NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, April 26th, 2021

Pacific Northwest congressional delegation to grow as Oregon gains sixth U.S. House seat

For the sec­ond straight decen­ni­al redis­trict­ing cycle, the Pacif­ic North­west appears set to gain a new con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, which will slight­ly increase the region’s clout in the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives begin­ning in Jan­u­ary of 2023.

The Unit­ed States Cen­sus Bureau revealed today that Ore­gon has expe­ri­enced pop­u­la­tion growth suf­fi­cient to mer­it the allo­ca­tion of a sixth con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, one more than the five it cur­rent­ly has.

Mon­tana will also gain a Unit­ed States House seat, which will mean it will have dis­tricts instead of hav­ing an at-large rep­re­sen­ta­tive as it has for decades.

States gaining House seats for 2022

States gain­ing House seats for 2022 include Ore­gon, Mon­tana, Col­orado, Texas, Flori­da, and North Carolina

That would result in an eigh­teen-mem­ber House del­e­ga­tion for the region in the 118th Con­gress. For at least ten years, the U.S. House would then include ten mem­bers from Wash­ing­ton, six from Ore­gon, and two from Idaho.

Repub­li­cans would very much like for this new dis­trict to be friend­ly turf.

Ore­gon’s cur­rent del­e­ga­tion to Con­gress con­sists of four Demo­c­ra­t­ic Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and two Demo­c­ra­t­ic Unit­ed States Senators.

Of the state’s cur­rent five dis­trict map, only one dis­trict is rep­re­sent­ed by a Repub­li­can: the 2nd, which is a solid­ly Repub­li­can dis­trict span­ning east­ern and cen­tral Ore­gon. It is far and away the largest con­gres­sion­al dis­trict by size in the entire Pacif­ic North­west, with a land area of 179,856.98 kilometers.

It’s also the sec­ond largest by size in the entire coun­try, after New Mex­i­co’s 2nd Dis­trict, not count­ing four of the five states that are too small to have mul­ti­ple House dis­tricts, and thus have at-large Unit­ed States Representatives.

Ore­gon Democ­rats have agreed to allow the com­mis­sion that draws the 2022–2030 maps to be split even­ly between Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans, giv­ing the Par­ty of Trump more of a say in where the bound­aries go.

Wash­ing­ton State has been using a bipar­ti­san com­mis­sion sys­tem for decades, but this year’s com­mis­sion will have the same num­ber of con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts to work with that the pre­vi­ous com­mis­sion had, instead of a new one like Oregon.

Wash­ing­ton gained a tenth con­gres­sion­al dis­trict fol­low­ing the 2010 cen­sus; that dis­trict cur­rent­ly is locat­ed in Wash­ing­ton State’s South Sound region and is rep­re­sent­ed by Mar­i­lyn Strick­land, Den­ny Heck­’s suc­ces­sor. (Heck is now Wash­ing­ton State’s Lieu­tenant Governor.)

“It is excit­ing that we will gain an addi­tion­al seat in Con­gress and Ore­go­ni­ans’ voic­es will be bet­ter rep­re­sent­ed in Wash­ing­ton D.C.,” Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Kath­leen Tay­lor said in remarks report­ed by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press.

Tay­lor serves as the Ore­gon State Sen­ate’s Redis­trict­ing Chair.

Ore­gon Democ­rats nat­u­ral­ly want a map that gives them five winnable dis­tricts, which would allow the Beaver State to help sus­tain the House­’s cur­rent Demo­c­ra­t­ic major­i­ty in the 2022 midterms. The par­ty reached out quick­ly to its sup­port­ers with an urgent fundrais­ing appeal, explaining:

The stakes of the 2022 midterm elec­tions just got even higher.

After the Cen­sus Bureau com­pletes the cen­sus every ten years, they use the results to re-cal­cu­late how many Con­gres­sion­al Dis­tricts each state is enti­tled to. Today, we learned that Ore­gon will be gain­ing a new Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict for the first time in near­ly forty years!

This is a huge oppor­tu­ni­ty for Ore­go­ni­ans to elect anoth­er Demo­c­rat to our Con­gres­sion­al Del­e­ga­tion – but we know nation­al Repub­li­cans will throw every­thing they can at the race for Ore­gon’s new Sixth Dis­trict while try­ing to flip at least one or more of our cur­rent Demo­c­ra­t­ic seats.

It won’t be an easy task, but we know that so much is pos­si­ble with Ore­gon Democ­rats like you by our side. Will you donate to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Ore­gon and help elect Democ­rats to Ore­gon’s soon-to-be six-per­son Con­gres­sion­al Delegation?

It is unlike­ly that either of Ida­ho’s con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts will be com­pet­i­tive in 2022, and Wash­ing­ton seems like­ly to have at most one or two com­pet­i­tive­ly drawn dis­tricts. There­fore, Ore­gon will present Democ­rats in the Pacif­ic North­west with the best oppor­tu­ni­ty for pick­ing up a seat. Exclud­ing Alas­ka and Mon­tana, the region’s cur­rent dis­tricts could be char­ac­ter­ized as falling into four buckets:

Utter­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic (CPVI above ten for D’s)

  • Wash­ing­ton’s 2nd
  • Wash­ing­ton’s 7th
  • Wash­ing­ton’s 9th
  • Ore­gon’s 1st
  • Ore­gon’s 3rd

Reli­ably Demo­c­ra­t­ic (Favor­able CPVI for D’s, but below ten)

  • Wash­ing­ton’s 1st
  • Wash­ing­ton’s 6th
  • Wash­ing­ton’s 10th

Swing/Competitive (CPVI of five or less)

  • Wash­ing­ton’s 8th (Demo­c­ra­t­ic representation)
  • Wash­ing­ton’s 3rd (Repub­li­can representation)
  • Ore­gon’s 4th (Demo­c­ra­t­ic representation)
  • Ore­gon’s 5th (Demo­c­ra­t­ic representation)

Solid­ly Repub­li­can (Favor­able CPVI for R’s of more than five)

  • Ore­gon’s 2nd
  • Wash­ing­ton’s 4th
  • Wash­ing­ton’s 5th
  • Ida­ho’s 1st
  • Ida­ho’s 2nd

CPVI means Cook Par­ti­san Vot­ing Index; see this Wikipedia entry for an expla­na­tion, and see Cook’s web­site for the com­plete cur­rent index.

As men­tioned above, it’s unlike­ly that any changes to Ida­ho’s map will yield a dis­trict that Democ­rats could win (although it’s not total­ly out the realm of pos­si­bil­i­ty; Democ­rats did cap­ture Ida­ho’s 1st as recent­ly as 2008.)

How­ev­er, the man­ner in which Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton’s maps are drawn will mat­ter a great deal. The opti­mal con­fig­u­ra­tion for Democ­rats would prob­a­bly be a map with thir­teen winnable dis­tricts: eight in Wash­ing­ton and five in Oregon.

For Repub­li­cans, the opti­mal con­fig­u­ra­tion is prob­a­bly a map with eight winnable dis­tricts: four in Wash­ing­ton, two in Ore­gon, and then both of Idaho’s.

This is a real­ly big polit­i­cal devel­op­ment for Ore­gon, con­sid­er­ing that the state has­n’t got­ten a new seat in Con­gress in four decades.

For Mon­tana, gain­ing back the seat lost in the 1990 reap­por­tion­ment is also a big deal. Here’s the back­sto­ry on that, cour­tesy of Wikipedia:

From state­hood in 1889, until the cre­ation of geo­graph­ic dis­tricts in 1919, Mon­tana was rep­re­sent­ed in the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives by mem­bers elect­ed at-large, that is, requir­ing vot­ing by all the state population.

From 1913 to 1919, there were two seats, still elect­ed at-large; the top two fin­ish­ers were award­ed the seats. After that time, two rep­re­sen­ta­tives were elect­ed from two geo­graph­ic dis­tricts of rough­ly equal pop­u­la­tion, from the east and the west of the state.

In the reap­por­tion­ment fol­low­ing the 1990 cen­sus, Mon­tana lost one of its two seats. Its remain­ing mem­ber was again elect­ed at-large.

Begin­ning in the 2022 midterms, every state in the greater Pacif­ic North­west will have dis­tricts except for Alas­ka. The five states (mean­ing, the three core Pacif­ic North­west states plus Mon­tana and Alas­ka) will send a total of thir­ty-one peo­ple to the Unit­ed States Con­gress: twen­ty-one rep­re­sen­ta­tives and ten senators.

We will have addi­tion­al com­men­tary and analy­sis on what this con­se­quen­tial reap­por­tion­ment means for our region in the weeks to come.

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One Comment

  1. I remem­ber grow­ing up in Wal­la Wala, just above the Wash­ing­ton-Ore­gon bor­der, East­ern Wash­ing­ton had Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress­man Tom Foley and East­ern Ore­gon Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress­man Al Ullman.
    Par­ty lines were much more ambigu­ous at that time. Ore­gon’s gov­er­nor was Repub­li­can Tom McCall, who leaned Left and Wash­ing­ton had gov­er­nor Dan Evans, who also was Left lean­ing and in fact, cham­pi­oned a state income tax.

    # by Mike Barer :: April 27th, 2021 at 8:23 AM
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