Much like urging Georgia Republicans to write in Trump on their ballots, there likely is an unintended consequence in Democrats’ failure to flip statehouse seats. The damage has been done at so many levels as noble efforts to fight gerrymandering in places like North Carolina were not replicated elsewhere. The specter of gerrymandering influenced the sedition of 120+ GOP representatives supporting the recent Texas nuisance suit to overthrow the election.
— Nick Knudsen 🇺🇸 (@NickKnudsenUS) December 10, 2020
“The loss in down-ballot races was a loss by a thousand paper cuts,”
— SafetyPin-Daily (@SafetyPinDaily) December 16, 2020
State lawmakers have the authority to redraw electoral districts in most US states every 10 years. In 2010, Republicans undertook an unprecedented effort – called Project Redmap – to win control of state legislatures across the country and drew congressional and state legislative districts that gave them a significant advantage for the next decade. In 2020, Democrats sought to avoid a repeat of 2010 and poured millions of dollars and other resources into winning key races.
It didn’t go well.
Democrats failed to flip any of the legislative chambers they targeted and Republicans came out of election night in nearly the best possible position for drawing districts, according to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight, and will have the opportunity to draw 188 congressional seats, 43% of the House of Representatives. Democrats will have a chance to draw at most just 73 seats. Republicans will probably also be able to draw districts that will make it more difficult for Democrats to hold their majority in the US House in 2022.
“It was really bad. It was devastating to the project of building long-term power,” said Amanda Litman, the co-founder and executive director of Run for Something, a group focused on local races.
Data for redistricting laws for each states is from the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Brennan Center for Justice. Data on the makeup of state legislatures after the 2020 election is from 270toWin. Congressional district shapes are from the US Census Bureau and the Digital Boundary Definitions of United States Congressional Districts, 1789-2012; election results are from the from Stephen Pettigrew via Harvard Dataverse, the MIT Elections Lab and the Princeton Gerrymandering Project.