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Democrats’ Voting Rights Act ‘Win’ In Alabama May Backfire, Set Up Republican Congressional Sweep

Democrats’ Voting Rights Act ‘Win’ In Alabama May Backfire, Set Up Republican Congressional Sweep

Democrats thought they would pick up a seat in Alabama, but they may lose the one Alabama seat they currently have.

I traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, in early June to give a lecture for the local chapter of the Federalist Society, The Equal Protection Project: Challenging DEI Discrimination. The lecture was not recorded, unfortunately.

In connection with the visit, I was able to appear on the Michael Yafee Show on News Talk 770 AM to talk about EPP and also the then-recent Voting Rights Act decision by the Supreme Court.

The SCOTUS decision widely was assumed in the media to mean at least one Democrat pick up in an Alabama congressional delegation that currently has only one Democrat, since the ruling likely would add a second majority-black district:

The court’s ruling on Thursday has national political implications in Alabama and three other states where Democrats would be likely to capture additional congressional seats if lawsuits over those states’ maps are decided their way.

The ruling paves the way for a federal trial in the Alabama case, where a lower court has already said that advocates calling for a second majority-Black congressional district in the state are likely to win.

I don’t know anything about Alabama politics, so I was quite surprised during my radio interview when Yafee mentioned that this could backfire on the Democrats and result in Republicans picking up a seat.

(If player doesn’t load, click here)

I hadn’t thought about it much since then, until I saw this tweet by Alex Schriver at Targeted Victory, a Republican-sided communications shop, linking to a WaPo article:

From the linked WaPo article:

In Alabama, Reps. Jerry L. Carl and Barry Moore — both first elected in 2020 — have contiguous districts just beneath the state’s “Black Belt” — named for its fertile black soil that is also an area where many of the state’s Black voters live — where the new district is most likely to be drawn….

Insiders in both parties have cautioned that rather than just carving out another safe Democratic district, Republicans in Alabama might just try to draw up their state’s seven districts in a fashion whereby Black voters would turn a few of those seats into competitive battlegrounds but not guaranteeing a winner for either party.

They note that Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, in his concurring opinion, left open the possibility that having competitive seats where Black voters have clout, but not a definite outcome, would meet his own test for adhering to the voting law.
Such a scenario would actually give Republicans the chance to sweep every seat in the state.

“Don’t count out 7-0,” Alex Schriver, a GOP consultant from Alabama, said.

Since I still don’t know much about Alabama politics, I still can’t assess the likelihood of the Democrats’ SCOTUS Voting Rights Act win costing them a congressional seat in Alabama. But now I’m intrigued.

If there are any Alabama readers here, post your insights in the comments.


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It’s quite possible. The black population of Alabama is overwhelmingly concentrated in Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery, along with a stretch of more rural areas west of Montgomery to the MS border. In essence by using the other allowable factors like compactness, county lines and so forth it would be possible to create four pretty solid GoP +6 or higher CD and three CD that were GoP +4/5 ish but still competitive enough to potentially pass muster.

The long-term risk is in a turnout battle /wave election year the d/prog candidates could sweep 3/7 CD by diluting GoP strength. The short term risk is this plan being rejected and a woke Judge ordering their own CD map that creates 2 CD with moderate (+4) less d lean, one CD that is is a coin toss and four super concentrated GoP CD. That could also be done, it just depends on who is drawing the map.

    randian in reply to CommoChief. | July 1, 2023 at 10:45 pm

    This will be litigated, and the judge will order the map to be drawn in whatever way helps Democrats and hurts Republicans. If concentrating GOP voters helps Democrats then it will be so, and if diluting GOP voters does, then it will be so. You will see this play out nationwide.

      CommoChief in reply to randian. | July 2, 2023 at 9:22 am

      Well yeah, no kidding. That’s why I spelled out that specific scenario of judicial activism as a very real short term risk.

Chris Weaver | July 2, 2023 at 7:39 am

Interesting, And if Alabama closes their primaries…. perhaps they could actually produce “better” conservative candidates than if allowing fence sitters to “help” choose a champion for Nov.

    CommoChief in reply to Chris Weaver. | July 2, 2023 at 12:05 pm

    The State GoP voted to close their primary elections in the summer of 2022 but so far the Legislature hasn’t passed the required legislation to close the primary elections. Unfortunately we have enough mamby pamby types in the legislature who will need to see more public support before taking action to keep it from passing. In essence once polls show overwhelming demand they will fall in line and take credit for their ‘leadership’ on the issue but not before.

      robertthomason in reply to CommoChief. | July 3, 2023 at 9:57 am

      You are correct. It will take public pressure. The history of my state is we do not have party registration. At one time the Democrat Primary was known as the “white” primary because only white people could vote in the primary. Republicans used the convention method to nominate most of their candidates with the exception of a few counties that used the primary system to nominate their local candidates. Republicans stopped using the convention method in the 1970’s. This issue about party registration has been debated ever since. The Republican Party in Alabama has settled the issue amongst themselves but the political culture of our state where people are accustomed to having a choice as to which primary they vote in is probably the reason for legislative inaction.

        CommoChief in reply to robertthomason. | July 3, 2023 at 5:35 pm

        IMO, the ground has already shifted on the issue of party registration requirements to vote in a primary. Admittedly there is some residual comfort level with ‘the way we’ve always done things’ but most it is excuse making on the part of lawmakers who don’t want criticism. Lord knows how often the same appeal to the ‘way we’ve always done X’ has had to be overcome.

        IMO that’s a weak argument offered up as fig leaf by those wishing to avoid controversy. Want to really see sparks fly? Propose to move all elections including municipal and local school board elections to Nov. Holy cow will the vested interests come unglued.

    rwingjr in reply to Chris Weaver. | July 4, 2023 at 12:25 am

    As an outsider, I can’t vote in Alabama, but as an independent, I don’t have any say in who is nominated by either party. I left the GOP several years ago thanks to the Patriot Act and the invasion of Iraq, but I’m very conservative and I would like to vote in a primary of my choice. By not allowing independent voters to participate in primaries, you are eliminating about 50% of all eligible voters from having a say in who should run for office. It’s been my personal observation that most “Independents” or people with no party affiliation are conservative. However, they may have to settle for a war-monger party loyal Republican simply because they have no say in who is going to run for office. Yeah, anyone can run on a separate party, but we know that’s nonsense.

      docduracoat in reply to rwingjr. | July 6, 2023 at 11:22 am

      To rwingjr,
      Why not register as Republican so you can vote in the primary and choose a better conservative candidate?

      I understand you are mad at the Iraq invasion and the patriot act.
      Me, too.
      But I still vote in the gop primary in an effort to get a better candidate

Baby Elephant | July 2, 2023 at 9:47 am

I just don’t understand, as a country years ago we decided separate but equal and segregation is not acceptable. Yet, we segregate blacks into separate congressional districts and call it equality.

BierceAmbrose | July 2, 2023 at 8:35 pm

Those proceedings read like the only way to identify people of common interest is skin color, and the only way to deal with people is in groups.

    The result you suggest—-identifying people only by skin color and dealing with them in groups, since many in the black community seem to prefer that end result—-may ultimately be the only logical resolution of racial issues in our country. Perhaps look to the model of how the US dealt with American Indians, allocating land for reservations, and creating the BIA to handle matters of education, justice, economic development, land use, and healthcare. We essentially created a nation within a nation.

    There could be worse ways to resolve our interminable racial tensions than to consider a solution along the lines of the BIA model. I’m thinking of Winston Churchill’s perceptive quotation about us: “Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing—after they’re tried everything else.”

Segregating Black voters into districts in a manner of guaranteeing a black candidate victory has two fallacies. One is that it assumes black voters are a fungible commodity. Not a bad assumption, based on voting patterns and the black-D vote, but it is not necessarily a give. The other fallacy is that by installing a “floor” of minority representation through this type of redistricting also installs “ceiling”, that the subsequently concentrated minority vote cannot have any influence outside of this mandated ghetto.