Ohio lawmakers are scheduled to hold hearings next week on a pair of maps drawn up in the redistricting process ahead of next year’s midterms after the state lost a seat in the last census.
One map proposed by Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate chamber is raising eyebrows by adding urban Democratic strongholds to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan’s rural conservative district. Jordan is the state’s most prominent House member.
“This Ohio Senate GOP map would gerrymander Rep. Jim Jordan, a leading Trump ally and the top R in the House Judiciary Committee, out of his district,” wrote New York Post reporter Juliegrace Brufke. “He would be put against Dem Rep. Joyce Beatty.”
This Ohio Senate GOP map would gerrymander Rep. Jim Jordan, a leading Trump ally and the top R in the House Judiciary Committee, out of his district. He would be put against Dem Rep. Joyce Beatty. https://t.co/Ht5ns9bhZH
— Juliegrace Brufke (@juliegraceb) November 3, 2021
But will he? The new map shown below side-by-side with the existing map on the right shows a shift in Ohio’s 4th district from including several counties in the north to half of Delaware County and portions of Franklin County, home to the capital of Columbus.
The district’s core counties of Allen, Auglaize, Shelby Logan, Champaign, and Union would remain the same, home to nearly 345,000 people. About another 107,00o in the district would come from suburban Delaware, and 331,000 from Franklin. Communities in Franklin County, including Clintonville and Linden, are large Democratic neighborhoods currently represented by Rep. Joyce Beatty, a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
While population puts the new Fourth Congressional District in jeopardy of a 50/50 race at first glance, electoral margins across each county still put the race in Jordan’s favor. Looking at last year’s results in the presidential contest, as opposed to congressional since Delaware and Franklin voted for different candidates, President Donald Trump carried Allen, Auglaize, Shelby Logan, Champaign, and Union together three-to-one.
Delaware County went for Trump by seven points, despite many of the county’s densely-populated precincts flipping for Joe Biden by double-digits. Democrats carried Franklin by 31 points, although Jordan’s district would only adopt at most a third of the county. In order to overcome vote totals in the seven GOP-dominated northwest neighboring counties, the Democrat’s margins would have to be far higher.
As written, the new district outlined by Ohio Senate Republicans appears as if it had an R+10 advantage, although is far less safer than surrounding districts as shown by the Gannett map below:
A race could also become more competitive than Republicans might like in a hostile year over the next decade if the Delaware suburbs continue to experience the same demographic changes that flipped Georgia and Virginia blue. Tuesday’s results in Virginia look promising for a suburban reversal, but nothing is certain in American politics one year out.
The swing suburbs possibly adopted by Jordan include communities such as Westerville, routinely at the center of presidential campaigns, which are also home to a different brand of Republican. Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who lives in Westerville, represented Delaware County in both Congress and the state Senate before a temporary retirement from office in 2001.
Both maps proposed by lawmakers in the House and Senate give Jordan and Rep.-elect Mike Carey in the 15th district portions of Franklin County, although the House gives Jordan far less territory. Any map that would forfeit the entire county would either land Democrats another seat in the lower chamber or violate gerrymandering reforms passed by voters ahead of the 2020 census.
“We believe our proposal is constitutional and compliant and we look forward to hearing the process continuing next week,” Ohio Senate Majority Caucus Spokesman John Fortney told The Federalist.