New redistricting data suggests Republicans could gain ground

Florida could gain two House seats and New York could lose two seats according to a new projection of congressional districts based on population data. 

The new report released overnight from Election Data Services (EDS) provides more good news for Republicans, who hope to win back the House this fall and were already well positioned for redistricting battles in state Houses across the country. 

EDS, a bipartisan firm that specializes in the Census and redistricting for state and local governments, found six states could gain a seat ahead of 2012: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington state. GOP-friendly Texas could gain four new congressional seats.

On the losing end would be New York and Ohio, which are now both expected to lose two seats. And eight states are projected to lose a single seat: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The data highlights the importance of the 37 governors races being contested this year, as well as legislative battles. Big Republican gains in state Houses and governors races could help the GOP draw new district lines that could give their party more seats in the House of Representatives.

Polls suggest the GOP, which took over New Jersey's governor's house in 2009, is poised to make gains in the governors race. Republican candidates are favored according to polls in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois ad Texas. 

The surprises in the new report where Florida and New York. Previous estimates had New York, where Democrats have gained several House seats in recent elections, losing only one seat. Florida, perhaps the most important battleground state in the country, was previously estimated to gain only a single seat. 

Even though it tracks with previous population trends, the shift of a seat from New York to Florida was a surprising one, according to Election Data Services President Kimball Brace. The estimates are based on newly released census data from earlier this summer, and the shifts in both Florida and New York are noteworthy given the redistricting dynamic at play there.

Republicans enjoy a fairly comfortable majority in Florida's State Legislature, which controls the redistricting process in the state. But the outcome of a competitive governor's race between Rick Scott (R) and Alex Sink (D) could be critical in November. Should Sink win, she would wield a veto over the state's congressional redistricting plan and offer state Democrats at least one prominent statewide voice in what is expected to be another messy Florida redistricting battle. 

Sink leads by 1.6 percent in the Real Clear Politics average of polls for the race.

In New York, the GOP is well within striking distance of regaining its majority in the state Senate. That comes against the backdrop of a governor's race that could end up much closer than expected.

The new population data also reveal a number of states teetering on the edge of either losing or gaining another seat. Slight shifts in population could save Missouri a congressional seat, or lose one for Oregon. Right now, the estimates for both states rely on a population shift of fewer than 40,000 people.

In Texas, Republicans already in control of 20 of the state's 32 House seats are poised to once again control all the levers of redistricting power. 

If Republicans can keep control of the State Legislature, which is in play this fall, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) can fend off a challenge from Houston Mayor Bill White (D), the GOP will be in prime position to draw additional districts to its advantage.

This story was originally posted at 8:48 a.m. and updated at 1:10 p.m.