Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Advantage, Republicans: This Time, the GOP Wins the Redistricting Battle

As readers of this site know, states used to re-draw district maps once per decade, once they had the latest census information. Those days, of course, are long gone, and it's become fairly common to have two or three re-draws per census cycle. There have already been close to a dozen of them since the 2022 election, for various reasons, although we are nearing the time when the current cycle will have to "lock" because of candidate filing deadlines. And, as Politico's Zach Montellaro notes, the GOP looks to have come out slightly ahead in this round of re-draws.

It's not too hard to figure out what happened here. Going into 2024, there was much hope among Democrats that they could flip 5-10 seats just by winning the re-drawing battle. However, Wisconsin Democrats were ultimately barred from re-drawing their maps, while New York Democrats were quite timid in redrawing theirs, with the result that only a couple of seats there were shifted in favor of the blue team. Democrats might pick up more than that, but they'll have to do it with politics and not with mapmaking tools.

Meanwhile, North Carolina is less populous than New York, but was allowed to go all-in on a Republican gerrymander, which will probably net 3 or 4 seats for the red team. The Democrats will gain a seat in Alabama and one in Louisiana due to rulings about racial gerrymanders, but Republicans managed to stymie similar rulings in Georgia and South Carolina (see above). Add up all the pluses and minuses across the country, and the battle of the maps ends up favoring the GOP by a seat or two. That's not much, but it's way better than being down 5-10 seats.

As long as we are on the subject, the GOP also won a smaller victory in Pennsylvania this week. Recall that there has been much squabbling about a Pennsylvania state law that requires a date be written on the outer envelope used for mail-in ballots. The law is ultimately kind of dumb, since the date written on the envelope is actually immaterial to the process. You know how they figure out if the ballot was cast in time? Since ballots have to be received by Election Day, they just look on Election Day to see if they have it. That's pretty good proof that a person cast their ballot on time, even if the envelope says July 4, 1776; October 21, 1955; April 5, 2063; In the Year 2525; or even if it has no date at all.

Previously, a federal court had ruled that ballots cannot be discarded simply due to a wrong/missing date. On Wednesday, however, a panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision by a vote of 2-1. It will head to the U.S. Supreme Court next, but who knows if they will take it, or how quickly they will rule, if they do. For the moment, one has to assume that the new state of affairs will remain in place for this year's election. Since Democrats are disproportionately likely to vote by mail, the disqualification rule is going to nullify more Democratic than Republican votes. We're probably talking a gain of a few thousand votes statewide for the GOP, but if things are really close, well... (Z)

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