Redistricting Won’t Hurt GOP Chances at Keeping the House, Experts Say

US Capitol building
by Arjun Singh


Changes in congressional district boundary lines across several states do not appear to have damaged Republicans’ chances of maintaining a majority in the House of Representatives after 2024’s elections, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

DCNF-logoNorth CarolinaAlabamaLouisiana and New York have experienced redistricting processes ahead of the 2024 election. While experts had previously forecast adverse changes from redistricting in these states that could have cost GOP incumbents their seats, the processes have resulted, on balance, in races where likely losses of some GOP seats could be offset by the gains in other states, experts told the DCNF.

“I think that Republicans probably have to feel a lot better about how [this] … mid-decade part of redistricting came out,” Shawn Donahue, a professor at the University of Buffalo and expert on redistricting, told the DCNF. “The changes that were made this year. Maybe, maybe just a slight benefit to Republicans, you would have to say.”

Republicans began the 118th Congress with a five-seat majority in the House, which has since narrowed to one seat after several resignations and one expulsion of a member. With such a narrow majority, the conversion of a few seats from Republican-leaning to Democratic-leaning in 2024 may tip the balance of power in the House. 

“[R]edistricting changes appear to be a wash. Democratic gerrymanders did produce some gains – only to have them offset by GOP gains achieved when other maps were fixed,” Peter Roth, a Republican political consultant, told the DCNF.

The Democratic-led state legislature in New York had sought to redraw the state’s congressional maps from its 2022 court-ordered redistricting process that substantially changed boundary lines, from which Republicans gained three seats in that year’s midterms. The final maps did not result in significant changes to boundary lines from 2022’s maps, which ensures most freshman incumbent Republicans won’t have to campaign in new areas that lean Democratic compared to the last cycle.

“This was among the rarest of cases where New York Democrats were successfully shamed. Even liberal editorial boards agreed with Republicans on the district lines. The Democrats were being so egregious, that it simply didn’t pass the laugh test,” William F. Buckley O’Reilly, a Republican political consultant in New York, told the DCNF.

Four Republican representatives from New York — Mike Lawler, Brandon Williams, Anthony D’Esposito and Marc Molinaro — were forecast as being vulnerable to changes in their district makeup. However, the process in 2024 only produced significant changes to Williams’ district, which “added a couple thousand more registered Democrats” to his electorate, a source familiar with the process told the DCNF.

“Albany insiders and career politicians … tried to redraw the maps for personal gains, what they didn’t know is that I never give up and I welcome these new maps,” Williams told the DCNF. “The race for NY-22 will be one of the most watched and competitive races in the country.”

In North Carolina, Republicans are expected to gain at least three congressional seats after the Republican-led General Assembly redrew its congressional maps, a process affirmed by the Republican-led state supreme court. The new maps drastically affect the 6th, 13th and 14th districts currently represented by Democratic Reps. Kathy ManningWiley Nickeland Jeff Jackson — none of whom are running for re-election to their seats following the decision.

“The Republican-led General Assembly passed flagrantly gerrymandered Congressional districts to reduce the North Carolina Congressional delegation from seven Democrats and seven Republicans to four Democrats and ten Republicans,” Manning wrote in a statement announcing her decision not to seek re-election. “Republican leaders have put their partisan self-interest above the people they’re elected to serve. It’s the shameful act of leaders who know they can’t win under fair districts.”

Under the new maps, the three districts have been reconfigured to have more Republican-leaning areas, according to an analysis by Politico, with former President Donald Trump having won a majority of votes cast in each district in the 2020 presidential election by at least 58 percent.

“[T]he General Assembly’s duty to draw new maps resulted in opportunities for voters to replace liberal Democratic politicians with conservatives,” North Carolina GOP Communications Director Matt Mercer told the DCNF.

“They [had] a pretty aggressive gerrymander in North Carolina,” Donahue told the DCNF. “The First District, [Democratic Rep.] Don Davis’ district, was changed from a district that had a Democratic lean … to one where [President Joe Biden] won [in 2020] by two [percentage points] … that part of rural northeastern North Carolina also seemed to be trending against Democrats. So additionally, I think it created a toss-up district, as well.”

The positive outcomes for Republicans in New York and North Carolina appear to offset court-ordered redistricting in Alabama and Louisiana, where successful challenges by Democratic-backed plaintiffs under the Voting Rights Act led to the creation of one new black majority congressional district in both states at the cost of Republican seats. The process resulted in Republican Rep. Jerry Carl of Alabama losing the primary for his 1st District seat against Rep. Barry Moore while, in Louisiana, Republican Rep. Garret Graves is likely to lose re-election to a Democrat.

“New black majority seats [are] basically new Democratic seats,” Donahue told the DCNF.

These offsets, however, are contingent on the GOP maintaining support from voters in competitive districts. Recent controversies within the House Republican Conference involving the removal of Kevin McCarthy as speaker and failed votes on key measures, the result of defections by some GOP members, could undermine the party’s credibility to lead the House in voters’ eyes, two experts told the DCNF.

“[C]haos is never the friend of the incumbent party. The antics of a few self-interested media hounds in the GOP Conference have undermined the majority and its ability to undertake or accomplish much of anything,” Roth noted. “When it comes to re-election, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz and their troublemaking cohorts are like the munitions magazines on the battleship Maine. They’re going to explode and take everyone else down with them.”

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Arjun Singh is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “US Capitol Building” by JamesDeMers.



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