New redistricting plan is a fair compromise, says Virginia Tech expert
Redistricting of Virginia’s congressional districts has taken a significant step forward, one that seems to be a fair compromise that Republicans and Democrats should be able to live with, according to Virginia Tech’s Nicholas Goedert.
“The most significant change is the dismantling of three Republican-leaning districts in central Virginia, one of which had flipped Democratic when Abigail Spanberger was elected in 2018,” said Goedert, an assistant professor of political science, working on a broad research agenda related to legislative elections and American politics.
“They are replaced by two more heavily Republican districts and a new Democratic-leaning district in the Northern exurbs. This puts Spanberger in an awkward position, but doesn’t fundamentally change the partisan balance of the map.”
The process of drawing new districts stalled out when the Virginia Redistricting Commission failed to reach bipartisan agreement. That’s when the Virginia Supreme Court appointed two special masters – a Democrat and a Republican – to resolve the matter.
“It’s certainly a mixed bag in terms of the success of the new process. The court, acting as a backstop, appears to be operating in a conscientious and nonpartisan way. So fears that a court controlled by Republican nominees would implement a blatant Republican gerrymander appear to be unfounded,” said Goedert.
“It is my hope that given the divided nature of Virginia’s new state government, there may be sufficient pressure for the legislature to reform the commission to be more nonpartisan – and not include involvement from sitting legislators- in the future.”