Republicans are poised to add as many as three seats in Congress depending on how New York’s rejected congressional district maps are revised under a court order by an appointed nonpartisan Special Master.
The New York Court of Appeals—the state’s highest court—on April 27 upheld lower court rulings that new congressional maps drawn by the Democrat-controlled legislature are “unconstitutionally gerrymandered.”
The seven-member panel, all appointed by Democratic governors, also said in its 4-3 ruling that the state’s Democratic lawmakers violated a 2014 constitutional amendment approved by voters that left post-Census reapportionment up to an independent redistricting commission.
The court kicked the case back to Steuben County Judge Patrick F. McAllister, a Republican whose rejection of the maps was being appealed by the legislature.
McAllister has appointed Carnegie Mellon University postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Cervas to serve as Special Master in drawing the new congressional and state senate lines by late May.
New York’s June 28 primary will likely be delayed for congressional and state senate candidates while the maps are being redrawn.
New York is set to lose one seat in post-2020 Census reapportionment; the state’s 27-member congressional delegation is being trimmed to 26 congressional districts (CDs) beginning with the 2022 election cycle.
Before reapportionment, Republican voters held majorities in eight of New York’s 27 CDs, with Democrats holding a 19-8 congressional delegation majority.
The maps drawn by the state’s legislature would have given Democrats majorities in registered voters in 22-of-26 refashioned CDs for a potential 22-4 congressional delegation advantage.
In a national context, Democrats were banking on New York’s blue biased map to sustain modest gains in post-Census congressional redistricting.
According to reviews and constantly updated trackers posted by Real Clear Politics, Politico, Fox News, and FiveThirtyEight, among others, neither party stands to make significant gains from post-2020 Census redistricting in securing the 218 seats necessary to hold the majority in Congress.
In early April, varied analyses indicated Democrats would make modest gains of eight-to-11 Democratic-leaning districts while the GOP would lose two-to-six Republican-leaning seats amid significantly fewer competitive districts nationwide.
But after Florida adopted its 28-CD map—which faces legal challenges—that gives Republicans an 18-8 congressional district advantage, the scenario has shifted with revised analyses indicating 189-191 seats are “strong Biden” and as many as 202 are “strong Trump.”
On April 4, FiveThirtyEight’s redistricting tracker indicated there were 181 Democrat-leaning congressional districts, 182 Republican-leaning districts, and 34 highly competitive districts.
On April 28, FiveThirtyEight’s tracker identified 169 CDs as Democratic-leaning, 193 as Republican-leaning, and 33 as highly competitive.
“Redistricting has created seven more Democratic-leaning seats nationally versus one more Republican-leaning seat,” the updated analysis states. “This is due to aggressive map-drawing by Democrats in states such as Illinois as well as court decisions overturning Republican gerrymanders in Kansas and North Carolina.”
But the maps don’t account for “incumbency,” with far more Republicans seeking reelection in “competitive” districts than Democrats.
According to FiveThirtyEight, after factoring in incumbency, “The GOP is positioned for a net gain of about four or five seats in 2022” even with as many as 66 seats—Florida (28), New York (26), Missouri (6), Kansas (4), New Hampshire (2)—being challenged in court or not, as yet, mapped by lawmakers.
“Republicans have benefited from their own brazen cartography in states like Florida and courts striking down Democratic gerrymanders in states like Maryland and New York,” the analysis states.
“Republicans have also shored up their existing position by converting light-red districts into safer seats in states like Texas.”