GOP Gains in State Legislatures Set It up to Control the House of Representatives for a Decade or More

The Late Late Show

There is nothing but bad news for the Democrat Party agenda and the House Democrat caucus from the 2020 elections — both in terms of the numbers of seats won in the House for the upcoming term, and in the control of state legislatures which will be engaged in the process of redrawing House district boundaries following the release of the 2020 Census.

Fivethirtyeight has done an analysis of how the outcome of the election in state legislatures will now spill over to the control of this remapping process, and the math says that the GOP will be in complete control of state houses and governorships that will draw maps for 188 Congressional districts — or 43% of all such districts on their way to 50% and control of the House — while the Democrats enjoy similar control over state legislatures and governorships that will draw maps for only 73 districts, or 17%.

This reality combines with the fact that the House Democrat Caucus enjoys the slimmest majority margin of any Democrat congressional majority since the Great Depression.

When Ronald Reagan won 49 states in his re-election bid in 1984, the Democrats still won 252 seats in the House.

But the Democrats will start the next Congress likely with 222 seats — it takes 218 to control the Speaker’s Chair.

The result of reapportionment will likely be that Texas will gain two seats, and Arizona, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Oregon would each add one seat. Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia will each lose one seat.   The first order of business in each of the states gaining seats will be to create a new District that is safe for the party in control of that state’s legislature.  The GOP has full control of Texas, Florida, and North Carolina — that means reapportionment should create four new GOP seats starting in 2022.  So much for Nancy’s majority.

The Democrats will control the new seat in Oregon, but in Arizona and Colorado control of the state legislature is divided

In the states losing seats, Rhode Island has an all-Democrat Congressional delegation now so that is a guaranteed loss of one seat.  Illinois and New York will likely eliminate GOP districts in redrawing their maps with one less congressional district overall.  But Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania all have divided state government — and Michigan just adopted an “Independent Commission” to redraw maps and take the process away from the Legislature.  West Virginia’s entire delegation is GOP now, so that will be a loss of a GOP seat the same as Rhode Island is a loss of a Democrat seat.

But the estimates herein are not definite yet. Some analysts of the Census data think Florida could gain two seats, and California could lose a seat.

In some of the states where the GOP has full control, they will be limited in how much they can do.  But even where they cannot redraw a district in order to push it towards changing parties, they can strengthen existing GOP districts to make them safer from Democrat challengers. They can do the opposite to Democrat districts, forcing the incumbent to have to defend the seat in each election cycle, and force the Democrat Party to devote resources to defending the seat.

There will be chances in a few states to gerrymander Democrat incumbents out of their seats by splitting up their Democrat support and sending parts of that support to otherwise safe GOP districts with new boundaries.

Iowa has one safe GOP district and 3 closely divided districts.  I expect the Iowa Legislature will find a way to distribute some of the GOP votes from that safe district to the others, and some Democrat votes from the others to the safe district.  Iowa could have a delegation that is all GOP after redistricting.

Texas has two districts that are competitive and can be flipped from Democrat to GOP with some adjustments to the boundaries — in addition to drawing two new GOP districts.

The GOP is now in control in New Hampshire, and it is likely the boundaries will be adjusted there to create one safe district for each party. The Democrats currently have both seats, but one is much more closely divided than the other.

What should keep Joe Biden and the Democrats awake at night — and maybe more in line over the next two years than is currently being feared — is the idea that Jim Jordan, Doug Collins, Devin Nunes, and Mike McCaul will likely have Chairman’s gavels and subpoena power in January 2023 and beyond.

They watched the Trump Administration suffer at the hands of the House Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi.  There will likely be no shortage of investigatory targets in a Biden administration, and Biden might want to keep an image of Adam Schiff on his wall to throw darts at.