When Gerrymandering Backfires

Politico: “In many states, Republicans maximized gains in the House by spreading GOP voters across as many districts as possible. Typically, that left Democrats with around 40 to 45 percent of the vote in those districts, making them difficult under normal circumstances for the minority party to contest.”

“But this election year is anything but normal. Many of the once-secure 55-45 Republican districts are very much in play, even in states that have not had competitive congressional races since 2012, the year new maps were installed. And North Carolina and Ohio — where Democrats chose nominees in primaries on Tuesday — are turning into the prime examples.”

Supreme Court Takes Another Look at Gerrymandering

NBC News: “For the second time this term, the U.S. Supreme Court considers a question that could change the nature of American politics: Is it unconstitutional for states to draw the boundary lines for voting districts in a blatantly partisan manner?”

“On Wednesday, the justices take up a challenge brought by Republicans in Maryland who say Democrats intentionally carved up a congressional district to get an electoral edge.”

Nina Totenberg: “The bottom line is it could be that optics are part of the reason the court added a second partisan gerrymandering case to its docket, so that in one case, the Republicans could prevail, and in the other, the Democrats could.”

Supreme Court Refuses to Block New Pennsylvania Map

“The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Pennsylvania Republican legislative leaders to block the implementation of a redrawn congressional map that creates more parity between the political parties in the state,” the Washington Post reports.

“The practical impact is the 2018 elections in the state are likely to be held with a map much more favorable to Democrats, who scored a surprising victory last week in a special election in Pennsylvania.”

New Pennsylvania Map Better for Democrats than 500 Simulations

Nate Cohn: “The Republican-drawn map was an extreme outlier compared with the simulations made by Jowei Chen of the University of Michigan, who has provided expert testimony in many redistricting cases. None of the simulations favored Republicans by anywhere near as much as the congressional map enacted in 2011, which gave the Republicans a 13-to-5 advantage. And partly on that basis, the court ruled that the map violated the state’s constitution.”

“But what about the remedial map recently adopted by the court? It is not an outlier to the same extent as the Republican-drawn map. But if you look at what 2016 statewide results would have been with the new map, the overall Democratic performance arguably would have been better than in all 500 of Mr. Chen’s simulations.

New Map Is Better for Democrats Than One They Proposed

Nate Cohn: “Few people expected that the Pennsylvania congressional map, which the state Supreme Court ordered redrawn to undo Republican gerrymandering, would prove to be as favorable to Democrats as the one adopted by the court on Monday.”

“Perhaps the easiest way to convey the cause for surprise: The new map is better for Democrats — by nearly every measure — than the maps that Democrats themselves proposed.”

Toomey Open to Impeaching State Supreme Court Justices

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) called for a “conversation” about impeaching state Supreme Court justices over their new congressional map, The Hill reports.

Said Toomey: “Look, I think it’s inevitable that that conversation’s going to take place. I think state House members and state senators are going to be speaking amongst themselves and their constituents, and the fundamental question is does this blatant, unconstitutional, partisan power grab that undermines our electoral process, does that rise to the level of impeachment?”

GOP Challenge of Pennsylvania Map Not Likely to Succeed

“Republicans will file suit to block the new map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts as soon as Wednesday,” the Allentown Morning Call reports.

Politico: “But, behind the scenes, Republican consultants are already urging their clients to get ready for these new districts in 2018.”

“The state Supreme Court, which released the new map on Monday, had ruled the previous district lines violated the commonwealth’s constitution as an improper Republican gerrymander. Because the issue is a matter of state law, legal experts say Republicans are unlikely to find judicial recourse in federal courts.”

New Pennsylvania Map Is Not a Democratic Gerrymander

“Pennsylvania’s new congressional district map, released Monday by the state Supreme Court, is sure to improve Democrats’ electoral outlook in the state. Over the long term, Democrats can expect to occupy one to two additional seats compared with the current map,” according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

“Compared with the current map, the new one could easily be mistaken for a Democratic gerrymander. In reality, it gets much closer to matching the political makeup of Pennsylvania’s electorate,1 which is about evenly divided.”

New Pennsylvania Map Is Huge Midterm Development

David Wasserman looks at the new Pennsylvania map this way: The six Democratic pick-up opportunities became even stronger pick-up opportunities when it comes to the Cook Political Report’s Partisan Voting Index. Under the old map, the six most vulnerable Republican seats were a median R+3:

  • PA-6: R+2
  • PA-7: R+1
  • PA-8: R+2
  • PA-15: R+4
  • PA-16: R+5
  • PA-18: R+11

Under the new map, they are even:

  • PA-1: R+1
  • PA-5: D+13
  • PA-6: D+2
  • PA-7: D+1
  • PA-10: R+6
  • PA-17: R+3

First Read: ” This new map is the most consequential midterm development of 2018, and it’s going to produce a chain of events (members hunting for new districts, member-vs.-member races, possible retirements, even more lawsuits) that we’ll be following all year long.”

New Pennsylvania Map Is a Win for Democrats

Nate Cohn: “Perhaps no event will do more to reshape the fight for control of the House than the new congressional map just released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”

“Democrats couldn’t have asked for much more from the new map. It’s arguably even better for them than the maps they proposed themselves. Over all, a half-dozen competitive Republican-held congressional districts move to the left, endangering several incumbent Republicans, one of whom may now be all but doomed to defeat, and improving Democratic standing in two open races.”

Said GOP consultant Christopher Nicholas to Politico: “This is pretty close to a Democratic wet dream.”

New Pennsylvania Map Should Help Democrats

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday released a new congressional district map to be used for the 2018 elections for U.S. House seats,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“Its plan splits only 13 counties. Of those, four counties are split into three districts and nine are split into two districts. By contrast the most recent map, enacted in 2011, split 28 counties… Many of the changes seem generally favorable for Democrats.”

Rick Hasen: “The early indications are that this is a much more competitive map which will help the Democrats compared to the gerrymandered maps drawn by the Republican legislature. Given Nate Persily’s general reputation for fairness, I expect that these maps will be fair and comply with the requirements set out by the state Supreme Court.”

Pennsylvania Court Will Release New Congressional Map

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is set to release a new congressional district map on Monday, after weeks of political and legal fighting following its ruling that the map adopted in 2011 was an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“But whatever the map looks like, don’t expect it to end the battle.”

“Republican lawmakers have vowed to resist the court’s order, saying they will seek a federal challenge to whatever map is selected.”

Wolf Rejects GOP Map

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) “is rejecting a Republican-drawn map of Pennsylvania’s congressional districts to replace the GOP-drawn map struck down in a gerrymandering case, leaving him to make a different recommendation to the state’s high court,” the AP reports.

“Wolf’s move Tuesday comes six days before the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court says it’ll impose new boundaries for Pennsylvania’s 18 congressional districts.”

Trump Pick to Run 2020 Census Withdraws

“The Trump administration’s controversial pick to run the 2020 census has withdrawn from consideration to be deputy director of the US Census Bureau,” Mother Jones reports.

“In November, Politico reported that the administration planned put Thomas Brunell, a political science professor who has defended Republican redistricting efforts in more than a dozen states, in charge of the decennial census count. He was supposed to begin in late November… Now Brunell has withdrawn from consideration, according to two sources who were informed of his decision.”