Analysis: For the People Act is needed to “prevent a gerrymandering bloodbath” for Democrats
ATLANTA — A new report from Mother Jones’ Ari Berman breaks down how — unless Congress takes action to protect voting rights and ban partisan gerrymandering by passing the For the People Act — Republicans could lock Democrats out of a House majority for the next decade.
According to a new analysis by TargetSmart cited by Berman, “Republicans could pick up anywhere from six to 13 seats in the House of Representatives—enough to retake the House in 2022—through its control of the redistricting process in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas alone.” But the GOP’s advantage is not just in those four states. Republicans will “be able to draw 187 congressional districts, compared to 75 for Democrats.”
And GOP legislators have not been shy about their plans to gerrymander districts that “will have a devastating and surgical impact on Democratic representation.” GOP Congressman Dr. Ronny Jackson previously noted at a conservative conference that “the Republicans control most of that [redistricting] process in most of the states around the country,” adding, “That alone should get us the majority back.”
Given Republican control of the redistricting process in so many critical states, “Democrats’ best hope to prevent a gerrymandering bloodbath is to pass the For the People Act,” which would ban partisan gerrymandering. But with Census data set to be released soon, Democrats could only have “a matter of weeks to act.”
“There is a fundamentally increased focus on redistricting than there was in 2011, and yet as we talk about the For the People Act, people are not talking about the gerrymandering components and the importance of them,” said National Democratic Redistricting Committee Founder Eric Holder.
“The numbers are clear,” said Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo. “If Congress does not take swift action to protect voters by banning partisan gerrymandering, then the same GOP state legislatures that are destroying our democracy with anti-voter bills and conspiracies about our elections will quickly draw Democrats out of power for a decade through unchecked gerrymandered maps. Congress must step up and pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act quickly to outlaw partisan gerrymandering and protect our democracy.”
Read more from Ari Berman on the need to pass democracy reforms now:
Mother Jones: GOP Could Retake the House in 2022 Just by Gerrymandering Four Southern States
By Ari Berman
July 29, 2021
Republicans could pick up anywhere from six to 13 seats in the House of Representatives—enough to retake the House in 2022—through its control of the redistricting process in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Texas alone, according to a new analysis by the Democratic data firm TargetSmart that was shared exclusively with Mother Jones.
The Republican redistricting advantage goes far beyond those four states: They’ll be able to draw 187 congressional districts, compared to 75 for Democrats. (The rest will be drawn by independent commissions or divided state governments.)
But those states are at the highest risk of extreme gerrymandering, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, and they have 94 seats, roughly a fifth of the House. Republicans could draw as many as five new GOP congressional districts in Florida alone, giving them control of the House by redrawing maps in just one state.
New voting restrictions could certainly swing a close election, but the ultimate partisan effects are unknown, whereas the new redistricting maps enacted by Republicans will have a devastating and surgical impact on Democratic representation, voting rights advocates say.
GOP members of Congress have already admitted that this is their plan to win back power in 2022. “We have redistricting coming up, and the Republicans control most of that process in most of the states around the country,” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) said at the Faith and Freedom conference in June. “That alone should get us the majority back.”
Democrats’ best hope to prevent a gerrymandering bloodbath is to pass the For the People Act, the sweeping democracy reform bill that passed the House in March but was blocked by a GOP filibuster in June.
The bill, also known as HR1, has been in the news for its provisions to ban the types of state-level voting restrictions that sent Texas Democrats fleeing to Washington earlier this month to beg Congress to pass the act. But arguably more significant is its proposal to end partisan gerrymandering.
Time is running out for Senate Democrats to act. States could put new maps in place by early fall, and those maps will govern congressional elections for the next decade.
Over the past decade, Democratic state legislative candidates have routinely won more votes than Republicans on a statewide basis in places like Michigan, Wisconsin, and North Carolina—but the GOP retained control of state legislative chambers for the entire decade.
“There’s some sentiment you can out-organize voter suppression,” says Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center. “You can help people get the IDs they need to vote. You can’t out-organize gerrymandering. You can’t out-organize the dismantling of a multiracial district in the Atlanta suburbs. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”