Dec 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congressional mapmakers receive "F" grade in five states

2021 final congressional plan, by state
Data: Princeton Gerrymandering Project with RepresentUs; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Partisan legislators across the country have been busy manipulating district lines to bolster their party's chances of controlling the House next year, according to analysis of maps by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and RepresentUs.

By the numbers: Nineteen states have now finished the redistricting process, and Georgia, New Mexico and Virginia are awaiting only a final signature on their plans. The Redistricting Report Card project has released grades for seven of these 22 maps. Five received an F.

  • Six of the remaining 28 states do not have congressional redistricting, as they only have one House seat.

Between the lines: The early results from the project reveal less gerrymandered maps in states where independent commissions are in charge of the process —such as in Colorado and Arizona.

  • But not all commissions are created equal.
  • Virginia's first-time independent commission process failed, leaving next year's maps to the courts.

The latest: Maryland was the most recent state to pass new maps, where Democrats did not go so far as to draw a map that would hand them all eight seats next year — focusing instead on shoring up their seven incumbents.

  • Illinois was a critical state for Democrats, and it passed maps that would allow the party to add one House seat while eliminating two of Republicans'.
  • So far, some of Republicans' biggest gains came in Texas, where they are set to pick up two more seats.
  • The GOP has also pushed through aggressive maps in Ohio and North Carolina. They would add up to four Republican members of Congress in those two states, while removing four Democrats.
  • But there is a good chance the state Supreme Courts in Ohio and North Carolina will strike down their state plans, the Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman told Axios.

What to watch: The courts are expected to play an even bigger role than usual in which maps are ultimately used for next year's midterm elections, as Politico has reported.

  • In North Carolina, the state Supreme Court recently pushed back the primary date to allow lawsuits against the Republican-drawn maps to continue.
  • The Virginia Supreme Court already is weighing next year's maps.
  • The Justice Department is suing over Texas' lines for not creating enough majority minority districts.
  • Marc Elias, a top Democratic election law specialist, has filed redistricting-related lawsuits in seven states and is poised to file in Georgia once its maps are signed into law.

Of note: The grades in the chart are based on a variety of factors, including how competitive seats are and how many counties are split.

  • Some states will not be graded for the report card because of a lack of data, too few districts, staff capacity and other reasons, according to a RepresentUs spokesperson.
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