November 03, 2010

What Tuesday Means for Redistricting

[Justin Levitt here, guest posting -- with thanks to Rick, as always.]

As the red-eye flights of recount lawyers touch down Wednesday morning, attention will inevitably flow to the federal races still in overtime. But there is a bloody redistricting cycle just ahead with the potential to lock down Tuesday's gains for the GOP. And for those looking for ripples from yesterday's elections, there are a few state races, still too close to call, that deserve more attention for their impact on redistricting than they normally receive.

A little context to convey the magnitude of Tuesday's political shift -- and the stakes of the elections still undecided -- for the coming redistricting cycle:

In 2001:
- 121 Congressional seats were drawn in states where Democrats controlled the redistricting process;
- 95 seats were drawn in states where Republicans controlled the redistricting process; and
- 212 seats were drawn in states with divided control. (7 states have one district apiece.)

In 2011, based on the preliminary unofficial returns thus far from Tuesday's elections (nice summary here), and projections for the size of each state's 2012 Congressional delegation (contesting sources here and here):
- 189 Congressional seats will be drawn in states where Republicans are likely to control the redistricting process;
- 26 seats will be drawn in states where Democrats are likely to control the process;
- 145 seats will be drawn in states with divided control . . . and
- 68 seats, more or less, await the results of races that were too close to call early Wednesday morning.

Of course, partisan control is hardly the only factor driving the redistricting process in many of these states, and I don't mean to imply that 189 seats drawn by Republican legislators will be drawn solely to maximize Republican electoral fortunes, or that they will yield 189 Republican seats -- not even close. History has shown, though, that unified partisan control often acts as a powerful thumb on the scales when district lines are drawn.

More analysis of the most important still-undecided races for redistricting, and how we got to where we are now, after the jump. For more detail, there's a more complete description of the way that each state conducts redistricting in the Citizen's Guide to Redistricting (2010 update coming momentarily, I'm told); the Rose Institute also has a handy easy-reference map.

The races in recount

A few races in recount mode still have the potential to swing control of the redistricting process for a significant number of Congressional seats.

New York: Three state Senate seats will determine whether the Democrats have unified control over the redistricting process for what will likely be 28 Congressional seats.

Illinois: The Governor's race is the key here to determining whether the Democrats will have unified control over redistricting of about 18 Congressional seats.

Minnesota: There are likely 8 Congressional seats at stake here, and right now, the Governor's race and both houses of the legislature look like they may still be up for grabs, though Republicans seem to have the edge in the close legislative races.

Colorado: 7 Congressional seats will likely be allocated based on the political control established by photo-finish races in both the state House and state Senate.

Oregon: 5 Congressional seats will depend on the outcome of the Governor's race and races in both state houses.

Tuesday's other big results for redistricting

So much for the races with lingering uncertainty. Tuesday also brought some very conclusive elections -- with some immense consequences for redistricting.

California: Though Democrats retook unified control of the political process, the voters took redistricting out of that equation. Absent a big change in Prop 20's preliminary returns, California's independent commission -- originally established to draw state legislative lines -- will now draw the 53 Congressional districts for the state.

Texas: By staving off a gubernatorial challenge and taking commanding control of the state House, Republicans will have unified control over the drawing of what will likely be 35 Congressional districts.

Florida: Though Prop 6 sets some additional standards for Congressional redistricting, we won't have to wait for the outcome of the Governor's race to determine political control of the redistricting process: by my count, the Republican legislative supermajorities are now veto-proof.

Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania: By retaking control of the state Houses and Governor's mansions, Republicans have unified control of the process in all three big states. Even though each is likely to lose Congressional seats based on the census, there will still probably be at least 48 seats to be redrawn here.

North Carolina: Here, the Governor is not formally involved in redistricting: by retaking the state legislature, the GOP will have complete control of the redistricting process.

More about control of the state legislative redistricting process, coming shortly...

Posted by Justin Levitt at November 3, 2010 04:49 AM