How Redistricting is Playing Out So Far

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By Will Demartinis

As we approach the looming 2022 campaign season everyone’s favorite political guessing game of which party rigs the house further in their favor has played out. And so far, it has come with twists and surprises. In this article, we’re gonna be taking a look at just which parties did what, and what’s still to come in the endlessly wild ride of redistricting. (Partisan Lean/split date courtesy of 538)

NY State

New York has long been a Democratic bastion, voting for Joe Biden by 23.2 points back in 2020, was viewed as a prime opportunity for Democrats to draw house districts in their favor, and potentially counter other Republican gerrymanders in deep red states. And, seizing the opportunity,  Democrats did draw out approximately 1/2 of districts currently held by Republicans. In NY’s prior map, the congressional delegation split 19 Democrats to 8 Republicans. But, if using the newly passed congressional map, that margin would split 22-4 Democratic, with Dems gaining seats in the newly redrawn districts encompassing Long Island (NY’s 1st), Staten Island + surrounding NY areas (NY’s 11th), And a new central NY finger-lakes district (NY’s 22nd). These districts (According to date encompassed by 538) Share partisan leanings of Dem plus 6, D+7, and D+13 respectively. Along with picking up a few seats, Democratic incumbents also scored wins within the drawing of the new lines, scoring swathes of new territory making their formerly competitive districts more Democrat-friendly. This was one of Democrats major victories in redistricting, and it should preserve the already heavily Democratic majority further through the 2020’s. 

The Rust Belt

Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin are states all considered part of America’s “Rust Belt” Region, which was traditionally home to the steel, auto, and industrial industries that defined post 1800’s America. The Rust Belt once held a Democratic Lean, especially with Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. But upon Donald Trump’s victories in these states in 2016, they have become one of the most competitive states in the nation, and in the house. However, after the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans had swept this region in backlash to Obama’s victory in 2008, allowing them to pass highly gerrymandered districts in favor of Republicans. This time around, newly passed redistricting commissions and more favorable Democratic situations have allowed for fairer maps to be passed. Michigan’s new map creates a 4D-3C-5R Map (4 Democratic Seats, 3 competitive seats, and 5 Republican seats). This is much a great improvement vs the old map, which created a 4D-3C-8R Congressional map. Pennsylvania court ordered redistricting in 2018, which replaced the old gerrymandered Republican map, creating a partisan split of 6D-3C-9R Split. That split was virtually preserved in this year’s new map, creating a 6D-3C-8R Map (Pennsylvania lost 1 seat in redistricting). And just recently, Wisconsin’s “least change map”  proposed by governor Tony Evers (D) preserved the state’s 2D-6R map in a state Joe Biden carried in 2020. However, the map does move Wisconsin 1st Congressional District from a partisan lean of R+14 to R+6, potentially becoming a Democratic target in a favorable house election year. For now however, the map splits 2D-4R.

Texas, California, and North Carolina

Texas already held a distinction of being one of the most Gerrymandered states in the Union. However, as Texas shifts ever-more to the Democratic Party, Republicans opted to shore up their own incumbents, instead of drawing out

more Democrat-held seats. Texas’s new map moves the old partisan house lean of 8D-6C-22R To 13D-1C-24R partisan lean. This eliminates almost every competitive seat from Texas’s congressional races. It also preserves most Democratic Incumbents, but eliminates them from ever topping 14 Democratic-held seats in the near future. Further West, in California, the public commission drew a incredibly favorable map for Democrats, giving every Democratic incumbent a seat that voted for Joe Biden in 2020 by +10 points, with the states 43D-2C-7R split being preserved for the next decade, with Democrats having the chance to take 45/52 seats in California’s congressional delegation. And finally, all the way to the East, North Carolina adopted an incredibly fair Congressional map after the Democratic-leanign N.C Supreme Court struck down the old map. The new map creates a 6D-1C-7R partisan split. However, this map only is good for the 2022 Midterms. After that, the state must redraw the lines, and with Republicans having the chance to seize the N.C Supreme Court come 2022, this map may not exist for long.

Overall, Redistricting panned out more favorably to Democrats than expected in the beginning. However, most of Democrats’ new gains are in seats they already hold, preventing a total Democratic Collapse in 2022, but also limiting their gains. These new districts may also create a highly competitive 2024 house congressional election after 2022, a year in which Republicans are expected to sweep back into the house.