The newly redesigned legislative and legislative constituencies will create a turnover in political offices, but the change in face will not change the balance of power in California.
On the surface, California politics appear poised for a big upheaval in this election year, but appearances can be deceptive.
The illusion of major change comes from the redistribution of 172 congressional and legislative districts by the state’s independent redistribution commission to reflect the population changes revealed by the 2020 census.
The boundary changes, driven by the 14-member commission’s obsession with the “communities of interest” it has defined in purely subjective and ever-changing terms, will generate substantial turnover in the Congress delegation. of 52 members, the 40-state Senate and the 80-seat State Assembly.
Much of it will be a game of musical chairs as politicians move from place to place. Several high-ranking members of the congressional delegation are calling for resignation, opening up the opportunity for state lawmakers to advance their careers. The division plans also project a few incumbents in the same neighborhoods, forcing them to modify their career plans.
The 2011 California redistribution and 2012 election brought a bumper crop of new lawmakers on Capitol Hill who will face automatic retirement in 2024 due to the 12-year limit on legislative service, so several of them are planning offers for Congress or a statewide office this year.
The commission was attempting to comply with a set of competing mandates, not only to equalize the populations of legislative constituencies and Congress, but also to respond to demands from ethnic and cultural “communities of interest” for dedicated legislative seats and to stand up for themselves. comply with the federal vote. Rights Act.
The Voting Rights Act indirectly authorizes the creation of more constituencies likely to elect non-white members, increasing the likelihood that more of those who will win legislative seats in this year’s election will be Latino, Asian or black. .
The communities whose demands have been met are predominantly Democrats and even if the commission had ignored the law on voting rights and the creed of “communities of interest”, its cards would favor the Democrats because less than 25% of registered voters are Republicans and Democrats nearly outnumber them in 2-to-1 numbers.
If one defines “gerrymandering” as pre-ordering who wins a seat in the Legislative Assembly or Congress by drawing constituency lines, this was gerrymandering, but not for overt partisan purposes. That said, the partisan effect will be to cement the Democratic Party’s overwhelming control over the legislature and the Congressional delegation.
The current legislature is around 75% Democratic, and there is no doubt that the one elected in November will also be unbalanced in partisan makeup. Faces may change, but not the tilt to the left of the center of the Legislature.
The only real mystery emanating from the new cards is whether the Democrats will increase their grip on the Congressional delegation. In 2018, the state’s contempt for Donald Trump manifested itself in a debacle for Republican members of Congress, dropping their ranks from a paltry 14 seats to just seven. The GOP rebounded a bit in 2020 and now holds 11 seats.
The state is losing a seat in Congress due to slow population growth over the past decade, necessitating an adjustment that ended up costing Los Angeles County one of its seats. Nonetheless, the general thrust of the new congressional map favors Democrats, and the party’s making gains in California could play a role in which party controls the House.
Republicans only need five seats to regain control and increase seats in fast-growing pro-GOP states such as Texas, as well as the Republican-friendly gerrymanders in those states and general political sentiment in those states. the nation promotes a change of power.
However, if it’s any closer than expected, Democratic gains in California could make the difference, and a handful of tossup contests in the state’s newly reconfigured districts will garner a lot of attention.