Illinois Republicans Brace for "Aggressive" Democratic Redistricting Map

Posted: Dec 20, 2010 2:42 PM
The state of Illinois represented a pleasant surprise for national Republicans in November, as the GOP picked up four House seats and a Senate seat.  The lone Prairie State disappointment came in the gubernatorial race, where Republican Bill Brady's poll lead vanished on Election Day, allowing incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn to eke out a win.  The Washington Post reports on how damaging this loss really was for Illinois Republicans, as Democrats are poised to exert a death grip on redistricting -- which threatens to erase several of the federal-level gains the GOP enjoyed in 2010:

Republicans just won four seats from Democrats this November and now hold an 11-to-8 edge in the state's congressional delegation. That means lots of room for gains for the other guys.

"This is really the one state where Democrats can do something," said David Wasserman, a redistricting expert at the Cook Political Report.

Illinois Republicans are scared. And they should be.  Those who should be most concerned are four new members -- Reps.-elect Joe Walsh, Bob Dold, Bobby Schilling and Adam Kinzinger -- and a member who just won his second term, Rep. Aaron Schock.

The last time redistricting came around, members of the congressional delegation hammered out their own map and sent it to the state legislature for approval.  Of course, back then, there was split control of the process. Now, it's controlled by the Democrats, and all-powerful state House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) has the power to make or break several members of Congress.

With Democrats poised to bear the brunt of redistricting in so many states this year, they'll have to get their shots in where they can. Unfortunately for them, the opportunities begin and end with basically one state.  Expect an aggressive map.

It'd be foolish to expect anything less.  According to a knowledgeable Republican legal source in the state, the GOP will battle the Democrats' inevitably egregious map in court, but prospects for success are bleak because Democrats still hold all the relevant levers of redistricting power.  Republicans will dominate the nationwide redistricting picture, so Democrats will certainly go for gold in their lone state prize. 

UPDATE:  Jay Cost at the Standard takes a look at the sunny redistricting outlook for Republicans virtually everywhere but Illinois:

As the AP report indicates, a growing Sunbelt means a growing GOP coalition. How these House seats will actually divide between the parties remains to be seen, but if you re-run the 2004 presidential election -- which George W. Bush won with 286 electoral votes to John Kerry's 251 -- with the estimates, Bush would take 292 electoral votes to John Kerry's 245. Barack Obama won 365 electoral votes to John McCain's 173, but if you re-run the 2008 presidential election with the new apportionment estimates, Obama would have won 359 electors to McCain's 179. In other words, demographic shifts alone should net the GOP about as many presidential electoral votes as there are in Kansas.