Tag Archives: 2018 Elections

Pennsylvania Redistricting

Monday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an order (with attached maps) redrawing the Congressional Districts for Pennsylvania  This order follows on last month’s decision finding that the 2011 map violate the Pennsylvania Constitution as a partisan gerrymander.  The United States Supreme Court is currently considering two cases — one argued last fall and one scheduled to be argued next month — on whether the U.S. Constitution also bars partisan gerrymanders.

I will leave it to our local experts to follow up on exactly how the new lines should impact November’s election.  The key points to make for now are:  1) this map will govern this year’s elections as filing with the Supreme Court’s including a time table for implementation of the order and candidate filing that will allow the primary to take place as scheduled; 2) the old maps were gerrymandered in such a way that the Republicans have carried 13 of the 18 districts (and the same 13) in each of the three elections so far under the old map (even though the Democrats won state-wide by 5% in 2012 and 9% in 2014 and barely lost in 2016);  and 3) in the three elections under the old map, 37 of the 39 Republican wins were by double digits (the other two involved margins of 9% and 4%).   The early numbers that I have seen from national prognosticators is that Democrats should pick up at least two seats in a 50-50 cycle and, in a cycle in which Democrats get 55% or more nationally, the Democrats would pick up an additional 2 to 3 seats (a 9-9 split or 10-8 in favor of the Democrats).  That compares to 2012 in which the Democrats got 53% nationally but still only won 5 seats in Pennsylvania.

One thing that is significantly different about the new map is that there are less weird shapes, and most of the weirder shapes in the new map comes from not splitting counties or municipalities unless such splits are absolutely necessary to maintain equality.  There is also some changes in the numbering.  As a result, some incumbents (including whomever wins the upcoming special election in Western Pennsylvania) will have to decide what district they will run in this year.  Some incumbent may be looking at a situation in which either: 1) their base is split between multiple districts; 2) they live in one district while the heart of their old district is in another district; 3) their new district contains a substantial portion of the old district of another incumbent.  As such, sitting members may have to decide between retiring, challenging another incumbent from their party, or running in a district in which they will have a difficult time running.  We may not know until filing closes on March 20 (one week after the special election) how the incumbents will reshuffle from the old seats to the new seats and whether we will have any incumbent vs. incumbent primaries or general elections.

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A Long December

The year comes to a close with its usual mix of good news and bad news.

On the 2020 presidential election, the Unity Reform Commission has completed its work.  Josh Putnam over at Frontloading Headquarters has posting summaries of the Commission’s decisions.   From the first two summaries, the recommendations seem to be moving toward more open primaries (a reversal of the party’s traditional support for closed primaries) and to make caucuses more like primaries with a preference toward using the primary if there is a state-run primary.  These recommendations will go to the Rules & By-laws Committee (which folks may remember from 2008).  The Rules & By-laws Committee will take these recommendations into account in drafting the 2020 Call and Delegate Selection Plan.  When the draft is concluded, the RBC’s draft goes to the full Democratic National Committee for approval.  If the Unity Reform Commission believes that the RBC is not fully implementing their recommendations in the draft, they can ask for the full DNC to intervene.  Presumably, the party will also begin its site selection process early in 2018.

As the site selection and the rule drafting process continues, there will probably be a lot of discussion here.  For now, it is important to be cautious about changes driven by the problems of the last cycle.  There is always a temptation to “fight the last war.”  But the problems in one cycle do not necessarily recur in the next cycle, and it is important not to do things that will probably make more problems than they fix. Continue Reading...

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The Path Forward

Looking at the Republican debacle over Health Care, I was constantly reminded of two things.

First, I keep on thinking of a classic Saturday Night Live skit from their third season portraying Richard Nixon as a vampire-like figure who keeps coming back.  Like Nixon in that skit, just when we think that the Republican efforts at gutting health care are done, they find a way to resurrect the bill.  Since the Senate never actually voted on the final bill (which was put back on the calendar after the substitute amendment failed), it could be brought back to the floor at any time.

Second, I am reminded of Representative Pelosi’s comments while the Affordable Care Act was pending that we would not know what was in the bill until it finally passed.  While Republicans made a lot of hay out of this comment, she was expressing the reality of the legislative process.  Until the vote on the final version of the bill, it is possible that legislators will add new provisions and delete others.  Normally, however, under ordinary process, there is a core of the bill that stays relatively the same.  With this bill, the Republicans have treated the bill as a placeholder.  The message in the House and the Senate has been just pass this bill whatever its flaws and we can decide on the real terms of the bill later.  The concept that the conference committee would write an entire bill from scratch as opposed to merely reconciling the disagreements between the two houses is mindboggling. Continue Reading...

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