Welcome to this week’s edition of REDMAP Rundown, a synopsis of redistricting news brought to you by the RSLC’s REDistricting MAjority Project (REDMAP). This weekly email gives you the latest on what those in the beltway, and across the country, are saying about the impending reapportionment and redistricting process.
In this week’s REDMAP Rundown: Changing Electoral College math, Cooking in Maryland, Daniels’ all-out effort, Tennessee style wrestling, Pennsylvania primers, Texas kicks off and the California connection between affluent, white, male, Democrats and redistricting.
Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling writes in the Wall Street Journal that, “The census taker who has been knocking on your door is part of a process that will almost certainly make it more difficult for President Barack Obama to be re-elected in 2012. Of course, no one knows what the political environment will be in 29 months, but the 2010 Census is certain to change the Electoral College math in a way that will favor the Republicans. Should the president roll up the popular vote majority that he did in 2008, the new scorecard for 2012 won’t make a difference come Election Day. … The process of redrawing the congressional maps in each state is done by some combination of the state legislature and governor. In states where either the Democrats or Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governorship, the maps reflect the most brutal kind of political partisanship. In those states with split control, the redistricting fights have historically been the ultimate game of ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’”
“Republicans are in for a banner election year on Capitol Hill and might pick up enough seats to gain control of the House of Representatives,” prognostication guru Charlie Cook recently told Maryland legislative leaders. “Another bad sign for Democrats: Third-party voters, who are likely to be a key bloc in numerous races this year, tend to vote against the party in power, Cook said. ‘They focus their anger with whoever is in charge.’ The outcome of this fall’s elections at the state level are important for another reason — congressional redistricting, which will be driven by the party in power in each state capital. ‘If your party is going to get hammered, you never want it to be in a year that ends in zero,’ Cook said.”
“With two years left as governor and barred by law from seeking a third term, [Gov. Mitch] Daniels is making an all-out effort to put the Statehouse back under Republican control,” reports the Indianapolis Star. “House Minority Leader Brian Bosma — an Indianapolis Republican who hopes this effort will return him to the House speaker job — said candidate recruitment began days after the 2008 election, when Democrats won a 52-48 majority. That year, he said, Republicans and Democrats each spent about $7.5 million on House races. The cost is expected to reach that or more this year, Bosma and other lawmakers say. Part of the reason is the heightened importance of 2010. The legislature elected in November will draw district maps, based on the new census, for the Indiana General Assembly and Congress. ‘This is the year that we will predetermine state legislative and congressional leadership for the next decade through the maps,’ Bosma said. And Daniels was ‘a key part’ of finding the right candidates, Bosma said.”
Tennessee “Democrats and Republicans will wrestle over nearly 60 seats in the state legislature, as well as two open seats in Congress and the right to succeed Gov. Phil Bredesen, in a five-month sprint to the general election Nov. 2. The biggest prize in this year’s election is control of the state House of Representatives. Republicans hold a two-seat edge in the chamber, with Speaker Kent Williams exiled from the party for joining with Democrats to elect himself last year. The GOP hopes to build on its majority this November and elect a new speaker from within its ranks. Party Chairman Chris Devaney said last week that he believes the party has a chance of winning as many as 18 seats now held by Democrats. ‘The 2010 election is very important because we’re on the verge,’ he said. ‘We can take a majority in Congress, the governor’s office and the legislature. We’re on the verge of leading at every level.’” Republicans already hold a substantial majority in the Senate, and victory in the House would give the party control over the legislative agenda next year, as well as redistricting required by the completion of this year’s census.”
The Morning Call’s Colby Itkowitz gives a redistricting primer to Pennsylvania voters writing, “Early estimates indicate Pennsylvania’s population growth has not kept pace with other states, meaning it likely will lose one or two of its 19 congressional seats. Pennsylvania has been losing seats every decade since 1910. … The state General Assembly is then tasked with redrawing the congressional district map, which often results in a politically charged debate. The party in power often draws the districts in a way that would lead to it picking up the most seats in the U.S. House. The process of drawing the districts in unusual shapes to benefit a particular party is called “gerrymandering.’ A handful of bills to reform the process has been introduced in the state Legislature but never moved. It is now too late to make any changes that would impact 2011 redistricting.”
Speaking of the process, the Sacramento Bee reports, “The 620 remaining applicants for seats on the state’s new redistricting commission are mostly affluent white male Democrats, according to a new statistical study by one of those on the list. Vladimir Kogan, a refugee from the Soviet Union who later became a journalist and political science scholar, reviewed the on-line profiles of all 620 to create his demographic and political profile. He is a researcher on governance issues for the Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University and a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego. Kogan found that 67.6 percent of those on the list are non-Latino whites — roughly comparable to the proportion of the electorate that’s white but more than 25 percentage points higher than the white non-Latino proportion of the overall population. His analysis also determined that 53.3 percent are Democrats — about nine percentage points higher than Democratic voter registration statewide — and just 28.9 percent are Republicans, about two points below GOP registration.”
“Democrats and Republicans agreed on several points Monday at a 3 1/2-hour redistricting hearing in San Antonio. They agreed that congressional and legislative districts should be equitable, that rancorous bickering is no way to construct a legislative map, and that the days of partisan gerrymandering in this state must end. But the devil is always in the details when it comes to redistricting, a point that U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, noted early in the proceedings. ‘In a way, it’s fitting that this is the longest day of the year, because this is going to be a long process,’ Smith said. Monday’s joint hearing of the House Committees on Redistricting and Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence — on the University of Texas at San Antonio’s downtown campus — marked the unofficial kickoff for that process. This time around, the stakes are particularly high, with leaders from both parties predicting that Texas will gain three or four congressional seats as a result of the U.S. census.”
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