July 28, 2010

...AND REDDER....:

The Democrats' Redistricting Nightmare (David N. Bass, 7.28.10, American Spectator)

With about a dozen of the nation's state legislatures closely split along partisan lines and 18 governor's races in the "toss up" category this year, big changes could be in store. Factoring in the tenuous political atmosphere adds even more spice to the mix. So far, the ground game is shaping up nicely for the GOP, but there are still fundraising and organizational storm clouds on the horizon.

The Cook Political Report lists five governorships now held by Democrats as either "leaning" Republican or "likely" Republican. Of those five states, four of the legislatures are Republican and one is split between the parties, giving the GOP a good chance to control the redistricting process. Conversely, Cook lists only one governor's race -- for Republican Linda Lingle's office in Hawaii -- as leaning in the Democrats' favor, and none in the "likely" or "solid" Democrat category. There are no redistricting implications, though, because the Aloha State redraws political lines by independent commission, not legislative edict.

In 17 state legislatures, meanwhile, Democrats maintain a slim advantage in at least one chamber. In a good Republican year, several of those could flip. Even if a Democrat occupies the governor's office or controls one legislative chamber, the GOP could significantly influence the process and curtail partisan gerrymandering by capturing at least part of the state government. Both national parties understand the implications, which is why they're pouring $20 million apiece into competitive legislative races, with an eye toward strengthening their hand in redistricting.

Aside from the favorable lineup of races, the political trend is also in Republicans' favor. Even in the strongly anti-GOP election year of 2008, Republicans managed to defend all of their governorships up for grabs except one in Missouri. Since then, Republicans have been victorious in special elections in Virginia and New Jersey, states where Democrats had a nearly decade-long winning streak in gubernatorial elections.

Reapportionment is another factor upping the stakes. That process moves congressional seats from states that lost population to states that gained. Here again, Republicans have reason to be optimistic. The Washington, D.C., based firm Polidata predicts that 10 states will gain at least one congressional seat and 10 lose at least one after the 2010 census. Of those, all of the losing states except one are in the predominantly Democratic northeast and upper Midwest. On the other hand, all but one of the states gaining seats is in the Republican-friendly Sunbelt, including a projected four-seat pickup for Texas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 28, 2010 6:27 AM
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