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Republicans are a little freaked out over Texas Congressional redistricting possibilities

I referenced this Trib story in last Friday’s post about the state declining to do a special session on redistricting, which at least some members of Congress from Texas would have liked. There was more to this story, which I want to focus on in this post.

Even as a tax code overhaul and the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections dominated the news in Washington this week, it was redistricting that absorbed many of the Texans. But the Texas GOP delegation concerns are evolving into a national worry.

As President Donald Trump’s approval ratings flag, control of the U.S. House increasingly appears up for grabs in the 2018 midterms. Republicans are counting every seat on the map, and the fear is that a newly drawn Texas seat will put even more seats into play.

According to one member, “a frantic call was put out” and GOP members of Congress from Texas met at the Republican National Committee on Tuesday night for a presentation of an “Armageddon map.” Republican attorneys and at least one party official showed many in the delegation a potential worst-case scenario if the 2018 Texas map is drawn by the three-judge panel. This potential map could jeopardize as many as a half-dozen Texas GOP incumbents and create ripple effects on the lines of many others.

The presentation did much to deeply rattle several Republican delegation members, according to people who attended the meeting. The RNC declined repeated attempts to respond to requests for comment.

But some sources within the delegation emerged from the Tuesday night meeting dubious of the frantic tone.

Emphasis mine. I’m not sure where that number comes from, as there are only three seats currently held by Republicans that were singled out by the court – the 23rd, the 26th, and the 27th, with the 26th being at a lower level of concern. The 35th was also cited, but it’s held by Democrat Lloyd Doggett. I’ve been trying to come up with a list of six potential Democratic pickups, combining both the potential new map and the three DCCC-targeted districts. This is what I’ve come up with:

– A redrawn CD23 is highly likely to be lost by the GOP. It won’t take much to change it into a Democratic-majority district.

– There were maps drawn by various Democratic groups during the 2011 process that created a second minority-majority Democratic seat in the D/FW area, to go along with CD33. Let’s say this is the new CD26, for the sake of simplicity.

– I suppose CD27 can be redrawn in a more Dem-friendly way, though it was a 60-40 district in 2016 and wasn’t any more Democratic that year than it was in 2012. But let’s assume it can be done.

– Throw in CDs 07 and 32 as potential victims of a strong Democratic year in 2018, and you’re up to five seats. CD32 could be affected by a redrawn CD26, but if it is it seems likely to me to be more Republican, since those voters will have to go somewhere to create room for a new Dem district. But let’s assume any such effect would be minimal.

– That still leaves one more seat. The next ones down the list are CDs 24 and 02, which would probably be more the effect of a super-strong Democratic wave instead of just an ordinary strong Democratic wave. If the GOP is freaking out about this, they have bigger problems to worry about than a new Texas Congressional map.

Realistically, I think a new court-drawn map puts CD23 firmly into “Dem-favored” territory, and I think another Dem seat, possibly in the Metroplex and possibly in place of CD27, gets drawn. Maybe both, but surely one. CDs 07 and 32 will be as competitive as the 2018 environment allows; per Nate Silver, if the “Montana special election environment” is in place next November, I’d consider both of them to be in play. So a reasonable hope for two or possibly three seats, with an outside shot at four or five, and anything more than that being a bluest-of-blue skies scenario. I can see why Republicans might be a little spooked by that. For what it’s worth, Republicans “deserve” between 20 and 23 of the 36 Congressional seats – between 55.6% and 63.9% – based on statewide performance; they now have 25, or 69.4%, of the seats. So a Dem pickup of two to four seats would put the ratio about where it “should” be. Just something to keep in mind.

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  1. neither here nor there says:

    As long as they keep supporting the racist Russian puppet that they follow they have much to fear. Even at Fox many comments are against Trump with no push back from the Russian paid trolls and the racist Republicans, I expect that there are exceptions and some Republicans are not racists.

  2. Michael Hurta says:

    You seem to assume a new map will only have small changes to districts. FYI, though, its possible a couple of the problemz (Cd35, Nueces County’s claims) cannot be fixed with small changes but instead lead to multi-district repurcucions. If that’s the case, it’s hard to predict who each change would benefit.

  3. Michael, I’m assuming the judges will strive to make the smallest possible changes they can make. Remember, one of the three judges thinks the maps are fine as is. This is not to say that an acceptable map can be drawn with only minimal changes – you may very well be right about CD35 and Nueces County – but if one can be, I believe it will. Just my guess. And even if non-minimal changes are required, I still think the final map will have the smallest amount of changes that it could have, whatever that turns out to be.

  4. asmith says:

    I can see 3-4 at best. 23rd shifts blue, and the 26th becomes a hispanic leaning DFW seat that Anchia or Domingo Garcia or Miguel Solis can win. They would have to beat Marchant to get to 5. NE Tarrant keeps him re-elected, but NW Dallas has moved purple as long as the South Asians vote D. SE Denton has the demographics to move that way as well. Rinaldi is in this district and so is Ron Simmons who is close to having to fight for his lege seat.

    I think Sessions can be beat in a wave. He can still count on the Park Cities and most of old North Dallas, but can’t count on Far North Dallas or East Dallas anymore. The gen-x crowd and the older millenials who move into North Dallas/Far North Dallas these days are far more moderate than the generation who voted for Dick Armey for years. That’s where the 30-45 age crowd who are soft republicans or lean Dem are living now. His base is now Rowlett/Sachse/Wylie areas, where the voting demographics haven’t shifted yet. Garland is a purple town now, and Richardson is still red but not as ruby red as it used to be. If the soft republican voter in the 32nd voted for Clinton with her baggage they can vote for Allred or Meier. I don’t think it was a one-off like Sessions likes to tell people. He hasn’t had a well funded opponent since Frost in 2004 and there’s been a demographic shift since there. Whoever comes out of the Allred/Meier primary will be well funded.

    With Culberson that’s 5 seats if perfect conditions exist.