Democrats in Illinois may have inadvertently helped Republicans after redrawing the state’s congressional districts.
What is the background?
Illinois Democrats unveiled last week their proposed congressional district map after congressional apportionment, based on the 2020 Census, resulted in Illinois losing one House seat.
The proposed map is heavily gerrymandered, and was designed to give Democrats 14 House seats and Republicans just three House seats.
Ironically, prominent Democrats are known for condemning extreme gerrymandering.
Just this month, in fact, former Attorney General Eric Holder condemned “Republican gerrymandering” as a “real danger to our democracy.” Notice that he did not say anything about Democratic gerrymandering because apparently gerrymandering is only a threat to democracy when Republicans do it.
How did it backfire?
According to congressional districting expert Dave Wasserman, Illinois Democrats — instead of bolstering Democratic control over Illinois’ congressional seats — have actually made three seats currently held by Democrats potential toss-ups in the 2022 midterm elections.
“IL Dems appear to have gone out of their way to make their gerrymander *less* efficient. As proposed (left), #IL03, #IL14 and #IL17 would be close to toss ups in 2022. With a few slightly different choices (example, right), 14/17 districts would’ve been Biden +10 or more,” Wasserman explained.
The extreme gerrymandering is so bad, according to Wasserman, that one Republican strategist joked that a GOP “mole” must have helped Democrats draw the map.
“One GOP strategist called this afternoon and joked to me that there ‘must have been a Republican mole’ in IL Dems’ map-drawing room. A DC Dem consultant fuming over the map: ‘if you’re going to make it that ugly, at least make it more effective,'” Wasserman said. “Even in Downstate IL, where Dems face no incumbent constraints, they stranded a few hyper-blue precincts in ultra-red districts, costing #IL13 and #IL17 a few points of Biden margin.”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), one of the few Republican lawmakers who supported impeaching former President Donald Trump earlier this year, released a statement condemning Illinois Democrats for redrawing him into a district that leans blue.
“This redistricting process has been anything but transparent, which comes as no surprise to anyone. I believe the people of Illinois deserve better,” Kinzinger said.
Meanwhile, Illinois Republican Party chairman Don Tracy called the proposed map “the Nancy Pelosi Protection Plan,” owing to the motive of Illinois Democrats to intentionally hurt Republican lawmakers and help Democrats retain control of the U.S. House in the 2022 midterm elections.
“It’s appalling that fair representation, keeping communities of interest together, and transparency in the mapmaking process in Illinois all had to take a back seat to the demands of national politics,” Tracy said.
While the redrawn map is only a proposal, it may likely be what Illinois lawmakers approve. Democrats have firm control in the Illinois General Assembly, and Illinois’ governor, J. B. Pritzker, is a Democrat.