Redistricting Preview: Election Data Services Releases Reapportionment Model
Written by Noah Rothman on September 27, 2010, 4:41 PM
Election Data Services released a preliminary report of its reapportionment estimates that serve as a window into the future of redistricting as that process ramps up over the next two years.
Ahead of the release of U.S. Census data, collected earlier this year, the EDS uses population estimates from July 2009 to conclude that 11 states could lose at least one seat in the U.S. House after reapportionment: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania are sure to lose at least one seat. Ohio will likely lose two. Rhode Island and Nebraska may also lose a seat, depending on the results of the census data.
Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington are all set to gain a seat. Texas could gain as many as four seats, but a three seat gain is more likely.
The 2010 elections will have a major impact on the layout of the state legislatures and governorships that will determine how districts are reapportioned. Noting that the election is still several weeks away, and with the caveat that circumstances that favor Republicans could change between now and November, the GOP is in a good position to make significant gains following redistricting.
In Illinois the Democrats control both houses of the state legislature and are not likely to lose control this year. The legislature will look to the 10th District, previously held by GOP Senate candidate Mark Kirk, to make this swing district a bit less competitive.
Republicans presently hold no congressional seats in Massachusetts, but there is a chance that Republican candidate Jeff Perry may win the race for Massachusetts 10th District in Cape Cod. The state legislature, overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, will look to reapportion areas of this district if he should win.
Louisiana’s Republicans have a good chance this year to flip the state House from Democratic to Republican. The GOP needs one seat to draw even, and two to take control. The battle for the state Senate is a bit more difficult for Republicans, but there is an opportunity for the GOP to make serious inroads into the state Senate as well. Republican’s occupy six of Louisiana’s seven U.S. House seats, one of those around New Orleans is occupied by a Republican and will likely flip to Democrats this November. Louisiana Republicans will be hard pressed to increase their already significant influence in Washington.
In New Jersey, there is little chance that the Republicans will take the state House, but the GOP needs only three seats to tie up the state Senate. However, with a distinctly conservative administration headed by Gov. Chris Christie, the Republicans in the state will be emboldened to ensure fare redistricting. With Democrats in control of the legislature, they will seek to make the 3rd District, traditionally held by Republicans but occupied by a Democrat in recent cycles, less competitive. Also, they may seek to make the sprawling 7th District more compact around the Republican heavy Hunterdon and Somerset counties, freeing up the Eastern part of that district to be absorbed by a Democratic district. This is complicated by the changing political landscape – traditionally Democratic Monmouth County voted overwhelmingly for Chrsitie in 2009, making Democratic prospects for a lock district in the state’s northern shore counties difficult.
In New York, there is a high likelihood that the GOP will tie or take the majority in the state Senate while the House will remain Democratic-controlled. New York will certainly lose one seat in Congress and, when Census data becomes public, may even lose two seats. Republicans are poised to gain a number of Congressional seats in New York State. Given how functional the New York state legislature is now (please see the 2009 New York State “Coup”), where these seats come from or who organizes that effort is a genuine mystery at this point. Redistricting in New York will be an interesting story to follow next year.
In Pennsylvania, the state Senate is safely Republican and the state House is a tossup leaning toward Republicans; if 3 seats flipped, the GOP would take control of the whole state government. If that is the case, Republicans will set their sites on the Western part of the state and seek to isolate the union heavy districts that sent Democratic Rep. Mark Critz to Congress in May, despite all the events going against Democrats this year. The meandering 12th District, formerly occupied by Rep. John Murtha, will be compacted. The GOP may eye a compacting strategy in the Democrat-occupied 3rd District, as well as the 8th and 11th Districts. With Republicans prospects for taking over these seats looking good, however, they may be even more ambitious – shirking Democratic majorities to those districts that surround Philadelphia and Pittsburg.
Of the states that will gain seats in congress, most of their legislatures will be controlled by Republicans.
Arizona has a majority GOP House and Senate already. Similarly, Florida has Republican majorities in both houses now and it is likely to remain that way. Georgia and Utah both have two safe chambers for Republicans. In South Carolina, the state Senate is safe for Republicans. The state House is up for grabs, but that will likely remain in GOP hands after November.
Of the state’s set to gain a seat in the U.S. House, only Nevada, Texas and Washington have competitive Democratic chambers at the State levels. Washington, as this blog has reported the past, could flip to Republicans but it is an uphill battle as of this writing.
In Nevada, the state House is majority Democrat and is likely to stay that way. The state Senate, however, may flip to Republicans (they need three seats to achieve majority status). Nevada’s 4th District will probably be carved out of the area surrounding Reno, currently locked inside the massive 2nd District.
A Democratic takeover of the Texas state Senate may be difficult to achieve but the state House is within reach for Democrats. The governor’s race between Gov. Rick Perry and former Houston Mayor Bill White will heavily influence how the state’s legislatures fair in the November elections. Texas has 32 congressional districts today; following the results of the U.S. Census, they could have as many as 3 or 4 new districts. A Republican state legislature would be sure to maximize GOP gains in this state.
These predictions based on several EDS models. How closely they match reality is highly dependent on the 2010 Census data. Given the successful 2008 campaign in California for redistricting reform, there may be a push back against any partisan redistricting plan that overreaches. However, the status quo for redistricting is partisan. Given that standard, the Republicans are set to make significant gains in new and reapportioned districts.
Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.politicsmagazine.com/blog_post/show/Redistricting-Preview-Election-Data-Services-Releases-Reapportionment-Model