Famed political prognosticator Charlie Cook is notably bearish on the near-to-medium term prospects of the Democratic Party.
As this column noted three weeks ago, it might take either divine intervention or Republicans self-destructing to save the Democratic majority in the U.S House as that chamber reflects national trends much more than the more idiosyncratic Senate. But as we saw in the 1994, 2006, 2010, and 2014 midterms, the Senate can also reflect those same political fundamentals. While Democrats would certainly take divine intervention, they might ought to be praying for Republican self-destruction, whether in the form of Trump driving a wedge through his own party or that increasingly “Trumpy” Republicans replicate the behavior of the tea-party era GOP in 2010 and 2012, nominating unelectable candidates in key Senate races.
There is some good news to report, however, as the redistricting process has so far gone much better for the Democrats than anticipated. This is largely because the Republicans have been too aggressive in their gerrymandering, leading to some setbacks.
The Ohio map, which benefited Republicans, was struck down by the state Supreme Court for ignoring a stateconstitutional amendment against partisan gerrymandering. The Alabama map was invalidated by a federal court for violating the Voting Rights Act.
Meanwhile, in New York, the anti-gerrymandering movement suffered a major defeat that will potentially net three more seats in Congress for the Democrats. In 2014, New Yorkers pushed through a constitutional amendment creating a bipartisan redistricting commission, but it has come to nothing.
The commission was supposed to present a single map to the legislature that state lawmakers could adopt or reject. But, beset with its own partisan infighting, the commission did not come up with a unified map, instead submitting two maps, one drawn by the Democrats on the panel and another drawn by the Republicans. The commission’s drama effectively allowed state lawmakers to dismiss its work and create their own map…
…The map made public Sunday would result in lines that would give Democrats 22 seats to four Republican ones. The New York delegation is currently 19 Democratic seats to eight seats for Republicans. The state lost a seat because of slow growth over the past 10 years.
The map erases the upstate seat held by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) and creates a deep blue district in the middle of the state.
The initial thought was that the Republicans could wipe out the Democrats’ 10-seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives without the need of a money or messaging advantage, simply by having complete control of redistricting in more states. But it’s not looking good for them right now.
So far, in more than two dozen maps passed around the country, Democrats would net an additional five districts that Joe Biden would have won in 2020. The New York map, which is expected to be voted on this week and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), would bring that up to eight seats.
Midterm elections typically go badly for the president’s party, so the Democrats would like a big cushion. They won’t have a big cushion but they’ll at least have a theoretical chance of holding onto the majority if they can keep control of enough Biden seats. That was very much in doubt when this process began.
As Cook points out, however, the more important action is in the Senate.
In the key Senate contests, every one of the six states that had the closest presidential margins in 2020 features a highly competitive Senate race this year. In fact, The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter has nine Senate seats in its three most competitive categories (Lean Democrat, Toss Up or Lean Republican). All nine were among the 12 closest states in the 2020 presidential…
…Should Republicans net more than one seat this fall and retake the chamber, Democrats will have a tall order to get it back in 2024. They’ll be defending 23 seats to the GOP’s 10. Of the 23, three are in states Trump carried: Jon Tester in Montana, Sherrod Brown in Ohio, and Joe Manchin in West Virginia. Another five come from states that Biden won by 5 points or less. None of the 10 GOP seats up are in Biden states and only one, Rick Scott in Florida, is in a state that Trump won by 5 points or less.
If you are like me, you may be disenchanted with our political system but prefer it to Nazi dictatorship. In that case, you might agree that the Senate races in places like New Hampshire, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Arizona are of higher than historically average importance. You might want to carve out some time on your calendar to help out in those races. A fascist Senate joined with a fascist House will pave the way for a fascist president.
We can’t afford to wait on divine intervention.