Redistricting battles roil fight for House majority
The battle for the majority in the House of Representatives is raging ahead of 2024 due to redistricting challenges across the nation.
States such as North Carolina, Alabama, and New York are either in litigation or expect to see their maps changed.
Experts agree that, given the Republicans’ tight grip on the House majority in the next election cycle, redistricting will be a key factor to determine who controls the lower chamber.
Michael Li, redistricting specialist at the Brennan Center for Justice of New York University School of Law, said that there were many people in Congress waiting with bated breath. “… “There are not many competitive seats available in the House. Every seat you gain as a result litigation will make it easier or more difficult to win or retain a majority.”
Democrats and Republicans have begun preparing for a series of redistricting challenges which will have a clear impact on the House map for 2024.
The Independent Redistricting Commission in New York is redrawing the map of the state to make it more favorable for the next election cycle. The GOP-led North Carolina state Legislature will likely draw maps which are expected to give Republicans several more seats after the state’s high court overturned a ruling made last year regarding the state’s House maps in relation to the issue of partisan redistricting.
In states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Georgia, there is litigation centered around the Voting Right Act and the struggle for the creation new Black-majority district.
Alabama has tasked a court-appointed master with drawing up a new House map. A Supreme Court ruling handed down in January this year found that the Voting Right Act had been likely violated when the map was created. This led to the case. The new map would have two House districts with a majority of Black voters.
Republicans instead drafted the lines to create a district with a majority of Black voters while the percentage Black voters in the other was only slightly higher. Republicans have appealed the case to Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court of Louisiana lifted the stay on a case in June pertaining to Louisiana’s congressional district map, after a lower-court ordered legislators to create another Black-majority District, as a result of its decision on the Alabama case. The case will now be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In Georgia, a trial has begun to determine if the GOP-led state Legislature must create a majority-Black House District on the grounds that it violated the Voting Right Act.
John Bisognano is the president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. He said, “I believe voters, particularly in a number southern states — Alabama Georgia Florida Louisiana — feel very encouraged because they are about to receive the representation they have been looking for for years.” “I anticipate that voters will be re-energized over the next year and half.”
There are other challenges to state map in places such as Florida, South Carolina, and New Mexico, which is causing some uncertainty in the race for the House of Representatives in these states. This uncertainty affects candidates. Both incumbents, who could have their districts redrawn, and newcomers may not know yet which seat they will be running for.
Mondaire J. Jones (D.Y.), a former New York State representative running for the 17th Congressional District in New York, is already getting questions about whether they might be running in a different district. Jones, who had to run in another House district to avoid an awkward primary due to redistricting last year, told Spectrum News NY1 that he would run in the same district in the Hudson Valley, if new maps were drawn.
Redistricting battles haven’t affected voters yet because primaries are months away. Li says that “people thinking of running for office are waiting anxiously to decide whether or not they want run or whether or not they want retire.”
It is also too soon to tell how redistricting challenges will impact the primary calendar, and whether dates may need to be changed. Jeffrey M. Wice explains that the court and political calendar could affect primary dates.
It’s all about timing, the political calendar for 2024 and when new plans will be implemented. Federal courts often hesitate to change election laws or maps or delay elections too close to an upcoming election.
Both Republicans and Democrats are confident that their respective parties will make gains, even though questions remain about how the House map may ultimately look.
“Worst-case scenario for Republicans: I think this is a breakeven situation. “Best case, I think you’ll pick up 3 or 4 seats because of redistricting,” said a GOP strategist who spoke candidly and requested anonymity.
Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRRT), expressed confidence over the ongoing legal battles, such as in Louisiana and Florida, arguing that even if Georgia’s map needed to be redrawn, “I don’t know why it wouldn’t be a 9-5” Republican-to-Democrat advantage.
Kincaid expressed optimism about South Carolina. He said that, even with a redrawn map, the district would still be competitive and Republican-leaning, but that it was unlikely to happen before ’24.
Democrats are also optimistic about their prospects.
“Republicans never-ending attempts to ignore fair maps, disregard court orders, or gerrymander to gain the majority are just more evidence that their dangerous, extreme and unpopular agenda will not win them the House. The Democrats are the only ones fighting to ensure that voters in Alabama, New York, and Florida get the fair representation they deserve, said Courtney Rice, the spokeswoman of the House Democrats campaign arm.
Experts say that despite the uncertainty surrounding the House maps for this cycle, the national House map of 2022 was fair and predict 2024 to continue the trend.
The map of 2022 that was created from the redistrictings is the fairest we have seen in years. The map still had a slight pro Republican tilt, but I would say that it was very fair,” said Christopher Warshaw a professor of political science at George Washington University.
“I expect there to be some unevenness at the state level. But, on the national scale, I believe the maps will get even more equitable.”