There’s no question that Republicans are not in a good spot politically at the moment.
Not only are they out of power in the White House, the Senate and the House, they are in the early stages of a civil war between pro-Trump forces and the establishment wing of the party that is going to get much, much uglier.
But before you start writing the political obituary for the Republican Party in Washington, you need to consider this oft-ignored but critically important card that the GOP still has in hand: The Republican Party will control the bulk of the redistricting processes in the country.
Wrote David Wasserman, The Cook Political Report’s House editor, in his big look at the state of redistricting on Tuesday:
“Republicans may not be as dominant as they were in 2011 when they redrew nearly five times as many congressional seats as Democrats. But they still hold far more raw power. They fared well in 2020’s state legislative elections and maintained control of several huge prizes: Texas, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, which are collectively poised to gain six seats from the Census.”
(Remember that following the census every decade, all state legislative and congressional lines are redrawn based on population gains and losses.)
Wasserman added that, based on his initial calculations, Republicans could gain as many as 10 seats solely from the number of map-drawing processes in key states they will control over the next 18 months. (Republicans need a net gain of only six seats to retake control of the House in November 2022.)
While the 2020 election wound up being a very mixed one for Republicans – particularly once they lost both Georgia US Senate seats – the down-ballot races for House and state legislatures were actually a major bright spot.
Despite significant vulnerabilities, Republicans didn’t lose their majorities in a single state legislative chamber, while they retook control from Democrats in two: the New Hampshire House and Senate.
According to Wasserman, that means Republicans will have the final say in 188 House seats, while Democrats will be in total control of the lines in just 73 seats. (Another 45 seats will be under divided control between the two parties and 122 will see their lines drawn by independent or bipartisan commissions.)
That’s a 115-seat line-drawing edge for Republicans. And that’s why the party has at least some reason for optimism heading into the next two years.
The Point: Redistricting could save Republicans – and potentially return the House to their control for 2022 (and beyond).