A lower New York state appellate court ruled that the court-ordered 2022 congressional election map is to be returned to the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission for a redraw.
Before the last election, the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, made the original ruling that created the current map saying the legislature did not have the authority to draw when the Commission failed to do so in 2021. The lower court, however, agreed with the Democratic plaintiffs in rejecting the argument that the lines can only be drawn once in a decade.
Republicans will undoubtedly move to the Court of Appeals – New York does not have a state Supreme Court – for further consideration. The fact that the measure would then return to the same judicial panel that issued the final 2022 ruling suggests that Republicans may have a chance to prevail.
Democrats want a different congressional playing field because the Republicans gained a net three seats in the delegation during the 2022 elections. In contrast, the rejected legislature’s map would likely have only yielded the Republicans four of the state’s 26 congressional districts. Under the court map, GOP candidates won 11 seats, meaning we now see a 15D-11R New York delegation in the current House of Representatives.
The map may not be the principal reason Republicans found success in the 2022 election, however. Under the court’s map, using statistics from both the nonpartisan FiveThirtyEight and Dave’s Redistricting App data organizations, the Republicans should have won only seven seats, which would actually have meant a net loss of one when compared to the previous 2020 election results.
The difference is Republican candidates winning in Democratic seats. The now infamous Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island) won his 3rd District where Democrats held a D+4 advantage according to 538 and a 56.4D – 42.0R partisan lean advantage that Dave’s App calculated.
In the neighboring 4th District, freshman Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) won what is arguably the most Democratic seat that sends a Republican to the House in the 2022 national election cycle. Long Island’s 4th CD carries a D+10 rating from 538, and a 59.6D – 38.9R Dave’s App partisan lean.
Turning to the Hudson Valley, freshman Rep. Mike Lawler* (R-Pearl River) upset Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney in a 17th District that 538 rates D+7, and where Dave’s App calculates a 56.6D – 41.3R partisan lean. Here, other factors were in play that certainly contributed to Rep. Lawler’s victory. Rep. Maloney deciding to run here and forcing then-Rep. Mondaire Jones (D) out of his seat sat poorly with many Democratic activists and voters and may have caused a notable backlash against the veteran Congressman.
Finally, in the Syracuse anchored 22nd District seat, freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) won a seat that carried a D+2 rating from 538, with a Dave’s App partisan lean calculation of 53.4D – 43.1R. The 22nd was recrafted from former Rep. John Katko’s 24th District, a seat that was competitive throughout the decade but produced a Republican win in all but one election. The same pattern held true in 2022, but with a different GOP candidate.
Therefore, claiming that the New York Republican congressional victories were due to a favorable GOP map is a bit of a misnomer to say the least. In fact, each of these aforementioned members will be endangered in 2024 even under the existing congressional boundaries.
The lower appellate court action and subsequent legal wrangling to follow means we are still months away from a final resolution to the New York congressional map controversy. Regardless of what ultimately happens, count on another very active US House election cycle in New York. The eventual outcome in the Empire State may well be definitive in determining which party will control the chamber in the next Congress.
*denotes candidate received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2023-2024 election cycle.
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