Redistricting: What You Need to Know Going into the 2022 Cycle

By Megan Koch posted 09-23-2021 09:16

The time has come again for states to revisit and redraw their congressional districts. On yesterday’s webinar, AAPC caught up with Adam Kincaid, President & Executive Director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust and Kelly Burton, President of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) to dissect how redistricting will affect the 2022 campaign cycle and cover what you need to know for your upcoming campaign work.
How is each party approaching redistricting this year?
Adam: Redistricting was not top of mind 10 years ago, but it certainly is now. The amount of public awareness that has come out of the last decade has changed the game. Both groups are definitely focused on litigation, but Republicans specifically are playing defense right now considering we drew a majority of the maps 10 years ago.
Kelly: We started organizing early in an attempt to not let Republicans have the same control as they did 10 years ago. You have to have your strategy and infrastructure in place early in order to organize effectively. In state after state, Democrats and progressives are supporting redistricting reforms, including independent commissions, and creating avenues for the public to be involved in the redistricting process. We believe fair maps would yield an increase in the number of competitive races around the country where both sides can compete and the voters decide the outcomes.
What sort of litigation are you expecting to see once the maps are drawn?
Adam: The lawsuits around the country are going to come in different forms than they have in the past. Political gerrymandering lawsuits will happen in the state courts now instead of federal. We are focused on drawing maps that follow state and federal laws while putting yourself in the best position possible to defend yourself in court. Overall, there will definitely be more litigation this decade than in the last decade.
Kelly: Over the past decade, the public has become more engaged in the redistricting process because of the heightened attention and awareness of the damaging effects of gerrymandering. As a result, there will likely be an increase in litigation in state and federal court against Republican-drawn maps that gerrymander along partisan and/or racial lines. We want maps to be fair and accurately reflect the communities.
How much does reforming the process play into redistricting and what should these reforms look like?
Adam: The problem with redistricting is that it is a binary system between two parties. If we think that competitiveness is the right way to go, I would ban the use of political data in drawing maps and use names instead of numbers so they have a geographical base to them. You would find a significant number of urban and rural seats and the battlegrounds across the country would be in the suburbs. On the Democratic side, you have groups that are approaching this as one party reforming the whole process. If we are going to reform the process we need to compromise across party lines.
Kelly: I think we need current people in power to commit to reform. We don’t need to push this off to the next decade. There is reform and fairness that we can achieve this time around instead of waiting. Redistricting will help shape the next decade of politics in America in 2022 and beyond, making it an incredibly important part of this cycle.
What is the timeline moving forward? When will we get the full map?
Adam: Nebraska could be done this week or early next. Indiana will likely come soon after. We will probably have our first congressional map next week if not sooner. Part of the litigation challenge is the tighter timeline, so we may not have as many maps imposed between now and the midterms. California is a big question mark right now, but New York and New Jersey have to be done by late January or early February.
Kelly: In some states there is a deadline and in other states there are not. The filing date is a passive deadline. Judges will want to give enough time and room for elections to be conducted on the maps. The election really comes into play in the minds of judges.
Are there states that you are keeping a particularly close eye on and why?
Adam: I’m very interested in New York, where Republicans and Democrats are responsible for working together. We’re paying close attention to make sure the law and process is followed. First maps are due quite soon and some states have primaries coming up that will be impacted by these timelines. For example, Illinois proactively moved their primary because of redistricting.
Kelly: We are closely watching the four big states where Republicans have total control: Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Georgia. We expect to see some extreme gerrymandering out of those 4 states. If you follow the census data in those states, Democrats will pick up seats and you will see more competitive seats become available.
Click here to listen to the full recording for more insights!