“Basically you are playing a fantasy game,” said former Rep. Steve Israel (DN.Y.), who led the House Democrats’ campaign arm in the 2012 election cycle, in mid-election. last redistribution.
“You have your players lined up among your recruits,” he added. “You have an offensive or defensive strategy, depending on the environment. The only problem is that you don’t know where the field begins and where it ends. “
Redistribution is already a difficult task under normal circumstances. The 43 states with more than one district must redraw 428 seats as quickly as possible before the 2022 primaries. But they can’t get started until they know the size of the population per seat, numbers that should have been. available before December 31st.
The Census Bureau said on Wednesday it may not be able to provide those main figures until the end of April. Even once those numbers are clear, they still need to deliver the granular block-level data to states so they can draw equal-population districts – a process that is expected to be completed by the end of March, but could potentially be completed. extend beyond July 31. this year.
“I think a lot of states are going to have to consider changing their electoral calendars for next year due to census delays, ”said Adam Kincaid, executive director of the National Republican Redistricting Trust, the party’s clearinghouse. for the cycle. “We are looking for a very compressed schedule for the redistribution.”
The long delay keeps both parties in a state of uncertainty: Democrats, who are keen to protect and bolster their historically narrow majority, and Republicans who seek to regain control of the House in the first mid-election. term of the incumbent Joe Biden presidency.
The mismatch is most disruptive in New Jersey and Virginia, two states with state legislative elections this year. It’s also a particular headache for the 17 states likely to win or lose a district, which will require a major shuffle of their maps. Party strategists aren’t sure which districts they can target, and incumbents aren’t sure if they will end up without a seat at all.
The interference will be acute in the rust belt; Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania all lose a district, and at least one member of each of those delegations will be left without a seat. California is likely to abandon a district for the first time in state history.
Meanwhile, census estimates show Alabama and New York could fight for the final siege. Alabama would fall to six seats if it lost one. If New York fails, his delegation would reduce to 25 – a loss of two seats from the last decade.
Democrats and Republicans are formalizing their redistribution infrastructure, opening lines of communication with state legislatures that will attract the new districts. Each party will be more connected to the process in states where it controls both the chambers of state government and the governorship.
For Democrats, it’s places like Illinois, New York, and Oregon. For the GOP, this includes the seat-rich states of Florida and Texas. Florida will likely win two seats and Texas is on track to add three.
“I would like to think that two of the three will be Republican seats,” said GOP Representative Roger Williams, a former Secretary of State for Texas, in an interview late last year.
For now, both sides are moving forward and trying to make plans with the limited information they have.
“Don’t let overanalysis hold you back. This will have to be our posture,” said Tim Persico, the new executive director of the DCCC. “We’re never going to be 100 percent successful. But waiting to put our plans into action until we have a clear map of what’s to come is not an option when the stakes are this high.”
Democrats and Republicans have started recruiting from small states unlikely to be seriously affected. Montana’s at-large district splits in two, a split that will divide the state and likely create a competitive seat, for which both sides have started to think about potential candidates.
Meanwhile, Republicans expect small changes to districts held by Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine), Chris Pappas (DN.H.), Sharice Davids (D-Kan.), Ron Kind ( D-Wis.), Susie Lee (D-Nev.) And Cindy Axne (D-Iowa). And the DCCC may start looking for a candidate to take on Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) After two failed attempts with the same candidate, and for the Northeast Iowa seat that GOP Rep Ashley Hinson has claimed this cycle.
But beyond those small-state seats, parties are forced to seek out new candidates – and worry about exactly where they’ll run later. Democrats are looking in the Philadelphia area for someone to take on GOP Representative Brian Fitzpatrick and others to run against incumbents in South Florida and Orange County, California.
The Republican National Congress Committee, meanwhile, will need to find candidates in the Detroit area who could take Democratic Reps Haley Stevens and Elissa Slotkin; in the greater Atlanta area for Representatives Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux; in the Twin Cities for Representatives Angie Craig and Dean Phillips; and the Hudson Valley in New York, where Democratic representatives Antonio Delgado and DCCC chairman Sean Patrick Maloney sit.
“Are there any logistics unknowns and new dynamics? Of course, ”said Dan Conston, President of the Congressional Leadership Fund, the main super PAC of the GOP House. “But I believe the top Republican candidates will be very interested in the candidacy because the opportunity for us to reclaim the House is important.”
Cards drawn by the independent commissions will perhaps be the most unpredictable. Michigan, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Virginia are some of the larger states that require non-partisan signs to draw maps.
For the first time, Democrats have a group dedicated solely to guiding them through the redistribution cycle: the National Democratic Redistribution Committee, which will serve as a computer and legal center, and as an intermediary between the DCCC and the various state legislatures and cartographers. It is led by Eric Holder, the former attorney general in the Obama administration, and Kelly Ward Burton, who was at the DCCC during the last round of redistribution.
The GOP ignites its equivalent organization: the National Republican Redistricting Trust, led by Kincaid and former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He created a new 50-state redistribution database, amassing a wealth of information on recent elections that states can use to create maps.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Congress Committee appointed a political director to oversee the redistribution, Mike Thom and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) As chair of the redistribution.
But all parties realize that at some point they won’t be able to do much preparation without the data. The fact that the Census Bureau plans to withhold all redistribution data until numbers for all 50 states are ready, instead of releasing them on an ongoing basis as it normally does, adds to the anxiety. Kathleen Styles, a census official, said on Wednesday that no final decision has been made, while acknowledging the ongoing unrest.
“It’s the subject of vigorous internal debate right now,” Styles said. “I think the worst thing we can do would be to provide data with question marks on it. We need to provide you with the best data possible.”
The redistribution is a deeply tumultuous two-year period for many members who are forced to fight against their colleagues to come out of the process with their seats intact. And members of the party’s campaign chairs will be tested in their ability to guide their caucuses through sticky situations.
The 2012 cycle was full of limb versus limb primaries created by new dividing lines. Representatives Brad Sherman (D-California), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and now-Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) All beat his colleagues to stay in Congress.
It will certainly happen again, especially when the courts are forced to draw maps because Democrats and Republicans cannot come to an agreement. This could be the case in Minnesota, the only state in the country where the two legislative chambers are controlled by different parties. He’s also losing a district – a big deal in a state that has prominent members, including Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar and NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer.
Former Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.) Said he warned his now-Rep. 2020 challenger. Michelle Fischbach, that the neighborhood they were fighting could be collapsed in the redesign.
“I tried to tell her that when she ran in the first place. She can be a wonder in the long run, ”he said, before offering a more precise prediction:“ I think what’s going to happen is that Emmer and Fischbach are going to get together – and they deserve it.
Zach Montellaro contributed to this report.