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Republicans Score Big in the States and Win Leg Up on Redistricting

4 years ago
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Republicans took a stranglehold of the congressional redistricting map this week by winning at least 19 state legislative bodies and 10 governor's races in states now held by Democrats. Many of the gubernatorial victories had been anticipated, but the legislative outcomes exceeded even the high expectations of GOP strategists.
"This was an election of historic proportions in the states," said Tim Storey, political analyst for the National Conference of State Legislators. "It puts the Republicans in the position of being able to dominate redistricting to a greater degree than anytime since Baker v. Carr was decided in 1962." That historic Supreme Court decision ruled that legislatures had to be reapportioned on the basis of "one-man, one vote." In most states this ruling was beneficial to Democrats. Nearly 50 years later, the midterm election returns in the states put the GOP back in the driver's seat.
In 2011, all 435 congressional districts in the country will be reapportioned based on the 2010 census. On Tuesday, Republicans added 690 state legislative seats to bring them close to their high-water mark of 1928. They won big in states that switched party control and in states where they already held control. In Texas, for instance, where Democrats held an outside hope of winning the state House in which the GOP held a two-vote majority, Republicans gained 24 seats. Republicans also gained in states where Democrats kept control. Overall, the GOP did better in state legislative races than in any other level of the midterm elections.
The most crucial Republican victories came in the heartland states of Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where the GOP won the state House and maintained control of the state Senate while capturing the governorship, and in Wisconsin, where the GOP won both the Senate and the Assembly and the governorship. Ohio offers particularly fruitful possibilities for redistricting that could help Republican congressional candidates. The Michigan House was an especially satisfying win for the GOP since the Democrats held a 22-seat advantage before the election.
Republicans also took control of the House and Senate in Alabama, Maine, and New Hampshire, and of the Senate and General Assembly in North Carolina. They won the House in Colorado and Montana. In Alabama, the GOP will control the Legislature for the first time since Reconstruction. In Minnesota, the Republicans will have a legislative majority for the first time ever. Republicans also won governorships currently held by Democrats in Tennessee, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, and New Mexico.
These victories were coupled with a decision by the voters in California that could be as beneficial to the GOP as any of their legislative wins. By overwhelming margins, California voters approved an initiative (Proposition 20) that takes congressional redistricting away from the Legislature and puts it in the hands of an independent commission and rejected another initiative (Proposition 27) that would have abolished the commission, which presently has the power to redistrict only the Legislature.
"This is very big," said Storey. "It takes away from the Democratic-controlled Legislature the power to draw 53 congressional districts." Present congressional districts in California, drawn by the Legislature in 2001, were gerrymandered to favor Democrats. Because Democrat Jerry Brown won the California governorship, Democrats would have had a free hand in redistricting next year except for passage of Proposition 20. (Florida took similar steps to end gerrymandering.)
California became only the seventh state to reapportion districts through an independent commission. One of the others is Hawaii, one of the few states to replace a Republican governor with a Democrat in Tuesday's election.
Regionally, the legislative races in the South finally caught up with Dixie's Republican trend in national elections. As recently as 1990 the GOP did not control a single legislative chamber in the South. Before the election the chambers were evenly divided, 14 apiece, between Democrats and Republicans. Now Republicans control 18 of the chambers, and in places such as Arkansas, where they didn't take over, they came close. Considering the scope of the Republican sweep, Democrats are probably fortunate that three southern states -- Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia -- did not hold legislative elections this year.
In another race of likely redistricting significance, Democratic hopes in Florida were dashed when Alex Sink, the Democratic candidate for governor, lost narrowly. Republicans maintained control of both legislative houses in the Sunshine State. Republicans also made a comeback in New England, where the GOP had been an endangered political species. In New Hampshire, where legislative districts are tiny, Republicans gained an astonishing 112 seats. In Maine, the GOP gained 21 seats.
Four legislative chambers remain undecided: the Senate in New York and Washington and both houses in Oregon. Of these, the New York Senate is a significant redistricting prize. Democrats won control of the chamber after a long hiatus in 2008 and Republicans have spent heavily to win it back. Since Democrats control the lower House and won the governorship, they would control the redistricting process if they hold onto the Senate.
Just two years ago, many observers grimly pronounced the Republican Party dead – or, at least, on life support. It was a Republican congressman, Oregon's Greg Walden, who said memorably that Republicans were considered "like mold -- not really alive but you couldn't kill us either." Much changed this week in that regard as Republicans regenerated, especially in the Petri dishes of democracy – the states.

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The exception is Illinois. Even though the GOP won several Congressional seats, the Democrats kept control of both houses of the General Assembly and the Governor's Mansion. Democrat leaders have already said that freshmen GOP Congressmen should expect to be put in districts in 2012 that will be skewed against them. The Democrats are admitting that they are planning to create state and federal districts that will ensure more Democrats in 2012, as well as keep Illinois in President Obama's electoral column.

November 30 2010 at 3:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

New York is a critical State for balance and fairness. In Illinois, I support commencing with the Computer as Iowa does but then allowing for discretion in ensuring certain districts allow Minorities to have a voice. While there should never be a situation on-going where anyone has more than one vote on a State Democratic Body based on RAce, we should also realize that inequity exists, and human empathy should be used to ensure that Historically African American and Latino districts are not "redlined" out. Wisdom and Judgement cannot and should not be delegated to a Computer.

November 20 2010 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Let the fun begin as states redistrict when losing members in the house and now these states will make sure that a lost seat will be a democratic seat. And new seats will be made in Republican area's so it will be harder for the, to gain in the house. This might be the largest change in recent history.

November 05 2010 at 6:52 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

The governor elect for FL spent 73 million dollars to buy a job worth 200K a year. A case of ego over genuine concern for public service, methinks!

November 04 2010 at 6:43 PM Report abuse -16 rate up rate down Reply

WE THE PEOPLE should have won more! When are the citizens of the United States going to figure out we Have to close the borders? When will we exercise the laws we have and rid ourselves of illegals? I believe a number of these elections were won because illegals are allowed to vote. Why is that? Police the laws we have and rid ourselves of the Infection! Liberals know they can't win without illegals.

November 04 2010 at 6:42 PM Report abuse +12 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to no1savage's comment

You are wrong. It is so hypocritical to think the illegals (Immigrants of color?) are here because of the "LIberals". They are here because of the oversight of "Republicans" who thought they could be used for cheap labor as they escaped the poverty of their own countries. When things backfire the blame is placed on the "Liberals"

November 30 2010 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Observant citizens have not overlooked this. In my state, Michigan, John Dingell would never have held his seat had not his district been extruded 40 miles west to include Ann Arbor. And as for John Conyers garnering 77% of the vote...

November 04 2010 at 6:37 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Happy days are here aagain for the Republicans. Now it's time to listen to the Democrats complain.

November 04 2010 at 5:26 PM Report abuse +24 rate up rate down Reply

You're right. I think GOP is in bigger trouble now than before the election. First with TEA party officials. President Obama gave low and middle income tax breaks. I see my check got bigger by $100 per week. Is GOP going to repeal Obama tax break? TEA Party did not want any more tax increase. I hope GOP will not increase taxes. TEA Party will expect GOP to create jobs without adding to deficit. Now where will GOP get money. They will have to go President Obama to ask for money to lend to small businesses. Is that not GOP was against? Third, GOP has trapped itself with Obamacare. Well-John Boehner is now saying they may amend or repeal or come up with a better health care bill. How will they repeal provisions such as: insurance companies cannot deny covering pre-existing conditions, prolonged stays in hospitals, covering kids in college; if you lose your job and you can keep your doctor and insurance; for restructuring Wall Street. No more cheaters and corruption there-How can GOP explain they want to restore corruption at Wall Street; reforming the banking system. Banks cannot take advantage by hitting you with fees you do not authorize.Will GOP allow banks to cheat their customers?. I now told some TEA Party officials want jobs with GOP elected officials. How will John Boehner find TEA Party officials jobs without adding to the deficit? As a whole GOP is now in more trouble than before the elections. Above all John embarrassed himself when he cried like a baby. This guy is not fit to be president or chairman. What was he crying about? Nobody was dead. He was supposed to act like a man not a stupid baby. He is a big BABY.

November 04 2010 at 3:03 PM Report abuse -37 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to pmbalele's comment

Your wrong. Things will get better for you I promise.

November 04 2010 at 6:14 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

captmunson - Boehner crossed the aisle and reached out to Obama about extending Bush's tax cuts for the middle class and drastically reducing tax cuts for the rich? when? A true pro who put bipartisanship to practice? huh? All I EVER heard him say is no, h*ll no, and we want President Obama to fail. Bipartisanship, working with the president? Are you kidding?

November 04 2010 at 6:43 PM Report abuse -10 rate up rate down Reply

Thank God!!!

November 04 2010 at 1:42 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply

PLEASE, PLEASE change the congressional bounderies of Florida's 17th District (loser Kendrick Meek's district). Honestly, if the late Adi Amin of Uganda were alive today, and had he moved to Florida, and decided to run for office in this district, just about every legal and illegal resident in this area would have voted 99.999% for him to represent this district in the U.S. House or Senate.

November 04 2010 at 12:46 PM Report abuse +18 rate up rate down Reply


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