I’m circling back to a post that Rick Pildes did on the role of competitiveness in the drawing of new congressional maps for Colorado. Here’s one more point along the same lines, based on the numerical analysis that Election Law at Ohio State has developed: currently, Colorado’s House seats on average are 9.3 points less competitive than the state as a whole. This number is derived from the following two statistics: first, the Biden-Trump margin in Colorado was 13.5; second, the average Biden-Trump margin in Colorado’s congressional districts was 22.8.
The proposal in yesterday’s Washington Post column would require Colorado to reduce this 9.3 competitiveness gap when drawing its congressional maps if (but only if) it is possible for Colorado to do so consistently with legitimate redistricting criteria, like compliance with the Voting Rights Act and keeping cities and counties intact within districts. Colorado, like any other state, could justify this kind of competitiveness gap as long as it were necessary to achieve valid nonpartisan redistricting goals. But if there is a map that equally achieves those goals that also improves the competitiveness on average of the state’s House districts, then the state would be obligated to choose the more competitive map. The proposal is that this requirement be adopted by Congress now, whether as stand-alone legislation or as part of whatever scaled-down version of H.R.1/S.1 that Senator Manchin and others are developing. But it would need to be adopted in time for use in the 2022 midterms, including the time necessary for either federal courts or DOJ (or both) to review each state’s proposed to maps for compliance with this requirement.