Winners and losers: Who benefits from GOP's redrawn congressional map
If the congressional map state lawmakers approved Thursday is enacted, Democrats would likely see a slight boost in 2022 compared to the map the Republican-controlled legislature passed in November.Posted — Updated
Redrawn congressional districts approved last week by North Carolina legislators could put new candidates on the map and push others off of it.
State legislators on Thursday approved new legislative and congressional maps that reshape voting lines in ways that could improve or muddy the prospects of politicians around the state. The GOP-controlled General Assembly redrew the lines in response to an order from the state Supreme Court, which ruled that maps enacted last year were unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders designed to give Republicans an unfair advantage.
Broadly speaking, the redrawn congressional districts give Democrats a chance of winning more seats than the map approved last year. Under the struck-down map, Republicans would have likely won 10 or 11 of North Carolina’s 14 seats. Under the redrawn map, Democrats are likely to win at least three seats and could be competitive in seven.
However, political experts believe President Biden’s unpopularity could dampen the Democrats’ odds of even matching the number of seats they currently hold. The 2020 election gave Republicans their current 8-5 congressional advantage over Democrats in North Carolina. And Democrats have long complained that the lopsided representation isn’t fair in a state that’s nearly evenly divided politically.
Republicans, meanwhile, deny the notion that their wins are the result of gerrymandering. They point out that they have a right to control mapmaking. After all, state law grants redistricting responsibilities to the legislature, where the GOP holds a majority. And they argue their wins reflect the state’s current political geography—where Democratic voters are concentrated around the urban areas and Republican voters are more strewn across the state.
For incumbents, the redistricting process can bring anxiety. They hope legislators keep their district as familiar as possible, and maybe even tilt the playing field in favor of their political party. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes they’re placed in more competitive districts or worse—drawn into the same district as another incumbent. When that happens, they have to decide whether to run in a competitive primary or drop out.
For aspiring Congress members, the redistricting process can generate new opportunities. Legislators sometimes draw new districts that are home to no incumbents at all. In the next few days, a three-judge panel will decide whether the redrawn maps can be used in this year’s midterm elections. The judges have until noon Wednesday to approve the plan. If they do approve it, they’ll close the window of opportunity for some and open it for others.
If the GOP’s maps aren’t accepted, the lines could change dramatically. The judges could go with proposals put forward Friday by the voting rights groups that successfully challenged Republicans’ November congressional and legislative maps. The court could also draft its own maps with the assistance of three appointed redistricting experts, known as special masters.
But for now, the onus is on the GOP. If the party’s maps prevail, here’s who could benefit and who could lose out:
Under the redrawn map, his home 11th District leans Republican. But it’s not as safe of a district as the one he initially sought. And he’d have to challenge one of his Congressional colleagues if he wants to jump to a safer Republican seat nearby.
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