We haven't heard much about it recently but one factor in play in this year's governor and state house elections is redistricting. Our congressional and state house / senate districts will be shifted in response to the new census numbers. It was interesting to note an article on Campaigns & Elections site, "Republican redistricting after 2010 -- An Interview with GOPAC'S Frank Donatelli and David Avella," by Nathan Rothman (9/10/2010) Donatelli and Avella are both with GOPAC, the Republican Party's premier education and training organization.
Here are some relevant excerpts:
C&E: If Republicans get the opportunity to draw congressional and legislative boundary lines, which states will be the most significantly redefined?
Avella: Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas. If Republicans were just given fair district, not gerrymandered snake-districts, we can be competitive. We don’t have to do what the Democrats have traditionally done.
Donatelli: Whoever draws the lines has a big advantage. I’d rather be redrawing the lines than not. I think that is a byproduct of having a good election, so now the focus is on November 2nd.
It should be noted that in Pennsylvania, when districts were redrawn 10 years ago, a Republican was in the governor's office and the Republicans held a majority in the state house. We ended up with districts like the 6th congressional:
the 172nd house district:
and the 161st house district. See a map of state house districts for the south-east Pennsylvania area here.
Another quote from the C&E article:
Donatelli: I feel very good about prospects in Pennsylvania. Corbett is a good candidate; he is a good fit for Pennsylvania. We will keep the Senate and the House looks very promising. We need 3 or 4 gains, but we have three times as many strong challengers as we need. There is a strong hope to win everything.
Avella: Another state, just like Ohio, where Corbett’s lead continues to grow and we’re only down two in the House. We could go from having just the Senate to having the whole state government go to the GOP.
This is an issue voters need to be aware of -- districts should be drawn, as much as possible, along existing county, township, or municipal lines. Montgomery County is currently represented in part by five congressional representatives (districts 6, 7, 8, 13, and 15). Some townships have three or more state house representatives, each spread across more than one township. Tracking district boundaries can become very confusing for voters.