Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

As redistricting gets under way, Democrats' prospects looking brighter

WorldOct 02, 2021 06:25AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators hold buttons in front of the Supreme court before oral arguments on Benisek v. Lamone, a redistricting case on whether Democratic lawmakers in Maryland unlawfully drew a congressional district in a way that would prevent a Republ

By Joseph Ax and Jason Lange

(Reuters) - When Republican-controlled states such as Texas and Florida gained U.S. House of Representative seats thanks to 2020 census data showing their populations are booming, it appeared Democrats were in for another bleak redistricting cycle.

But the census also found that most of the nation's growth is in urban areas and among minorities. Coupled with the shift of suburban white voters toward Democrats during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump, the party's prospects for the next decade are looking less dire.

Proposals for new congressional maps in Republican-controlled states such as Texas, Indiana and Georgia do not aggressively target Democratic incumbents and instead seek mostly to protect vulnerable Republicans whose suburban districts have become political battlegrounds.

Meanwhile, Democrats are poised to push through their own maps in states such as New York and Illinois, where urban growth and rural decline offer a chance to eliminate Republican districts. Gains there could help countermand Republican advantages elsewhere.

In most states, the power to redraw congressional district maps after the decennial U.S. Census lies with the legislature, and lawmakers often attempt to manipulate maps to benefit their own party in a practice known as gerrymandering.

The stakes are high: Republicans only need to pick up five seats in 2022 elections to retake the House, which would give them effective veto power over Democratic President Joe Biden's legislative agenda.

Republicans currently control the redistricting of 187 congressional seats compared with only 75 for Democrats, according to an analysis by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. The remaining 173 seats are in states that have single districts, bipartisan control or independent redistricting commissions.

Many Republican states already use gerrymandered maps from the last round of redistricting in 2010, after the party seized control of nearly two dozen state legislative chambers.

"In many parts of the country, the Republicans are already near their ceiling in terms of how many seats they can squeeze out of them," said Paul Smith, who helps oversee litigation and strategy at the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for fair elections.

The final outcome is uncertain. More than 40 states have not yet enacted maps, and litigation challenging district lines is inevitable.


Cities such as Austin, Texas, and Atlanta, Georgia, saw rapid growth in the last decade, much of it in minority populations who tend to vote Democratic.

The demographic changes have prompted Republicans to cede some Democratic gains to focus their attention elsewhere.

In Austin, for instance, previous redistricting exercises aimed to dilute the city's liberal power by mixing its voters in with those of its more conservative suburbs in a crazy quilt of districts. Austin voters make up about 75% of Travis County, which went for Biden over Trump by a 45-point margin.

But suburban voters have turned sharply away from Republicans in recent years, while the 2020 census showed the city grew by more than 20%. That pushed Republican state lawmakers this week to propose a map that put much of Austin into a new overwhelmingly Democratic district to shore up Republican seats in the surrounding areas.

The proposed map, which includes two new districts thanks to Texas' nation-leading population boom, would eliminate virtually every competitive district in the state, both Republican and Democratic, in order to preserve Republicans' current advantage.

Under the new lines, only three of the state's 38 districts would have had a margin of less than 10 percentage points separating Trump and Biden, not counting third-party votes.

"It's a defensive gerrymander, as opposed to an offensive one," said Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center. "That doesn't mean it's not bad."

Democrats and advocacy groups have criticized the new map for not creating districts with a majority of minority voters, who were responsible for nearly all of the state's population increase. Federal law requires certain such districts to ensure minority voters' power is not diluted.

"I think it was intentional and deliberate, to undercut the explosive growth in the minority population in Texas," said Democratic State Assemblyman Ron Reynolds.

The office of Republican state Senator Joan Huffman, who authored the map, did not respond to a request for comment.

In Georgia, a proposed map from state Senate Republicans this week endangers Democrat Lucy McBath, who occupies a former Republican district in the Atlanta suburbs.

But Carolyn Bourdeaux, the only Democrat to flip a Republican House seat last year, would see her nearby district become much more Democratic, reflecting the increasingly diverse area that helped drive Biden's surprising statewide victory.


Democrats are seeking to counter any losses by going on the offense in states they govern.

New York, where Democrats control redistricting for the first time in more than a century, could prove to be the cycle's biggest prize.

Analysts say the legislature's Democratic super-majorities could eliminate up to five Republican seats. A bipartisan commission is tasked with producing an advisory map, but Democrats have the votes to reject it.

Republicans have accused Democrats of plotting to force through a gerrymander.

Democrats also appear poised to erase at least one, and possibly two, Republican seats in Illinois. In Oregon, the Democratic majority pushed through a map this week that gives the party the advantage in five of six districts.

New York State Senator Mike Gianaris, the Democrat who co-chairs the committee that would take over redistricting if the state's commission fails, said the aim was to draw the lines "fairly" to reflect demographic shifts.

"Just because the result will be more Democrats doesn't mean it was drawn for that purpose," he said, while acknowledging that no one "is ignorant of the national implications of what we're doing."

As redistricting gets under way, Democrats' prospects looking brighter

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (4)
Chris Cummins
Chris Cummins Oct 02, 2021 11:04AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
GOP is done. Trump finished them off. Now we can work on making this country great.
Felipe Daniel
Felipe Daniel Oct 02, 2021 10:48AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Democrats cheat in every election
Jose Maderno
Jose Maderno Oct 02, 2021 8:43AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Reuters with the political propaganda... again and again.  Reuters should be forced to register as a political organization.  Reuters is definitely not a "news" organization.
Joseph Armour
Joseph Armour Oct 02, 2021 7:12AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Given the number of people being forced to get vaccine shots, I wonder how many of them are democratic voters. I wonder how many will hold strong resentment in upcoming elections. May not be so good for democrats after all.
Mase Gumbo
Mase Gumbo Oct 02, 2021 7:12AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
go find a semblance of inteligence Joseph
Joseph Armour
Joseph Armour Oct 02, 2021 7:12AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Mase Gumbo  So your saying people who lose their jobs and suffer other indignities due to the democratic push to punish opposition to RNA vaccines won't feel resentment toward democratic candidates? Maybe your trying to say only republicans are refusing to get vaccinated and therefore lose jobs and other social benefits. I guess that's okay then. Do all democrats march in lockstep with the party leaders? Could be a scary problem for democrats if they don't, hmmmmmmm?
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email