There is a really interesting article by Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics regarding congressional redistricting.
The common mainstream wisdom has been that redistricting really is not helping Republians that much, and that Democrats even may gain a seat or two nationwide. But Trend details how that superficial analysis vastly understates what Republicans are achieving.
The essense of Trend’s analysis is that Republicans are strenghtening districts for existing Republican Congressmen rather than trying to broaden the number of seats. This is a smart use of redistricting power because if Republicans spread themselves too thin (i.e., with just small advantages in a larger number of districts), even a small shift in voter party preference could devastate the Republican majority.
In effect, Republicans are locking the parties into the current seat allocations, with Republicans in the majority. Both parties will have a easier time retaining their current seats, and a harder time gaining seats.
By taking enough marginal districts currently held by Republicans and making them safer, Republicans can make the median congressional district — the 218th most Republican district in the Congress — one that is much more difficult for Democrats to win. Doing this would therefore make winning control of the House much more difficult for Democrats. This is where the “real” story is.
This does not guarantee a Republian majority after the 2012 elections, but makes it much more likely.
Smile, it’s not all bad news out there.