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Democrats catch another break on redistricting in Colorado

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Republicans control many more states than Democrats when it comes to the decennial redistricting process, but when the line-drawing has fallen to a commission or the courts so far this year, the results have often been good for Democrats.

The latest example of that trend is Colorado, where the courts drew a map late last week that imperils Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and makes freshman Rep. Scott Tipton (R) more vulnerable.

Democrats had been hoping for a map that targeted Coffman and made Tipton and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) more vulnerable. Instead, they got something about as good: a big break in Coffman’s district and some hope in Tipton’s. Gardner, for his part, will be much safer.

Indeed, the proposed map ultimately selected by Denver district court judge Robert Hyatt was crafted by Democrats. Republicans are currently considering whether to challenge the map.

For now, though, Democrats are excited about the prospect of retaking a majority of the state’s seven congressional seats. They currently hold three seats in the delegation but had five as recently as the last Congress.

Performance numbers obtained by multiple sources show Coffman’s suburban 6th district south of Denver moving about seven points towards Democrats, from a district that went 46 percent for President Obama to one that would go about 53 percent or 54 percent for Obama.

That’s still a swing district (President Bush would have won it with roughly the same percentage in the 2004 race), but it’s much more competitive than the 6th has been in recent years.

The most mentioned challenger to the conservative Coffman is former state House speaker Andrew Romanoff, who challenged Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) in a primary last year. (Politico’s Alex Isenstadt offer sa more in-depth look at Coffman’s future.)

Republicans note that when Coffman won his secretary of state race in 2006, he carried his new district with 54 percent of the vote in a tough year for the GOP in the state and nationally. And, Coffman has said he’s ready for a tough race.

Tipton’s vast rural 3rd district, meanwhile, gets about 1 percent better for Democrats, becoming a district where Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) essentially tied in 2008. State House Minority Leader Sal Pace (D) is already running against Tipton.

Gardner, meanwhile, is the big beneficiary of his colleagues’ pain. His eastern Fort Collins-based 4th district, which was already conservative-leaning, gets much more so — moving from a district that went 51 percent for McCain to one that would have gone about 56 percent for the Arizona senator. State Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D), who tried to get a friendlier district to run in, says he will still challenge Gardner, but his task is much harder now.

The rest of the Colorado seats don’t change much under the plan. Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D) Democratic-leaning 7th seat got slightly less favorable for his party but is still a district Obama carried with 59 percent of the vote. And Reps. Doug Lamborn (R), Jared Polis (D) and Diana DeGette (D) remain very safe.

The Colorado map follows on the heels of commission-drawn maps in Arizona and California that also favored Democrats. Another court-drawn map in Nevada was a split decision for the parties but still created what is likely to be a new Democratic seat.

According to Fix projections, Democrats will be favored to gain no fewer than five seats in these four states, and potentially several more, and those additions will offset the advantage the GOP has in the remapping process in the rest of the country.

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