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Politics Epic redistricting battles loom in states poised to gain, lose House seats

10:20  31 december  2019
10:20  31 december  2019 Source:   politico.com

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For members in states that lose seats , the redistricting cycle beginning in 2021 will be a political version of musical chairs. The process is felt most acutely in the smaller states where delegations are projected to dwindle. West Virginia, which has three congressional districts stacked vertically

“If those trends hold up, 15 states would gain or lose districts after the 2020 census. The biggest gains would come to Texas, which is projected to clinch three Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and are all poised to grab one seat after 2020.” “Nine states are projected to lose districts: Alabama, Illinois

The U.S. population continues to shift south and west, according to new Census Bureau data that offers the clearest picture yet of how the 435 congressional seats will be distributed among the 50 states.

a close up of text on a white background: The Census Bureau released the final estimates from the government before next year's census, which will determine how many House seats each state get.© John Amis/AP Photo The Census Bureau released the final estimates from the government before next year's census, which will determine how many House seats each state get.

The latest numbers, released Monday, represent the final estimates from the government before next year's decennial Census, which will determine how many House seats and Electoral College votes each state will have for the next decade. That reapportionment, expected in December 2020, will kick off the year-and-a-half-long process of redrawing congressional-district maps — still in many states a brazen partisan battle that makes strange bedfellows, unplanned retirements and intense member-versus-member races, especially in states poised to lose seats.

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States in the South and West will gain representatives in the U.S. House after the 2020 census at the expense of Each state has two U.S. senators and at least one House seat , regardless of population. Election Data Services Inc. cautions users to take the projections as preliminary and subject to change.

Which State Will Gain or Lose House Seats in 2020? “If those trends hold up, 15 states would gain or lose districts after the 2020 census. The biggest gains would come to Texas, which is projected to clinch three more House seats , and Florida, a gainer of two seats .

“The first two years of any decade when districts are drawn produce the whitest knuckles in Congress,” said former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who led House Democrats’ campaign arm in the 2012 cycle. “People are trying to hold onto their seats at all costs.”

According to projections from Election Data Services, a political consulting firm that specializes in redistricting, 17 states are slated to see changes to the sizes of their delegations, including 10 that are forecast to lose a seat beginning in 2022.

The biggest winners appear to be Texas and Florida, which are on track to gain three seats and two seats, respectively, according to the projections. Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and North Carolina are estimated to add one seat, as is Montana, which currently has just one at-large seat.

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'World News' Political Insights: Redistricting Battles Loom Over 2010. Looming battles over the re-drawing of congressional district lines are raising the stakes The first two states are poised to be big winners in the reapportionment of House districts, while the latter two appear likely to lose seats .

Texas gained four new House seats under the numbers released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday, and Democrats and Republicans alike expect a struggle that will be The problem, warns Frost, who lost his reelection bid after the last bout of redistricting : "Republicans tend to be very greedy in Texas."

Meanwhile, 10 states are on track to lose one seat: Rhode Island, West Virginia, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Alabama, Illinois and California, which would drop a House seat for the first time in its 169-year history.

“I think it’s really a continuation of what we’ve seen since 1930,” said Kimball Brace, the president of Election Data Services. "It is a movement away from the Northeast and the Upper Midwest to the South and to the West."

For members in states that lose seats, the redistricting cycle beginning in 2021 will be a political version of musical chairs. The process is felt most acutely in the smaller states where delegations are projected to dwindle.

West Virginia, which has three congressional districts stacked vertically, is likely to drop down to two in 2022. The most vulnerable member of the all-Republican delegation is Rep. Alex Mooney, whose seat is sandwiched between Reps. David McKinley and Carol Miller.

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Congressional redistricting starts with reapportionment. Because the U.S. House of Representatives always has a total of 435 seats , the country must always be States gaining population are most likely to gain House seats while states with stable or declining populations are likely to lose seats .

If the redistricting process were to happen today, Republicans would be in complete control of how district lines are drawn in 17 states , which hold a combined 163 seats in the House of Representatives.

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“Well, I’m in the north, and Carol’s on the bottom. So I think it has to be in the middle,” McKinley said when asked which of them was the most at risk in the redraw.

A former Maryland state senator who moved to West Virginia to run for Congress, Mooney said in an interview earlier this month that he plans on running even if it means challenging a colleague in a primary. “I would have to see how it was drawn," he said. "But, yeah, sure, I would anticipate staying in.”

McKinley, first elected in 2010, said the delegation hadn’t discussed the prospect of losing a seat, but he didn’t anticipate any awkwardness between the three. “It will work itself out. But, yeah, what a shame. Now we have 925,000 people per representative. That will be the largest in the country.”

Rhode Island is slated to lose one of its two seats, which could pit Rep. David Cicilline, a rising star in Democratic leadership, against fellow Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin, the first quadriplegic to serve in the House.

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“Haven’t thought about it. It’s a long way away,” Cicilline said when asked about the prospect of a primary with Langevin.

If the state does lose a seat, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo is also term-limited in 2022, opening an enticing statewide option for one of the Democrats. And in interviews, both members expressed hope that a robust Census effort could prevent a hit to the delegation.

“The governor put together a complete count committee to make certain that we count every Rhode Islander, and we hope if we do that we will retain two seats,” said Cicilline, chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

The looming reapportionment brings into sharper focus the high stakes surrounding the partisan battle for control of state legislatures and the fight to ensure an accurate Census count.

Some states, such as Rhode Island and California, are actively working to avoid an undercount. Other state governments, such as Texas, have not made similar investments.

In his projections, Brace is using the estimates released Monday by the Census Bureau to predict what the states' populations will be next year, when the Census is taken. Other estimates, which simply apportion House seats according to the 2019 estimates, show smaller gains for Texas and Florida, where the population has been booming year-over-year this decade.

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Brace also noted he’s unable to take into account the accuracy of the Census, which will be a major factor in determining the final reapportionment. “We’ve seen it over the decades: Less and less people are likely to participate in the Census,” he said. “That participation rate has gone down each 10 years.”

Moreover, unsuccessful attempts by President Donald Trump and his administration to include a citizenship question on next year's Census have advocates worried that millions of residents, especially nonwhites, won't fill out the Census. That could negatively impact the count in heavily Latino states like Texas, where Democrats are plotting a political comeback — if they can get a seat at the table in redistricting.

Democratic groups are plowing money into the battle for control of the state legislature in the hopes of crafting a more favorable map for the next decade. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting several seats in the state in 2020, but some operatives in the party concede the fight for the state House in Austin may be a greater prize.

The number of Democrats in the congressional delegation would be very likely to increase if the party flips the nine seats needed to take the state House. Republicans hold 23 of the state's 36 congressional seats; Democrats hold just 13.

“There’s no question that you’d see a map that elected more Democratic members,” Matt Angle, a veteran Democratic operative in the state, said of the prospect a Democratic majority in the lower chamber.

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Under that scenario, Angle predicted Democrats could protect their incumbents and add three new seats "that would elect the candidate of choice of people of color."

The country’s population growth is at a historic low of just 0.48 percent, with much of that loss stemming from the Midwest and East Coast. Delegations in those states are likely to take a hit. The possibilities, while purely speculative, could create uncomfortable match-ups, particularly for newly elected freshmen.

If Minnesota dissolves the GOP-leaning seat held by Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson, reelection could become tough for two first-term Democrats, Dean Phillips and Angie Craig, as the seats outside the Twin Cities pick up more Republican voters.

In Michigan, freshman Democratic Reps. Elissa Slotkin and Haley Stevens both hold Trump-won districts. If they win reelection in 2020, their districts could become even less friendly in 2022. Mapmakers, who likely will be forced to eliminate one district, are required to protect minority-majority districts, such as those held by Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Brenda Lawrence. That could deprive Slotkin and Stevens of much-needed Democratic votes.

Democrats will likely have total control over Illinois’ map as it drops to 17 seats. But the party could struggle to find enough Democratic voters to shore up its seats in the north of the state outside Chicago held by DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos and freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood, both of whom hold districts Trump carried narrowly in 2016.

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