New Look at Redistricting: Who’s Safe, Who’s Not: AZ, CA, CO, GA, IL, MI & NJ

Now that much of the Congressional redistricting dust has settled – at least in some states – it’s time to revisit who is safe and who is not. This first review focuses on seven states. As additional district maps are finalized, the analysis of other states will follow, so watch this space. 

Together’s skilled researchers,  Rina Schneur and Michelle Olson, have devised a system to evaluate candidates. They look at several factors, among them changes in the Partisan Voter Index (PVI)**, prior Congressional election results, money raised and the number of candidates in the race. They also factored in non-partisan Cook Political Report ratings as well as Sabato Crystal Ball ratings in evaluating their conclusions. Overall, it is still too early to tell the ultimate effects of redistricting — candidates are still deciding whether and where to run. However, it appears that changes are not as bad as many Democratic leaders had feared. Delve deeper into the details of the first seven states here. Pick a state, pick a district. You decide.

**  The PVI estimates the partisan leaning of a specific district based upon how it voted (Democrat or Republican) compared to the whole country in the prior two Presidential elections.  For example, a district with a PVI rating of D+4 means that voters in that district cast 4 percent more ballots for the Democrat than the rest of the country did, on average for the prior two Presidential elections. In 2020, a D+4 district, would have cast ballots at Biden + 8 as the country, as a whole was Biden +4. 


Don’t Desert Us Yet

(filing deadline 3/7)
All districts in Arizona got shuffled around in redistricting, resulting in:

  • Three D seats in play
  • Remote chance of flipping a seat blue
  • At least one D seat in danger of flipping

Very Likely Democratic loss:  AZ-02 Tom O’Halleran (D)
O’Halleran’s new district is more vulnerable. Nine Republicans have declared, with three having raised substantial money already.

A potential Democratic loss:  AZ-06 Open seat
The new district (Kirkpatrick’s old seat) is a likely Republican target. Elijah Norton (R) has raised $1.5M. Eight Dems are running — two have raised substantial money: Kirsten Engel and Daniel Hernandez. Hiral Timpernini is running again but has not raised much money thus far. 

More flippable:  AZ-01, David Schweikert (R)
Now the seat is a bit more competitive. Schweikert is running again and has raised $500K.  No Dems have declared yet.


It’s a California Dream

Some good redistricting news from the Golden State:
Three key flippable districts are within reach of the Dems – 22, 27 and 45
Formerly competitive Dem seats are safer: Porter, Harder and Levin
Chance to flip CA-40 if a great challenger emerges or CA-04 if McLintock retires.

New potential flips
CA-22 – David Valadao (R) currently representing CA-21, is running in CA-22, but CA-22 has become much more competitive. Two Dem candidates have declared and raised over $100K — Eric Garcia ($189K) and Bryan Osorio ($100K)
CA-27 – Mike Garcia (R) Although there are 7 candidates declared Christy Smith has raised far and away the most money ($575K) and thus is the de facto nominee.
CA-45 – Michelle Steel (R): The de facto Dem nominee is Jay Chan who has raised over $1M. No one else has raised any money yet (only one other declared).

Democratic seats much safer
CA-47 Katie Porter: District is Biden +11 and rated Lean D by Cook. Brian Burley (R) has raised $300K to challenge her.

CA-13 Josh Harder: District is Biden +11 and rated Likely D by Cook. David Giglio is the sole Republican challenger with over $500K.
CA-49 Mike Levin: District is Biden +11 and rated Likely D by Cook. Bryan Maryott (R) has raised $1.7M to run against him. 

More Potential flips, but harder
CA-40: District virtually disappeared, and current Rep.Lucille Roybal-Allard is retiring. Young Kim (R), current CA-39, is now running in the new 40th as it absorbed much of 39 and is more competitive than the old 39. Two Dems declared so far, but the district is rated R+2 and is an up-hill battle as Young Kim is a popular Asian American moderate.
CA-41: District became more competitive as a potential pick up as it went from R+7 to R+4. Still hard to flip. Recently filed, Will Rollins (D) is challenging Rep. Ken Calvert (R), a conservative Trump supporter.

No longer flippable
CA-22 Open Seat: District of resigned Rep. Devin Nunes (R) still listed as Solid Republican. Special election is June 7.


New Seat Up for Grabs:
CO-08: Four Republicans and three Democrats have already declared.  Assemblywoman Yamira Caraveo is the leading Democratic candidate at this point having raised the most money ($248K) and has racked up several notable endoresements.  Republican candidates have raised substaintially less at this point, but the leading candidate among them is Janifer Kulman who has raised $130K.


It’s a Not so Peachy Faceoff

(filing deadline 3/11)
GA-07 (No longer competitive) Reps. Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux (both D) now have to face off against each other in GA-07. Redistricting made McBath’s GA-06 unwinnable for a Democrat.  GA-07 is rated Solid D, so whoever wins the primary is pretty assured to win the general.


Mergers and an Acquisition

(filing deadline 3/14)
New map proves Dems can gerrymander with the best. Changes include:

  • A D seat and an R seat merger creates primary battles
  • 2 open seats are safer for Democrats
  • A new district is very winnable for Democrats

Incumbent vs incumbent
: Seat of Sean Casten (D) has been merged with that of Marie Newman (D), Casten has a larger war chest ($1.6M) vs Newman ($600K).
IL-12: Mike Bost (R) and Mary Miller (R) will face off in a solid R district

Open seats
 has no incumbent and is now D+19.Three Dems have declared, but none has raised any money.
IL-13 also is without an incumbent and has switched from R+4 to D+4. Two of each party have declared but the D candidates have raised money while the R candidates have not.
IL-17 Seat now held by Cheri Bustos, who is retiring.

District is more D, but is a tossup because there is no incumbent. Seven Dems have declared but none has raised money. Esther Joy King (R) who challenged Bustos in 2020 is the de facto R nominee; she has raised $1M and no others have raised anything.

Safer Democratic seat
IL-14  Lauren Underwood
District is safer but remains competitive. 


Michigan is Back in the Game

(filing deadline 3/14)
Independent commission new map results in:

  • More competitive seats post redistricting
  • Two Dem seats in play which need strong defense
  • An open D seat became harder to win
  • Possibility to flip a newly D+1 District

Possible flip
MI-03: Only if a great candidate surfaces

Open seat
MI-10 : Hard to hold on to this one because of blue to red shift


One for Three

(filing deadline 4/4)
For Democrats, the changes mean:

  • Three previously competitive districts now relatively safe
  • One district at a much higher risk

Safer Dem Seats
NJ-03 Andy Kim, Now D+9  (from R5)
NJ-05 Josh Gottheimer, Now D+4 (the least safe of the three)
NJ-11 Mikie Sherrill , Now D+11 

Danger, danger, danger
NJ-07 Tom Malinowski was the big loser in redistricting, going from D+4 to R+3.
But Malinowski may pull it off.  He’s a moderate and has raised more than $2.58 M thus far with $2.1M cash on hand, no debts. Good race to support.

Highly unlikely flip
NJ-2 Jeff Van Drew R+9 (from R+7) (former Dem who changed parties)

No chance in heck to flip
NJ-4 Chris Smith R+28 (was R+15)

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