When the congressional redistricting process began in 2021, initial projections were that Republicans had a clear advantage to gain additional House seats, but aggressive early moves by Democrats seemed to flip the script and shift the advantage in their direction.
Yet, if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had hoped that favorable redistricting outcomes would help save her slim Democratic majority in the midterm elections, it now looks like that hope was perhaps misplaced, the Daily Caller reported.
Republicans are now poised to reclaim a “modest” redistricting advantage and the best outcome Democrats can hope for is a “partisan wash” in which all of the gains and losses nationwide balance out roughly similar to the current status quo.
Advantage shifted back-and-forth
In early January, the Cook Political Report‘s redistricting guru Dave Wasserman gave a sort of interim overview of the process and determined that the initially projected advantage for Republicans had largely been squandered while Democrats had made substantial gains to even everything out.
The reason for that, in his view, was because several GOP-led states had focused more on shoring up support for incumbent districts instead of exploiting opportunities to expand control while Democrats went the other route and “unabashedly gerrymandered” several Democrat-led states to erase or threaten Republican-held seats and improve the party’s margins.
However, there were still several states at that time that had not yet finalized their redrawn district maps as well as pending legal challenges against GOP-favorable maps in certain other states.
By late January, though, things began to change, according to Politico, as more and more Republican-led states sought to emulate the “ruthless” and aggressive gerrymandering tactics witnessed in several Democrat-led states instead of playing small ball to protect vulnerable incumbent seats.
That new attitude was displayed in places like Missouri and Tennessee, where Democrat-held urban districts were considered to be split up, and in Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) rejected a timidly drawn map from the state legislature that made no real gains and ordered a special legislative session to redraw a more GOP-favorable map.
One unnamed GOP strategist told Politico: “It is embarrassing that Republican legislatures are pulling punches in redistricting while Democrats are out for blood. Any Republican who backs a Pelosi-friendly map this cycle should be forced to litigate that vote in a future primary.”
Situation has come full circle
Meanwhile, in early February, Axios reported that things were still looking up for Democrats after they had gained a few seats through gerrymandering in blue states and blocking potential Republican gains with legal challenges. In fact, it even looked like Democrats might emerge as the overall winner and, despite the initial predictions of GOP redistricting, come out on top with a few additional seats in the “D” column.
That rosy outlook didn’t last long, however, and the Daily Caller noted that for all of the back-and-forths over the past few months, the redistricting situation appears to have gone full circle and placed the Cook Political Report’s Wasserman right back where he was in terms of his predictions in January.
In late April, Wasserman tweeted, “We’re down to two possible outcomes of 2022 redistricting: a partisan wash or a modest GOP gain, depending on the final ruling on Dems’ NY congressional map. Predictions from a few months ago of a much less skewed House map now look premature.”