A Problem? Or A Solution?

A columnist from Yahoo News has pinpointed what he describes as a “big problem” for Democrats. My reaction to the headline was along the lines of, “so what else is new”…every time I turn to an opinion page, someone is outlining yet another reason that Democrats are headed down the toilet, and taking the country with them.

When I read the essay, however, I was struck by the irony. Here’s the basic argument:

New Census data analyzed by the American Enterprise Institute shows that eight of the 10 states losing the most residents from April 2020 through June 2021 have Democratic leadership, while nine of the 10 states gaining the most new residents have Republican governors. The numbers measure net domestic migration, which is the net change in the number of people moving in or out of one state, from or to another. That isolates people choosing to move, whereas population growth alone would also include births and deaths….

This is a big problem, according to the author, because…

Population determines the size of each state’s delegation in the House of Representatives, and red states are gaining while blue states are losing. Following the 2020 Census, three seats moved from blue states that went for Biden in 2020, on net, to red states that voted for Trump. That shift might seem small, except Democrats have only a five-seat majority in the House now. The next reapportionment won’t take place until after the 2030 census, but it could bring an even bigger tilt in favor of Republicans.

Or not.

What if the people moving from blue to red states are mostly moderates or liberals? (Granted, there’s no way to estimate their politics). Isn’t it possible that an influx of more moderate and/or liberal folks will change the social dynamics of their new environments? I still remember an article urging Democrats to move to places where their votes might make a difference, rather than staying in deep-blue states like New York or California where they simply add to already massive Democratic majorities.)

One might also point out that the addition of a sufficient number of non-Rightwing voters to the electorate of a red state makes it harder for the Republicans of that state to gerrymander districts. We are seeing a related phenomenon in Indiana–where the emptying-out of rural areas has complicated GOP line-drawing–and the problem isn’t limited to the Hoosier state.

If you can believe some good news on the gerrymandering front, Greg Sargent recently delivered some via the Washington Post.

The long-awaited, long-feared Gerrymandering Apocalypse of 2021 has not materialized for Democrats after all.

Throughout last year, many analysts and panicked Democrats alike concluded that Republicans would win the House in 2022 because of their outsize control over the redrawing of district lines. Some suggested Republicans could take the House on the strength of extreme gerrymanders alone.

But that conventional wisdom just took a big hit with the release of a new analysis by the Cook Political Report. It concludes that the redistricting wars are shaping up as a wash and that the map may be somewhat better for Democrats than during the past decade.

The analysis confirms that Republicans will still retain a significant edge, thanks to their redistricting shenanigans, but that edge will be somewhat less than before.

Why is that? What restrained them? (Hint: it wasn’t a sudden attack of ethics.)

This time around, Republicans have had to shore up their safe seats, and the need to do so has limited their ability to gerrymander as aggressively as they otherwise would have done. (Also, to be fair, in Democratic states, the Democrats gerrymandered too.)

Dave Wasserman of the Cook Report is quoted as explaining that there are several places where  demographic shifts benefit Democrats, particularly in suburban areas, forcing  Republicans to “play keepaway. A number of their own districts have become more vulnerable over the past 10 years. They’ve had no choice but to focus on shoring those districts up.”

Demographic shifts are the result of more moderate and liberal people moving in, as well as the changing voting patterns of sane people already living there. Those voters are steadily leaving the GOP, recoiling from the Republicans'”out-and-proud” racism, vaccine denial, and other cult-like behaviors.

The bad news, of course, is that when the GOP’s already-safe seats are “shored up,”  Republicans representing those deep-red districts have an increased incentive to go full MAGA. We aren’t likely to see fewer members of what has been dubbed “the lunatic caucus.”

Bottom line: It’s always more complicated than the pundits want to make it–but there are more rational Americans than MAGA crazies, so turnout is still the name of the game.

 

 

17 thoughts on “A Problem? Or A Solution?

  1. When I lived in Colorado in the 90s, it vacillated between Democrat and Republican governors, but the legislature was staunchly Republican. That fostered, of course, one of the most idiotic taxation laws in history: Tax Payer Bill of Rights, or TABOR. That bill required voters to vote to accept or reject any spending for ANY reason. It’s still in effect, but the Democratic takeover of the legislature has watered it down to the point of it nearly being irrelevant.

    BUT, to the point of this blog, since the mid-90s, liberals have been moving here from California, Washington and Oregon to make Colorado a deep purple/blue state. We voted for Biden in a significant majority; albeit the third district also elected the equally idiotic and psychotic Lauren Boebert.

    Hey. Nobody’s perfect.

  2. Lets hope no one goes full anything. Bill Maher has an excellent assessment that the party is leaving behind 60% of the noncollege educated

  3. I live in NH, which has been reliably purple, for a couple of decades. An organization called “The Free State Project”, a “libertarian” styled group tried to get over 20,000 of their followers to move here to “liberate” the state and turn it solid red. Sadly their efforts seem to have worked. Our republican Governor had one of the best COVID programs ( for a republican) in early-mid-2020 but was threatened with impeachment by our increasingly radical right state legislature. Since then we have had among the worst COVID responses, and an embarrassment of typical right wing legislation from everything to severe abortion restrictions, a ban on “controversial subjects” in school to a loosening of firearm laws. The legislature just redrew our voting district lines to ensure a solid Red district but their voter suppression effort was so blatant even our republican governor has all but rejected it. I like a lot about NH, its location, access to things I like to do and some outdoors traditions, but I fear our current fascist leaning politics are going to do long term harm both to the state and nation.

  4. Arizona and Georgia both flipped to blue in 2020 exactly because of high positive net in-migration of residents. In fact (but I can’t quote the source), it is accelerating as the stratospheric rise in housing prices and the widespread acceptance of the practice of working from home due to the pandemic is causing more young professionals to leave deep blue urban centers for mid-size cities, often located in red states. I just heard the other day of a young couple who are moving from Denver to the neighborhood in Fort Wayne near a massive project underway to redevelop the shuttered General Electric complex into a major residential, retail, office and education center. (fortwayneelectricworks.com)

    In recent years most of migration in Indiana has been in-state and benefitting primarily Indy and the donut counties. We can only hope that enough anecdotes become a trend and Indiana can improve its net in-migration rate. But Senator and member of Oath Keepers Scott Baldwin (SB167 pending) and thankfully soon to be retired Senator Dennis Kruse (SB34 pending) are doing everything they can to keep them away.

  5. When it comes down to policies, even Republicans prefer the Democratic positions as shown in poll after poll on things like Build Back Better, background checks for all gun purchases, red flag laws, etc. But those same Republicans would rather not have the things they seem to want than to let the “liberal elites” win an election. It’s not rational, but I don’t remember anyone ever referring to the Republican base as rational.

  6. The gerrymandering of state districts is where the impact is. The GOP is ensuring that the states are run by rural areas and, unfortunately, the lower turnout populations of the urban areas (minorities and young professionals), now further constrained by voting restrictions aren’t enough to make a difference in statewide races for governor, court justices, etc.

    It isn’t weird that Texas and Florida, growing fast, are among the most GOP-powerful….

  7. I am not sure that politics will make much of a difference at the rate of awakening that I am seeing. I think both political parties and their favorite media outlets are in for rude awakenings.

    Unless I’m incredibly offbase, the newly reenergized populists don’t approve of either political parties or their media.

    As I’ve been saying, this is a global uprising of people who are sick and tired of oppression and dysfunction. They know what the USA is doing internationally and don’t want any part of it. The people who are coming forward have been waiting a long time to take that next step.

    Coming soon…

  8. More importantly I wonder what will be the makeup of the countries from the old United States after the Republican Party goes full on fascist resulting in the break up of the US. I expect at least three countries to come out of the mess. One being comprised from the west coast states, one from New England states and the third from the South and Central Plains ruled by the fascists. I’m not sure what Alaska will do, quite possibly forming its own country.

  9. Stan,

    And then the fun begins…laws passed to encourage the “others” to leave, bounties to encourage folks to move, etc…border checks…border walls….

    Glad I won’t be around…

  10. As the pandemic has shown that people can work from home, more and more are leaving the N.Y., and N.J. areas to come to Florida.
    It may not be mistaken to expect that the folks with that kind of actionable option are among the more educated, and perhaps, liberal
    cohort in the heavily Democratic states.
    I’m a retired North-Easterner, now in Floradidia, and will vote to rid us of the scourge otherwise known as DeSantis, as will my wife.

  11. Stan Lightner, My brother-in-law lives in Deep Red Martinsville Indiana. He has a kid that he was mentoring. Last January 5th, this 16 year old texted him and asked him if there was really going to be a war.

    This is a kid that has most likely never seen a newspaper. Most likely the only thing that plays on TV is not news, it may be “Fox News”. All of his “news” most likely comes from social media via his friends and family.

    My point is (and maybe Sheila’s too) there is a a portion of the population that seems to be swallowed up in the lunatic side of the Republican party. There is a bigger part of the the country that has NOT embraced that form a crazy. Don’t get swallowed up by the crazies.

    The talk of civil war seems to gotten a lot of press the last few days but I suspect that somebody working on a fascist power grab would love to fan those flames too, but like Sheila pointed out, the situation is never as simple as what the pundits might make out.

  12. Sheila is right to call BS on the story suggesting that population migration to red states giving Republicans an advantage. It was an incredibly simplistic analysis that the author did.

    Yes, gerrymandering turned out to be a dud this time around because the Ds effectively gerrymandered states they control sufficient to offset the states Republicans control. The real story of gerrymandering this time was entrenching incumbents into safer seat, ensuring even more extreme candidates. Sadly, that’s a problem in both parties, not just the Republican party.

  13. I really hope you are right, hard to keep the faith. We have a much better chance if we can kill the virus.

  14. My experience is that the world of high tech which is increasingly our economy, tends to be diverse and liberal and centered in high population density. One thing that the pandemic taught us is that many of these folks can work from home. Also those industries are mature enough so the prospect of retirement exists for many of the employees.

    Why stay where it’s crowded when you don’t have to?

    My expectation is that the less crowded more sunny states will be benefit from the influx because it will moderate the politics there. This is what I experienced happened in Virginia that has moved from hard core southern rural when I went to school there in the early 60s to now, especially in the DC ‘burbs.

  15. Cook’s says that there will be at least 50% fewer competitive races in ’22 than ’20 as incumbents get concreted in. BUT, that only gives DEMs chances for OPEN seat pickups. The GOP states have ensured these will be RED districts….devil’s in the details…

  16. Arizona is probably the best example of liberal influence in politics as I hear of movement from California across the border in search of, among other things, tax relief. I have one personal example to relate > I have a nephew who moved from Florida to Phoenix, and he is and always has been a liberal Democrat – and he votes.

    I do not agree that we Democrats are in deep trouble in 22 and 24 what with Trump on the stump with his delusional chatter and even gerrymandering (considering that Republicans are abandoning their party in droves and dying from the virus in a far greater percentage than Democrats, thus rendering traditional gerrymandering moves suspect). I think our bigger problems in such connection will (perhaps) be inflation, other everday pocketbook issues and, of course, our ability to efficiently treat the Covid variants. All such trajectories, of course, may depend on how many Republican politicians go to jail or are on appeal from conviction come fall of this year. I recall the Democratic sweep post-Nixon, and I think insurrection is a bit heavier charge than breaking into Democratic headquarters.

    As to open seats, both parties offer opportunities for change in such connection(s) and (if what I have outlined above is accurate or nearly so) I think there is more reason to think Democrats will gain than lose House seats. Meadows’ boasts of picking up sixty three Republican seats this fall is pure delusion. Indeed he may be in jail or on appeal from conviction himself and defeated for his own seat.

    I do not pretend to be 100% sure of what I have here suggested since there is many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip and much could happen between today and the first Tuesday in November, but for now the above is my vision of today’s look at tomorrow’s continuing political brawl.

  17. Another case of wishful thinking. Nobody is moving to “red” states because they love the policies, except perhaps for some people who benefited from higher tax/higher investment states and want to move to a state with low taxes, now that they have already reaped the benefits. Many will still vote Democratic.

    I moved to “red” Indiana for work; my other choice was “red” Texas. One red state was bound to be stuck with an unrepentant bleeding heart liberal. Indiana won — or lost, depending upon your perspective.

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