Last week, Karl Rove wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal on the importance of many 2010 state congressional races for redistricting and the resulting reapportionment of seats in the US House of Representatives.
In many states, redistricting of congressional seats is done by the state legislatures. If Republicans are able to win majorities in state legislatures across the country, they will be able to draw the US congressional district lines in the redistricting process after the 2010 census. This will allow them to draw districts that favor their candidates, giving Republican candidates for the House an advantage over Democrats for the next ten years, when new lines will be drawn.
Rove writes that if voters â€œdeliver an epic rebuke of President Barack Obama and his partyâ€¦.it could end up costing Democrats congressional seats for a decade to come.â€ Rove also references the redistricting process that followed the 1990 census, arguing that the GOP gained between twenty-five and thirty seats as a result of that redistricting. That gain enabled the party to take control of the House in 1994.
Beyond the political importance of redistricting, there are also financial effects. According to Rove, â€œthe average winner of a competitive House race in 2008 spent $2 million, while a noncompetitive seat can be defended for far less than half that amount. Moving, say, 20 districts from competitive to out-of-reach could save a party $100 million or more over the course of a decade.â€ If Republicans pick up majorities in several state legislatures, as Rove predicts, they will able to save the party huge sums of money. This money will then be able to be spent on other competitive races, further strengthening the partyâ€™s chances of coming out on top within the next few years.