While the media focuses most of their attention on the House and Senate midterm elections, it’s important not to forget about the gubernatorial and state legislature campaigns taking place all across the country. Their results this year could have a lasting impact on which party controls the House of Representatives for the next decade!
Every ten years, the US federal government conducts a nationwide cencus. We have just completed this process for 2010. The census numbers are then used to allocate US Congressional seats in the 50 states. Depending on population patterns, a state can either lose or gain seats in the House of Representatives. Beginning early next year, state goverments are required to redraw their congressional districts.
Now this is where it gets politically interesting, and many say corrupt. In most states, redistricting falls to the state legislature. The political party in control of the legislature has the ability to carve out specific districts that could greatly advantage members of their own party. For a great visual example, look up the 17th district of Illinois. It is the very definition of “gerrymandering.”
It is widely expected that the Democrats will lose their majority in the House of Representatives this year. But of even greater long term significance, Democrats are poised to lose several governorships and control of up to 18 state legislatures. If everything goes the way Republicans are hoping, they will be in the driver’s seat next spring to redraw the Congressional districts to their advantage. This could be of enormous consequence to the control of the House of Representatives through 2020.