July 24, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Redistricting Terrain Shifting

Feeney’s re-election prospects look grim, but that has as much or more to do with fallout from his ties to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal than it does the changing demographics of his Orlando-area seat.

Diaz-Balart’s south Florida district has also seen demographic changes and an influx of non-Cuban Hispanics.

Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.) is also in a difficult race. Republicans slightly improved the GOP performance of his Orlando-based district in the last round of redistricting, but they did not alter it as much as they could have because GOP legislators were seeking to carve two new Republican districts. The area has also seen rapid growth and voter registration changes since then.

Still, even if Democrats were to win all four of the competitive GOP-held seats in Florida, they would control just 12 of the state’s 25 seats, provided scandal-plagued Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.) loses re-election, as expected.

Along with a projected double-digit pickup of House seats, Democrats could also gain majority control of a few more Congressional delegations after today’s elections.

Democrats currently hold a majority of House seats in 27 state delegations, while two states are evenly split between the parties.

Why does the makeup of delegations matter when it comes to redistricting?

In most states, the legislature is responsible for the redrawing of district boundaries and the plans must be approved by the governor. Still, in many states the Congressional delegation holds great sway over the process, and in many cases, the delegation members will agree to strike a deal — generally one that protects incumbents. Having more weight in more Congressional districts could help Democrats have more influence in the lines that will be drawn four years from now.

There are a number of key states, from a redistricting standpoint, where Democrats could gain a majority of House seats after today.

A pickup of three seats in Ohio would give Democrats control of 10 of the state’s 18 seats. The Ohio General Assembly is still controlled by Republicans, but there is a Democrat in the governor’s mansion.

In Michigan, if Democrats were to win the two competitive races, it would give the party control of eight of the state’s 15 seats. Control of the state legislature is split, and control of the governorship is up for grabs in 2010.

In North Carolina — one of the fastest-growing states in the country and all but certain to gain at least one new seat in reapportionment — a pickup of one House seat and Senate seat would move the delegation from tied to the Democratic column. Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) are being heavily targeted by Democrats and could go down to defeat today.

With the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) paying more attention to the Rocky Mountain West and Southwest, those areas are likely to be a top priority for Democrats in the next round of redistricting.

In Arizona, a pickup of one seat would put Democrats ahead, with five of eight seats. Aside from Renzi’s seat, Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) is also being targeted as a potential pickup for Democrats.

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