As congressional redistricting begins, some of the most populous cities in the country are playing a prominent role in changing the balance of power in Washington. This is good news for Democrats.
As their political maps are being redrawn to reflect population changes over the past decade, Democrats will be able to take advantage of the robust growth in New York's liberal strongholds and Chicago metropolitan area. Despite both New York City and Illinois losing congressional seats, the urban booms in these areas mean that the new districts will favor Democrats. This will increase the party's national total while compensating for any losses elsewhere.
New York is providing hope for Democrats in particular. New York is the most populous US city, with 629,000 residents. This is more than Wyoming.
This is a good sign for Democrats who were expecting a difficult redistricting season. Republican-controlled states across the Sunbelt gained four U.S. House seats -- as well as a new seat in Montana -- leaving some analysts to predict House Democrats could be relatively easily gerrymandered out of power. Redistricting is a tool that Republicans will use to their advantage in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
Blair Horner, executive director of New York Public Interest Research Group said that red states are clearly targeting Democratic members of Congress. "New York is really a prize to the Democratic Party." "If they can squeeze out more districts, it could make a difference in who controls House after 2022 elections."
The Democrats now hold the House of Representative with a eight-seat advantage and three vacant seats. There is very little room for error. The party in power is generally favored by midterm elections, which puts pressure on Democrats to seize any advantages they can from the redistricting process that occurs every ten years as a result of the census.
Illinois could play a significant role in this effort. The state is also losing a congressional seat, just like New York. While Chicago's population is relatively stable over the past decade however, it has seen a rise in suburban residents. Many of these are Latinos who lean Democratic.
This trend, along with slower growth in the more conservative southern part of Illinois, could mean that Illinois Republicans may lose a pair of House seats. According to John S. Jackson (professor emeritus in political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale),