FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) - Draft maps for new congressional districts in Virginia would provide Democrats a strong chance to win six or seven of the state's 11 seats, but they also draw Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger out of her Richmond-area district.
The maps released Wednesday were prepared by two special masters - one each nominated by Democrats and Republicans - in accordance with an order from the Supreme Court of Virginia. The court has stepped in to draw the maps after a new bipartisan redistricting commission failed to agree on maps for either Congress or the General Assembly.
Spanberger represents the 7th District in central Virginia, a swing district. Under the new maps, the 7th District becomes significantly more Democratic, but it is redrawn to have its main voting bloc in Prince William County in Democratic-leaning northern Virginia, rather than the Richmond area.
In a memo to the court, special masters Bernard Grofman and Sean Trende say six of the 11 districts have a Democratic lean, and four of the 11 lean Republican. The 2nd District, which covers Virginia Beach and parts of Hampton Roads, would be swing district, as it is now. It is currently represented by Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria. Under the draft map, the 2nd District has a very narrow 50-48 Democratic edge, based on election results from 2016 and 2020.
“In a very good Republican year, Republicans could win a majority of the seats in Virginia’s delegation," the special masters wrote. ”Generally, however, we would expect to see a 6-5 Democratic edge in Virginia’s delegation. In very good Democratic years, Democrats might perhaps achieve the 7-4 that they now enjoy from having won two highly competitive seats in 2020."
The maps proposed by the two special masters are, on a partisan basis, even better than the map Democrats sought on the failed redistricting panel. Democrats had supported a map that created five safe Democratic districts and two swing districts. The maps drawn by the special masters create five safe Democratic districts, one that leans Democratic and one swing district.
The Democratic-leaning district, the 10th District, is currently represented by Democrat Jennifer Wexton. Under the proposed maps, it would still be based in Loudoun County, but would lose a number of Democratic precincts in Fairfax County. It would have a 7-point Democratic edge.
The proposed General Assembly maps would have a 53-47 Democratic edge in the House of Delegates and a 23-17 Democratic advantage in the state Senate.
Two public hearings on the maps will be held later this month.