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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Reapportionment: Advantage R, But Limited

Our new book is titled Divided We Stand: The 2020 Elections and American Politics.  Among other things, it discusses state and congressional elections.

Before the census, it looked as if there would be a massive seat shift favoring Republicans. Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics:

Instead, the reapportionment numbers announced by the US Census Bureau on Monday were something of a wash. Only seven states lost seats while six gained seats.

There were notable outcomes here: California lost a seat for the first time in its history. Rhode Island – widely expected to be reduced to a single-member state – held onto its two House seats (in fact it wasn’t a terribly close shave). New York, even with COVID-19 deaths pushing it toward a loss of two seats, lost just one.


Even the quiet nature of this reapportionment was historic. The 14 total seats that will be reshuffled is the smallest number in the history of reapportionments. This is true even with newly admitted states excluded, as well as accounting for the growing size of the House during the 1800s.

What will this mean for redistricting? In November of last year I estimated that Republicans would probably gain six seats from a normal redistricting. In other words, without doing anything like trying to squeeze a 13-2 map out of Ohio (which is doable) or break apart Emanuel Cleaver’s Kansas City-based district in Missouri (again, doable), Democrats would lose control of the House


 So Democrats likely will gain two seats net over their previous baseline, meaning that Republicans won’t be in a position to take the House simply through a “natural” redistricting. Of course, there is still some wiggle room here as there are cascading effects from these changes. As noted above, some of Arizona’s Democratic-leaning districts that likely would have become safe as a result of gaining a seat will likely have to take on some Republican-leaning territory and will be more marginal. There may be similar effects in Florida and especially Texas. Regardless, this is good news for Democrats in their quest to hold the House.