Todd Eberly, director of public policy studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, said Republicans have mostly sought to protect their existing seats because many sense they have reached their “high-water mark” after picking up 63 seats in the 2010 midterm elections.
He said the GOP’s conservative approach was a smart political move that could put the party in place to hold a majority over the next decade.
“It’s been drawn to such an extent that you’re not likely to see a lot of change,” Mr. Eberly said, adding that he considers 380 of 435 seats to be safely in favor of one party or the other. “If that number doesn’t make it clear, I don’t think anything would.”
Many activists have called for nonpartisan or bipartisan commissions to handle redistricting, and while a few states have obliged, the approach has not cured bickering between parties.
In Arizona, the state’s nonpartisan Independent Redistricting Commission drew a map that state Republicans blasted as biased. The party unsuccessfully sued to have the map withdrawn and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer tried to fire the commission’s chairman, only to have the move blocked by the state Supreme Court.
In California, a bipartisan citizens’ commission approved a map that was expected to make more of the state’s 53 districts competitive, but which many analysts predicted would give Democrats a chance of gaining a couple of seats.
Mr. Eberly acknowledged that nonpolitical commissions are not a cure-all, but he said he thinks that such an approach combined with laws designed to make districts more compact would be a step forward for most states.
“No matter what you do to try and shield out politics, things can happen,” he said. “But anything along those steps makes it more difficult.”
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David Hill joined The Washington Times in February 2011 as a Maryland political reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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