Republicans tout new redistricting outlook

As the national environment continues to trend toward the GOP a little more than a month before the midterm elections, Republican strategists say it's putting more and more state legislative chambers in play with major implications for the upcoming round of redistricting.

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), led by former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, released a new report Thursday that predicted Republicans could take control of another 10 legislative chambers after this fall's elections. 

One chamber the party thinks is now in play on the state legislative level — the Illinois House. 

"That's a pretty good indication of the kind of year we're looking at," Gillespie said on a conference call with reporters. 

The new REDMAP report from the committee, which was set up to focus exclusively on state-level races, pointed to vulnerable Democratic incumbents in at least 30 legislative seats across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan that were won by President Obama in 2008.

Those states are key for both parties this fall since the current census projections show all three likely to lose at least one congressional seat in the upcoming round of redistricting.  

Republican strategists said Thursday that economic anxiety and concerns over taxes and spending at the national level are trickling down to races, particularly in those three states, and making widespread gains for Republicans increasingly likely this fall. 

"The national environment is definitely reinforcing that messaging," said Gillespie.

The RSLC's Democratic counterpart — the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) — points out that despite the national electoral environment, Democrats have made gains on the state legislative level in a handful of special elections this year. But the committee admits that Democrats hold tenuous majorities in at least 10 states.   

The DLCC is also pressing the argument that Democratic stakeholders need to invest heavily in this year's state-level elections to prevent Republicans from making significant inroads right on the cusp of a redistricting. 

Republicans are boasting that if their projections prove true, it could mean a gain of as many as 25 congressional seats in the long run. 

"Anyone who cares about the long-term well-being of the Democratic Party knows that this fall, the smart money is in state legislative races," read a DLCC e-mail from earlier this week. The DLCC has pledged to spend some $20 million this fall, while the RSLC claims it will spend even more.  

Thursday's Republican report does come with one caveat. It notes that the positive outlook "assumes that REDMAP is fully funded," which the report called "increasingly likely."

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