Friday, July 23, 2021

Redistricting-palooza: Be Careful What You Wish For

The good folks at Sabato's Crystal Ball are out with the first part of what promises to be an epic series covering the redistricting and reapportionment situation in every region of the country. This piece is their national overview and it has a ton of useful data and maps.
And here's a finding from the piece that kind of blew my mind. I think you'll agree it's pretty amazing.
"Republicans control the drawing of 187 of the 435 seats, or 43% of all the districts, while Democrats have control over just 75 districts, 17% of the districts. Meanwhile, 46 districts (11%) are in states with divided government while 121 (28%) are in states with nonpartisan/independent commissions. The remaining six districts (1%) are in states with just a single, at-large congressional district.
The number of states that use independent/bipartisan commissions has increased in recent years: a little more than a quarter of the total seats in the House are in states that use some sort of commission. Colorado, Michigan, and Virginia are all decent-sized states that have implemented some form of commission system in recent years.
Specifically, there are 10 states that use a commission to draw the lines: Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington. If those commissions did not exist, and redistricting power was instead given to the state legislature with the possibility of a gubernatorial veto, Democrats would have the power to draw the maps in six of these 10 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington), Republicans would have the power in three (Arizona, Idaho, and Montana), and there would be divided government control in Michigan (Democrats hold the governorship, Republicans hold the state legislature).
Instead of Republicans holding a 187-75 edge, their advantage would be a more modest 200-170 under this scenario, with the remaining 65 districts either in one-district states or in ones with divided government.
So in some states, Democrats may be, or are, kicking themselves for backing redistricting commissions. Both parties supported a 2018 Colorado ballot issue that created an independent redistricting commission for congressional maps. Had it not passed, Democrats now would have gerrymandering power in the Centennial State and drawn themselves a better map than a draft the commission released a few weeks ago, which likely will result in a 5-3 Democratic delegation but could split 4-4 in a strong Republican year. “We’re (expletive) idiots,” said one anonymous state lawmaker, as quoted by the Colorado Sun."
The law of unintended consequences I guess.
Redistricting in America, Part One: Gerrymandering Potency Raises the Stakes for the 2020s – Sabato's Crystal Ball
Redistricting in America, Part One: Gerrymandering Potency Raises the Stakes for the 2020s – Sabato's Crystal Ball
Redistricting in America, Part One: Gerrymandering Potency Raises the Stakes for the 2020s By Kyle KondikIn: 2022 HousePosted July 22, 2021 Dear Readers: This is the first of a multi-part Crystal Ball series that we’ll be publishing periodically between now and Labor Day analyzing congressional re...

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