Hispanic-majority districts: Boon or burden for Democrats?

Yes, if three of the four new districts in Texas are majority-Hispanic, those particular districts are likely (although not by any means certain) to vote Democratic. This does not necessarily imply, however, that Democrats will benefit from their creation overall. In fact, there are many circumstances in which the majority-minority requirement can be harmful to Democrats. The key is in thinking about not just what happens with the four new districts, but also how this impacts Texas’ 32 existing ones…

So what happens now? Well, the Democrats are indeed huge favorites in District E. But they are now outnumbered, 11 to 9, in the four existing ones. Instead of there being 2 Republican-leaning districts and 2 Democratic-leaning districts, there is now just one district that favors the Democrats and 4 where the Republicans have the advantage.

This stuff is pretty basic, really, but I’m surprised how often analyses of redistricting suffer from this logical flaw. The number of Democrats and Republicans in any given state at any given time is, in essence, fixed. If a new Democratic district is created, those Democrats must be taken from somewhere else. It is quite possible that in the process of creating one new Democratic district, two or more districts will be tipped toward Republicans.