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Democrats lost control of the House Nov. 8 but exceeded expectations under new congressional maps that ensure the House will be in play for the rest of the decade, according to the party’s top redistricting strategist.
“There were a sufficient number of competitive seats on the board because of fair maps and the House is now going to be competitive for the decade,” Kelly Burton, the president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said on Bloomberg Government’s “Downballot Counts” podcast with Emily Wilkins and Greg Giroux.
Republicans probably will begin the 118th Congress next January with 222 House seats, a net gain of nine seats that was sufficient to overturn the Democratic majority but was below the big historical gains the opposition party usually makes in a midterm election.
Democrats blocked a GOP “red wave” in part by faring well in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where redistricting commissions or courts drew new congressional maps and Republicans had weak top-of-ticket nominees for governor, and also in Illinois and Nevada, where Democratic maps achieved their partisan goals.
Republicans dominated in Florida, where Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’s landslide re-election helped his party win 20 of 28 districts under a map he signed. But Republicans also won six districts favoring President Joe Biden in New York, where a special master’s map replaced a proposal from the Democratic legislature that was invalidated as an impermissible partisan gerrymander.
Redistricting litigation is pending in states including North Carolina, where Democrats and Republicans won seven seats apiece under an interim, one-election map that was approved by the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court after it rejected the Republican legislature’s map as so partisan it violated the state constitution.
The US Supreme Court on Dec. 7 will hear oral arguments in Moore v. Harper, an appeal by North Carolina Republican legislators who are advocating for the “independent state legislature” theory under which state legislatures should be able to enact redistricting plans immune from judicial review in state court.
“Redistricting is not over, and it’s not going to end anytime soon,” Burton said.
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David Schultz in Washington produced this podcast.