Feb 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

7 new redistricting maps receive "F" grade

Data: Princeton Gerrymandering Project with RepresentUs; Table: Axios Visuals

Seven of the 12 new congressional district maps graded by the Princeton Gerrymandering Project and RepresentUs have received "F"s — including four passed by Democrats.

Why it matters: Both major parties engage in political gerrymandering — even if they favor different tactics to achieve their aims.

By the numbers: 35 states have now finished the redistricting process. The Redistricting Report Card project has released grades for 12 of the resulting maps.

  • Six of the remaining 15 states aren't subject to congressional redistricting, since they only have one House seat.

The latest: Democrats passed an aggressive congressional map earlier this month in New York, which could hand them as many as three additional House seats.

  • Illinois and Maryland also have been key gerrymandering opportunities for Democrats this cycle.
  • Despite the partisan advantage, Democrats argue their maps should not be compared to Republican gerrymanders.
  • "Democrats are drawing maps that follow the census data and reflect the population shifts. They're also preserving or increasing representation for communities of color," former attorney general Eric Holder said in a recent call with reporters. He chairs the National Democratic Redistricting Commission.
  • Republicans see hypocrisy.

Between the lines: Colorado, Michigan, Arizona and Virginia received "A"s overall. The grades are generated by an algorithm and calculations that measure partisan bias, competitiveness and geographic manipulation in new district lines.

  • Three of those states had maps drawn by an independent commission, as opposed to partisan lawmakers.
  • The fourth, Virginia, had a final map drawn by its state Supreme Court, after the state's new independent commission missed its deadline for approving a map.

What to watch: It's not over yet. Redistricting is ongoing in key states such as Florida, where Republicans control the process and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed two aggressive gerrymanders.

It's unclear how far state Republicans will end up going.

  • Republicans had initial setbacks after courts struck down maps in North Carolina and Ohio — but they have a chance to try again.
  • North Carolina lawmakers have until Friday to submit a new map to the state supreme court.
  • The Ohio map is now in the hands of a GOP-controlled commission, which has about a month left to come up with an alternative map.
  • 12 states' maps continue to be litigated, as well, according to FiveThirtyEight.

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

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