Redistricting Revenge of the Voters

By approving Proposition 20 assigning the independent California Redistricting Commission the authority to apportion Congressional as well as State Legislative District lines, the voters are sending a clear message—-the good old days are over for entrenched politicians of both parties.  Voters also changed the primary election rules so that the top two vote getters—no matter what party—advance to the general election ballot.

California’s 53-seat delegation in the US House of Representatives includes 34 Democrats and 19 Republicans, but the population estimates tell us that people are moving eastward in the state out of the Bay Area and Los Angeles to the Central Valley and Northern California. That population shift within the state could also have profound effects on district boundaries.  It seems highly likely that many of California’s entrenched Democrat legislators could feel the heat. In the 265 House races in California since districts were last redrawn, only two incumbents seeking re-election have been voted out.

For the first time in its 160 year history California will not gain a seat in Congress after this census because more people are moving out than moving into the Golden State.  This itself is a biting indictment of California’s current predicament and it exacerbates a range of policy and other problems ranging from the budget deficit, school funding and economic growth and jobs creation.

The Independent California Redistricting Commission is taking shape as the pool of candidates is winnowed down in a lottery like drawing.  Legislative leaders had an opportunity to exercise preemptory challenges in the first cut list, now the second draw has been completed by the state auditor, the final six commissioners will not be selected the same way by those chosen so far to complete the panel of 14.  The Redistricting Commission is expected to complete its work next summer.

Other things  legislators must worry about in 2012 include—-Florida voters also stripped the Legislature of the redistricting authority assigning it to an independent body and population estimates suggest Texas will pick up as many as 4 new Congressional seats at the expense of Northeast states like New York and Pennsylvania where the population is moving south and west.

Our election roadmap is changing dramatically because of the natural forces of demographics and migration but those changes are being amplified by action of the voters to make their legislative contests more competitive as a consequence of legislative reapportionment.

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