GOP Rebuilds House Districts to Win for Years

New lines set up Republicans to take control next year
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2021 7:05 PM CST
GOP Rebuilds House Districts to Win for Years
Amanda Roos attends a rally opposing proposed congressional district maps at the Capitol in Salt Lake City last week.   (Laura Seitz/The Deseret News via AP)

The redrawing of congressional district lines is not only giving Republicans a shot at flipping five or more House seats, it's taken another step toward making elections less competitive and the nation more divided. With approval ratings already down for President Biden and Democrats, the GOP could be unbeatable in House elections not just in 2022 races, but for a decade to come, the New York Times reports. "Our incumbents actually are getting stronger districts," said Rep. Tom Emmer, chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign committee. Flipping five seats next year would give Republicans control of the House.

Both parties engage in gerrymandering, but Republicans do more of it, and the Times found districts are more distorted now than they have been since the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. In many states, legislators are going to greater lengths to set their party up for victory. Lawmakers in Texas changed districts with high percentages of voters of color to put them into geographically large districts with large majorities of white voters, per the Texas Tribune. One of them had been drawn 10 years ago by a three-judge federal panel to provide Hispanic and Black voters roughly equal clout.

"The path back to a majority for Democrats if they lose in 2022 has to run through states like Texas," said a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, "and they're just taking that off the table." In 2020, 14 congressional districts in Texas had a presidential vote in which the parties were separated by 10 percentage points or less. When the new maps take effect, just three of those districts are projected to be decided by a similar margin. Better software and voter data has helped the party in charge of a state's legislature to build in its advantage. (Read more redistricting stories.)

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