02 December 2009

Hark! Redistricting Approaches!

CQ Politics: The Next Battle to Draw the Lines
The people who are elected to populate the statehouses will take the lead in drawing a national congressional district map to be used through the elections of 2020 — long after President Obama, and probably most of the House’s current leadership, have left the national stage.

That’s why Republicans and Democrats alike have a special incentive for putting enormous tactical energy, not to mention millions of dollars, into next year’s gubernatorial and state legislative campaigns in the three dozen states where the outcome for redistricting hangs in the balance.

“Redistricting is destiny” is a common phrase meant to assert that the party that shapes the map is the party that will dominate the elections using that map. Still, while the cartographers’ art is increasingly refined and precise, it isn’t infallible. Both parties use computer software that can plot election boundaries carefully enough to account for partisan sentiment on even the most obscure suburban cul-de-sac.

Republicans and Democrats alike will try to stack the deck in their favor, even though changes in circumstances may well make the gains they achieve ephemeral.

The lesson going into the next round of redistricting, experts say, is clear: A party that gets too greedy, and spreads its base vote too thin among too many districts, runs the risk of failing to provide its congressmen with enough of a reservoir of partisan support that they can withstand either a spate of scandal or a political wave in the other direction.

And the interests of independents in this process? Bwahahahaha!

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