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Competitive districts in new Ohio House and Senate maps disproportionately hurt Democrats

Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
A list of competitive districts in the new Ohio House map through an analysis of the voter index for each district drawn. The analysis was provided by the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

Opponents have until Tuesday to file objections to the new maps, approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission on a party line vote over the weekend.

All but one of the competitive seats created by the Ohio Redistricting Commission are labeled as Democratic-leaning districts.

This means the actual partisan composition of next year's Ohio House and Senate chambers could be drastically different than what is proposed in the plan.

The analysis of the Republican-drawn House district maps states that there are 42 Democratic-leaning seats out of 99 seats total. But voter index data shows 12 of those 42 seats only give Democrats a slight advantage of 3% or less, essentially making those districts a toss-up.

Based on the new Senate map, four of the 13 Democratic-leaning districts are within the same margins.

As far as the seats designated as favoring Republicans, none are considered competitive in the House and just one is considered competitive in the Senate.

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, says this means many so-called Democratic seats could swing in favor of Republicans and making it possible for the party to retain a supermajority.

"It could be won by a Democratic person or it could be won by a Republican. And so in fact, the only real competitive leaning seats are the ones that are Democratic seats. That's where the unfairness is," says Turcer.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the Ohio Redistricting Commission must redraw the maps previously approved in September.

The ruling stated that the commission must abide by the constitutional requirement for the map's partisan breakdown to proportionally reflect election results. Over the last ten years, statewide races have resulted in Republicans getting an average of 54% of the vote and Democrats getting 46%.

Republican commission members say the maps they approved on Saturday came as close as possible to complying with that proportionality mandate without violating other constitutional requirements.

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