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Redistricting To Impact California State Elections

Jillian Olivas |
November 5, 2012 | 12:51 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


Redistricting made state legislature elections more competitive. (Dawn Megli/ Neon Tommy)
Redistricting made state legislature elections more competitive. (Dawn Megli/ Neon Tommy)

California's new district lines are set to debut in the election on Tuesday and are likely to impact the composition of the state legislature by eliminating districts that would provide Democratic advantages.

The redistricting process took on a new agenda with the lines being drawn by nonpartisan group California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was created from a ballot initiative in 2008. The commission is comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans and four commissioners without ties to the two major parties.

California is one of five states that places independent commissions in control of redrawing district boundary lines based on the results from the 2010 census. New districts were drawn to include levels of equal population, consideration for minority communities, geographic contiguity and compactness.

SEE ALSO: Is Redistricting Blocking The Vote Of The People?

"We are already seeing more competitive elections due to redistricting," said Ann Crigler, chair of USC's political science department. "It is possible that there will be more Republicans as a result."

Republicans are campaigning hard to ensure that they have the best chances possible to win seats in both houses of the legislature.

Particularly important in this election is the possibility of Democrats gaining a supermajority in the State Senate. Democrats need two additional seats to create a supermajority without losing any of the seats they currently hold.

Only two seats are needed for a supermajority in the lower chamber, but former Republican political analyst Allan Hoffenblum told Reuters that Democrats are likely to lose a seat or two.

SEE ALSO: Why The 2012 House And Senate Races Matter

Because the carefully drawn district lines in the past were safe for incumbents, some longtime members of the state legislature refrained from running in a new district where the chances of reelection were slimmer than in previous years. The number of safe seats has been reduced by nine, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law.

On the other hand, the new districts have also presented opportunities for some politicians to campaign in areas where they did not have a viable chance.

Todd Zink, the Republican challenger for Senate in District 27, may have endangered Democratic incumbent Fran Pavley's reelection bid since the district was redrawn and now includes more registered Republican voters.

SEE ALSO: Senate 27 Race Focuses On Jobs, Education

In the State Assembly, District 8 has new boundaries that replace the Democratic-leaning city of Venice with the more conservative Rancho Palos Verdes. While Democrats hold a 41 percent to 37 percent voter registration advantage in the district, it has become a competitive race since the primary.

The maps took effect with the primary held in June of this year.


Find more Neon Tommy coverage of the 2012 elections here.

Reach staff reporter Jillian Olivas here.



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