State Legislative and Congressional Redistricting after the 2010 Census
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Every decade, the census is conducted to readjust population figures across the country. These population figures are then used in redistricting -- the re-drawing of Congressional and state legislative districts.
Once the census figures are released, states are then tasked with the redistricting process. In most states, redistricting is taken up by the state legislature and governor.
Redistricting is often a highly politicized process. According to Bill Thomas, a 2010 Congressional candidate from Maryland, the real goal of redistricting is "to repackage constituents in ways designed to benefit the party in power. The 8th Congressional District in Maryland... is a carefully crafted inkblot. Voters only think they choose elected officials, but it’s elected officials who choose them," he said. Jennifer Clark, a political science professor, said gerrymandering is common in most states. "The redistricting process has important consequences for voters. In some states, incumbent legislators work together to protect their own seats, which produces less competition in the political system. Voters may feel as though they do not have a meaningful alternative to the incumbent legislator. Legislators who lack competition in their districts have less incentive to adhere to their constituents’ opinions," she said.
Thomas Mann, a scholar at the Brookings Institution has written extensively on redistricting reform. Mann wrote, "Redistricting is a deeply political process, with incumbents actively seeking to minimize the risk to themselves (via bipartisan gerrymanders) or to gain additional seats for their party (via partisan gerrymanders)."
On the ballot
While redistricting has a controversial history, it has generally been of interest only to the political die-hard. But in recent years, there has been increased momentum toward establishing independent commissions, as voters push to move politicians as far away from the process as possible.
According to Bob Edgar, president and CEO of Common Cause, redistricting often "puts partisan legislators in charge, allowing them to choose which voters they’ll represent." He added: "independent redistricting commissions help to foster healthy two-party competition and uphold one of America’s fundamental principles: Voters should be represented by people of their own choosing."
In 2012, voters approved two measures that impacted the redistricting process:
- California Proposition 40, Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan (2012)
- Maryland Redistricting Referendum, Question 5 (2012)
In 2010, voters approved four measures -- in California, Florida (and a second in Florida), and Oklahoma -- that either created or expanded a redistricting commissions' jurisdiction over the process (or diluted legislative power). Additionally, California voters rejected a measure that would have eliminated the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Types of Redistricting
In each state, there are three general processes by which districts are re-drawn.
- Legislative authority
- Hybrid of both legislative and commission
| Redistricting in the United States |
2010 Census Redistricting
Michigan was the only state in the nation to actually lose population from 2000 to 2010. Meanwhile, western states gained eight of the 12 new Congressional seats, with the remaining four in the southeast. 2012 marked the first time that the West had a larger population than the Midwest.
Republicans' powerful showing in the 2010 legislative elections was seen to have a substantial impact on the redistricting process. According to E.D. Kain, the results of the 2010 elections, combined with the 2011 redistricting, could give Republicans control of the U.S. House until the year 2022. However, the large, sweeping victories in 2010 likely made it difficult for Republicans to attempt any far-reaching grab at additional Congressional gains. Rather, it was expected they would play a safer approach to simply try and solidify gains from 2010. However, in June 2011, some experts indicated that Democrats would likely come out ahead in Congressional redistricting. Stuart Rothenberg wrote in Roll Call that the likely Democratic gains in California and Illinois put together would completely offset any losses in the 48 other states.
Lawsuits pertaining to redistricting in 2010-2011 have been filed in 38 states so far.
Deviation of Districts
One of the tools that majority parties have historically used in order to hold power longer is the size of a district. By under-populating districts with one party and overpopulating others, the majority party can shift the balance of power without raising alarms through oddly shaped, gerrymandered districts.
This type of rigged redistricting occurred in several states after the 2000 census.
- Georgia: After the 2000 census, Democrats still controlled the legislature. The party created larger Republican districts in the suburbs and smaller Democrats districts within city limits. In Larios v. Cox a federal court ruled the maps unconstitutional based on "one-person, one-vote" grounds. The Supreme Court upheld the decision. The situation was resolved just in time for the 2004 elections, with a $2 million price tag on the process.
- Montana: Although Montana has a bipartisan redistricting commission, the previous two redistricting processes were seemingly in favor of one party or the other (Democrats in 2000, Republicans in 1990). Of the 50 Senate seats redistricted in 2000, 20 had a population deviation of more than 4 percent -- 12 with fewer than four, and eight with more than four. Democrats won nine of the 12 smaller districts while Republicans won six of the eight larger ones. The same trend was evident in the House, where Democrats won 22 of the 26 smaller districts and Republicans won 17 of the 26 larger ones.
- New York: In New York, it was the same story as Georgia, only with the Republicans drawing smaller districts for themselves and packing Democrats into larger districts. However, in this circumstance, the courts sided with the Senate plan, ruling the maps constitutional.
Some states have lowered their population deviation to 3 or even 1 percent of the ideal size, heading into the 2010 Census redistricting process.
Michael McDonald of George Mason University compiled census data and state legislative district in order to determine where the greatest and least amount of growth took place over the past decade. At the website Public Mapping Project, McDonald posted that information. According to the website Public Mapping with George Mason University, Louisiana had four of the five most underpopulated state legislative districts in the country.
|State Legislative Districts that are Most Underpopulated after 2010 Census|
|State||District||Total Population||2010 Ideal Population||Deviation||Percent Deviation||% Black Voting-Age Population||% Hispanic Voting-Age Population|
|Louisiana||State House District 99||16,419||43,175||-26,756||-62.0%||79.40%||2.90%|
|Louisiana||State House District 104||21,315||43,175||-21,860||-50.6%||18.30%||8.30%|
|Louisiana||State House District 103||23,643||43,175||-19,532||-45.2%||22.10%||9.80%|
|Mississippi||State House District 115||13,505||24,322||-10,817||-44.5%||24.30%||11.60%|
|Louisiana||State Senate District 2||65,868||116,240||-50,372||-43.3%||84.30%||3.40%|
Meanwhile, three of the districts that displayed the largest growth, and were therefore overpopulated were in Nevada.
|State Legislative Districts that are Most Overpopulated after 2010 Census|
|State||District||Total Population||2010 Ideal Population||Deviation||Percent Deviation||% Black Voting-Age Population||% Hispanic Voting-Age Population|
|Virginia||State House District 13||190,620||80,010||110,610||138.2%||10.80%||11.00%|
|Utah||State House District 56||90,503||36,852||53,651||145.6%||0.50%||6.50%|
|Nevada||State Senate Clark District 9||354,064||128,598||225,466||175.3%||8.40%||13.50%|
|Nevada||State Assembly District 22||222,912||64,299||158,613||246.7%||6.60%||12.80%|
|Nevada||Nevada Assembly District 13||256,407||64,299||192,108||298.8%||10.60%||13.40%|
The breakdown of states that won and lost new seats in the Congressional reapportionment are as follows:
|States that Added Congressional Seats after 2010 Census|
|State||Before 2010 census||After 2010 census|
|South Carolina||6||7 (+1)|
|States that Lost Congressional Seats after 2010 Census|
|State||Before 2010 census||After 2010 census|
|New Jersey||13||12 (-1)|
|New York||29||27 (-2)|
However, while population gains generally took place in Republican states, projections showed the bulk of the increases coming from minorities -- particularly in states like Arizona, Florida and Texas. Minorities generally lean Democratic in elections. According to an estimate by Salon.com, Republicans stood to gain 15 new seats nationwide if they chose to impose "brutal" maps.
Of the top 10 Congressional districts that needed to lose population -- meaning they were the fastest growing districts in the country over the previous decade -- all were won by a Republican in the 2010 election, which implies that Republicans would have an easier time spreading their voters across more districts while still managing to try and maintain a safe majority in those overly-populated districts. The most-populated district was the 3rd Congressional seat in Nevada, which showed a population of 1,002,482. The least-populated district was the 1st Congressional seat in Nebraska, with 611,333 residents.
Voting Rights Act
The Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965, impacts redistricting through its mandate that states may not hinder minority voting rights -- including breaking up majority-minority congressional districts. The legislation was passed to prevent state legislatures, particularly those in the South, from lessening minority representation.
For example, in Texas, there were four majority-minority districts. Latinos represented 63 percent of the state's growth -- which posed the possibility of one or two additional minority-majority districts. Texas would be required to have its districts approved by the Department of Justice.
As of the 2010 census, there were 16 states that required some form of federal approval of their redistricting plans under jurisdiction of the Voting Rights Act. Nine states require complete approval; six are only subject to county approval, and two have township mandates. The breakdown is as follows:
|States Affected by Voting Rights Act in Redistricting|
|State||Entire State||Counties only||Townships only|
The Voting Rights Act has not impacted redistricting since the Kennedy administration. Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, expected the Justice Department to play an active role in redistricting this cycle. "They've been very clear to us that they intend to be very vigilant and very active in this redistricting process," he said. Historically, legal challenges have been common in the redistricting process.
For example, in 1981, legislators in Virginia had their plan challenged under the Voting Rights Act. Because Virginia is one of four states with off-year state elections, there was a sense of urgency to complete the maps quickly. But because of the legal challenge, the new district drawings were not finished in time to allow candidates to declare. Therefore, a judge ordered that delegates would undergo election for a one-year term using the old districts. Then, in 1982, there would be another one-year term using the newly drawn -- legal -- district lines.
Michael McDonald, an expert on redistricting from George Mason University, discusses redistricting and politicians' "temptation" to draw maps in incumbents' favor.
On February 2, 2011, District Court of Columbia Judge John Bates heard arguments in a case brought against Attorney General Eric Holder by officials of Shelby County, Alabama. The lawsuit challenged the Voting Rights Act's pre-clearance mandate, arguing that states and local jurisdictions should no longer be forced to justify voting changes to the federal government. According to the suit, "There can be no question that the VRA ushered in long-overdue changes in electoral opportunities for minorities throughout the Deep South. However, it is no longer constitutionally justifiable for Congress to arbitrarily impose on Shelby County and other covered jurisdictions disfavored treatment ... without a legislative record showing that [they] are still engaged in the type of 'unremitting and ingenious defiance of the constitution' that justified enactment of the VRA in 1965."
The court ruled in the Justice Department's favor on September 21, 2011, stating that Congress acted within its bounds when it reenacted the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act in 2006. The federal appeals court affirmed by a vote of 2-1 on May 18, 2012, noting judicial deference to the judgment of the legislature.
The case was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court beginning on February 27, 2013, with Shelby County asking the Supreme Court to overturn Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. A ruling is expected in this case in 2013.
Department of Justice Approval
The first state to have plans analyzed and inspected by the Department of Justice was Louisiana. The proceedings were closely watched by other states to try and gauge what level of scrutiny the DOJ would apply to state maps. If the Louisiana maps were rejected, it would send a signal that the DOJ was setting a very high standard for legal approval. This would send ripples through the processes in other pre-clearance states. "Other states will be watching this very, very closely since it is likely to be the first major redistricting plan to get preclearance, or denial, from this Justice Department in this cycle of redistricting. If the plans are rejected, states will study very closely to see how plans are going to be evaluated," said Tim Storey, a senior fellow with the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Ultimately, the DOJ precleared the congressional and legislative maps in the summer of 2011. In the case of the state house, it was the very first time that one of its maps had been pre-cleared. However, VRA preclearance did not immunize Louisiana from legal challenges; a year after congressional preclearance, a lawsuit against the congressional boundaries -- charging racial gerrymandering and VRA violations -- was filed.
A trifecta occurs when one political party holds these three positions in a state government:
The concept of the trifecta is important in redistricting because in many states, the governor, senate majority leader, and house majority leader play decisive roles in the reapportionment process. After the 2010 elections, Republicans picked up 12 new trifectas while Democrats lost five.
|Trifectas before and after the 2010 Election|
|Party||Before election||Congressional seats||After election||Congressional seats||Gain/loss states||Gain/loss congressional seats|
|State||Governor||State Senate||State House||Trifecta?||# of U.S. Congressional seats|
|Before 2010 census||After 2010 census|
|New Jersey||13||12 (-1)|
|New York||29||27 (-2)|
|South Carolina||6||7 (+1)|
This song was released by ProPublica in November 2011
Technology allowed public input to play a much greater role in the 2010 Census redistricting than in previous efforts. The Census Bureau released all of the population information on its website. In the 1970s, politicians used dry-erase boards to create district boundaries. In the post-2010 cycle, any citizen could use the census website to try their luck at redistricting. Both Ohio and Virginia held public redistricting competitions. According to Cathy McCully, head of the Census Redistricting data division, "anybody could be in their basement, unload this and draw their own plan, using all the tools we have."
Across the nation, large numbers of citizens weighed in with their own versions of redistricting maps. A Wall Street Journal feature in March 2011 was one of many newspaper stories to profile the countless numbers of individuals spending time bringing "redistricting to the basement." Using software available on the Internet, people could draw maps from their own homes.
For example, the website Draw Congress compiled publicly-generated maps for both Congressional and state legislative districts. As the redistricting process moved along, it was compelling to see how many of the actual maps compared to attempts by the regular voting populace.
Even state officials involved in the process marveled at the tools at their disposal for redistricting. "This is new. We didn't have something like this 10 years ago," said Clare Dyer, redistricting manager for the Texas Legislative Council.
U.S. House Input
Two members of Congress introduced legislation that would impact redistricting at the state-level. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Jim Cooper (D-TN) each planned to put a bill on the floor of the House. Shuler's bill would require each state to put redistricting in the hands of a five-member commission, in much the same structure as Arizona. Cooper's bill would require each state to create a website to solicit input on the redistricting process.
Representatives and their Districts
While elected Congressional officials do not directly control redistricting, they have historically played a vital role in the process. That trend continued with the post-2010 redistricting process. Congressional input happens in many ways -- often in closed-door meetings. In some instances, U.S. Representatives make large donations to political parties or committees in state chambers.
- In 2008, Brad Miller, a five-term Democrat from North Carolina, donated $250 to the North Carolina House Democratic Committee. In October 2010, Miller sent $10,000 to the committee and $14,000 to the State Senate Democratic Committee.
- In 2008, Sandy Levin, a 14-term Democrat from the Detroit metro area in Michigan, did not send any money to the Michigan House Democrat fund. In 2010, Levin provided a $20,000 donation.
- Every Republican incumbent in Ohio contributed to a state legislative campaign committee.
- In New York, five incumbent Democrats made donations to state committees, including Brian Higgins, a third-term Congressman who sent $18,000 to the New York State Assembly Campaign Committee.
- Pete Sessions, an eight-term Republican from Texas, sent $10,000 to the Texas House Campaign Committee. Rep. Michael McCaul -- a Republican in his fourth term -- also sent $5,000 to the same committee.
In other occasions, the Congressional delegation will meet privately with the state legislative leadership that is in charge of redistricting. In early February 2011, Michael Moran (D), chair of the Massachusetts House redistricting committee, met with all 10 of the current Congressional delegates from Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, lawyers on both sides of the aisle informed Congressional representatives that it would be wiser to keep quiet about redistricting, rather than risk providing material for potential lawsuits. "This redistricting cycle will be the most-watched in history and will have more public involvement. Everything that is said could end up in court. So people have to be careful what they say," said Jeffrey Wice, a veteran redistricting attorney and counsel to the Democratic Party’s national redistricting project.
All 50 states received their local population data before the required April 1, 2011 deadline.
Historically, prisoners have been counted in redistricting for the district where the jail is physically located. But several states -- namely, Delaware, Maryland and New York worked to changed that. Each state planned to alter the process for the 2011 redistricting, planning instead to locate prisoners' most recent addresses and counting them in the matching districts.
According to a report by the NAACP, prison-based gerrymandering results in stark contrasts in racial disparities in government representation. Population figures have an impact on federal funding levels, and thus localities often have a specific self-interest in how prisoners are counted. According to the Census Bureau, an act of Congress will be required to have a nationwide change on the process of counting prisoners.
However, in late March 2011, the federal government rejected Maryland's attempt to reform their process. When the state asked prison officials to provide detailed information on the previous addresses of current inmates, the Federal Bureau of Prisons refused, citing privacy violations. Maryland immediately appealed directly to the U.S. Justice Department in a bid to get that information.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties focused national efforts on fundraising for redistricting. The Democrats sought to raise $12.5 million while Republicans hoped to raise $20 million. According to a Federal Election Commission ruling, money donated for this purpose is considered soft money -- meaning donors do not need to be revealed. Both parties anticipated a large quantity of costly lawsuits, which serves as a primary purpose for the expense of the funds. Mike Thompson, U.S. House representative from California headed up Democratic efforts while Lynn Westmoreland spearheaded the Republican organization.
A Roll Call article in November 2011 listed the following five Congressional districts as the "ugliest" of 2011.
- North Carolina District 4
- Maryland District 3
- Ohio District 9
- Michigan District 14
- Illinois District 4
The tables below detail the success rates of legislatures versus commissions at getting redistricting plans approved without challenges in court (or, if challenged, without a change being required). The information was compiled by analyzing redistricting plans after the census of 1970, 1980, 1990 and 2000.
|Commissions Success Rate at Redistricting|
|2000s||71% (10 of 14)||71% (10 of 14)||100% (5 of 5)|
|1990s||80% (8 of 10)||91% (10 of 11)||100% (4 of 4)|
|1980s||67% (6 of 9)||67% (6 of 9)||NA|
|1970s||63% (5 of 8)||75% (6 of 8)||NA|
|1970s-2000s||71% (29 of 41)||76% (32 of 42)||100% (9 of 9)|
|Legislative Success Rate at Redistricting|
|2000s||68% (23 of 34)||77% (27 of 35)||74% (28 of 38)|
|1990s||57% (21 of 37)||62% (23 of 37)||59% (23 of 39)|
|1980s||68% (25 of 38)||62% (24 of 39)||NA|
|1970s||67% (26 of 39)||63% (25 of 34)||NA|
|1970s-2000s||64% (95 of 148)||66% (99 of 151)||66% (51 of 77)|
Since redistricting in the 1970s, nearly 1/3 of all legislative attempts at redistricting have been challenged in court. However, commissions have been more successful, with roughly 1/5 of all redistricting plans ending up requiring judicial approval.
President Obama and redistricting
Nobody is safe from gerrymandering. In 2000, President Obama ran for Congress against incumbent Democrat Bobby Rush. Obama won 38 percent of the primary vote, subsequently losing to Rush, who had served in the 1st District since 1993. After the 2000 census, Rush influenced the re-drawing of the districts and re-drew Obama into a different Congressional district, that of Jesse Jackson Jr.. Subsequently, with Obama drawn out of Rush's Congressional district, the incumbent faced no primary challenger in 2002 or 2004.
2010 Census interactive map
The interactive map below was generated by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Alabama remained at seven House seats after the 2010 census. With Republicans controlling both state chambers, the congressional delegation was expected to remain at six Republicans and one Democrat, which was not lost on critics, who alleged racial discrimination and political gerrymandering.
Even with the 15th highest growth rate in the Union (13.3 percent), Alaska actually showed the slowest growth in 80 years. With that, the state did not gain any congressional seats, and remained an at-large district.
Arizona's early redistricting process was marked with controversy, as Republicans filed suit over the nominee list for the redistricting commission. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled that 2 names would be replaced on the list. Republican and Democratic leaders each pick 2 commission members; those 4 members then choose a fifth and final commissioner.
Arkansas retained its four congressional seats, with the 1st and 4th Districts increasing in size. The state was the first to complete its congressional redistricting process after the 2010 census, even as the Democratic-controlled Legislature initially reached inter-chamber gridlock over differing proposals. Fayetteville had been considered for a move to the 3rd District, but ultimately stayed in the 4th. Gov. Mike Beebe (D) called the passed maps "relatively status quo," expressing dissatisfaction with the number of split counties (five).
| States that Received Local |
Census Population Data
|State||Date local data received|
|Louisiana||February 3, 2011|
|Mississippi||February 3, 2011|
|New Jersey||February 3, 2011|
|Virginia||February 3, 2011|
|Maryland||February 8, 2011|
|Indiana||February 9, 2011|
|Arkansas||February 9, 2011|
|Vermont||February 9, 2011|
|Iowa||February 9, 2011|
|Illinois||February 15, 2011|
|Oklahoma||February 15, 2011|
|South Dakota||February 15, 2011|
|Texas||February 16, 2011|
|Oregon||February 22, 2011|
|Washington||February 22, 2011|
|Colorado||February 22, 2011|
|Hawaii||February 22, 2011|
|Utah||February 23, 2011|
|Nevada||February 23, 2011|
|Alabama||February 23, 2011|
|Missouri||February 23, 2011|
|Nebraska||February 28, 2011|
|Delaware||March 1, 2011|
|North Carolina||March 1, 2011|
|Kansas||March 2, 2011|
|Wyoming||March 2, 2011|
|California||March 7, 2011|
|Connecticut||March 8, 2011|
|Pennsylvania||March 8, 2011|
|Arizona||March 9, 2011|
|Ohio||March 9, 2011|
|Idaho||March 10, 2011|
|Wisconsin||March 10, 2011|
|Alaska||March 14, 2011|
|Montana||March 14, 2011|
|New Mexico||March 14, 2011|
|North Dakota||March 15, 2011|
|Minnesota||March 15, 2011|
|Tennessee||March 15, 2011|
|Florida||March 16, 2011|
|Georgia||March 16, 2011|
|Kentucky||March 16, 2011|
|Massachusetts||March 22, 2011|
|Michigan||March 22, 2011|
|New Hampshire||March 22, 2011|
|Maine||March 23, 2011|
|New York||March 23, 2011|
|West Virginia||March 23, 2011|
|South Carolina||March 23, 2011|
|Rhode Island||March 23, 2011|
California kept its 53 seats in the U.S. House, dodging expectations of a loss of a Congressional seat in San Francisco. For the first time, the bipartisan Citizens Redistricting Commission passed new maps instead of the legislature. Despite passage of the maps, commission members had mixed feelings, and political analysts have suggested a possible legislative supermajority for Democrats.
For a while in the 00's, Colorado was growing rapidly enough that politicos began dreaming of an 8th District. However, the state could not maintain the growth rate and will instead have its seven seats to divvy up. The bar is somewhat low as simply being able to avoid the vicious partisan fight that dragged the 2000 redistricting process out for three years and through the courts will be a win.
Following the failure of the state redistricting commission to meet its deadline, special master Nathaniel Persily drew up a new congressional map that largely echoed a previous Democratic map, explaining that the map "moves only 28,975 people (0.81 percent of the state’s population) out of their current districts, splits one fewer town than the existing congressional plan and provides districts slightly more compact than the existing plan."
Even with a near 15 percent growth, Delaware remained an At-Large Congressional District following the 2010 census. However, the population growth did pose some changes for legislative maps; two northern state senate districts were merged so that a new one could appear in the southern part of the state, and as for the House, its new map preserved four Wilmington majority-minority districts and moved two northern New Castle County districts to Kent and Sussex counties.
With 17.6 percent growth, Florida gained two congressional seats. As of September 2012, a lawsuit over a new congressional map remained pending even as the elections moved forward with it. According to analysis by the Orlando Sentinel, the two new congressional seats are expected to favor Democrats, but Republicans would maintain a 17-10 advantage and find some of their seats safer. The House would see a decrease in Republican control, but have fewer competitive races, and the Senate would see the maintenance of 23 strong Republican seats, albeit with a three-seat increase in majority-minority districts.
With 18.3 percent growth, Georgia gained one congressional seat following the 2010 census. The northern part of the state saw most of that growth, and the congressional seat was placed in the northwest corner of the state, where Tom Graves served in the 9th District. The 2011 redistricting process was the first time that all maps were pre-cleared by the Justice Department on first review; all were seen to benefit Republicans.
Hawaii remained with two congressional seats after the 2010 census. The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission considered two maps, one of which would have moved Colleen Hanabusa out of her district; after a deadlock, the tiebreaking member of the commission voted in favor of the map that kept Hanabusa in her district, opening up a challenge by Charles Djou, the former Republican congressman who Hanabusa defeated in the 2010 general election.
Idaho retained its two congressional districts, but the 1st saw enough population growth to require a redraw of the congressional map. Ada County -- containing Boise -- was again split between districts despite Democratic attempts to move all of it into the 1st. New legislative maps were more of an alteration, forcing numerous incumbent races, with seven house districts pitting more than two incumbents against each other.
With 3.3 percent growth, Illinois lost one congressional seat following the 2010 census, and the state was marked by the Washington Post as the second-most important state to watch in the redistricting cycle. With Democrats in control of the governorship and the legislature, a Politico analysis concluded that Republicans stood to lose five congressional seats under the new maps, and the parties differed greatly over the fairness of the map and the process.
Following the 2010 census, Indiana retained nine congressional districts. Congressional redistricting led to two notable races: Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) opted to run in what became an open race following the primary defeat of Richard Lugar, and Rep. Mike Pence (R) chose to run for governor.
Iowa's redistricting process is considered to be one of the fairest. The Hawkeye state uses a legislative staff of nonpartisan technocrats to redraw districts -- the only system of its kind in the nation. The results of been predominantly even-shaped districts.
After the 2010 census, Kansas maintained its four congressional districts. With the Legislature failing to come to terms on new maps, a court took over the process, releasing a congressional map that kept Topeka and Lawrence together in the 2nd District. The legislative districts were heavily changed with numerous districts of both chambers becoming vacant or housing multiple incumbents. Secretary of State Kris Kobach called the maps "probably the most disruptive redistricting in Kansas history."
Kentucky kept its six congressional seats after the 2010 census, with 7.4 percent growth even as the sides of the state lost population. The congressional plan was a compromise measure signed so that candidate filing could move forward, and the Legislature was certainly not in consensus over the map. The legislative maps were overturned, leaving the 2012 elections to be held with existing district lines.
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina and, to a lesser extent, Rita sent so many residents looking for new homes that Louisiana lost a Congressional seat. As the state has one of the earliest deadlines anywhere and must still receive Department of Justice authority on its political boundaries, Louisiana has limited time to complete its redistricting. Governor Bobby Jindal (R), standing for re-election in the fall and expected to win easily, has been very clear that he will limit his involvement to discrete advice when asked for it, leaving the Pelican State's redistricting in legislative hands.
Maine's lawmakers didn't intend to look closely at redistricting until 2013, as the state Constitution and stature set both legislative and Congressional map making for after the first election following a Census. However, a federal lawsuit seeks to force the state, which has received its data, to speed up that time table.
Maryland grew nine percent, with its congressional districts remaining at eight. Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) submitted a map to the Democratic-controlled Legislature, which passed it even with unanimous Republican dissent over concerns over racial gerrymandering. A referendum has been placed on the November 6 ballot; if passed, it would overturn the congressional redistricting plan.
Massachusetts lost one seat in the U.S. House following the 2010 Census, which recorded the state's growth at a below-average 3.1 percent. Congressman John Olver decided to retire before redistricting was carried out, decreasing the chances of a two-incumbent congressional race. Additionally, Congressman Barney Frank opted to retire the week following the signing of the map. Because Stephen Lynch opted to move rather than face Bill Keating in a Democratic primary, there was not a two-incumbent Massachusetts congressional race in 2012.
Nationwide, Michigan is the only state that actually lost population from 2000 to 2010, and then only by a tiny - 0.6%. However, so long as Congress keeps the House at 435 seats, Michigan is losing only one seat, going from 19 to 18.
Minnesota kept its eight congressional districts after the 2000 census, with Districts 2 and 6 needing to lose population to the others due to suburban growth.. After a veto by Gov. Mark Dayton, redistricting was settled by a court panel, most notably with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) moved into the 4th Congressional District held by Rep. Betty McCollum (D). Because Bachmann opted to run outside of her home district, no incumbents would face each other in 2012. The legislative maps were another story, as about 1 in 5 state representatives and about 1 in 4 state senators were paired with another.
Having neither gained nor lost seats was hardly enough to defuse bickering over almost every aspect of political boundaries. The inability of the House and Senate to agree on a plan for the lower chamber's districts took up the regular session and now still may not be resolved under an emergency resolution extending the session.
The process of drawing maps may end up in the federal courts where the worst outcome would be a costly requirement to hold back-to-back elections. Mississippi's unusual off-year election cycle means they are electing legislative and Constitutional offices in the fall of 2011, and could be forced to hold a second election in 2012 once the courts finalize maps.
This one-minute video provides an introduction to redistricting.
Having lost a seat, the Republican dominated legislature can defeat a veto from Governor Nixon (D) and has its eye on one of the Democratic seats around St. Louis as the Congressional delegation shrinks.
Montana remained an At-Large Congressional District. The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission released a tentative legislative plan on August 17, 2012; the final plan -- which would go into effect in 2014 -- is expected towards the end of 2012.
Nebraska stayed at three congressional seats, but needed to make substantial adjustments to the districts, particularly the shedding of residents from the 2nd to the 1st, and the expansion of the 3rd. The final congressional map showed a dilution of Democratic power, and it seemed as if the move of Sarpy County from the 1st to the 2nd would make things very comfortable for incumbent Lee Terry. In the nominally nonpartisan Unicameral, Republicans outnumbered Democrats 34-15 at the time the new legislative map was signed, but urban senators were set to take a slight advantage. LeRoy Louden's rural northwest district notably moved across Nebraska to northwest Sarpy County, outside of Bellevue and Omaha, leading speaker Mike Flood -- himself a rural legislator -- to note that rural senators would need to put in more effort and start reaching out to urban senators to make up for their lost clout.
America's fastest growing state in the last decade, Nevada has won another seat, but a heavily concentrated population and large tracts of all-but empty land make it challenging to incorporate the new seat fairly. Exploding minority populations who live in concentrated areas also means legislators must pay careful attention to not splitting up communities of interest.
New Hampshire was the second to last state to pass congressional redistricting. With both members of the congressional delegation being Republicans, redistricting was an internal struggle rather than the typical inter-party fight. Frank Guinta of the 1st District had the support of GOP leaders in wanting minimal change, while the 2nd's Charlie Bass wanted significant additions. A compromise was reached in late March 2012, with Bass gaining slightly without eliminating the slight Republican lean in Guinta's district
New Jersey lost a congressional seat following the 2010 census, and the redistricting process turned a Democratic lean into a Republican one for the state's congressional delegation. A new congressional map was passed by the state legislative commission in late 2011 by a tight vote in which the independent chairman sided with the GOP. In the one incumbent pairing created by the new map, Scott Garrett (R-5th) was seen to have the upper hand against Steve Rothman (D-9th).
An original state, New York had 45 representatives in Congress as recently as 1940. Since then, the Empire State's proportional voice in Congress has fallen. Losing again in the 2010 Census, New York now has 27 seats, enough to keep the state in the top four electoral powers, but a far cry from where it once was. A contentious debate has ensued over whether a bipartisan commission should be formed to handle redistricting.
North Carolina had the distinction of being the only state with Republican-controlled redistricting where Democrats held the majority of congressional seats. The passed congressional map was expected to give advantages to Republicans in 10 out of 13 districts. As far as legislative seats, even though solid districts were fairly even between parties, Republicans were seen to have many more slight advantages. Both maps were challenged in state court, and the case had not been decided as of early September 2012; the 2012 elections continued as planned.
|Redistricting on the ballot in 2010|
In Oregon, the state legislature is responsible for redistricting. However, if they cannot reach an agreement with the governor, then there is a secondary process for redrawing the lines. Under this scenario, the Oregon Secretary of State would redraw the state legislative lines, while the state or federal courts would take care of the congressional districts.
Republicans are in a familiar situation - a trifecta in a redistricting year. However, in 2001 they pushed it too far and lost their power in the state a few years later. Having regained the majority in the Congressional delegation in addition to their state dominance, the seat Pennsylvania must give up will likely come out of Democratic territory.
But a building movement for an independent commission in redistricting and intense speculation about what the new map will look like have already heightened the stakes.
South Dakota hasn't won a second Congressional seat...yet. Population did grow and a wave on internal migration drained rural areas and propelled double-digit growth in some cities. The solidly Republican state expects to take up map during summer 2011 and convene a special legislative session in the autumn to pass maps. Two Indian reservations come under VRA regulations, which could be a cause for some tension.
Utah has gained a seat and the GOP is in charge, but the state's growth was concentrated in a few small areas and the voters in some cases lean Democratic. The question facing the majority in the legislature may come down to whether they want to pack Dems into one district and shore up the other three for Republicans, or make all four seats into slightly red swing seats and hope to take them all in 2012. Additionally, some reform activists in the state have been pushing hard for the creation of an independent commission.
The only true 'blue' state to gain a Congressional seat, Washington's population growth has centered around the Puget Sound shoreline. Two Districts in particular, the 3rd and the 8th, have gained so many residents that they are easy picks to give up land as Washington draws her new 10th District. That the 3rd and 8th are both favorable to the GOP raises the partisan issue early.
- NCSL on Redistricting
- U.S. Census Redistricting Page
- Census Guide to Redistricting
- Map of Redistricting websites for each State
- Purdue University List of State Redistricting Web sites
- Redistricting the Nation
- Interactive Map of Local Census Data
- Redistricting in America
- Draw Congress
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- See here for a full list of counties and townships.
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- Spokesman-Review, "7 new Idaho House districts pit incumbents," October 14, 2011
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- Wall Street Journal, "Frank Won't Seek Re-Election," November 29, 2011
- Boston Globe, "Keating to move from Quincy to Cape, due to redistricting map," November 8, 2011
- Gallup, “All 10 States Losing Congressional Seats Tilt Democratic”, December 27, 2010
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- [All About Redistricting, Nebraska, accessed August 29, 2012]
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