- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

Republican victories in Pennsylvania's and New Mexico's redistricting last week left party officials confident they would achieve their goal of picking up eight to 10 House seats because of the process.
"Nothing that's happened yet has been drastic enough to change that, and according to our models we're still going to net eight to 10 seats," said Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the group charged with electing Republicans to the House.
Republicans want those new seats to cancel out any losses they may take in the midterm elections, when the president's party usually loses seats. There aren't many to spare with the balance in Congress standing at 222 Republicans, 211 Democrats and two independents.
But with more than half of the states now done or nearly done with redistricting, Democrats say the process looks like it will be a wash.
"Unlike the Republicans, we have always had realistic assumptions about the outcome of redistricting and have always maintained that parity was the most likely outcome," said Greg Speed, a spokesman for the Democrats' redistricting task force. "Other factors will determine the outcome of the elections in 2002, and the Republicans have known all along that is bad news for them."
Every decade seats in Congress are reallocated among the states based on population. States then draw new district lines to account for new or lost seats and for population shifts within their borders.
The key to redistricting is to know a region's voting habits, then draw maps to maximize your voters' reach while minimizing the effect of the other party's voters. Still, both sides acknowledge the new lines represent opportunities, not certainties. The parties will have to recruit good candidates and run good races to make good on their potentials.
Seven states have only one representative, so no redrawing of lines is needed. About 25 more states have enacted or are close to enacting plans.
When Democrats tally those states, they see an opportunity to net six seats solely because of the new lines four seats in Georgia, three in Iowa, two each in North Carolina and Arizona, and one seat in Nevada, Louisiana and California, which would offset losses of three seats each in Pennsylvania and Michigan and single seats in three other states.
But Republicans also see the chance to net six seats from the same maps two each in Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania and one each in Utah, Arizona and Nevada to offset losing two in Georgia and one in Mississippi.
Democrats have done well in the states gaining new seats. The new seats in California and North Carolina are drawn to favor Democrats, as are the two new seats each in Arizona and Georgia. Republicans should win the two new seats in Texas. In their tallies, both parties count on winning Nevada.
In the states losing seats, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, Republicans are faring better by squeezing together Democratic incumbents in districts.
In Pennsylvania, which lost two seats, Republicans control the governorship and both houses in the Pennsylvania assembly, and approved maps last week that gave them a strong chance to win 13 of the state's 19 seats. On the other side of the tally, Democrats would control six seats down from the 10 they control now.
Among the states still to finalize plans, big changes could be seen in three Maryland, Florida and Ohio. Democrats control the process in Maryland, and the 4-4 split in the current delegation could turn into a 6-2 Democratic edge. But Republicans control Florida, which gains two seats, and Ohio, which loses a seat, and they can draw lines to maximize potential gains.
New York, which loses two seats this year, also has yet to redraw lines, but officials from both parties said they each will lose one seat.

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