Redistricting reform push has consequences for Democrats

Democrats claim that the once-a decade process of redrawing electoral maps should not be an partisan match. They've advocated for independent commissions to balance population changes in congressional districts.

Redistricting reform push has consequences for Democrats

They are about to feel the effects of their focus on fairness.

In Democratic-controlled Colorado, Virginia and Oregon, new congressional maps drawn by commissions or bipartisan power-sharing agreements are unlikely to give the party the sort of political advantages it could have otherwise enjoyed.

Republicans have not given up on their power and control the process in 20 US states including Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Texas.

This imbalance could have serious consequences. The House of Representatives is currently controlled by Democrats by just eight seats. Democrats could lose the House if they don't seize redistricting advantages.

"There should be concern in the Democratic Party that perhaps we have been too quick for reform without really considering the long-term implications," Rick Ridder, a Democratic strategist from Denver.

The commissions will draw 95 seats in Congress this year that would otherwise have been drawn only by Democrats, and only 13 by Republicans.

It is true that not all Democratic states have given up power in favor of reform. Democratic-controlled states like Illinois and Maryland are heavily gerrymandered. And Democratic-controlled state legislatures can overrule commissions in New Mexico and especially New York, where the party could erase several GOP House seats if it controls the map.

The narrow margins mean that the states of the commission are important. The nonpartisan commission released Friday's preliminary map for Colorado, where President Joe Biden won 13 percentage points. This could allow the parties to evenly divide the eight congressional seats. Some Democratic maps were split 6-2 in favor of the Democrats. This difference is equal to half of the Democratic margin in Congress.

Virginia is a state where Democrats hold the governor's post and control the legislature. Party leaders worry that the bipartisan commission might become ineffective, leaving redistricting control to the state Supreme Court. This court is dominated by GOP-appointed members. It is likely that the court will hire experts to draw maps that determine the political composition of each state's 11 congressional districts as well as its state legislative seats.

The Democrats in Oregon, which is a blue state, are gaining a seat in the House of Representatives. They have agreed to split their redistricting committee evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

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