Republicans could hold complete control over the redistricting process in several key states after the 2010 elections.
If the party’s gubernatorial candidates were to emerge with wins in Texas, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan — all states where Republicans either lead or are tied in recent polls — and the GOP holds or wins control of legislative chambers in those same states, Republicans could monopolize the post-2010 redraw.
“If Republicans do really well on Election Day, they could swing a lot more seats that they would have control over,” said analyst Kimball Brace, who heads Election Data Services, a bipartisan firm that specializes in the census and redistricting. “A shift of 10 to 15 [state legislative] chambers is enough to swing [the process] dramatically toward the Republicans.”
Based on census data from earlier this year, Brace estimates a total of eight states will gain congressional seats this time around, with Texas projected to be the biggest gainer, with as many as four additional seats. Ohio is projected to lose two seats, while Pennsylvania and Michigan are expected to lose one. Florida is likely to gain one.
Strategists note that trends point to the loss of more congressional seats in blue states than in red ones.
One Republican strategist predicted those trends, in combination with GOP gains in 2010, would net the party some 12 to 15 seats once the redraw is done, which should be by the 2012 election, barring any major court battles.
The irony for Democrats would be that after years of making slow gains on the state level in all five of those key states, one wave election cycle could wipe them out and the redistricting scenario would revert to almost the identical place it was 10 years ago when Republicans had total control of the process in those same states.
Greg Speed, the executive director of America Votes, noted back in May how dire a situation that could pose for Democrats.
“The importance of who controls redistricting cannot be overstated,” Speed wrote on the Huffington Post. “After 2000, Republicans had full control of the process in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, and netted a 31-seat gain in Congress (+15 GOP, -16 Democrats) in those five states in the next election.”