January 12, 2021

The way to keep a job is not just to be good at it. Instead one must be so good as to be irreplaceable.

But after some time irreplaceable morphs into delusional. There comes a time when one must metaphorically walk away before being carted away.

That is Nancy Pelosi's predicament: She is irreplaceable but she won't walk away.

Her reign as U.S. House speaker won't end until Jan. 3, and she has already announced for 2022 re-election in her San Francisco district. Democrats have a present 221D-212R majority, with one (R) vacancy. But spectacular 2021 Republican congressional remap successes in TX, NC, OH, GA, MI - and anticipated 2022 successes in FL and PA - will likely erase the Democrats' majority.

The Nov. 8 election will be anti-climactic. Democrats will lose, and Pelosi will likely be replaced as speaker by a Republican.

That is why enacting the Biden administration agenda, including the $3 trillion Build Back Better and the federalizing Voting Rights bills, is urgent. If Democrats don't get it done in 2022, they never will. A Republican-controlled 2023-24 Congress will create total gridlock.

The question is not whether Republicans will win a majority, but whether that majority explodes to 240, a gain of 30-plus. Mid-term elections, sandwiched between the presidential-year election, favor the party not in the White House. That occurred in 1938, 1946, 1966, 1994, 2010 and 2014 benefited Republicans, as did 1922, 1934, 1958, 1974, 1982, 2006 and 2018 benefit the Democrats.

The 2020 census reflected population growth and migration, and the 2021 southern border surge added 2 million to the current U.S. population of 331.5 million. States that lost one seat were IL, OH, MI, NY, WV and CA, while states that gained were TX (2), FL, MT, OR and CO.

The Republicans' 2022 edge dates back to 2009, which is when the Pelosi-led Democrats and the Obama administration passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Republicans picked-up House seats and Senate seats that year, but more importantly, won majorities in numerous state legislatures - and those majorities have persisted through 2020. The key word is TRIFECTA, which means one party controls both chambers of the legislature plus the governorship.

At present, Democrats have trifectas in IL, CA, NY, OR, NV, WA, CO and all of the New England states, and Republicans are dominant in OH, TX, FL, GA, IA, IN, MO, AZ and MT. There is split control in PA, MI, and WI, with Republican legislatures and Democratic governors. NC has had a Republican legislature since 2010 and the governor (D) has no veto power.

A trifecta means total control in drawing both congressional and legislative district, and it is the legislature elected in the census year (2010, 2020 etc.) that does the drawing the following year for themselves and for Congress. The Voting Rights Act passed in the 1960s prohibits retrogression. That means once a majority-minority district has been created it can never be eradicated. That would be racist. The concept of contiguous, compact districts is irrelevant.

But partisan concepts like "packing" were judicially acceptable. That means stuffing as many of the opposition party's voters into as few districts as possible. Concede the opposition a few PVI (Partisan Voter Index) +20-30 districts and create a bunch of PVI +10s or less for the drawing party. (A PVI on a congressional level is the last presidential vote in the district; a PVI of +5 means Biden/Trump got 55 percent, while a +25 means the winner got 75 percent.) That is what Speaker Mike Madigan did in IL in the 2001 and 2011 remaps, and what the Democrats did in the 2021 remap.

In the past remaps were aggressive, not preventative. That meant the dominant party created PVI +5-8 congressional - which means competitive or "marginal" - seats for their party and packed the opposition into a few +15-20 seats. That was a short-term perspective, which is what Democrats did in Illinois for 2022. The risk is that a WAVE election, with a shift of 4-5 percent, could sweep out those incumbents.

A total of 14 states have finished their congressional remaps, including Illinois. What is notable is that Republicans engaged in a long-term 10-year strategy, while Democrats focused on a short-term "Keep Pelosi" in 2022 strategy. The Republicans' goal is to solidify a SAFE base of 190-200 (out of 435) seats, which would be secure in 2022 and 2024, with the expectation that a Republican presidential win in 2024 would create pushback in 2026 and beyond, but not jeopardize their House majority. The Democrats' goal is to just hang on in 2022.

OREGON is an example of that hang-on strategy. The delegation is now 4D-1R, with a new congressional to be added. The state is polarized between the "woke," who "peacefully protested" in Portland throughout the summer of 2020, and the non-urbanized part of the state to the south and west of the Cascade mountain range and to the territory east. Portland mayor Ted Wheeler (D) is running for governor in 2022 and current governor Kate Brown (D) is a champion of COVID shutdowns, closures and masking. Biden won the state 1,340,383-958-448 in 2020.

Two Democratic congressmen, both outside the Portland metro area, won with 52 percent in 2020. The Democrats have a trifecta, and drew district lines as they pleased. Instead of conceding the new district to the Republicans and packing them into 2 districts, they created 3 districts with a Democratic PVI of +5 or less. One incumbent (D) has already retired. Instead of having a secure 4D-2R delegation for a decade, Democrats chose to go for 5D-1R for 2022. It won't happen. Three districts have a Democratic PVI of under +5. A likely 2022 Republican wave will add +5, and the delegation could flip to 3R-3D or even 4R-2D.

TEXAS: Elections matter. Democrats' Red-to-Blue crusade raised millions to flip the TX House, but Republicans kept their trifecta: the governorship and Senate/House majorities of 18R-13D/ 82R-67D. In 2011 Republican map-drawers extended urban Democratic areas into suburbs, and that created districts where the Republican vote dwindled over the decade. Democrats won two seats in 2018, and kept the Dallas suburban seat with 52 percent and the Houston suburban seat with 51 percent in 2020.

The TX delegation (36) was 25R-11D before 2018, and is now 23R-13D. In 2020 there were 5 Republicans who won in districts with a PVI of under +8. So while Democrats deride Republicans for their elections and abortion bills, their trifecta was brilliant: They moved Republican voters out of competitive Democratic districts to bolster Republicans in competitive districts, and they created 2 new districts - one a massively Democratic district in Austin, which sucked Democrats out of adjoining Republican districts, and the other a Republican district in East Texas. Now 22 of the 23 Republicans have a +10 PVI or better.

The old map had 3 north-south South Texas districts that stretched from San Antonio to the Rio Grande. Now there are 3 east-west Mexican-American majority districts, with another to the west. Trump lost the border by 5 percent in 2020; the border crisis guarantees Republicans the Laredo seat and maybe 2 more to the north. Prediction: A 26R-10D delegation in 2023.

OHIO: This is an industrial Rust Belt state, much like most of IL. It has a Black population of 13 percent and a Hispanic of 4 percent, compared to Illinois' 15 and 17. Trump lost IL but won OH by 3,154,834-2,679,165. But while Illinois' delegation is 13D-5R (soon to be 14D-3R), Ohio's is 12R-4D; both states lost a seat. But Ohio's blue-collar demographic is trending strongly Republican. Republicans packed Democrats into the Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus districts. Prediction: A Republican will win the open Youngstown district and the delegation will be 12R-3D.

NORTH CAROLINA: Trump won by 2,758,775 in 2016 and by 2,684,292 in 2020, but this is a very marginal state with a Democratic governor. But 2010 was a seminal year, as Republicans won the legislature and redrew the lines. They retain Senate/House 28R-22D/68R-52D majorities, and the 2011 remap gave Republicans a 10R-3D edge. But a federal lawsuit claiming lack of proportionality that Democrats had about half the presidential vote but only 23 percent of the congressional seats, resulted in a judicial remap and a 2-seat Democratic pickup in 2018.

Republicans have kept their legislative majority and there is no governor veto. The new map pairs two incumbents (D and R), creates two new PVI Republican seats, and makes an eastern Carolina seat. Prediction: Republicans could go from 8R-5D to 11R-3D.

GEORGIA: The state is 33 percent Black and growing more so, especially around Atlanta as well as in the southwestern agriculture Black Belt, which historically had a large Black population. Until 2018 Republicans had a 10R-4D edge with all 4 Democrats being Black. Republicans lost a west Atlanta suburban to a Black woman in 2018 and an east Atlanta suburban seat to a White woman in 2020.

Trump lost the state in 2020, after having won by 2,473,633-2,461,854 in 2016. The state is clearly trending Democratic. But Republicans have the trifecta, and drew a map that put most of the Republican suburban voters into one southwest CD, and the 2 Democrats into a northwest CD. Prediction: 8R-6D will be 9R-5D.

FLORIDA: The state now has a 28th district, and is now 16R-11D. One Democrat is retiring and the trifecta (R) will create a new Republican district. A DeSantis-Rubio wave will make the delegation 18R-10D. Republicans will also make pick-ups in several other states, including 2 upsets in Illinois. Republicans will have a 242-193 majority.