Redistricting could cost Weiner his seat, even if Weinergate doesn't

Could it be sitting Democrats in the House of Representatives haven’t rushed to push for Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (R-NY) resignation because they need him to absorb a redistricting blow? Some sources seem to think so:

New York will lose two seats when the U.S. House gets reconfigured to reflect population shifts recorded in the 2010 U.S. census. The state’s redistricting will be decided by the New York State Assembly in Albany, the capital, with the expected result being an overhaul that would cut a Republican seat upstate and a Democratic seat downstate. …

Before the news about Weiner’s scandal broke, it was unclear which Democrat would get cut downstate. Now, the New York Democratic sources say, it’s hard to imagine Weiner’s district will still exist in the 2012 election.

Two of the sources, both Democratic strategists in New York, said that scenario helps explain why New York Democrats haven’t rushed to call for Weiner to resign.

The redistricting option might be the most interesting of the potential conclusions to the Weinergate scandal. Whether Weiner will resign is still up in the air, despite recent Democratic calls for him to step down. But even if Weiner does resign, as Ed pointed out today on his radio show, Republicans are unlikely to win his district. True, the 9th District has supported Democratic presidential nominees by waning percentages — 67 percent for Al Gore in 2000, 56 percent for John Kerry in 2004 and 55 percent for Barack Obama in 2008. The District is ranked as the second-most conservative in New York City. But Weiner himself has always won by large margins and a Republican hasn’t held the seat since the 1920s. Redistricting seems more likely. Weiner has made himself vulnerable to the ill-will of his party — and no doubt other Democrats will be happy to let him be the redistricting scapegoat. Nate Silver puts it this way:

But it is precisely because Democratic seats in New York City are hard to lose that they are such valuable commodities. The likelihood that there will be one fewer of them next year makes them scarce commodities, too — and Mr. Weiner is unlikely to get a free pass, however the new boundaries are drawn.