Gerrymandering: Republicans may already be winning the 2022 election

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Thanks to creatively partisan drawing of congressional maps after the 2020 census, the GOP is already poised to flip multiple House seats from blue to red. An analysis by The New York Times suggests Republicans could get the five seats they need for a majority simply from redistricting.

Others are not so sure. The Cook Political Report has predicted Republicans will end up gaining 2.5 seats from redistricting.

Advantage GOP. The bottom line from the Times report suggests Republicans are on the road to juicing the historical advantage enjoyed by an out-of-power party in the midterm elections.

Even before any boost from redistricting, Republicans do not have far to go to take the House.

The GOP started with the advantage. It controls more state legislatures and is squeezing more safe seats out of those states.

Republicans control the redistricting process in states that oversee 179 House seats. Democrats control the process in states that oversee just 75 seats.

The rest are either overseen by divided governments or bipartisan or nonpartisan commissions, or they have a single member of Congress.

North Carolina is an example. CNN’s John Avlon looked specifically at North Carolina, a state that is essentially even in party registration between Republicans and Democrats. The state legislature, however, gave Republicans a 10-4 seat advantage in the new congressional maps, he said on “New Day.”

“Look at the maps, you’d think the state grew more White and more rural, which traditionally means more Republican,” he said. “That’s despite a census showing that North Carolina grew more diverse and less White over the past decade. That’s the rigged system of redistricting in action.” Watch his segment.
That would be a pickup of two seats in North Carolina over the current ratio of eight Republicans to five Democrats, which exists only because courts required gerrymandered maps to be redrawn in 2020.

Advantage in Texas. It’s a similar story in Texas, where competitive seats were replaced with safe ones and one seat was tilted toward Republicans.

“The number of majority-White districts would increase, even though the growing Hispanic population is almost entirely responsible for Texas gaining two seats in the US House in the reapportionment process,” wrote CNN’s Eric Bradner last month.
Advantage in Ohio. Republicans won about 55% of the vote in Ohio in the 2020 presidential contest. But they’d have the advantage in up to 12 of the state’s 15 congressional seats in maps pushed by the Republican-controlled state Senate, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Ignoring independent commissions. Utah’s legislators ignored an independent redistricting commission blessed by voters and instead pushed a map that sliced Salt Lake City into four separate districts, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, and diluted the state’s only currently Democratic district, pushing it toward Republicans.

There will be legal fights over these various maps, but after the census was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s less time for courts to work.

Read the tea leaves. More Democrats are retiring so far this cycle, according to CNN’s Ethan Cohen, who tracks these things. He writes: At this point in the 2020 cycle (11/16/2019) 28 House members (20 R, 8 D) were on track to leave the chamber at the end of the term, including 6 members (3 R, 3 D) who were running for higher offices.

Tuesday it was Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, who became the 25th House member (15 Democratic, 10 Republican) to announce she won’t run for reelection. That includes nine (five Republican, four Democratic) who are running for Senate or governor.
A retirement in the Senate, too. The other major retirement announced this week is Sen. Patrick Leahy, the long-serving Vermont Democrat. Cohen points out Leahy is the sixth senator and first Democrat to announce he won’t be seeking another term. Overall, Republicans will be defending 20 Senate seats and Democrats will be defending 14 in 2022.
Senate state of play. CNN’s Simone Pathe has the November version of her semiregular update of 10 Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022.

What’s happened in a month? The seats themselves are unchanged and Republicans are defending a lot more of them. But the landscape feels completely different than it did a few months ago, before Republicans pulled off an upset victory in the Virginia governor’s race. They’ve still got hurdles and some flawed candidates, as Pathe writes.

The GOP is more excited about its chances in races in states like New Hampshire and Colorado.

Despite all that, Pathe’s analysis is that the seat most likely to flip is still Pennsylvania, where Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican, is retiring.

From the archive: Republicans in Vermont. Check out this report on the last time a Republican represented Vermont in the Senate. The year was 2001 — not that long ago, really. The Republican was Sen. Jim Jeffords.

The Senate then, as now, was split 50-50. Jeffords was a moderate Northeasterner who had grown uncomfortable with the GOP. Rather than see the White House cut education funding, among other things, he left the party and thereby handed control of the Senate to Democrats. This Time magazine report I found on CNN’s website makes the operation sound like a Cold War defection.

Education then and now. I was struck by Jeffords’ frustrations with an increasingly conservative GOP. That resonates today.

What I found more interesting was his anger at cutting education funding. Education, we learned after the Virginia governor’s race, is going to be the top single issue for Republicans heading into 2022. The question will be whether parents want more money for schools or more individual say over their kids’ experiences.



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