With the final approval this week of a new redistricting map in New Hampshire, all 50 states now have congressional maps in place for November’s midterm elections.
And while a hand of those new maps are facing court challenges, including one in battleground Florida, the once-in-a-decade redistricting process is close to finished. And both major political parties are touting that they bested their rivals in the increasingly bitter process.
“Republicans have won the redistricting battle after being significantly outspent. Democrats “sue to blue” strategy failed, and Republicans are in a strong position to take back the House and hold it in future cycles,” National Republican Redistricting Trust (NRRT) executive director Adam Kincaid argued in a statement to Fox News.
The NRRT is the GOP’s primary organization to coordinate the party’s redistricting strategy and build resources for its legal defense. Its rival is the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
And National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) president Kelly Burton, in an email to supporters, claimed that “Democrats are in a stronger position on the map than Republicans, with 226 Biden seats to just 209 Trump seats.”
Burton added that the new map means “more Democratic seats overall than last decade and a drastic reduction in the popular vote margin likely needed to win the House.”
Until this week, New Hampshire was the final state without a map. With GOP Gov. Chris Sununu and the Republican majority in the state legislature unable to come to agreement on redistricting for the state’s two congressional districts, the state supreme court drew up a map — released on Tuesday — that makes minimal changes to the current districts.
Republicans won the House majority in the 2010 midterm elections thanks to a red tidal wave. Due in part to their success in the redistricting process coming out of the 2010 census, they held their majority in the chamber until 2018, when the Democrats retook control in a blue wave cycle.
While the GOP lost the White House and the Senate majority in the 2020 elections, they defied expectations and took a big bite out of the Democrats’ House majority. Republicans need a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member House in November’s elections to regain the majority.
Thanks to their advantage in control of governorships and state legislatures over the Democrats, Republicans headed into the 2022 cycle with greater control over the current redistricting process. But with the process nearly over, Democrats have six more leaning seats, while there was no change in the number of GOP-leaning districts.
“This is due to aggressive map-drawing by Democrats in states such as Illinois, as well as court decisions overturning Republican gerrymanders in states like North Carolina,” the political and polling analysis website FiveThirtyEight writes.
But FiveThirtyEight also notes that “the GOP is positioned for a net gain of three to five seats in 2022 just thanks to the new lines alone. Republicans have benefited from their own brazen cartography in states like Florida and courts striking down Democratic gerrymanders in Maryland and New York. Republicans have also shored up their existing position by converting light-red districts into safe seats in states like Texas.”
In the years following the 2010 redistricting cycle, courts tossed out maps draw by Republicans in four states — Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas — ruling that Republicans improperly used the party affiliations and race of voters to draw lines that favored GOP candidates, which is known as gerrymandering. Judges redrew the maps, giving the Democrats better chances to win House seats. Republicans argue that without the court rulings, they would currently control the House.
The NRRT was formed in 2017, amid those court rulings, to serve as the central redistricting resource for Republicans in all 50 states. That same year their Democratic counterpart, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder and supported by former President Barack Obama, also formed.
Kincaid told Fox News last month that the Democrats’ goal “was to flip the House and keep it. They’ve failed to do that. They flipped it but they’re not going to be able to keep it. The majority’s gone for them this fall and the majority is going to be harder for them to take back moving forward.”
And former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who along with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has served as a NRRT co-chair — emphasized that the group’s successes are “going to show for Republicans in the fall elections in ‘22 and maybe even better in ‘24.”
Kincaid predicted that “with the [redistricting] victories, we’re probably at four to five more seats than we otherwise would be just through redistricting that we can go get.”
“We’ll be up a couple seats from where we were going into it and that’s a huge win considering the resource disadvantage,” he said. “We don’t have unlimited resources like them [the NDRC]. So we’ve been very specific and targeted where we’ve invested, and those targeted investments have paid off.”
“The bottom line is that Democrats not only over performed in redistricting and are entering this decade in a stronger position than before, but the overall House map is much fairer than last decade and will be competitive for years to come. This is not just a win for Democrats, more importantly it is a win for our democracy,” Burton emphasized.
And last month Burton told Fox News “we unequivocally stopped Republicans from drawing their way to a permanent majority in Congress — they tried to gerrymander their way to power like they did 10 years ago, and we stopped them.”
Putting partisanship aside, both Democrats and Republican would likely agree on another side effect from the current redistricting process — the number of truly competitive swing seats or battleground districts — has shrunk once again, with less than two-dozen highly competitive districts remaining.