The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, Carolyn Fiddler, and Matt Booker, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, David Beard, and Arjun Jaikumar.
● Redistricting: With Thursday's release of detailed 2020 census data, we now know the precise population of every current congressional district as it stood on April 1, 2020, the benchmark used for decennial redistricting. In turn, that data tells us whether each district will have to shrink or grow as maps are redrawn this year and next. Daily Kos elections has compiled these new population stats in a publicly available spreadsheet, along with calculations showing just how many people each district is above or below the ideal target.
Those figures are also reflected in the map at the top of this post, which shows every district as equally sized (with a larger version here), as well as in this traditional map. The most important thing to note is that the oversized districts that need to shed population are concentrated in states that are gaining districts thanks to reapportionment, such as Oregon and Colorado. Conversely, the most undersized districts are in states that will be losing seats, most vividly shown on the map in West Virginia.
Many of the most overpopulated districts are concentrated in the Sun Belt, especially in Texas, which is the only state adding two seats next year. Texas is also home to the most swollen district in the nation after Montana's lone at-large constituency (which is set to get sliced in half). That seat is Texas' 22nd Congressional District, a rapidly transforming area in the southern Houston suburbs that's swollen to 972,309 souls, 27% larger than the state's ideal of 766,987.
Thanks to its rapid diversification, this once-conservative turf has grown much more competitive in recent years and hosted an expensive House race last year that Republican Troy Nehls won by a 52-45 margin. However, with Republicans in control of redistricting in the Lone Star State, they're all but certain to gerrymander the district in their favor once again.
Conversely, the most underpopulated seats are concentrated in Rust Belt states like Michigan, where you'll find the most undersized district outside of West Virginia: The 5th, represented by Democrat Dan Kildee, centered around Flint. Another region that's seen shrinkage but tends to get less attention is the rural Black Belt that runs through the South and sends a number of Black Democrats to Congress. While many of these districts have enjoyed protection under the Voting Rights Act, if they can't take on sufficient population that retains their Black-majority status, they could be subject to dismantling by Republican mapmakers.
● IA-Sen: Politico's Burgess Everett takes a look at the five sitting senators who've yet to announce firm re-election plans and reports back a new decision timeline for Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley: "mid-October." Grassley, however, has adjusted his schedule many, many times, most recently promising an announcement between Labor Day and Nov. 1.
The others we're waiting on, incidentally, are Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John Thune (South Dakota), Pat Leahy (Vermont), and Ron Johnson (Wisconsin). Leahy, the only Democrat on the list, is also the only other senator to offer any sort of timetable, saying last September that he'd make up his mind by the end of this year.
● NV-Sen: Former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt filed paperwork with the FEC on Sunday and will reportedly kick off his long-awaited challenge to Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto "this month," according to the Washington Examiner's David Drucker. Awkwardly, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton all but announced Laxalt’s campaign at a conservative political event in Nevada on Saturday, though Laxalt declined to confirm his intentions.
With Republicans standing by for Laxalt's decision all year, no other prominent GOP candidates have entered the race against Cortez Masto, who raised $2.8 million in the second quarter of the year and had $6.6 million in the bank.
● CA-Gov: Conservative radio host Larry Elder, the leading Republican in next month's recall election, goes against media CW and speaks as fast as possible in his latest TV ad, attacking Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom for his "incompetence."
● CO-Gov: In mid-June, Colorado Politics reported that University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl was likely to run for governor and "could announce as soon as next month," though no such announcement has taken place in the ensuing two months. The Denver Post's Alex Burness notes, however, that Ganahl published an op-ed the other day in The Gazette lambasting Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, suggesting a bid might still be in the works—though of course, it's a lot easier to write an essay than to launch a campaign for governor.
● PA-Gov, PA-Sen: Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, who previously hadn't ruled out bids for either governor or Senate, said on Thursday that he won't seek either post next year. Kenney, a Democrat, was emphatic about the governor's race, saying he's "certainly not" running, though he joked about the Senate contest, saying that "if Chuck Schumer calls me and wants me to take a train ride down, I'd think about it."
● WI-03: Donald Trump has endorsed Navy veteran Derrick Van Orden in his second bid for Wisconsin's 3rd Congressional District. The seat recently became open when veteran Democratic Rep. Ron Kind announced his retirement, but Van Orden likely has the inside track to the nomination thanks to his strong performance against Kind last year, especially now that he has Trump's backing.