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Post Redistricting Competitive Seats

Redistricting has now been completed in 20 multi-congressional district states, so this is a good time to examine the races viewed as competitive in the places with new district boundaries. 

Alabama

The Alabama legislature and Governor Kay Ivey (R) completed their work and delivered a plan similar to the 6R-1D map that is currently in place. At one point, it appeared Alabama would lose a congressional seat, but such proved not the case. Therefore, redistricting became relatively simple in a state where Republicans dominate politically.

Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-Birmingham) Voting Rights seat was the most under-populated CD needing 53,143 individuals to meet Alabama’s 717,754 per district resident quota. Such a people swing was easily completed because Reps. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) 5th District and Gary Palmer’s (R-Hoover) 6th CD were over-populated.

Arkansas

The state’s new four-district congressional plan easily passed the Republican legislature, but was enacted without Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s (R) signature. The main change was making Rep. French Hill*’s (R-Little Rock) 2nd District more Republican. The map is likely to continue performing favorably for all four Republican incumbents.

Colorado

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission was the first entity to complete the new maps, and with the state Supreme Court giving final approval in late October, it is unlikely that we will see lawsuits being filed. The map gives all seven current incumbents a place to run with only Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Arvada) 7th District becoming substantially more competitive. Mr. Perlmutter will still be the clear favorite to win again next November, but his current 60-37% Biden district is gone.

The major difference for the coming decade is the addition of a new 8th District, and the Commission members decided to make this seat competitive. Sitting north and northeast of Denver and encompassing the cities of Thornton, Westminster, and Greeley, this new district gives the Democrats only a slight one point advantage. In 2022, this seat will certainly be in play for both parties.

Georgia

The legislature and Gov. Brian Kemp (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a gain of one seat. The big difference comes in the northern Atlanta suburbs. Returning Rep. Lucy McBath’s (D-Marietta) 6th District to a Republican domain sees her declaring for re-election in the adjacent 7th District where she will face freshman Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) in a primary battle. Also in the race is state Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville) who says she is the only candidate who actually lives in the district.

The new 7th contains more of Rep. Bourdeaux’s territory, but Ms. McBath likely has the stronger ideological base. This will be a tight and hard fought nomination contest, but the winner earns a safe Democratic district for the general election.

Idaho

The Gem State was the nation’s second fastest growing entity in the previous decade, but they did not gain a third congressional seat. The map drawers only needed to swap 35,338 individuals from Rep. Russ Fulcher’s (R-Meridian) 1st District to Rep. Mike Simpson*’s (R-Idaho Falls) 2nd CD in order to meet the state’s huge 919,513 per district population quota, the largest in the nation. Should the Idaho growth trend continue in its current pattern, expect the state to earn a third district in the 2030 reapportionment. This map will remain safely 2R-0D.

Illinois

The Democratic legislature and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) created a new gerrymandered congressional map that will cost the minority Republicans a net loss of three seats, counting absorbing the state’s one-seat reduction in reapportionment.

Adding a second Hispanic seat in Chicago forces a pairing between Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and freshman Marie Newman (D-La Grange) in a new 6th District. Rep. Casten has stronger institutional support, but the new 6th contains a bit more of Rep. Newman’s current constituency and she has more support from the ideological base.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger* (R-Channahon) was left without a district, so he is not seeking re-election. Freshman Rep. Mary Miller (R-Oakland) will either choose an incumbent pairing campaign with Rep. Rodney Davis* (R-Taylorville) in the new 15th CD or Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) in the southern Illinois 12th District.

Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) loses his base city of Peoria, but gets a new meandering 16th District that begins on the Wisconsin border and travels to the center of the state. The seat, however, is one that Mr. LaHood can win and hold. Democrats attempted to strengthen the open 17th District by stretching it through the cities of Rockford, Rock Island, Moline, Galesburg, Peoria, and Bloomington, but a strong Republican such as 2020 nominee Esther Joy King is expected to run a competitive campaign here. The early prognostications suggest the state will break 14D-3R.

Indiana

The state legislature and Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) adopted a nine-district map that will likely retain the 7R-2D partisan division. The main change was making freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-Noblesville) 5th District more Republican, which was relatively easy to do since it is this Hoosier State seat that was forced to shed the most population, 50,921 residents.

Iowa

The Hawkeye State employs a unique redistricting method. The Legislative Services Agency is tasked with drawing formulaic maps, of which the legislature can veto. Such was the case concerning the first draft plan that would have likely cost the Republicans a seat.

The second draw was approved, and we now see a four-district map that features only one safe seat, the 4th District of freshman Rep. Randy Feenstra* (R-Hull). Though former President Donald Trump carried all four of the state’s districts, he did so with very tight margins in Districts 1-3. Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks* (R-Ottumwa) and Ashley Hinson* (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) will face competitive challengers, as will Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines). The political climate will greatly affect the three competitive districts not only in 2022, but potentially for the balance of the decade.

Maine

The new two-district Pine Tree State map is similar to the previous design except that a net 23,031 people had to move from Rep. Chellie Pingree’s (D-North Haven/Portland) 1st District to Rep. Jared Golden’s (D-Lewiston) 2nd CD. This was done largely by moving the capital city of Augusta from the 1st to the 2nd.

The people switch made the 2nd slightly more Democratic for Rep. Golden, but former President Trump would have still carried the seat. With ex-Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) attempting a political comeback next year, the ME-2 campaign will be one of the most competitive in the nation.

Massachusetts

The Democratic legislature and Republican Gov. Charlie Baker agreed on a new congressional map that will keep the state’s 9D-0R delegation in tact. The Bay State remained relatively constant in a population context, with the exception of having to add 50,635 individuals to Rep. Richard Neal’s (D-Springfield) western Massachusetts 1st District.

Montana

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission for the first time had a congressional map to draw. The state rose from at-large status to gaining a new district in reapportionment due to strong population growth. Montana is the first multi-district state to ever fall into at-large status, as it did in the 1990 census, and then regain a second district.

Though more Democratic maps were filed for commission consideration, the main Republican offered map was adopted. One of the Democratic commissioners voted for the plan, which allowed the GOP version to prevail. Still, all of the maps created an east and west seat, with the new western seat, labeled District 1, being the more competitive.

At-large Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) will run in the safely Republican eastern District 2, while former Congressman and ex-US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be the early leader in the western district both in the Republican primary and general election. While relatively competitive, the 1st District will clearly nominate a Republican who will be the general election favorite.

Nebraska

The unicameral legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) enacted a new congressional map that should again deliver a 3R-0D delegation. Rep. Don Bacon*’s (R-Papillion/Omaha) marginal 2nd District - Joe Biden carried the district by more than 22,000 votes - is strengthened for the incumbent, but it still remains a competitive congressional domain.

Nevada

The Democratic legislature and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) enacted a map that is designed to produce a 3D-1R map but, in attempting to maximize the Democratic stake, possibly all three of the party’s intended seats now fall into the potentially competitive realm.

In 2020, Clark County hosted two of the 53 districts nationally where the winning candidate scored less than 52%. In 3rd District Rep. Susie Lee’s (D-Las Vegas) case, her victory percentage was less than 49%. Fourth District incumbent Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) fared only slightly better at 50.7%. In order to strengthen these two districts, a large number of Democrats had to be taken from the previously safe seat of 1st District Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas).

The end result is three Democratic seats in the lower 50s. In a Republican year, and considering the GOP is beginning to score better with Hispanics who comprise over 31% of the Clark County population, all three seats could conceivably host competitive challenge campaigns. Rep. Mark Amodei* (R-Carson City), the lone Republican incumbent in the Nevada delegation, gets a safe northern state seat.

North Carolina

The courts have been playing ping pong with the North Carolina map this week. A three-judge panel first issued a stay order on the Tar Heel State’s December 17th candidate filing deadline pertaining to a redistricting lawsuit before the court. A day later, the full 15-member state Appellate Court overturned the panel’s ruling, and restored the original filing deadline. Yesterday, the state Supreme Court quickly reinstated the candidate filing stay and ordered the March 8th primary postponed until May 17th.

The North Carolina map is the national Republicans’ best to date. If surviving the legal challenge, the GOP could net as many as three seats in the delegation. It appears that five seats will be open with Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) and David Price (D-Chapel Hill) retiring, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) running for Senate, while two more seats are created through reapportionment and the map drawing process. Under the enacted map, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) and Virginia Foxx* (R-Banner Elk) are paired in a new 11th District that would heavily favor the GOP nominee.

Ohio

The legislature and Gov. Mike DeWine (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a one-seat gain, or could conceivably yield the Democrats a similar outcome. Three of the state’s 15 new districts are highly competitive - Ohio lost one seat in reapportionment - with two currently in Democratic hands and one under GOP control.

Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), and the open 13th District seat of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren), now located on the west side of Cleveland, are all tightly constructed partisan districts. In the remaining seats, Republicans hold a large 10-2 advantage. Retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez*’s (R-Rocky River) 16th District has effectively been collapsed.

Oklahoma

As predicted, the Oklahoma political establishment created a 5R-0D map, with the major change coming in freshman Rep. Stephanie Bice*’s (R-Oklahoma City) 5th District. Bringing Rep. Frank Lucas’ (R-Cheyenne) western 3rd CD into Oklahoma County to absorb some Democratic voters and adding more rural territory to the 5th makes the latter previously competitive seat safely Republican.

Oregon

The Democratic legislature and Gov. Kate Brown (D) created a new six-district map that they hope will produce a 5D-1R Democratic advantage. Attempting to maximize the delegation could prove costly, however. With Rep. Peter DeFazio* (D-Springfield) retiring, his new 4th District, Rep. Kurt Schrader*’s (D-Canby) 5th CD, and the newly created 6th District - Oregon gained a seat in reapportionment - could become competitive.

The 5th District, in particular, where Rep. Schrader’s Democratic base shrinks and over half of the district population is new to him, will be hotly contested in 2022. The new map, likely to prevail over any eventual lawsuit, will feature a newfound burst of activity coming from a normally moribund Oregon Republican Party.

Texas

The Texas redistricting process went more smoothly than expected. The state House Republicans were able to forge a coalition to pass their own map, which was the most controversial of the three, and later the congressional map that protected all current incumbents seeking re-election and split the two new seats the Lone Star State earned in reapportionment.

Republicans could gain what is now an open border district as Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) is leaving his 15th CD to run in the Brownsville anchored 34th District, the seat from which Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) is retiring. Former President Donald Trump would have carried the new 15th by approximately three percentage points.

The biggest news, an expected development, is the US Justice Department filing a lawsuit against the congressional map under the Voting Rights Act relating to the minority districts draw. It remains to be seen if the federal court will take any action before the early Texas political cycle fully begins. The candidate filing deadline is December 13th for the associated March 1st state primary.

Utah

The Utah legislature and Gov. Spencer Cox (R) enacted a new congressional map that splits the Salt Lake City metro area into all four of the state’s CDs. This is a common approach for a small state housing one dominant population center. The effect of the map turns the state’s most competitive district, the 4th CD of freshman Rep. Burgess Owens* (R-Salt Lake City), into the safest Republican seat of the four.

The task was made easier because the 4th was forced to shed 65,409 people while the other three districts needed to gain population. Holding 817,904 individuals per congressional district, Utah’s CDs will be the third largest in the nation when the new Congress convenes in 2023.

West Virginia

Though the Republicans have a legislative trifecta in West Virginia, controlling the Governor’s office, the state Senate, and the state House, the GOP will lose a seat in redistricting. West Virginia lost population during the decade, and as a result, the state’s delegation was reduced from three Republican seats to two. This forces Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) to either run in the northern district against veteran Rep. David McKinley* (R-Wheeling) or the southern seat of two-term Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington).

Mr. Mooney chose to square off with Mr. McKinley in the 2022 Republican primary, which will feature a highly competitive congressional contest to be settled May 10th. Regardless of how that primary turns out, the Mountain State will send a 2R-0D delegation to the next Congress. 


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