2010 redistricting: losing seats and electoral votes?
by BruinKid, Thu Jun 21, 2007 at 07:57:17 AM EDT
Crossposted at DailyKos
After my diary from yesterday on the role of the state legislatures in the 2010 redistricting, I wanted to focus more at a twofold problem of what happens once the redistricting occurs. One is what will happen to the Congressional delegation in certain states; the other is what will happen to the electoral votes for President.
For this, I turned to the Center for Politics' David Wasserman. He actually projected what the census would look like not just in 2010, but also for 2020 and 2030. We're talking long-term focus here.
More analysis after the fold.
So here's the chart going to 2030 of reapportionment projections. I reproduce it here, but the only numbers I'm going to focus on are the 2010 numbers. The 2020 and 2030 numbers are more fleeting, and I don't want to put too much faith in them just yet. Boldfaced states are those that are projected to gain House seats (and thus electoral votes) in 2010, and italicized states are those that will lose seats. Notice in their projections, they feel that by 2010, Washington, D.C., will have a voting member in the House, and that the number of representatives will be permanently increased to 437.
|State||Current Seats||2010 Projections||2020 Projections||2030 Projections|
1. House delegations
This was mostly covered in yesterday's diary on the importance of state legislatures being in Democratic hands, along with Democratic governors, in order to ensure Republicans don't play dirty tricks in gerrymandering the districts in their favor. See Texas and Florida as exhibits A and B. I do want to bring attention to dopper0189's comment on how Tom DeLay only needed $120,000 to redistrict Texas. States like Florida and Michigan simply should not have the Congressional delegation they do. Florida is a swing state, and yet has a 16-9 GOP advantage from their 25 congressional districts. Michigan is now pretty much a blue state, and yet has a 9-6 GOP majority in the House. New Jersey is a "safe" blue state, and yet the Democrats only have a slim 7-6 majority. If a red state like Indiana can have a 5-4 Democratic majority, there's no excuse for super safe blue state Illinois to have only a 10-9 Democratic edge. Virginia's purple, and trending blue, so there's no reason for them to hold a whopping 8-3 GOP advantage in the House. I don't know the particulars of all the dynamics at play in those states, but I'm guessing gerrymandering had a major role to play in why Democrats have such a seeming disadvantage at the House delegation level in those states. It's obviously the case in Florida.
Unfortunately, in the worst of them, Florida, Republicans control the state legislature by substantial margins, as well as the governorship, so drawing fair districts in that state seems to be a pipe dream, at least in time for 2010. Florida Dems, get on it! But where are the most realistic states to get substantial results? Here's the chart from yesterday's diary again, shortened to just focus on a few states I want to highlight. If you have additional information about another state I've overlooked that you feel can make significant contributions after redistricting, please let me know.
|State||Senate||House||Governor||House Delegation||Projected Census|
|Illinois||37D-22R||66D-52R||Rod Blagojevich (D)||10D, 9R||Lose 1|
|Michigan||21R-17D||58D-52R||Jennifer Granholm (D)||6D, 9R||Lose 1|
|Nevada||11R-10D||27D-15R||Jim Gibbons (R)||1D, 2R||Lose 1|
|New York||33R-29D||106D-43R-1I||Eliot Spitzer (D)||23D, 6R||Lose 2|
|Ohio||21R-12D||53R-46D||Ted Strickland (D)||7D, 11R||Lose 2|
|Pennsylvania||29R-21D||102D-101R||Ed Rendell (D)||11D, 8R||Lose 1|
|Virginia||23R-17D||57R-40D-3I||Tim Kaine (D)||3D, 8R||--|
* Illinois: With Democrats holding the trifecta, there's no reason why the House delegation should only be 10-9 in favor of the Democrats after 2010.
* Michigan: Democrats took control of the state house last November, picking up six seats to now hold a 6-seat lead, and also picked up a seat in the state senate. With just a slim 21-17 GOP lead in the state senate now, three more seats are all we need to get the trifecta (state house, state senate, & the governorship). The DLCC projects Michigan to lose a House seat after 2010, but the above projections don't have happening until 2020, so it's unclear exactly what will happen there. Either way, a 9-6 GOP lead in the House is unacceptable.
* Nevada: Democrats are ONE state senate seat away from controlling the legislature, and with Governor Jim Gibbons (R) under a federal investigation, we may very well have a Democratic governor there by 2010. Getting the state legislature will be key, especially with Nevada projected to pick up a House seat in 2010.
* New York: The Albany Project is doing some great work in helping out Governor Eliot Spitzer (D). We picked up two state senate seats in November to cut the GOP's lead to just 33-29. Three more pickups and Spitzer can finally implement his policies. New York is going to lose a couple House seats, so there will most definitely have to be some major redistricting to account for that.
* Ohio: Ohio Democrats made solid gains in the state legislature last November, picking up a total of 8 seats (if my math is correct) in the state legislature. But they still trail in both houses, and will need five more state senate seats and four more state house seats to flip so Governor Ted Strickland won't have to use his veto plan to block any GOP malfeasance in redistricting, when Ohio is projected to lose two House seats.
* Pennsylvania: Democrats took 8 seats in the state house to barely take control, 102-101. You can't get closer than that. But Republicans still hold an 8-seat majority in the state senate, so we'll need to do some more work there. (See below for more.)
* Virginia: The folks at Raising Kaine are really doing a wonderful job; one of the best state blogs out there. The state house is currently still heavily Republican, but the state senate only needs four pickups for Democratic control. And teacherken feels we may have enough seats in play to make that happen THIS year.
Now, Wasserman does have a cautionary tale for state legislators trying to redistrict their state, with examples from both 1990 and 2000 on how things didn't quite work out the way they had intended (emphasis his).
Following the release of 1990 decennial census data, Democrats held not only a sizeable edge in the House (267-167) but also a substantial advantage in the decade's critical round of line redrawing. In states bearing congressional redistricting responsibility in 1991-2, Democrats held majorities in nearly four fifths of state legislative bodies and a 25-17 edge among governors with veto power over redistricting plans. In most states, this lopsidedness left Republicans almost completely left out of this influential enterprise, and ruling Democrats imposed creative (and sometimes grotesque) boundaries to preserve power throughout the decade as best they could while complying with Voting Rights Act requirements.
The Democrats' plans worked fleetingly, as the party mostly preserved its mammoth majority in the 1992 presidential election. But just two years later, their dam broke in dramatic fashion as the insurgent GOP class of 1994 toppled incumbents and nabbed open seats in states where the Democrats thought their political maps would ensure their security. In some states such as Georgia, Democrats' districting schemes had clearly even backfired; legislative leaders had spread the party's supporters too thin across the state in hopes of preserving a maximum of incumbent Democratic seats, and nearly all fell to the GOP, awarding incoming Speaker Newt Gingrich many new home-state allies.
Fast-forward to the period following the release of 2000 decennial census data, and it's easy to see that the tables were turned. Republicans held not only a slight majority of seats in the House, but the lion's share of authority in the state legislative line-drawing process. In 2001-2, the GOP held exclusive control of redistricting in ten states accounting for 132 House seats, while Democrats held exclusive control in eight states accounting for 103 House seats. What's more, Republicans took advantage of their new cartographic dominance to significantly alter lines to their liking in large states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and eventually the big prize, Texas.
The GOP's firewall was designed to last the decade, and it worked well in the short-term, as the party padded its margins somewhat in 2002 and 2004. But the wall simply could not withstand the strong pro-Democratic political environment of the 2006 midterms, and whether or not the GOP's choices of where to draw the lines were shortsighted, many of the party's incumbents once thought safe ended up blindsided by devastating losses. In fact, of the 30 House districts that switched from GOP to Democratic control in 2006, 18 had been redrawn to improve Republican performance in the post-2000 redistricting cycle. Once again, plenty of deliberate efforts to entrench majority incumbents ultimately proved futile.
Perhaps the state where GOP-led 2001 redistricting efforts most obviously blew up in the party's face was Pennsylvania. Enterprising Republican line drawers dealt with the Keystone State's loss of two seats by merging the urban districts of Democratic incumbents in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and pairing another Democratic representative with a senior incumbent of the opposite party in a hostile district. In 2002, Republicans unexpectedly lost the incumbent-vs.-incumbent race after their standard-bearer proved rusty after years of breezing to reelection, and in 2006, the bottom fell out. Surging Democratic strength in suburban districts helped Democrats achieve a net four seat gain in Pennsylvania's House delegation, turning what was intended to be a 13-6 GOP advantage in 2003 into an 11-8 Democratic advantage in 2007.
The mirror images of these redistricting outcomes should not necessarily leave us with the impression that the power to redistrict is a curse. It's possible that the pendulum of control could have swung even farther in 1994 or 2006 had incumbent parties not had opportunities to safeguard their districts, though we will never know for sure. It's also true that many plans have reaped their masterminds lasting political rewards. But more often than not, districting choices hold at least a few unintended consequences. Parties striving for control of governor's mansions and state legislatures in hopes of mapping their own political futures beyond 2010 should learn valuable lessons from the examples of the last two decades: be careful what you wish for, and exercise your power with utmost caution.
So Democrats seeking to redistrict to gerrymander in our favor may also blow up in our faces. Let's not spread ourselves too thin, OK? Making a bunch of 55%-45% Democratic districts to try and maximize the number of Democratic districts can greatly backfire if the mood of the electorate shifts.
2. Electoral votes
This is the second aspect that's independent of redistricting, and what I alluded to in the title. Now, this won't matter for the purposes of 2008, so some of you may not care as much about this right now, as it's still far enough away. And if a Democrat does take back the White House, barring unforseen circumstances, 2012 will be that person's re-election campaign, and the benefits of incumbency should play a bigger role than shifts of 1 or 2 electoral votes in a few states.
Still, it's important to consider what the long-term trends seem to hold for us. As Larry Sabato writes:
Some states will record stunning gains over the next three Censuses combined: Florida (+9 House seats), Texas (+8), and Arizona (+5). Other states have modest additions: California (+3), Nevada (+2), North Carolina (+2), and one each for Georgia, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The big losers are New York (-6), Ohio (-4), Pennsylvania (-4), and Illinois (-3). Massachusetts and Michigan both lose 2 House seats, and 12 states lose one House seat: Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. All told, 11 states gain seats at the expense of 18 states that drop House representation.
The regional pattern is stark, a continuance of the rise of the Sunbelt and the fall of the Frostbelt that we have seen since the 1960s. The Northeast yields up 15 seats, and the Midwest drops another 14 seats. While a few Southern and Border States lose a seat, the overall net gain for the South is 17 seats. The West gains 13 seats. These figures have enormous consequences for the economies of the various regions, not to mention the government aid formulas that fund everything from transportation to homeland security. The rich will get richer and the poor ever poorer.
Republicans haven't had much to cheer about lately, given President Bush's low popularity and the continuing disaster of the Iraq War. These Census figures may be the tonic, though. If the 2004 Bush-Kerry election were taken as a basic measure of party strength, then Democrats would be in deep trouble for the future, and the Republicans could pop the champagne corks. Let's remember that every additional House seat adds an electoral vote to the state's total; losses do the opposite. Blue States from '04 will lose a net total of 16 Electoral Votes, while the Red States will gain 17. (The difference of one in Blue's favor comes from the District of Columbia, since we are assuming that by 2030, or much earlier, the District's lone delegate will have been made a full voting member of the House. A serious effort in that direction is underway now.)
The key word in the last paragraph was "if"--because, while the population trends may be surprisingly static, the political trends are not. Among the states adding electoral votes, some 2004 Red States are demonstrating Blue-ish or Purplish trends already, including Arizona, Iowa, New Mexico, and Virginia. It is also easy to see how states such as Colorado, Nevada, and Florida will be more Democratic in future presidential elections. Even Texas, with a growing Democratic Hispanic population is not immune from the Blue trend by 2030.
So what does this all mean? In the long term view, it means for now we had better make sure the state Democratic Parties are strong in those states like Virginia and Iowa that will be gaining importance in electoral votes. Sure, Virginia is trending blue, but will it BE blue in 2012? A Democratic trend isn't going to help win (and keep) the White House if the state still ends up voting Republican. Those are the states where it is crucial for Democrats to strengthen their footholds because of the added importance of the states in future elections. From Sabato's projections, I'll call these Tier I and Tier II states. Tier I are the crucial ones that look to be experiencing population explosions, and as a result will be picking up crucial additional electoral votes.
* Arizona: This looks to be the one we'll have to watch out for. Democrats picked up two House seats and seven state legislature seats in 2006. Governor Janet Napolitano (D) is pretty popular. But Arizona wasn't Democratic enough to send Jim Pedersen to the Senate, choosing instead to re-elect Bush mouthpiece Jon Kyl. So we've definitely still got our work cut out for us in Arizona. Can Arizona Dems turn the state blue in 2008?
* Florida: Can this state go blue in 2008? It's supposed to be a swing state, but it also increased its share of the vote for Bush in 2004, so call me a bit skeptical about Florida. But in the coming years, a strong and vibrant Florida Democratic Party will be crucial as the state eats up the electoral votes and overtakes New York.
* Texas: I have less hope for Texas in the next couple years. Maybe 10 years from now, but for now, the numbers just look too stacked against us. But taking out Sen. John Cornyn in Texas in 2008 would go a long way in assuaging my worries about Texas.
So there you have it, another incredibly long-assed diary about something maybe only a tiny handful of you even care about. But I think herein lies one of the roadmaps to both Congressional and electoral victory, and we should not overlook it.