Michael Vidal ’22
Will They Have A Major Impact For Better or Worse For The Next Ten Years?
On February 3, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the map of New York’s new congressional districts for the next ten years. Due to slower population growth, New York will now have twenty-six representatives in the House of Representatives rather than twenty-seven. This new map was seen as controversial, due to the gerrymandering of districts, particularly in Long Island and upstate New York by New York’s state legislature.
With this new map, according to FiveThirtyEight, there will be twenty Democratic-leaning districts, four Republican-leaning districts, and two highly competitive districts. Assuming the partisanship of the first twenty-four districts is reflected and the competitive districts are split between the parties, Democrats will have twenty-one of the twenty-six congressional districts in New York, or about 81% of them. This appears strange, as they tend to garner approximately 61% of the vote in statewide elections, indicating that this map is likely gerrymandered.
Based on the map, the most obvious gerrymanders are in the aforementioned upstate New York and Long Island, in addition to southern New York City. For example, in upstate New York, Republican Elise Stefanik’s district got much redder, from R +14 to R +23. This may seem beneficial to Republicans at first glance but the state legislature packed Republicans into Stefanik’s district to have less Republicans in more competitive districts, such as Democrat Antonio Delgado’s, whose district moves from R +4 to D +4. In Long Island, Republicans Lee Zeldin and Andrew Garbarino hold districts 1 and 2 respectively, with partisanships of R +10 and R +8. In this new map, Zeldin’s district moves to D +6 while Garbarino’s moves to R +20. The state legislature likely believed it to be too difficult or risky to have two less partisan Democratic districts there, so they shored up one Republican incumbent (Garbarino) and endangered another (Zeldin), who is not running for reelection, making this a heavy Democratic target. The most gerrymandered district is arguably Republican Nicole Malliotakis’s district in Staten Island, whose district moves from R +13 to D +7 by adding Park Slope, Brooklyn to the district.
As a result, this map is being challenged in court and with good reason. However, this should bring awareness to gerrymandering on a much broader scale. It has been effectively diluting people’s votes for decades and both parties take advantage of it when useful and condemn it when used against them. Whether it be Democrats in New York or Republicans in Ohio (their map was struck down in court), it has benefitted politicians rather than people. Partisan gerrymandering should be banned by Congress and independent commissions, such as one in Michigan, should be encouraged or even mandated if gerrymandering continues. While New York’s maps are not fair, neither are many other states, hence why gerrymandering must be eliminated in redistricting cycles.