GOP could win, lose in redistricting

March 29, 2011 at 12:23 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) -- Republicans could gain big -- or lose big -- as legislatures begin redrawing legislative districts to synchronize them with population shifts, observers say.

Democrats are seen as especially vulnerable in the 2010 redistricting process that began with the release of U.S. Census data indicating which states will lose or gain congressional representation, ABC News reported Tuesday

"Republicans are in the best position that they've been in for redistricting in the modern era of redistricting across the country and especially in these states that are gaining seats, like Texas," said Tim Storey, a redistricting analyst at the National Council of State Legislatures.

In most states, redistricting maps must be approved by the state House, Senate and the governor and take into account population changes, demographic shifts and minority representation.

"It's a bloodsport," Storey said. "There's no doubt about it. It's extraordinarily political no matter who draws the line. The outcome is going to have a political impact, and sometimes unintentionally will favor individual candidates or parties."

However, in some instances, Republicans may have done too well in November, and may find themselves victimized by the redistricting balancing act, analysts told ABC News.

"Republicans were almost too successful in 2010," said Michael P. McDonald, a redistricting expert at the Brookings Institution.

Louisiana, for example, is a state where the Republican Party is being forced to drop one of its own because the state loses one seat. And while Republicans may try to target Democratic U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, a Republican could be vulnerable as well as state lawmakers must reduce their congressional delegation by two.

"You're going to see this interesting pattern emerge in other large states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Texas where the interests of the incumbents are going to start clashing with the party because the party can't spread around enough Republicans to protect their incumbents," McDonald said. "Republicans will be more protecting what they have as much as they possibly can, rather than trying to expand their majorities in Congress through redistricting in some of these states."

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