The heavily pro-Trump seat in Pennsylvania that Republicans recently lost is turning out to be just the beginning of their problems in that state.
On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to grant an emergency stay from Pennsylvania Republicans to stop the state’s new, less-gerrymandered congressional maps from coming into force, all but assuring that the maps will be used in this year’s midterm elections. That could have major ramifications for control of the House in November.
The New York Times reports:
The ruling means a new map drawn by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will very likely be in effect in this year’s elections, setting the stage for possible gains by Democrats. Under the current map, Republicans hold 12 seats while Democrats hold five and are expected to pick up another when the result of a special election last week is certified.
The latest application was denied by the full Supreme Court without comment or noted dissents.
The Republicans’ attempt to have the Supreme Court grant its stay was always a Hail Mary. Back in January, the justices declined to block a ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to redraw new maps in the first place. (If there’s any action on redistricting processes by the Supreme Court this year, it’ll likely come through a ruling on gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland.)
The new maps were created with the help of Stanford law professor and redistricting expert Nathan Persily. Recently, Persily was also tasked with making changes to North Carolina’s state legislative districts, which had also been ruled to be gerrymandered. (It’s almost like letting legislators draw their own seats is causing problems all over the country.)
Under the old map, Mitt Romney won 13 of Pennsylvania’s 18 districts; under the Persily and the state Supreme Court’s map, both he and Barack Obama would have won nine each.
Pennsylvania will be crucial to the Democrats’ hopes of taking the House, as they need to pick up 23 seats to win. Democrats have pointed to their special election victories in Pennsylvania and Alabama as proof that there’s a huge blue wave coming, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has said it’s targeting 101 districts. But it’s not a given: the Democrats’ 13-point lead in the generic ballot in December has been cut to eight points three months later, and there’s still nine months left before the election for Republicans to make up ground.
For now, however, the Supreme Court and Pennsylvania may have just made their road to a majority a little easier.