Putting aside the usual teeter-totter of new presidents losing House majorities at their first big electoral challenge, the 2022 elections specifically offer an inbuilt advantage to hopeful Republicans. Every ten years, redistricting comes into play, and for the GOP, this next round – set to take place coming up to the midterms – is a doozy.
With a potential 181 congressional districts ready for a Republican massage, Democrats will be staring at their estimated 74 redistricting opportunities with dismay. Although the recent census may change these numbers a little, the advantage for the minority party this time around seems all but assured to upset the balance of power and destroy President Joe Biden’s trifecta.
Gerrymandering is practiced by politicians of all stripes when they get the chance. Despite the advocate media brouhaha likely to arise as the process gets underway, the act of redistricting to political advantage has been used by both parties since its first appearance in 1812.
Since the last major boundary changes ten years ago, two major SCOTUS decisions have taken place. In 2013, the court ruled 5-4 in Shelby County v. Holder that Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was unconstitutional. This decision essentially gutted section 5, which demanded that local government or state changes to voting rights must first attain federal clearance.
This was followed by a 2019 case, Rucho v. Common Cause, in which the Supreme Court ruled that although gerrymandering was “incompatible with democratic principles,” federal courts could not sit in judgment on these cases as they present nonjusticiable political questions, and therefore are not within the power of courts to remedy.
Both of these landmark rulings bolster the legal position of those conducting the redistricting, effectively cutting off major legal challenges aggrieved parties may make.
So Many Advantages
On top of the redistricting advantage, the GOP also will benefit from the natural process of “majority attrition” that almost invariably occurs with first-term presidents.
In 2018, President Donald Trump lost 40 House seats; in 2010, President Barack Obama lost 63; in 1994, President Bill Clinton lost 54 House seats. In fact, the only two major exceptions were George W. Bush, who rode of a wave of support after 9/11, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who picked up nine House seats and a further nine Senate seats in 1934.
This likely swing-back toward Republicans coupled with the redistricting all but guarantees GOP control of the House come 2022. The Senate, on the other hand, may be a tougher battle.
Although news of this gerrymandering opportunity is receiving little coverage from the Fourth Estate, it is certain that House leadership is all too aware of the issue. Biden likely does not have another 9/11 on the horizon and, despite the spending promises, is not in the process of crafting a New Deal for America. In fact, as time passes, it seems more and more like the Old Deal of 2008 to 2016. This is why there is a momentous push to get through legislation as quickly as possible.
When the 2022 midterms arrive, the Biden administration and the Democrat government face a long walk off a short plank in terms of being able to pass legislation. And they know it. Is the recent push to remove or amend the filibuster a Hail Mary attempt to stave off the impending loss of power? The leadership cannot denounce the gerrymandering efforts because it will, all too soon, be their turn once again, so they are stuck in the unenviable position of trying to make hay while the trifecta sun still shines.
Does Biden see himself as effective for only one more year and a handful of months? And if so, will the U.S. Constitution survive his frenzied legacy building intact?
Read more from Mark Angelides.