swing Republican district while also creating another swing district. So Democrats are likely to gain around 5-10 seats due to redistricting straight-off, not including the districts they made competitive.
Now let’s look at what Republicans have done. Due to reapportionment many Republican leaning states gained seats due to population growth while many Democratic states lost seats. The GOP states of Utah, AZ, SC, GA, and TX (which is embroiled in court) are likely to see the creation of new GOP districts at the expense of Democratic districts. In GA the GOP also endangered a Democratic incumbent. Ditto in Utah. In Indiana the GOP redrew a Democratic district to favor their party. In North Carolina the GOP hit gold and is likely to gain 2-4 new seats. In PA, which lost a seat through reapportionment, the GOP made sure it was a Democratic seat and then endangered another Democratic seat. And surprisingly, in a Democratic controlled state in AR the legislature made the lone Democratic seat more Republican. But the GOP was not finished. In MI the GOP ensured one Democratic seat would be lost due to reapportionment. In LA the seat lost was Republican but in Missouri the GOP made sure one of the state’s three Democratic seats disappeared. So the GOP looks likely to gain 5-10 seats due to redistricting but has also ensured Democrats lose three seats due to reapportionment. Finally, the GOP has put Democratic seats in PA, GA and IN in danger.
Finally, we come to the states that have non-partisan commissions draw their lines. Excluding CA, the GOP appears likely to come out ahead in this category. In AZ, the GOP looks likely to see a 5R/4D Congressional delegation with the possibility of a 7R/2 D delegation in a wave year. The downside is that can flip in a wave year for Democrats. In NJ, the non-partisan commission drew a map that is likely to eliminate a Democratic seat (lost one district due to reapportionment). In WA state, a new draft map creates a likely congressional delegation of 5D/4R with one highly competitive new district through reapportionment.
So when all this is added up not only did the GOP shore up many freshman/women incumbents but they also ensured they would gain enough seats to off-set the losses Democrats made among their incumbents. The loss of Democratic seats through reapportionment might tip the scales in the GOP’s favor. And due to the work of non-partisan commissions in WA state and NJ the GOP is likely to benefit from the new maps.
While two major states have yet to redistrict, NY and FL, and a third in TX is fighting a lawsuit in the SCOTUS over their new lines it essentially looks like redistricting actually leans Republican to netting them seats in a neutral environment. This can change in a hurry depending on the results of lawsuits and NY and FL’s redistricting but at worst the results of redistricting look to be a draw for netting the party’s new seats.
Caveat: This piece is a couple weeks old.