They could run but they couldn’t hide

A three-judge federal court has ruled that the Texas congressional redistricing plan does not intentionally discriminate against minorities, and thus has upheld the plan. This is the plan the fear of which had caused Texas’ Democratic legislators to flee the state last year. As the Washington Times reports, the court’s decision constitutes a blow to any hope the Democrats have of regaining control of the House of Representatives. Because of Democratic gerrymandering, Democrats managed to elect 17 of 32 representatives in 2002, even though Texas is a solidly Republican state. One of the elected Democrats has switched parties, so the Texas delegation is split 16-16. After the upcoming elections, Republicans hope that as many as 22 of those 32 seats will be filled by Republicans. It seems unlikely that the Democrats will be able to offset a loss of six seats, much less regain a majority in the face of such a loss.
The court’s decision probably has more meaning for 2006 than 2004. The Democrats had little realistic hope of regaining control of the House next year even under the current distorted Texas districting scheme. However, the president’s party usually takes a hit in his sixth year, so assuming that President Bush is re-elected, history suggests that 2006 might well be a very good year for the Dems. But a good 2004 can protect the Republicans from the worst consequences of a bad 2006.

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