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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Bigger population jumps than expected in major cities. More diversity. Booming suburbs. Dwindling rural areas. All may make it harder — but not impossible — for Republicans to manipulate district lines to strengthen their power in states including Texas and Georgia, experts say.

Why it matters: The first results of the 2020 census are a balm for Democrats anxious about Republican gerrymandering efforts.

Between the lines: Some of the fastest-growing counties in the last decade are near blue cities in red states — like Hays and Comal counties in Texas and Bryan County, Georgia.

  • Meanwhile, almost all of the shrinking counties are moving toward Republicans, Claire Low, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee's targeting and analytics director, told Axios.
  • "If the maps are fair, Democrats will gain seats," NDRC president Kelly Burton told Axios.
  • The trends in Texas, where Republicans control redistricting, “basically makes the gerrymanders uglier and more complex," Texas Civil Rights Project staff attorney Joaquin Gonzalez told Axios.

What we're watching: Of note is just how much growth there's been in major cities like New York City and Chicago — both situated in states where Democrats control redistricting.

  • "It's better for Democrats that there are more seats going to the cities and that they can dilute the power of rural Republican areas in those states more easily," Cook Political Report's David Wasserman told Axios.
  • New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D), who represents western Queens, said the results make it likelier that redder, upstate areas — not blue New York City — lose a seat. He credited high population counts to city campaigns to get people to fill out the census — also protecting the state against losing more House seats.

So far, fears of a significant undercount of the Hispanic population due to the Trump administration's efforts to not count undocumented immigrants haven't played out in the data, Wasserman said.

  • That's another good sign for Democrats, who tend to be favored by Latino voters.

What's next: The Austin area has grown substantially over the decade — and Wasserman and Low say Texas Republicans may try to concentrate that population into already blue districts to keep surrounding GOP seats as red as possible.

Go deeper

New gerrymander weapon

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Partisan map-makers are considering not just voter registration but planning and zoning data to decide how new congressional districts can be drawn to help or hurt their candidates not just now but in the future.

Why it matters: High technology and the "big sort" of like-minded voters grouping together can make gerrymandering less conspicuous this year — even if it still exists.

Oct 20, 2021 - Axios Atlanta

Scoop: Georgia's Raffensperger calls for bipartisan election reform

Photo: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Georgia's Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Axios that it's time for a bipartisan commission on federal election reform, like the one co-chaired by former Democratic President Jimmy Carter and former Republican Secretary of State James Baker in 2005.

Why it matters: Raffensperger refused former President Donald Trump’s request last year to "find" the votes to overturn Georgia’s election results and defended the state's 2020 vote count from members of his own party.

Biden: Jan. 6 Capitol riot "was about white supremacy"

President Biden speaks during the 10th anniversary celebration of the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial with Vice President Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 21, 2021. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden said Thursday that white supremacy motivated rioters who carried out the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Driving the news: "The violent, deadly insurrection on the Capitol nine months ago, it was about white supremacy, in my opinion," Biden said at an event commemorating the 10-year anniversary of the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington.

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