NYT: ‘This is the fairest House map of the last 40 years.’

September 30, 2022

Washington, D.C. — A New York Times analysis has found that the new congressional map is the fairest map in 40 years, eliminating the structural advantage Republicans held last decade and giving both Republicans and Democrats an opportunity to compete for the U.S. House of Representatives this decade. In spite of aggressive Republican gerrymanders in states like Texas and Florida, the analysis finds that the new congressional map is more balanced than before, with 226 districts won by President Biden and 209 districts won by Donald Trump. There has also been a drastic reduction in the popular vote margin likely needed to win the House, allowing both parties to compete fairly. 

This fair congressional map is the result of NDRC’s years-long comprehensive strategy leading up to and during the 2021-2022 redistricting cycle, which, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, changed the game in redistricting. That strategy started with our efforts to shift the balance of power in redistricting by electing Democrats and supporting redistricting reforms, resulting in a decrease of Republican control over redistricting by more than 20 percent from the prior decade. As the redistricting cycle unfolded, NDRC and its affiliates used every tool available, from grassroots organizing to litigation, to stop Republican gerrymandering and prevent them from using the redistricting process to ensure themselves a “durable” House majority. As a result of that work, Americans now have the fairest House map in a generation, and it will remain competitive in the years to come. 

The New York Times: Gerrymandering, the Full Story

State lawmakers from both parties have drawn the lines of House districts in ways meant to maximize the number that their own party will win, and Republicans in some states have been especially aggressive, going so far as to ignore court orders.

Yet House gerrymandering turns out to give Republicans a smaller advantage today than is commonly assumed. The current map is only slightly tilted toward Republicans, and both parties have a legitimate chance to win House control in the coming midterm elections.

“In reality, Republicans do have a structural edge in the House, but it isn’t anything near insurmountable for the Democrats,” Nate [Cohn] writes. “By some measures, this is the fairest House map of the last 40 years.”

Of the House’s 435 districts, 220 now appear to have a natural Republican lean, compared with 215 with a Democratic lean. To be clear, that three-seat margin (because Democrats must flip three Republican-leaning seats to win control) is still meaningful, especially in an election shaping up to be as close as this one.

Recent shifts in the vote — connected to Donald Trump — have also shrunk what once was the Republicans’ advantage in the House map. Rural areas that were already conservative became even more so, leading to bigger Republican margins in some House races without adding any new seats for the party. At the same time, college-educated voters in the suburbs swung toward the Democrats, helping the party flip some districts.

[Analysis] found that 226 of the current districts voted for Joe Biden in 2020, and only 209 voted for Trump.

That finding doesn’t mean Democrats are favored to hold the House, because Biden won the popular vote by 4.5 percentage points… Recent polls have suggested roughly a dead heat between the two parties in the national popular vote.