Dec 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

New York to redraw House districts in 2024 shakeup

Reps. Nick LaLota, Marc Molinaro and Anthony D'Esposito. Photo: Alejandra Villa Loarca/Newsday RM via Getty Images.

The New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday directed the state's independent redistricting commission to redraw New York's legislative maps ahead of the 2024 election.

Why it matters: It could blunt Republicans' strength in a state that was the cornerstone of their 2022 win and will likely be pivotal for control of the House.

  • "HELL YES," one Democratic strategist told Axios in a text reacting to the ruling, which directs the redistricting commission to propose new state and congressional district lines by Feb. 28.
  • The state legislature, controlled by Democrats, will ultimately have the power to approve the maps.
  • If the commission fails to come to an agreement on maps, the legislature will have another chance to draw their own maps – though they would likely be subject to vigorous litigation.

The backdrop: After the redistricting commission failed to come to an agreement on maps last cycle, the state legislature attempted to gerrymander the lines significantly in their favor.

  • Democrats' plans were undone when the Court of Appeals ordered a state-appointed mapmaker to redraw the lines.
  • The court-drawn lines, combined with the unusual strength of Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, helped Republicans flip three seats.

What they're saying: Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) called the ruling a "win for democracy" and said Democrats are "eager for the Independent Redistricting Commission to get back to work to create a new, fair congressional map."

  • Savannah Viar, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committeee, said they are "disappointed but not surprised" by the ruling, accusing Democrats of "trying to cheat their way to power."
  • "Dragging redistricting on for years will create more confusion and frustration for voters," said Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-N.Y.).

What we're hearing: A Democratic strategist working on House races told Axios they expect the ruling to provide "a likely friendly boost" in their efforts to retake the House.

  • The strategist said they expect Democrats' gains to be most profound in upstate New York and the northern suburbs of New York City, but "there's only so much you can do" with Long Island, where Republicans hold all four seats.
  • The strategist also predicted that the commission will likely be able to agree on maps this cycle and said another attempt to gerrymander is unlikely because "the last time the Dems in Albany tried to do a gerrymander, we got into a two year lawsuit."

The other side: A Republican strategist argued that the maps will be of limited benefit to Democrats, noting that most of Republicans' 2022 wins would have occurred even under Democrats' attempted gerrymander.

  • "This is their problem with a redraw – the political environment is so rotten in New York it starts to limit their ability to completely nuke any of our incumbents, who are all in pretty decent shape," they said.
  • The strategist predicted that Democrats will attempt another gerrymander.
  • But another House Republican said of Democrats: "I think they're aware they need to be careful."
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