What to know about the latest New York House map

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New York passed new congressional lines this week that will offer some clarity to candidates and voters alike on what the House map looks like, after a protracted redistricting battle.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a map drawn by state legislators into law Wednesday, which offers slight changes to a handful of seats and gives Democrats a slight edge in the Empire State. The state received a new map after Democrats won a lawsuit last year asking that a bipartisan commission to get a redo on the congressional lines.

The new map surprisingly placates both parties, meaning it’s likely there won’t be any more changes to it or the June primary date.

Here’s what to know about the latest New York House map:

A handful of districts are seeing changes

New York’s congressional map is not going to differ much from one that was proposed by the bipartisan Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) earlier this year. Analysts note that Democratic Reps. Tom Suozzi in the 3rd Congressional District and Pat Ryan in the 18th Congressional District will benefit from the new map, with their seats tilting a little more blue.

But map will hurt Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) in the 22nd Congressional District, where his seat goes from one that previously would have voted for President Biden by 7 points in 2020 to one that would have gone for Biden by 11 points.

Analysts note there’s a few other minor changes — Rep. Nick LaLota’s (R) seat in the 1st District swings from a seat that would have given Biden an edge in 2020 to one that would have given former President Trump an edge.

GOP Rep. Andrew Garbarino’s seat in the 2nd District tilts slightly less Republican than before, while Rep. Marc Molinaro’s (R) seat in the 19th leans a bit less Democratic.

Democrats enjoy a slight edge with new map

Democrats will enjoy a slight edge with the new map, which was signed by Hochul, while still retaining a largely competitive House terrain.

Dave Wasserman, senior editor and elections analyst at the nonpartisan election handicapper Cook Political Report, wrote Thursday that the handicapper was changing Suozzi’s seat from “lean Democrat” to “likely Democrat” while Williams’ seat moved from “toss up” to “lean Democrat.”

GOP Reps. Anthony D’Esposito in the 4th District, Mike Lawler in the 17th and Marc Molinaro’s in the 19th remain “toss ups.”

The map has managed to placate both parties — a feat amid expectations of an anticipated Democratic gerrymander. Former Rep. John Faso (R-N.Y.) told The Hill that Republicans didn’t expect to challenge the newest map.

The New York congressional delegation is currently made up of 15 Democrats and 10 Republicans, but Democrats only need to net a small handful of seats to flip the majority.

The new map came at the expense of a protracted redistricting battle

Why did New Yorkers go through this redistricting battle in the first place? To answer that, we first have to look to the November 2022 midterms.

During the last election cycle, the bipartisan IRC deadlocked and was unable to offer a set of maps to the Democratic-controlled state legislature to vote on, prompting lawmakers to devise their own lines that Hochul later signed. But those lines were later tossed out by a court, and a court-appointed special master was ordered to make the House map instead.

The special master’s congressional lines led Republicans to a gain a handful of seats in the Empire State, which helped deliver the Republicans’ narrow House majority.

Democrats filed a lawsuit asking for the IRC to have a second opportunity to propose a new map, and a New York court sided with them last year. The IRC did produce new maps, which they passed last month, but were later rejected by the state legislature.

Despite concerns that state lawmakers would produce a heavily gerrymandered House map proposal of their own, the state legislature created a slightly amended version of the one introduced by the IRC, which even received some support from GOP state lawmakers.

The House majority runs through New York

The new map in New York is critical because both parties have learned since the midterms that the path to winning the majority will run, in part, through New York.

With several GOP incumbents running in “toss up” seats and one running in a “lean Democrat” seat, those could help make the difference between which party retains control of the lower chamber. Redistricting plays a key role in how seats are drawn and which party they help.

California also played a critical part in determining the House majority and Cook Political Rates four of those GOP-held seats as “toss ups.”

Meanwhile, Democrats are expected to pick up a seat in both Alabama and Louisiana, after second Black majority districts were created, and Republicans are set to win several spots in North Carolina after the GOP-led legislature passed a House map that gives Republicans the advantage in 10 seats. (Republicans and Democrats are evenly split in North Carolina’s congressional delegation 7-7.)

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