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Complicating matters in Texas is a federal judge’s refusal to approve the Legislature’s map without a trial, agreeing with the Justice Department that there was sufficient evidence to question whether the Republican plan hurt minority representation.

Ongoing fights

New York’s redistricting process — typically among the most contentious and complicated in the nation — is expected to continue well into 2012, with legal challenges almost certain once a map is finished. Because state law doesn’t impose a particular deadline for drawing congressional lines, the process often slogs on longer than in most other states.

New York’s redistricting process is all the more challenging because the state has lost two congressional districts as a result of nationwide population shifts. With each party controlling one legislative chamber, many political analysts predict an eventual compromise will target for elimination one Democrat-leaning district in the New York City area and one traditionally Republican seat upstate.

In California, a new citizens commission produced a vastly different congressional map from what state lawmakers drew up in 2001 for the previous round of redistricting, which essentially preserved nearly every incumbent district and deleted just one Republican district.

The lines have been challenged in court. Some Republicans say they have been targeted by the new map and that Democrats could net five or more seats out of the process, though some political analysts doubt a Democratic gain that large.

The California Supreme Court in October rejected lawsuits challenging the congressional map, but litigation is pending in federal court.

In Ohio, a potential Democrat-backed legal challenge to the state’s new congressional map — drawn by the Republican-controlled legislature — fizzled after challengers failed last week to get the 230,000 signatures needed to put the issue on a referendum in November.

Democrats’ hurdles

Although Democrats largely were blamed for the country’s fiscal woes in 2010 and the party lost control of the House amid a tea party-infused GOP wave, voter anger will be more evenly distributed next year between the two parties, some analysts say.

“There is maybe a growing concern that neither side has any credible solutions that resonate with people,” said Scott Rasmussen, founder and president of Rasmussen Reports.

“There is some discouragement setting in, some concerns about the future. But there is not the clear belief that, ‘Oh boy, if we just get these guys out and another team in that things will get better.’”

Still, House Democrats face specific re-election hurdles in 2012 and beyond.

Voter perception that the Democratic Party is an advocate of “big government,” whether fair or not, will continue to work against the party, Mr. Rasmussen said.

“Most voters believe that cutting spending and reducing deficits is good for the economy, and from that attitude is a challenge for Democrats and where I think it hurts them the most,” he said.

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