After 2011 redistricting, 10 of 14 U.S. Congressional seats will lean toward GOP, and each of others will be won by an African American candidate.
The majority of Georgia voters don’t understand or pay attention to what goes on during the redistricting session, but the process is important, because it will have a huge influence over the political outcomes of the next 10 years.
In Georgia, as in most other states, redistricting is a process in which the party controlling the Legislature (the Republicans in this state) maximizes its political strength at the expense of the minority party (currently the Democrats).
Ten years ago, Democrats controlled the General Assembly and were trying to hang on to power in a state that was obviously trending Republican. They drew maps with weirdly shaped districts that packed as many Republicans as possible into as few districts as possible.
Georgia voters showed a preference for Republicans in the 2002 elections, as indicated by the results of the races at the top of the ballot. They elected Republican Sonny Perdue as governor with 51 percent of the vote and Saxby Chambliss as senator with nearly 53 percent of the vote.
In the 2002 legislative races, where Democrats had stacked the odds in their favor through the redistricting maps they had drawn, Democrats won 30 of the 56 Senate seats and 108 of the 180 House seats. That’s how the redistricting process becomes a powerful political tool.
Those Democratic maps were so egregiously drawn that a panel of federal court judges threw them out in 2004 and substituted politically neutral districts. Under those court-drawn maps, Republicans won a majority of the House and Senate seats in 2004.
In this redistricting round, Republicans control the Legislature and are drawing the maps.
When the Republicans finish their work in this special legislative session, they will have passed a congressional map in which 10 of the 14 U.S. House districts will have Republican majorities strong enough to elect a GOP candidate. Fewer than one-third of the congressional districts will be competitive for Democrats, and each of those districts will probably be won by an African American candidate.
In a state where nearly 60 percent of the voters cast their ballots for Republicans on election day, the majority party will be in a strong position to win nearly 70 percent of the seats in the General Assembly and more than 70 percent of the congressional seats. That’s how the redistricting process magnifies the power of the party that controls the Legislature.