Back to previous page


Redistricting scorecard: With parties neck-and-neck, Florida could be the key

By ,

Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) is one of the GOP’s top targets in redistricting, and a new proposed map in Georgia makes his district significantly more Republican. (Stephen Morton/AP) Nearly half the the states required to draw new congressional maps before the 2012 election have done so, and Republicans and Democrats are neck-and-neck in the battle to create new districts for their side to win.

According to the Washington Post’s Redistricting Scorecard, a new proposed GOP map in Georgia that creates two winnable seats pulls Republicans about even with Democrats in the quest to create favorable new seats. In the states where we know how the maps are likely to turn out, the Post’s projections now have Republicans gaining one seat, while Democrats would keep their current number of seats.

It should be noted, of course, that much has yet to play out, including some crucial maps in Florida and New York. Florida, in particular, could determine which party wins the battle to create new seats.

Thus far, the GOP hasn’t been able to turn its control over the redistricting process across the country into lots of newly winnable districts — in large part because most of the competitive districts in those states are already held by Republicans. Instead, the GOP — which controls the drawing of four times as many districts as Democrats — has used that advantage for the most part to shore up the ones that it currently controls (which is a big advantage in itself).

Democrats initially got a big leg up on creating new winnable districts with an aggressive map that was signed into law in Illinois and the map the California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved. Those two states could move as many as six or eight Republicans seats into the Democrats’ column.

But recent GOP-drawn maps in South Carolina, North Carolina and now Georgia — combined with a Republican map in Texas — have all helped the GOP even the score.

It’s looking more and more as if the map in Florida will determine who gains more seats this redistricting cycle. Republicans think they can draw the two new seats in Florida in their favor, even though they already control 19 of the state’s current 25 districts. But Democrats have suggested that new constitutional amendments passed by voters in 2010 could restrict the GOP’s ability to draw convoluted districts that favor their party and could actually lead to Democrats picking up several seats.

Whatever the maps look like, though, elections still matter.

The GOP’s target in Georgia, Rep. John Barrow (D), for instance has for years stymied Republican attempts to take his rural eastern Georgia 12th district.

According to preliminary estimates, the new plan makes Barrow’s district 8 to 10 percent more Republican. So while it went 50 percent for President Bush in the 2004 election and 55 percent for President Obama in 2008, it would now go close to 60 percent for Bush and in the low 40s for Obama.

The new district draws out the Democratic-leaning area of Savannah — which also happens to be where Barrow is from — and picks up the heavily Republican Augusta area from Rep. Paul Broun’s (R) Athens-based 10th district.

Barrow has signaled he will still run in the district, but Republicans may be favored to unseat him.

The Georgia GOP’s redistricting plan would also make the state’s new 14th district a safe Republican one in the northwest corner of the state.

The cumulative effect, if Republicans can beat Barrow, would move the GOP from eight seats in the state’s congressional delegation to 10 — making it one of relatively few good opportunities for Republicans to add multiple seats in one state through redistricting.

Republicans also created three winnable districts in Texas, three or four winnable districts in North Carolina, and one each in South Carolina and Indiana.

In addition to Illinois and California, Democrats should be able to add one seat in Texas.

© The Washington Post Company