Yesterday, a three-judge panel threw out
Virginia's aggressive GOP gerrymander of its congressional districts, arguing it squeezed the state's African-American community into a single district and diluted their voting power elsewhere.
There is much legal wrangling in the cards, and the U.S. Supreme Court will review a similar case dealing with Alabama this term as conservatives continue to whittle away Voting Rights Act protections. I mean, if you can't win on the merits, rigging the rules of the game are all they have left.
But here is where elections matter. Remember that in Virginia, Republicans hold eight of 11 congressional districts, despite having lost the 2012 presidential election by 4 points. They were able to manage that because they held the governing trifecta in 2010, when the districts were drawn.
But now, Democrats hold the attorney general's office, and he won't appeal the ruling. The Republican legislature will almost assuredly appeal, but then they have to argue they have standing, a legal hurdle they'd rather avoid.
Democrats also hold the governorship, which means the legislature can't draw another aggressive gerrymander and get an easy gubernatorial signature. They have to either draw a reasonable map, or it'll get kicked to the courts, which will assuredly draw a far more favorable map. (Our own Stephen Wolf takes an comprehensive look at the possibilities.)
And that's why we need to win these state races. In Florida, Republicans hold 17 of 27 seats despite being a 50-50 state. In Pennsylvania, Republicans hold 13 of 18 seats despite losing in 2012 by 5.5 points. In Wisconsin, Republicans hold five of eight despite losing in 2012 by 6 points. In Michigan, Republicans hold nine of 14 seats despite losing by 6 in 2012.
We can win every single one of those governorships, giving us incumbents to defend in 2018, ahead of the 2020 redistricting process, and we know how hard it is to get rid of incumbents.
We are on the edge of making big gains against Republicans in a year they hoped to notch big gains. We've got to press the advantage. No slacking. No procrastinating. This is our cycle, no matter what Republicans think. But it won't be unless every single one of you engages in some way.
Chip in to our governor slate, because these races really do matter!
Voting by mail is convenient, easy, and defeats the best of the GOP's voter suppression efforts. Sign up here to check eligibility and vote by mail, then get your friends, family, and coworkers to sign up as well.
And seriously, check out Stephen's in-depth dive
into the districts, where he argues Dems could gain anywhere from one to two seats, depending on how aggressive the court would be in redrawing lines.