New Jersey redistricting fight puts junior members at risk

New Jersey’s loss of a congressional seat could translate into trouble for the two most junior members of the state's delegation.

The reconfigured map will likely pit two incumbents against one another in 2012. And the most likely targets — sophomore Rep. Leonard Lance (R-) and freshman Rep. Jon Runyan (R) — are signaling they won't go down without a fight.

Both members warned map drawers last week that it's one of the state's northeastern congressional districts that should be on the chopping block instead of their areas.

"The areas of New Jersey that have not grown in population are not in my part of the state," Lance told The Hill. "They are in northeastern New Jersey."

Lance was just reelected in New Jersey's 7th congressional district, which contains parts of four counties in the northwestern part of the state and is a locale that's been the subject of redistricting talk for more than two years.

Among the most likely redistricting scenarios, according to political insiders in the state, Lance's district is merged with a nearby one, forcing Lance to run against an incumbent in 2012 if he wants to remain in Congress.


Rep. Weiner: 'No way' downstate N.Y. can lose a House seat

Given the new population data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said he suspects there's "no way" downstate New York can lose a House seat in next year's redistricting process. 

That would make his district, which takes in most of Queens, safe, even though there are rumblings that Weiner could be a redistricting target. 

"If the Census Bureau shows the state gained 2.1 percent [in population], then there's just no way you can take a seat from downstate," Weiner told The Ballot Box. "The math doesn't work. There are just too many people."  

With New York the only state other than Ohio to shed two seats, the posturing among the delegation is already beginning, and downstate Reps. like Weiner and Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) are pointing the finger upstate. 

"It seems clear to me that one seat will definitely come from upstate," said Bishop, who emphasized that "the bulk of the population decline" the state has seen is a result of people leaving that area. 

"I guess it's still an open question as to where that second seat will come from, though," said Bishop, who just survived a prolonged and nasty race with Republican Randy Altschuler.   

Democrats in the state would love nothing more than to put the squeeze on some of the newly-elected upstate Republicans, but the GOP is now assured a seat at the redistricting table, given the party's single-seat majority in the state Senate. 

Either way, observers in the state say upstate Democrats are in a good deal of trouble, too. Much of the population loss has come from Western New York, which could put Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Brian Higgens (D-N.Y.) in trouble

"Despite the kind of conventional notion around here that it'll be one seat from upstate, one seat from downstate, one Democrat, one Republican, the straw that stirs the drink is where the people are," said Weiner. "And I do know that Queens, where 70 percent of my district is, has had a population explosion."

Along with the congressional remapping, the state legislative redraw is expected to add to the tension as Democrats are already accusing the GOP of playing politics in the state Senate.


Democratic redistricting fight looms in Mass.

The loss of a House seat in Massachusetts will likely pit Democrat against Democrat in the fight to redraw the state's district lines next year. 

The Boston Herald looks at some of the options for Democrats in the state and finds members already staking out their ground ahead of 2011.

The path for Massachusetts Dems could be eased given a retirement or a run for higher office from within the ranks of the state's delegation — the latter being a real possibility given that Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is on the ballot in 2012. From the Herald story:

If none depart of their own accord, two current members may be forced to compete for the same turf in 2012, with the loser getting thrown off the all-Democrat island.

“It’s a disappointment,’’ said Representative Niki Tsongas of Lowell. “We all held out hope that this would not be the case.’’


Several members of the Massachusetts delegation yesterday would not say whether they intend to run for reelection to their seats.

Among them was Representative Barney Frank of Newton, who declined to be interviewed through a spokesman. When approached for comment outside the House chamber, Frank responded, “Nine is less than 10.’’ Then, when asked whether he will retire, he replied, “I won’t discuss elections for another several weeks.’’

In the western part of the state, which is currently divided into two districts, Representative John Olver of Amherst has already announced his intention to seek reelection, while Representative Richard Neal of Springfield extolled the virtues of having two seats in Western Massachusetts.

The most likely member of the delegation to opt for a Senate run against Brown in 2012 is Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), but he declined to indicate Tuesday whether or not the loss of a House seat for the state might impact his plans or when he might decide on a Senate run. 


Census numbers could mean fewer electoral votes for Obama in 2012

President Obama could get fewer electoral votes in 2012 based on the newly released census numbers.

In two years, if the president were to win all of the states he won in 2008, and using the numbers from Tuesday's census data, it would translate to six fewer electoral votes for the Democrat. 

The shift of six electoral votes is obviously meaningless in the context of 2008, when Obama won by 192 electoral votes. But in a close contest, as in the 2000 race between George W. Bush and Al Gore, it could make for a decisive margin.  

Five of the eight states gaining House seats in Tuesday's census announcement were won by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz. ) in 2008 — Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona and Utah.  

Texas will have four additional electoral votes, shifting from 34 to 38 in 2012, while Georgia, South Carolina, Arizona, and Utah are each gaining a single electoral vote. 

Three of the states gaining seats were won by Obama in '08 — Florida, Nevada and Washington.

But of the 10 states that are losing House seats, Obama won eight in 2008.

Democrats pushed back quickly Tuesday on the new apportionment numbers, arguing they are far from a disaster for the party's prospects in the House or nationally in 2012.

They point to significant growth in the populations of traditional Democratic constituencies, particularly in Texas, which will gain four seats.


Census reapportionment numbers out next week

The reapportionment of House seats will be announced on Dec. 21, the Census Bureau has announced.

The bureau is set to release its first set of 2010 census data at a press conference at the National Press Club that morning.

The numbers will include the resident population for the country, and broken down by state, as well as the congressional apportionment totals for each state.

These numbers are eagerly anticipated because each state will redraw its congressional boundaries based on the census reapportionment numbers.


Video: Reapportionment explained (updated)

Got questions about the reapportionment process? The U.S. Census Bureau has released an animated video to answer them. It's no “Schoolhouse Rock,” but it does run through the equation for dividing up the House's 435 seats.

It doesn't, however, explain redistricting, which is a state-specific process that begins next year. Each state will redraw their congressional boundaries based on the Census reapportionment numbers, which will be released before the end of the month.

(h/t Swing State Project)

--Updated at 5:17 p.m.