In Ohio, there are too few Democratic-held districts to effectively slice them up in a way that eliminates two seats while maintaining Republican advantages in the districts the GOP holds. The safer alternative could be to actually eliminate a Republican backbencher - Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), and Reps.-elect Bill Johnson (R) and Bob Gibbs (R) are the most frequently-mentioned names - to allow up-and-coming members like Rep.-elect Steve Stivers (R) and veterans like Rep.-elect Steve Chabot (R) to face easier re-elections.
In North Carolina, any attempts to dilute the Democratic portion of Rep. Heath Shuler's district will come at the expense of Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) -- and it's unlikely he'll acquiesce to making his seat more competitive.
"The only way Heath Shuler is in trouble is if Patrick McHenry takes on more risk -- or Tennessee becomes a part of North Carolina," said one plugged-in North Carolina Democratic operative.
Still, Hofeller noted that it's always better to be in control than not. "All things being equal, we'd rather be drawing the lines than have [the Democrats] draw them."
Republicans have overreached in the past, most notably in Pennsylvania following the 2000 reapportionment. Republicans controlled both the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature then as well, and drew new districts that they expected to net four House seats for the party. The plan worked initially, as the GOP went from an 11 to 10 advantage in the House to a 12 to seven advantage over Democrats in the 2002 election. (Pennsylvania lost two seats following the 2000 census.)
That backfired in 2006 as Democrats picked up four seats and gained a 11 to eight advantage in the delegation. Democrats picked up another seat in Pennsylvania in 2008.
John Ryder, the chairman of the RNC Redistricting Committee, cautioned against extrapolating too much, too early in the redistricting process. Redrawing the maps is an enormous undertaking that ultimately comes down to very parochial issues.
"If all politics is local, all redistricting is local. The local effect of redistricting is determined by local factors -- population growth and decline."