9 midterms races with Electoral College implications

Posted at 8:00 AM, Oct 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-20 10:00:30-04

Redistricting! It’s not just for wonks.

Here’s why it really matters — and why the 2018 election will have a major impact on the election cycles to come:

Voters this fall will install 30 governors and more than 800 legislators that will be responsible for redrawing voting districts in three years — which will have a major impact in each and every state in the country, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

And for a select handful of states (flashing in that nifty graphic above as projected by the NSCL), their projected major population gain (or loss) means that they are gaining (or losing) representation in Congress — and Electoral College votes.

The redistricting process happens every decade. And the people involved with that process, in many cases, local legislators (some states use appointed commissions) will be the ones involved in drawing the lines — and many governors will have the power of veto to nix or approve those redrawn districts.

This will make the already complicated — and political — process even more contentious.

The 2010 cycle’s redistricting process was insanely political, with Republicans who had made huge gains in the tea party wave controlling much of the process. This time around, Democrats are hoping to have more sway over the new district lines, the NSCL’s redistricting expert Wendy Underhill told me this week.

Organizations like the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, helmed by Eric Holder and backed by former President Barack Obama, say they want to confront the gerrymandering inherent in the process.

“Proponents of these measures are wishing to have a less political process. Whether they get that with their process remains to be seen,” Underhill said.

Here are some major 2018 races we’re watching in those states expected to gain (or lose) Electoral College votes after 2020:

Key governors races: (all would have veto power over their state’s redrawn district lines)

  • Oregon (+1 vote) has a close race between Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and Republican challenger Knute Buehler  
  • Florida (+2 votes) Democrat Andrew Gillum is facing GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis for the open governor’s seat.
  • Ohio (-1 vote) between Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine.
  • Michigan (-1 vote) has an open race for governor between Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Bill Schuette.

Key state House races:

  • Michigan, (-1 vote) is home to where Democrats are hoping to break the Republican trifecta (where one party controls both chambers of the House and Senate and the Governor’s office). Republicans currently have a 63-47 majority in the state House — Democrats need to flip nine seats to take the House.

Key state Senate races:

  • New York (-1 vote) currently has an evenly split Senate of 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats. Could a Democratic wave turn the longtime-red Senate blue?
  • Florida (+2 votes) has Democrats hoping to flip five seats to gain a majority.
  • Colorado (+1 vote) has Democrats vying to break the slim Republican majority in the Senate. Should they win back the Senate by flipping one Republican seat, retain control of the House (which is expected) and win the governor’s office, they will re-capture their trifecta lost in 2014.
  • Minnesota (+1 vote) has only one State senate race on the ballot this year. It’s also the only seat Democrats would need to win to gain control of the Senate.