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New California map leaves GOP on defense, if slightly less so

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California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission on Friday voted to approve its final draft, releasing what could be close to the final product of the state’s new congressional map.

The new map, which shakes up the state’s delegation in a major way, looks a lot like the commission’s first draft (that analysis here), with some minor changes along the way.

First, the highlights of the map:

According to a Fix review of data provided by Paul Mitchell of Democratic-leaning Redistricting Partners and Matt Rexroad of GOP-leaning Meridian Pacific, Inc., the new map includes 32 Democratic districts, two districts that lean Democratic, three swing districts, five districts that lean Republican and 11 Republican districts.

Currently, the state’s delegation includes 34 Democrats and 19 Republicans, meaning the GOP would likely be playing more defense than the Democrats under the new map.

That may be why two of the commission’s Republican members wound up voting against the draft map.

On the GOP side, Reps. Elton Gallegly, David Dreier and an Orange County Republican yet-to-be-determined could all have difficulty returning to Congress. And Reps. Brian Bilbray, Jeff Denham and Dan Lungren have tough districts as well.

On the Democratic side, Reps. Lois Capps and Joe Baca are running in much tougher districts that are close to swing seats, and Rep. Jim Costa could face a tough race as well.

Now, a little more detail:

* The new map draws 29 members – more than half of the state’s 53 incumbents – into districts with other members, which is actually more than in the last plan. For many members, this just means running in a nearby district. As for now, though, the most likely incumbent-versus incumbent matchups appear to be: Reps. Ed Royce (R) and Gary Miller (R); Dreier against Rep. Joe Baca (D); and Rep. Brad Sherman (D) versus Rep. Howard Berman (D).

* The biggest change on the new map has to do with Dreier and Baca. In the first draft, Dreier was left for dead. In the second draft, Baca’s 31st district is close to a swing district where Dreier could conceivably run and survive, while Rep. Jerry Lewis (R), who technically resides in Baca’s district, runs in the very winnable 8th district along the Nevada and Arizona border.

* Rather than matching up GOP Reps. John Campbell and Dana Rohrabacher like in the first draft, the new map pairs Royce and Miller. Provided all four seek reelection in those three districts, a primary matchup will still happen. Unlike in the first draft, however, it looks like it won’t necessarily involve Campbell. If it’s Miller vs. Royce, both have represented significant parts of the district, but the early edge goes to Royce.

* Denham, Costa and Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D) are all drawn into the Merced-based 16th district, but Denham is expected to run in the GOP-leaning 10th district, while Costa could run in the swing 21st district. If for some reason Costa doesn’t run in the 21st (if, say, Cardoza retires), then Denham may go for the 21st and give Republicans a chance to pick up a seat.

* Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) gets a more heavily Latino and a safer district, perhaps dashing the GOP’s hopes of ousting her.

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