Sep 17, 2021 - Politics

Democrats approve of Iowa's proposed redistricting maps

 proposed congressional map from LSA.

A proposed congressional map from LSA. Photo courtesy of LSA.

Iowa's first round of proposed redistricting maps are out, showing the possible distribution of political power at the legislative and Congressional levels for the next 10 years.

State of play: Democrats are already giving the new maps — drawn by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency — a thumbs up.

Yes, but: Republicans are in control at the state level and get the ultimate say if this map stays or goes. Analysts say it's likely a no-go because they have little to gain, especially if Dems can pick up Hinson's seat.

  • "It's going to be a tough sell," tweeted Dave Wasserman of Cook Political Report.
  • If they don't approve it, LSA has 35 days to present a new map.

Redistricting details:

  • IA-1 turns into a reliably blue district (38.7%-D vs. 28.6%-R), setting up Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson for a precarious election. The new lines group together largely urban Linn, Johnson and Scott counties.
  • IA-2 becomes marginally redder (35%-R vs. 32.8%-D).
  • IA-3, repped by Cindy Axne, Iowa's sole Democrat in Congress, remains competitive (36.3%-D vs. 33.9%-R).
  • IA-4 stays deeply red (45.2%-R vs. 24%-D).

What else to watch for: More than 50+ incumbents could suddenly be pitted against their own colleagues under this map.

  • For example: Democratic Sens. Sarah Trone Garriott and Claire Celsi would share a district under the new map, Polk County Democratic Chair Sean Bagniewski told the Register.
Iowa's current Congressional map.
Iowa's current Congressional map; Map via LSA

Between the lines: Iowa's redistricting process has been praised as one of the most objective in the country, but this year is unique because Republicans could have more say on how lines are drawn.

  • Typically, the Iowa Constitution requires lawmakers to approve one of three maps drawn by LSA by Sept. 1. But COVID delayed the release of U.S. Census data and the drawing of new maps, meaning the deadline is already passed and a new process is in place.
  • Republicans may now throw out all three maps and then draw their own and approve it. But leaders have so far said they plan on honoring Iowa's objective process.

What's next: The public can offer comments during virtual public hearings Sept. 20-22.

  • The Legislature will convene and vote on the maps during a rare, special session, starting Oct. 5.

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