With the election over and Democrats in control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, officials in both parties are bracing for a bruising new battle with a different balance of power: the redrawing of congressional maps, where Republicans hold the advantage in many state legislatures across the country, including in key battlegrounds.
Republicans hold total control of redistricting in 18 states, including Florida, North Carolina and Texas, which are growing in population and expected to gain seats after the 2020 census is tabulated. Some election experts believe the G.O.P. could retake the House in 2022 based solely on gains from newly drawn districts.
Already, Republicans are discussing redrawing two suburban Atlanta districts held by Democrats to make one of them more Republican; slicing Democratic sections out of a Houston district that Republicans lost in 2018; and carving up a northeastern Ohio district held by Democrats since 1985.
“I would say that the national vote could be the same as this year two years from now, and redistricting by itself would easily be enough to alter who controls the chamber,” said Samuel S. Wang, the director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project. He estimated that reapportionment alone could net the Republicans three seats, and gerrymandering in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida another five seats.
With Democrats holding a 222-211 edge, Republicans would probably need to flip just six seats to win back the majority. But Dr. Wang and other good-government experts cautioned that other factors could determine the majority.
Democrats will try to redraw districts in their favor in states like New York, Illinois and Maryland, they said. Some battleground states have adopted nonpartisan independent redistricting commissions. And President Biden did not create a wave of downballot victories for Democrats in the November elections, so there are fewer surprise winners who could easily lose their seats in 2022.