Republicans Tout Redistricting Gains
Updated at 4:25 p.m.
National Republicans believe they have narrowed the number of seats for which Democrats can seriously compete, a result of a redistricting cycle that heavily favored the current Congressional majority. In a memo set to be released today, the NRCC will be touting 16 Democratic-held seats it believes are in play as a result of the process.
In the memo, NRCC executive director Guy Harrison argues that the process has made 16 Democratic-held seats more competitive while making just 14 Republican-held seats more competitive. The memo also claims that redistricting has taken more Republican-held seats than Democratic-held seats out of play.
"Democrats were unable to make the inroads they wanted by opening new opportunities in previously safe seats," writes Harrison. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's playbook for recapturing the majority was reliant upon several key states that simply did not get remapped the way they had hoped. Instead, Republicans were able to fend off these attempts and even open more pickup opportunities than Democrats were."
The list of Democratic seats "in play" illustrates Republicans' redistricting gains. Under normal circumstances, barring scandal or other unusual local factors, Democratic incumbents who survived the historic GOP wave in 2010 should be confident in their ability to navigate reelection in 2012. But North Carolina Democratic Reps. Mike McIntyre and Larry Kissell are in much tougher seats than before, as is retiring Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler. The same goes for Reps. John Barrow, D-Ga., Jim Matheson, D-Utah, among others.
Harrison credits Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia as states that were remapped by GOP-controlled legislatures in ways highly favorable to Republican incumbents.
In Pennsylvania, which is shedding one seat, Democrats will lose at least one member of their delegation, as the new map is pitting Democratic Reps. Jason Altmire against fellow Democrat Mark Critz. In addition to eliminating a Democratic incumbent, the Pennsylvania GOP also protected its freshman Republicans who had been facing tough re-elections.
Ohio stands to lose two seats and the new map creates a new Democratic seat in Columbus but ultimately shored up other potentially vulnerable Republicans, like freshman GOP Rep. Steve Stivers.
In Virginia, Republicans shored up nearly every vulnerable incumbent, moving GOP voters from Democratic seats to help the party solidify its midterm gains. The GOP picked up three seats in the commonwealth in 2010.
"Not only were Republicans dominant over Democrats in terms of making incumbent districts safer, but in many instances Republican-held seats have been taken out of play for Democrats," writes Harrison.
Kansas and New Hampshire haven't finalized maps yet. And legal battles, most notably in Florida, leave a little uncertainty in a process that has nearly wrapped up. Democrats need to pick up 25 seats this November to retake the House majority.
After the jump, check out the list of the 16 Democratic held seats the NRCC argues are newly in play for the GOP. The list includes a barb directed at Democrats: Democratic Congressional Chairman Steve Israel is among the names mentioned. While his district grew more Republican, there are better targets out there for the GOP.