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Expand chart
Data: National Conference of State Legislatures; Note: Nebraska’s legislature is non-partisan, D.C. does not have a governor, and Georgia’s governor’s race remains undecided as of Nov. 9, 2018; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Democrats pulled off a slew of significant — yet still moderate — victories in state legislative and gubernatorial races after years of brutal losses as they attempt to chip away at Republicans’ sweeping control of the redistricting process before the next round begins after the 2020 census.

The backdrop: In most states, voting maps are drawn and approved by state lawmakers and governors every 10 years to reflect population change. Both parties have used their time in power to craft maps to disadvantage their opponents, but Republicans took it to the extreme in the 2011 redistricting cycle, preventing Democrats from netting more state legislative seats across this year's midterm elections.

Before the midterms, Republicans held 33 of 50 governorships and both chambers of state legislatures in 32 states while Democrats had only 14. (Three states were divided, and Nebraska has a unicameral, nonpartisan legislature.)

  • But Democrats flipped seven Republican-held governor seats in Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin.
  • They also took full control of the legislature and governor's mansion in seven states, giving them a total of 13. However, none of these states have excessively partisan gerrymandered maps.

Meanwhile, Republicans' so-called "red firewall" held strong in hotly contested gubernatorial contests in key swing states like Ohio and Florida, where a recount was ordered Saturday. The race in Georgia still remains too close to call.

  • But in Wisconsin and Michigan, which are both battleground and gerrymandered states, incoming Democratic governors Tony Evers and Gretchen Whitmer, respectively, will be able to veto Republican-drawn maps.

What's next: Most governors and some state senators elected last week have four-year terms, meaning they'll be in office during the next round of redistricting. However, many other legislative seats will be again up for election during the 2020 presidential election cycle, giving both parties another round to battle.

  • In 2020, Democrats still would have to secure significant wins in red states to have larger control over redistricting.
  • Still, the modest rebound during this year's cycle will make it easier for Democrats to push through new laws to roll back restrictive policies and expand voting access.

The bottom line: Whichever party prevails in 2020 won't guarantee the end of partisan gerrymandering. Election reformers are continuously mulling other avenues to curb the practice, including legal challenges — some of which could very well reach the Supreme Court.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

7 mins ago - World

First look: Jill Biden’s troops trip

First lady Jill Biden speaks last week at the White House. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

First lady Jill Biden on Monday will visit the military base that's home to pilots and aircrews who helped conduct the airlift out of Kabul to thank the service members and their families for their support in ending the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: When she stops at the crews' home at Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina, the first lady will be their most high-profile member from the Biden administration since the airlift ended on Aug. 31.

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.