Explore the major changes to Maryland’s congressional map

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As a tight battle nears for control of the U.S. House, Maryland has passed a revamped congressional map that changes the outlook for its midterm races — and moves thousands of voters into new, more compact districts that no longer “look like prehistoric animals,” as one anti-gerrymandering group put it.

After a legal fight stymied a previous Democratic map, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) approved this redrawn version, which keeps one safe Republican seat and seven Democrat-held districts. But one of those seven now promises to be much more competitive, leaving some Democrats worried.

What’s more, the new map draws some of Democratic incumbents’ favorite institutions, and even some of their homes, out of their districts, marking a major shift from how congressional maps in the state have traditionally been drawn.

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“This was a map that was absolutely geared toward maximizing Democratic voters, but not so much toward caring about the incumbents,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “They’re going to find themselves in a situation where they’re going to have to introduce themselves to a whole new group of voters.”

Here are the map’s biggest changes in political makeup, geography and more.

1

First District: A blue moonshot, abandoned

Maryland’s 1st District remains anchored on the Eastern Shore, and it remains the state’s only Republican district in the congressional delegation. That’s far from Democrats’ original plan.

Late last month, Anne Arundel County Senior Judge Lynne Battaglia struck down a map Democrats had passed in December, calling it an unconstitutional gerrymander that disadvantaged Republicans. In that version, the deep-red 1st would have crossed the Bay Bridge into Anne Arundel County — making it markedly more competitive.

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Democrats had been hoping to oust incumbent Rep. Andy Harris (R), particularly after he objected to the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, 2021, and voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police officers for their service that day. The new 1st District shifts about five points in Democrats’ favor, but it’s a district former president Donald Trump would have won by roughly 14 points in 2020.

“Whatever hope [Democrats] had of retaking the 1st District, they’ve ceded in this map,” said Dave Wasserman, a redistricting analyst at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

2

Second District: Cyber gets siphoned off

The 2nd District is anchored in Baltimore County and includes a northern sliver of the city, along with a piece of Carroll County. In all, it’s significantly more compact than its previous form, which stretched along the Chesapeake Bay through Harford and Baltimore counties, and reached tentacles inland up into Baltimore County and westward into Anne Arundel County.

Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D), who focuses on cybersecurity policy and has represented the district since 2003, for years enjoyed representing Fort Meade and the National Security Agency — which have now been moved into the 5th District. But Ruppersberger told The Washington Post he would nonetheless advocate for resources for institutions across Maryland through his role on the House Appropriations Committee.

Though the district swings 13 points in Republicans’ favor under the new map, it retains its strong Democratic bent, as a district President Biden would have won by nearly 21 points in 2020.

3

Third District: A ‘pterodactyl’ no more

The former shape of Maryland’s 3rd District had been compared, over the years, to: blood splatter at a crime scene, a praying mantis, a Rorschach inkblot and, in the eyes of one federal judge, a “broken-winged pterodactyl lying prostrate across the center of the state.”

Now, “the 3rd District has undergone this incredible transformation,” Eberly said. The parts of Howard and Anne Arundel counties in the redrawn district, he noted, are similar economically and politically and also use the same corridors of transportation for work and shopping.

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“That district just makes sense, which is one of the crazy aspects, because it has replaced the district that was known nationally as one of the worst gerrymanders,” Eberly said.

It remains a safely blue district, one Biden would have won by 25 points in 2020. Rep. John Sarbanes’s (D) home was drawn out of the district, though there is no federal requirement that congressional candidates live in the district they represent. He said in a statement to The Post that he would “look forward to waging a vigorous campaign” in the 3rd District.

4

Fourth District: Condensed and navy

The Prince George’s County-anchored 4th District remains one of the state’s two majority-minority congressional districts, where 55 percent of the population is Black and a quarter of the population is Hispanic. The district also remains decidedly blue — so blue, in fact, that it’s more a dark shade of navy. It swings now from being a district Biden won by nearly 60 points in 2020 to a district he would have won by 80.

Eberly said that in the previous decade’s map, it appeared Democrats in the General Assembly sought to spread out these voters into other districts — to make them bluer — rather than keeping them all contained in one compact area.

“That’s roughly 13 or so percentage points of excess Democratic votes that [Democrats] would like to use in another district that’s not as safe — but that didn’t happen here,” Eberly said. “It again speaks to how different this map is. The history of the 4th District, too — it has always been a weird district, looking like a strange pair of earmuffs that sat around the 5th. Now it’s turned into a nice little compact district.”

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Incumbent Rep. Anthony G. Brown (D) is not seeking reelection in order to run for state attorney general, creating a competitive Democratic primary for his open seat. Candidates include Del. Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s), former Prince George’s state’s attorney Glenn Ivey, former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards and former delegate Angela Angel.

5

Fifth District: Hoyer’s remodeled home

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D) has represented this district for more than 40 years, and he announced after the lines were finalized that he would seek his 21st term in Congress here. But Hoyer expressed disappointment that the new 5th did not include Hyattsville, Greenbelt or his alma mater, the University of Maryland at College Park, for which he has long advocated in Congress.

Wasserman said those choices make it clear that Maryland Democrats “subordinated their individual preferences to compactness” with this map.

“They realized their only way of saving their 7-1 majority would be to clean up the map considerably and make concessions on parochial fronts to save their partisan advantage,” Wasserman said. “Getting rid of the College Park tentacle of the 5th District is one such concession.”

Hoyer, one of Congress’s biggest power brokers, told The Post he would “continue to champion” his longtime communities if reelected, while getting to know the district’s new constituents as well.

6

Sixth District: Up for grabs

With the stroke of Hogan’s pen, the Western Maryland-anchored 6th District immediately became Maryland’s most-watched congressional race this year.

Republicans have an opportunity to take the district back — under the right conditions, Eberly said. The map swung 13 points in Republicans’ favor, from a district President Biden won by 23 points in 2020 under the old map to one he would have won by just under 10. The map now excludes some of the bluer portions of Montgomery County and includes all of Frederick County, in addition to all of Maryland’s rural westernmost counties.

FiveThirtyEight describes it as “highly competitive” and gives it a very slight Republican lean, though Wasserman said Rep. David Trone (D) probably has the advantage, as a wealthy incumbent with the ability to self-fund.

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Trone, who lives in Potomac, still lives outside the district, as he has throughout his tenure in Congress. He expressed concern after Maryland Democrats unveiled the new map, acknowledging that the new 6th could be a swing district.

But Trone accepted the change in a statement last week, saying, “Being disadvantaged by this process is a price I am willing to pay to move Maryland and our country forward.”

7

Seventh District: Unifying Baltimore

After years of being spliced and diced among several congressional districts, Baltimore City now has its own — at least for the most part. It’s a change Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) said last year he was hoping for.

The 7th District is almost entirely contained within the city, though it also includes parts of Baltimore County. It’s also the state’s second majority-minority district: Fifty-three percent of its population is Black, and 8 percent is Hispanic. The state has said it wanted to preserve that majority-minority status pursuant to the Voting Rights Act, which ensures that large populations of minority voters can elect candidates of their choice.

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8

Eighth District: Raskin’s safe haven

The 8th was previously an odd mash-up: a dense but geographically small area of Montgomery County, connected by a skinny passageway up to rural Frederick County and parts of Carroll, where red votes were outmatched by Montgomery’s blue ones. Eberly called it “a weird lamb chop district.”

Now, the district will be almost entirely within Montgomery County, creating a blue safe haven that Biden would have won by more than 60 points in 2020.

That’s perhaps fitting for Rep. Jamie Raskin (D), who has become a national progressive icon for his work on democracy issues and on the committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.

Adrián Blanco and Harry Stevens contributed to this report.

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