The new maps still left some competitive seats, making California an exception in a country of deeply divided politics. Even though California is a Democratic stronghold the new maps suggest that Republicans could pull off surprising results.
Democrats are fighting to defend a fragile 8-seat House majority during a midterm electoral election. This is when the party controlling the White House usually loses seats in Congress, and President Joe Biden has had a shaky approval rating.
As Democrats and Republicans seek to gain an advantage in future elections, redistricting battles have been raging across the country. Texas was recently sued by the Justice Department for its redistricting maps. The Justice Department claims that these maps discriminate against Latinos, and other minorities voters.
California is losing one seat because of the growth in population in other states, but Texas, Florida and North Carolina are among those states that are gaining seats.
Redistricting Partners, a Sacramento research firm, found that 44 new California House districts would have been won by Democrat Gov. Gavin Newson won his 2018 election and 45 of the new California House districts were tilted in favor of Biden, the then-candidate for the 2020 presidential race.
This is a positive sign for Democrats who hope to gain ground at California in 2022, after losing four House seats to Republicans in 2020. The largest congressional delegation, with 42 seats representing the state, is held by Democrats.
Monday's revisions were approved by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. This commission was charged with drawing new districts in order to accommodate shifts in population. This is a task that occurs once every ten years. Each district must represent 760,000 people.
Hallie Balch, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, stated that the panel had created "cakewalk areas" for most Democrats.
Balch stated in a statement that California's redistricting commission has completely lost track of who lives in the districts it has drawn. "These lines are disappointing at the end of a long-fought struggle for representation."
Rep. Mike Garcia, a Republican, was stripped of Simi Valley by the Democratic-rich district north of Los Angeles. He said that the commission had shown it wasn't independent when they made five of the 11 Republican districts less vulnerable and drew all of the Democratic incumbents into safer seats.
Garcia tweeted, "I know that we will win in the new district regardless,"
Sara Jacobs, the first-term Democratic Representative, announced Tuesday that her candidacy for re-election will be in the new 51st district next year. Rep. Darrell Issa (a Republican) said he would seek election to the new 48th district.
Already, the delegation has seen changes due to the shifting of the borders between districts.
Lucille Roybal, a long-serving California Rep., and the first Mexican-American woman elected as a Congresswoman, announced Monday that she would not be seeking reelection in her Los Angeles district. The 80-year-old Democratic congresswoman made the decision as her district was being largely dismantled.
Other House departures may have been influenced by shifting district boundaries. One of them is Republican Rep. Devin Nunes who was one former President Donald Trump’s most loyalists in Congress. He will be leaving the House at end of the year to join Trump’s fledgling media firm. Democratic Rep. Alan Lowenthal who represents Long Beach, south Los Angeles, also announced that he would retire at his term's end.
There are still ripple effects and candidates could move to other districts in search for a better political climate. Michelle Steel and Young Kim, Republican U.S. Reps., won all or part of the Democratic seats in Orange County in 2020. They have yet to make public their plans.
The shifting lines did not have any effect on the House's marquee names. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s heavily Democratic district, anchored in San Francisco, remained overwhelmingly Democratic. The new maps show that Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican Leader, has made his Bakersfield-anchored district more Republican.
Although most attention has been focused on California's loss to a congressional seat in the U.S., analysts believe that the legislative maps drawn by 40 state senators and 80 state Assembly representatives are big wins for Democrats.
Rob Pyers, research director at the nonpartisan California Target Book (which closely tracks redistricting), said that the maps effectively lock in Democratic supermajorities over the next ten years.
Since years, Republicans have been on the edge of being irrelevant in the heavily Democratic state. Democrats hold every statewide office, as well as the Legislature and congressional delegations. Mitchell of Redistricting Partners said that Republicans now account for less than 25% of registered voters and have lost support from what was once a Republican-leaning suburb.
Mitchell stated that the new lines will have an "effect of chilling" on Republican hopes to gain ground in Congress.
These new lines recognize the state's growing diversity.
Mitchell stated that Latinos are the largest racial and ethnic group in California. They now make up majorities in 16 House Districts. Three districts are used to group areas with large Asian populations. Two do the same for large Black communities.
The boundaries of Fresno areas represented by Democratic Rep. Jim Costa, Republican Reps. David Valadao, and Devin Nunes have changed significantly. Costa announced Tuesday that he will run for the 21st District. It is anchored in Central Valley.