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Redistricting Battlegrounds

Yesterday Tom Schaller offered some acute analysis of trends in congressional elections, and suggested that the next round of decennial redistricting, which will be strongly affected by state elections in 2010, could be a game-changer in terms of the partisan balance of power.

I couldn’t agree more, which is why I want to share some preliminary analysis I did back in December for The Democratic Strategist that included thoughts about the likely 2010 battlegrounds for control of redistricting.

Here was my take after a close look at those states where control of redistricting appears to be in play for 2010:

At present, Democrats control the governorship and the legislature in 17 states, while Republicans have complete control in 10 states (22 states have divided party control, and one, Nebraska, has a nonpartisan legislature). If Janet Napolitano is confirmed as US Secretary of Homeland Security [note: this subsequently occurred], Republicans will gain complete control in AZ as well.

In terms of the upcoming redistricting process, there are six states (CA, CT, HI, RI, NV, and MN) where a gubernatorial victory would likely give Democrats complete control of state government, and four (KS, OK, TN, and WY) where the same is true for Republicans. In six states (AL, AZ, FL, GA, ID, UT) a Democratic gubernatorial takeover would disrupt what would otherwise almost certainly be complete Republican control of state government. That’s the case for Republicans in seven states (AR, CO, IL, IA, MD, MA and NM).

There are three states (MI, OH, and PA) where a realistically feasible legislative chamber victory could (if nothing else changes) give Democrats complete control of state government; the same is true for Republicans in two states (AK and IN). Meanwhile, there are four states (AK, ND, OK, TX ) where a feasible Democratic legislative chamber victory could disrupt complete Republican control of state governments, and five states (ME, NH, NY, OR, and WI) where Republicans have the same opportunity.

Add all this up, and eliminate the single-district states where congressional reapportionment is irrelevant, and the four states (AZ, CA, IA and ME) where the governor and legislature have no direct role in redistricting, and there are fully 29 states (AL, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, MD, MA, MI, MN, NV, NH, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VT, and WI) where the election results of 2010 could affect congressional redistricting.

Among these states, TX is expected to gain three U.S. House seats after reapportionment; FL should gain two; GA and UT should gain one. NY and OH are expected to lose two; IL, MI and PA should lose one.

This is a lot to absorb, I know, and that’s sort of the point: partisan control of redistricting across the country is a highly complex, dynamic situation that isn’t easy to generalize about–but’s it’s very important nonetheless. Totally aside from the impact on the future shape of the U.S. House of Representatives, state legislatures typically control their own “maps,” which can have a big impact on politics and policy at the state level.

Fortunately, Democrats, at least, have a good public resource for keeping up with all these developments: a “Redistricting Update” page at the site of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC), an organization that helps identify and target state legislative opportunities around the country. This page also provides news on redistricting process changes, which are almost always complicated and can be crucial in affecting state legislative maps.

The GOP counterpart to DLCC, the Republican State Leadership Committee, has a web site with lots of info on it, but doesn’t seem to publicly track the sort of developments relevant to redistricting that could enable readers to keep up.