Redistricting Wrap-Up: October 2021
Updated: Oct 30, 2021
The fight for United States House control in 2022 has commenced in state governments across the country. After numerous anti-gerrymandering lawsuits failed in the US federal legal system in the past decade, the fight will be on between Democrats and Republicans who try to create the most convoluted and slanted districts possible for the 5 elections between 2022 and 2030. The 2010s weren't completely a failure for gerrymandering opponents though, as lawsuits succeeded in the State Courts of Pennsylvania and North Carolina. US Congressional maps were redrawn for the 2018 and 2020 elections in PA and NC, respectively. These redrawn maps yielded Democrats about two seats each and showed Republicans they will have to be careful to not excessively gerrymander in 2022. Most lawsuits against Republican gerrymanders specifically focus on the fact that these gerrymanders systematically disenfranchise minority voters. Democrats do not have to worry about attacks again their maps on these grounds, and it's unlikely any Democratic gerrymanders will be overturned in the 2020s by state or federal courts.
But despite this slight disadvantage, Republicans expect to gain seats in the 2022 redistricting cycle. The is because Democratic State Governments do not have the power to redistrict in the majority of blue states, surrendering their power to non-partisan redistricting committees. While Republicans control redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, and many small red states, Democrats really only control redistricting in Oregon, Illinois, New York, and Maryland. A Democratic gerrymander in California could gain the party 4-5 seats alone, and many states Biden won by small margins (Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan) have independent redistricting committees or split state legislatures.
6 states only have one congressional district, and therefore do not have to pass a congressional map. 6 states have passed congressional maps for the next decade and 18 more states have at least proposed one congressional map.
Oregon (D +1 Net Gain)
Oregon gains a house district in 2022. Currently, Democrats represent 4 of Oregon's 5 house districts, and Democrats not only made their current districts more solidly blue but also created a new district (OR6) that Biden won by 13 points in 2020. The Oregon gerrymander will be one of the Democrats' strongest nationwide.
Democratic Vote Margin in 2020 Presidential Race: 382,000
Democratic Net Seats Projected in 2022: +3.6
Votes Per Net Seat: 106,000
Indiana (No Net Gain)
Indiana will effectively keep the same map from the past decade. Republicans did successfully make IN-5 a safer seat for incumbent Victoria Spartz, and will likely continue to hold 7 of Indiana's 9 congressional seats. This map has already been solid for Republicans for the past decade, and state Republicans only improved it in 2022.
Republican Vote Margin in 2020 Presidential Race: 487,000
Republican Net Seats Projected in 2022: +5.2
Votes Per Net Seat: 93,000
Maine (No Net Gain)
Maine will effectively keep the same map from the past decade. Democrat Jared Golden will run for re-election in a district Trump won by 6 points again, but he is likely to hold his seat (even in a miserable political environment). Golden's quality as a candidate makes Maine a very efficient state for Democrats.
Democratic Vote Margin in 2020 Presidential Race: 74,000
Democratic Net Seats Projected in 2022: +1.4
Votes Per Net Seat: 53,000 (Efficient)
Texas (No Net Gain)
Texas Republicans shored up suburban house seats throughout Texas in exchange for allowing Democrats to hold some more districts easily themselves. Texas Republicans currently hold 23 out of 36 congressional districts, even after Democrats gained seats in 2018 in the Dallas and Houston suburbs. National pundits expected Republicans might try to build on gains in the 3 Democratic-held heavily Hispanic districts in South Texas in the 2020 presidential election, but Republicans actually made two of these three districts darker blue in 2022. Republicans will look to target TX-15, the only competitive district in all of Texas, to build their net advantage from +10 to +11. This map is certainly strong for Republican incumbents, as all 23 currently red districts should be completely non-competitive throughout the decade. Veritium Analysts wonder if Republicans sacrificed a little too much to keep their current congressmen in power, and taking a more aggressive approach could have paid dividends for the party. This map could be even worse for Democrats.
Republican Vote Margin in 2020 Presidential Race: 631,000
Republican Net Seats Projected in 2022: +10.3
Votes Per Net Seat: 61,000 (Efficient)
West Virginia (D +1 Net Gain)
West Virginia lost a seat after the 2020 census, and the state will now be composed of 2 (rather than 3) dark red districts.
Republican Vote Margin in 2020 Presidential Race: 309,000
Republican Net Seats Projected in 2022: +2
Votes Per Net Seat: 155,000 (Inefficient)
Nebraska (No Net Gain)
Nebraska will effectively keep the same map from the past decade. Republicans controlled the redistricting process and made NE-2 slightly redder. Biden won this district by 7 points in the 2020 election, but Republican Incumbent Don Bacon beat left-wing Challenger Kara Eastman by 5 points.
Republican Vote Margin in 2020 Presidential Race: 182,000
Republican Net Seats Projected in 2022: +2.6
Votes Per Net Seat: 70,000 (Efficient)