State Has Few Competitive Assembly Districts
New redistricting approved by high court could leave just 3 of 99 districts with competitive races.
There likely won’t be many competitive state Assembly districts under Wisconsin’s new Republican-drawn legislative map that was adopted by the state Supreme Court last week.
Depending on how you measure it, there might only be three.
GOP leaders billed their latest map as a “least changes” redistricting plan, but there are places on the map where lines were moved in strategic ways that benefit Republicans.
Marquette University research fellow and redistricting expert John D. Johnson analyzed the plan using the average results of the 2020 presidential race, the 2018 governor’s race and the 2016 presidential race — three elections with extremely close outcomes. Based on those numbers, he said Republicans would be expected to win a 63-36 majority in the Assembly under the new map in a 50-50 election.
“But perhaps even more importantly, they reduced the number of competitive seats in either direction,” Johnson said. “If you had neutrally drawn maps, you would have many more state Assembly districts where either a Republican or a Democrat could plausibly win from year to year. Now, there’s only a handful of places where it actually feels like the outcome is unknown before Election Day.”
Johnson said that could have implications for money in politics with big donors playing a bigger role in a small number of races.
“Increasingly there are not very many races for them to spend that money on in a meaningful way,” Johnson said. “And so you get tons of money pouring into these very small number of competitive races.”
The legislative map drawn by Gov. Tony Evers, which was initially adopted by the state Supreme Court before it was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court, had more competitive districts but not many. Johnson said there would have been six competitive districts under Evers’ plan.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Redistricting expert: There are few competitive districts in new Wisconsin Assembly map was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.