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Ryan Girdusky: How Swing House Seats Changed
A conservative political consultant compares election maps from 2012 to 2022
Note: The conservative political consultant Ryan Girdusky has shared his expertise on the upcoming midterm House elections with us in this guest column, which originally appeared in his National Populist Newsletter on Substack. He’s also the founder of the 1776 Project PAC —which has helped conservative candidates to win school board races across America in order to stop critical race theory.
The midterm elections are fast approaching, and while Republicans are favored to win the House majority, the map is set to look much different than it had a decade ago when the GOP built on the Tea Party wave of 2010. Some of this is because of redistricting; and some of it has happened because regional politics changed.
Republicans have gained traction in some areas and receded in others. Here’s exactly where we can expect to see Republicans’ path to the House majority.
Below is a map of The New York Times’ 2012 election map ahead of election day. The solid blue and red areas were the places Democrats and Republicans were both certain to win, yellow were swing districts, and the striped areas were places either party was favored to win but not at all certain.
Compare that to the current map. I took away all the likely Republican and Democrat districts and made them either solid Republican, solid Democrat or competitive for either party.
(Map of 2022 House elections)
First let’s look at the Northeast. The Trump realignment has given Republicans a considerably higher chance at winning a seat in Maine and Rhode Island, while the swing districts in Connecticut and New Hampshire remain up for grabs. Democrats on the other hand have turned the western district of New Hampshire into a fairly reliable seat and the GOP has lost all chances of picking up any seats in the Bay State.
Over in New York, which experienced heavy redistricting, Republicans have gained momentum in Long Island, which are home to two pretty solid Republican seats and two additional competitive districts in Nassau County. Additionally, the only swing district in New York City, home to Staten Island, is very likely going to be in GOP hands for the next decade. In upstate areas, the districts around the Canadian border outside of the cities of Buffalo and Rochester have all moved solidly Republican. Where have Democrats gained traction? The Hudson Valley, which has seen a large migration of people from New York City as well as new immigrants moving to the region, making them much more competitive.
Next let’s look at the districts in Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Democrats did a masterful job at redistricting seats in New Jersey. Republicans have seen the number of seats they’re competitive in cut in half from six to three, despite the Democrat advantage in the state decreasing. Part of their advantage also comes from the fact that Republicans have gained a lock on South Jersey while losing support in the suburbs in North Jersey.
That trend also continues in Virginia, where Republicans have lost traction in the suburbs of Washington DC and in Virginia Beach as well as Pennsylvania, where the Philly suburbs have become increasingly Democratic while Western and Northeastern PA have moved towards Republicans.
Democrats have also lost traction throughout districts in Appalachia including Eastern Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Democrats have gained in Ohio’s first district which includes the city of Cincinnati. Lastly, in the state of Indiana, Democrats have lost control in the Northwestern part of the state they used to dominate. Even the heavily black 1st district has a chance of flipping this year.
Over in the “New South,” Democrats once held multiple seats in rural white majority districts. They’re all gone now as Republicans have made gains throughout North Carolina and Georgia. The only area Democrats can look at for some hope is gaining an extra solid blue seat in the Atlanta metro area and the Raleigh-Durham region in North Carolina. Like in Indiana, the majority black rural district in North Carolina is also becoming increasingly Republican.
The Midwest/Prairie states saw some of the largest changes as Democrats lost nearly all their support in rural areas of the Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Illinois. At the same time, Democrats have made immense progress in the metropolitan areas of Omaha, Kansas City, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Denver and Minneapolis where Republicans used to win a handful of seats.
Redistricting helped Democrats in Illinois, where Republicans at best can win just five House seats — none in the Chicago metropolitan area where they used to hold several. Michigan is a similar story as Democrats have gained momentum in the city of Grand Rapids and the suburbs of Detroit. Ironically, they have lost support around the city of Flint. Likewise, Democrats have completely collapsed in the upper peninsula that they used to dominate. This election will also mark the end of Democrats having any federal representation in Iowa for the first time since 1948.
The Southwest is another area seeing pretty big changes. Democrats growing strength in the Dallas, Austin, and Houston regions has forced Republicans to redistrict to limit Democrats chances at picking up any new seats. They’ve gained a net three seats since 2018. Yet, Republicans have managed to gain traction in the “Fajita Belt” in the Southeast corridor of the state. All three seats which were once solidly Democrats are battleground districts as Tejanos are leaving the Democrat Party in droves.
Redistricting has given Democrats the chance at picking up the sole Republican seat in New Mexico while Western Arizona remains a battleground from the last decade. Democrats growing strength in suburban Phoenix has added to the competitive region of the state as well as one House seat. Republicans are still likely to carry it through this election cycle.
Lastly is California and Oregon. Republicans have collapsed in their former stronghold of Orange County and San Diego. Competitive seats are now long gone and they’re fighting to hold on to the few seats they still control. While the GOP has gained traction among the state’s Asian and Hispanic populations, it’s not enough to make seats in Los Angeles remotely competitive. The Republicans have also lost their chance at winning the one seat in the Sacramento suburbs which is also now strongly Democratic.
Where Republicans in California are seeing some momentum is in the heavily working-class Hispanic area of the Central Valley. They have the chance at winning at least one seat.
The only place in the West Coast where Republicans are looking at a big opportunity is in Western Oregon which was once a complete Democrat stronghold. Democrats did their best to gerrymander the area rather than letting Republicans easily pick up one seat but now the GOP has a chance at winning three seats.
It’s important to note that the path to the majority runs through blue states. For as much as some Republicans want to write off these areas as lost, without them — as well as some suburban districts — they cannot win the House majority. Republicans have basically hit their ceiling in most red states including Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, and the Deep South.