Following redistricting in Pennsylvania, Republicans Jim Gerlach, Patrick Meehan and Lou Barletta -- previously considered top targets for Democrats because they represent districts that elected President Barack Obama by wide margins in 2008 -- aren’t in the first or second tier of Democratic opportunities, according to the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report.
“It’s a pretty amazing redraw to go from one of the top races in the country to not even on the list,” said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor at Rothenberg. Through redistricting, “in many states, Republicans shored up the gains they already made in 2010,” he said.
Republicans shaped Barletta’s district into a narrow band that stretches almost from Pennsylvania’s border with Maryland to New York. By conceding the neighboring district to Holden, a former county sheriff in his 10th term of office, Republicans bolstered Barletta and Republican Tom Marino by adding more Republican-rich precincts to their districts.
Ohio Republicans followed the same strategy, creating a new Democratic district in Columbus to shore up seats outside the city. “That just shows you what their focus has been,” said [Cook Political Report's David] Wasserman.
Meanwhile, Pennsylvania Democratic incumbents Jason Altmire and Mark Critz are in a primary competition for the single district Republicans packed them into, shaped like a shovel digging into the south-central part of the state beyond Johnstown and stretching to the Ohio border past Pittsburgh. The new map gave Republican Pat Meehan an additional 35,000 to 40,000 rural voters, who tend to be Republican.
“Republicans this time were not expansionist, they were not imperialist,” said Terry Madonna, who teaches politics at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “It’s one of the most efficient, effective gerrymanders in history.”