In the redistribution, big word for the big cities in the DC energy balance

The sun sets over the rooftops of Lower Manhattan. ((Photo by Gary Hershorn / Getty Images))

As the political muscle grows bigger doesn’t always mean better. Just ask New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago every four years, when these cities mostly become irrelevant blips on the Electoral College map.

But as the congressional redistribution is underway, some of the country’s most populous cities are playing a leading role in reshaping the balance of power in Washington. And that’s good news for Democrats.

Robust growth in the liberal strongholds of New York and the Chicago metropolis is poised to give Democrats an edge as their political maps are redesigned to accommodate population changes over the past decade. As New York and Illinois lose congressional seats, their urban booms mean the newly drawn districts are likely to favor Democrats, adding to the party’s national total and offsetting likely losses elsewhere.

New York in particular gives hope to Democrats. The most populous city in the United States added some 629,000 new residents, more than Wyoming.

It is a beacon of hope for Democrats, who had prepared for a bleak season of redistribution. The Sunbelt’s Republican-controlled states won four seats in the US House – as well as a new seat in Montana – leaving some analysts to predict House Democrats could be relatively easily ousted from power. Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Texas are among the places where Republicans should use redistribution to benefit their ranks.

But census data released in July detailing the extent of urban growth, even in northern states losing seats, has presented opportunities for Democrats.

“With the Red States clearly attacking the Democratic members of Congress, New York is really a prize for the Democratic Party,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, which is closely following the redistribution in the ‘State. “If they can oust other districts, it could make a difference as to who controls the House after the 2022 election.”

For Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives by an eight-seat margin, with three vacant seats, there is little room for error. Midterm elections generally favor the ruling party, pressuring Democrats to take any advantage of the redistribution process triggered every 10 years by the census.

Illinois could also play an important role in this effort. Like New York, the state loses a seat in Congress. But while Chicago’s population has remained relatively stable over the past decade, its suburbs have attracted new residents, many of whom are Democrat-leaning Latinos.

This trend, coupled with slower growth in the more conservative south of the state, means Republicans in Illinois stand to lose two House seats, according to John S. Jackson, professor emeritus of political science at Southern. Illinois University at Carbondale.

“The population gains have all been in northern and northeastern Illinois, where Democrats are going to be stronger,” he said, “and the losses were in central and eastern Illinois. southern Illinois where we have Republicans representing us. “

The calculations, he said, could further shrink the Republican share of the 18-member state congressional delegation, where Democrats hold a 13-5 advantage.

There are other places Democrats could find help – if not for their willingness to put the task of drawing new political maps into the hands of independent commissions.

But some Democrats fear it comes at a cost, especially when Republicans control the process in 20 states, including those expanding their delegations to Congress.

A power-sharing deal in Oregon collapsed when the Speaker of the House, a Democrat, rescinded a deal that would have given Republicans a veto over redesigned maps, bringing the current congressional delegation to six of five state members.

Republicans immediately called for the fault and braced for a Democrat-led gerrymander that will allow National Democrats to add a seat.

The redistribution in California, a Democratic foundation, may not be a big factor. Strongly Democrat, Los Angeles has gained about 100,000 more residents, but the state’s Redistribution Commission is one of the most independent in the country. Experts say he will not be beholden to the partisanship that often leads to gerrymandering.

While the New York Redistribution Commission was established as an independent group, the Democratic-controlled legislature has final authority over the new district lines. Republicans, along with good governance watchdogs, fear Democratic lawmakers will reject the new lines recommended by the commission, which is drawing new districts for the first time since it was created by voters in 2014, and designing their own. lines for the benefit of their party.

The bipartisan commission’s initial proposals released this month did little to allay those concerns. He presented two sets of cards, each favoring one side over the other – essentially a stalemate rather than offering a compromise.

State Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy called the process an “embarrassing” indicator of things to come.

The New York Democrats currently have a 19-8 advantage in the State House delegation. It remains to be seen how the proposals released by the commission, which has divided the state into 26 congressional districts, will reshuffle the game.

Asher Ross, who leads a redistribution advocacy campaign called “Mapping our Future” for the New York Immigration Coalition, said there had been a clear break in the process.

“This defeats the goal of having an independent redistribution commission,” he said, fearing that a behind-the-scenes deal could come at the expense of communities of color.

But that could be increasingly difficult to do as much of the state’s population growth is in New York City, which has long attracted immigrants.

With the state’s political gravity shifting more strongly towards the city, Republicans will have to campaign in redesigned neighborhoods that could now become more liberal. This is especially true in districts encompassing Long Island, the Hudson Valley and Staten Island, where analysts say Republican-held districts could be threatened by possible gerrymandering.

The Republican New York Democrats would most like to fend off – Rep. Elise Stefanik, House GOP No.3 Leader – could turn out to be out of reach as her upstate district would expand into territory republican sure.

While it is certain that a House seat will disappear in the upstate, it remains to be seen at whose expense, even though GOP Representative Tom Reed has already announced he will not run for a sixth term. .

“It’s a game of musical chairs and someone will have to lose,” said Steven Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service at the Center for Urban Research.

But Romalewski warned that redesigned lines might not always produce the desired result.

“Just because you are moving the lines to move people from one district to another, the voting pattern might not be the same,” he said. “It always depends on the candidate and the issues. There is a lot of stock that is put into these predictions which may not turn out the way people expect.”

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