Governor Evers Signs New Legislative Maps

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 9:49 AM | WiSCA (Administrator)

It’s been nearly a year since Janet Protasiewicz was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court flipping it from a 4-3 conservative court to a 4-3 liberal court. Since that time there has been constant speculation as to what that result would mean for Wisconsin’s legislative district boundaries and a potential new redistricting process. It appears that we now know the answer. In late December, the Court found that the lines as constructed resulted in an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and requested from the legislature and Governor that they present them with new maps that better fit their definition of “fair” maps.

The maps in question currently yield a 22-11 majority for republicans in the state senate and a 64-35 majority for republicans in the assembly. Nearly two-thirds of all legislators are republican even though democrats have won fourteen of the last seventeen statewide elections. Democrats have said that the districts are gerrymandered and should be redrawn to better reflect Wisconsin’s electorate.

Republicans have countered that the maps were constructed in accordance with the law and that Wisconsin’s population makes it such that democrats are more concentrated in certain areas of the state which gives republicans a natural geopolitical advantage. They also argue Republicans do better in down ballot races so that the top of the ticket performance shouldn’t be the primary factor in assessing whether or not maps are fair.

The Supreme Court requested that parties submit new maps by January 12th and appointed two nonpartisan consultants to review the maps and make suggestions by February 1st. Various entities including republicans and democrats in the legislature, the Governor, the plaintiffs in the case and others did submit maps. On February 1st, the consultants found that of the six maps in consideration, the two republican maps did not “deserve further consideration” because they were considered “partisan gerrymanders”. According to the consultants, the four remaining maps fit the criteria sought by the Court and could be considered for the final maps. All four of these maps would have the very likely result of pushing the Senate and Assembly to a more evenly balanced partisan split.

While the Supreme Court was considering how to determine final maps, Republicans in the legislature surprisingly made the decision to pass the exact maps that Evers submitted. Surprising because under the Evers version of the maps many current republican incumbents would either be paired with other incumbents or drawn into districts that are more favorable to democrats. By the numbers alone the Evers maps would significantly bridge the partisan gap in both the Senate and Assembly and would give democrats a chance at some point to win the majority in one of the houses. Something they haven’t done since they lost both houses in the 2010 elections. Governor Evers signed his maps (sent to him by the legislature) and barring a court challenge Wisconsin will indeed have new maps going in to the 2024 elections.

The new maps still lean slightly republican, but democrats will have more representation in both houses and have an outside chance to gain the majority in both the Senate and the Assembly. Regardless of whether the houses flip, the margins will certainly be compressed, and the overall dynamics will shift next session.

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