Boosting the Democrats’ chances of retaking control of Congress in this fall’s midterm elections, the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal panel on Monday rejected Republican challenges to a newly redrawn congressional map imposed on Pennsylvania by the state’s high court.
The federal courts dismissed requests to throw out or halt use of the new district map, which the state court drafted after ruling that the preexisting map violated the state constitution’s guarantee of free and equal elections. That earlier map, drawn by the GOP in 2011, is considered among the most gerrymandered in the nation, AP News reports.
The pair of rulings Monday makes it highly likely that this year’s congressional elections in Pennsylvania will be conducted under district lines widely viewed as more favorable to Democrats than the 2011 map.
Democrats need to pick up 24 seats to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, 23 if Conor Lamb’s lead holds from last week’s special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District.
Under the new map, Democrats have a good chance to pick up three seats in the Philadelphia suburbs, and a fighting chance of flipping Republican districts in Harrisburg, Allentown and outside Pittsburgh, said Franklin and Marshall College political scientist Terry Madonna.
“Now, the Democrats nationally will look at Pennsylvania as one of the top priorities, for the obvious reason that of the 24 seats that they need, Pennsylvania has a reasonable chance of putting three in their corner,” Madonna said.
Republicans drew the previous map to aid their candidates. It proved to be a campaign winner, leading the GOP to a 13-5 edge in the state’s congressional delegation for all three elections in which it was used. By contrast, Democrats have a 5-to-4 statewide advantage in voter registration and have won 18 of 24 statewide elections since the 2011 map was enacted.
The pair of court decisions came with just one day left for the state’s congressional candidates to circulate petitions to get on the May 15 primary ballot.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 21st, 2018