State Watch

Nevada lawmakers approve maps giving edge to Democrats

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) has signed into law a redistricting measure that is likely to give Democrats an advantage in three of the Silver State’s four congressional districts for the next decade after a special session that infuriated both Republicans and Latino activists.

The new maps, approved on a near party-line vote late Tuesday, would divide Democratic-heavy Las Vegas between three districts that cover the southern half of the state. The northern half of the state is largely untouched from the present district held by Rep. Mark Amodei (R).

The three southern districts are all likely to favor Democratic incumbents, though estimates vary, and none of the three districts are overwhelmingly blue.

The new lines are a big improvement for Rep. Susie Lee (D), whose district favored President Biden over former President Trump by fewer than 1,000 votes. Lee’s district would give up some Republican-leaning precincts in Henderson, south of Las Vegas, in exchange for some Democratic territory currently represented by Rep. Dina Titus (D).

Titus’s seat, currently the safest for Democrats in the state, would give up territory to both Lee and Rep. Steven Horsford (D), whose district extends north to the rural middle of the state. Where Titus’s district favored Biden by a nearly two-to-one margin in 2020, it likely would have been far closer under the new lines.

The nonpartisan Princeton Gerrymandering Project estimates that all three seats would give Democrats an advantage of about 10 percentage points. Republicans had won two of the three seats — those held by Horsford and Lee — over the last decade, and all three seats could conceivably flip to the GOP in a wave election.

Control of the state legislature is less likely to change over the next decade. The maps that will define legislative districts likely favor Democratic majorities in a state that has trended toward Democrats at the local level, even while it remains a battleground state in federal races and the presidential contest.

“After a thoughtful, efficient and productive session, I am proud to sign these bills into law today,” Sisolak said in a statement. “These maps reflect Nevada’s diversity and reflect public feedback gathered throughout the legislative process.”

But some within the traditional Democratic coalition voiced concern that the maps did not go far enough to increase representation among Hispanic voters, who made up a substantial amount of the 400,000 new residents Nevada added over the last decade.

The new maps “fell short of keeping the 300,000 Latinx residents of the current CD1 [represented by Titus] together and still pits working-class Nevadans and affluent Nevadans against each other by combining their neighborhoods into one district,” said Emily Persaud-Zamora, executive director of Silver State Voices, a group that advocates for minority participation in elections.

None of the four newly drawn districts are drawn to give Hispanic residents a majority.

“Redistricting happens once every ten years. If we don’t resolve disparities in representation now, we will be unable to correct these injustices for at least another decade,” Persaud-Zamora said. “The redistricting process should always be about communities of interest that the members of the Legislature are elected to represent, not the benefits towards one party or the other.”

On the floor of the legislature, Republicans made many of the same points. Only one legislator — Assemblyman Edgar Flores, a Las Vegas Democrat — broke ranks to vote against his party.

Hispanic voters make up 29 percent of Nevada’s 3.1 million residents, according to figures from the 2020 Census. A decade ago, those of Hispanic origin accounted for 26 percent of the state’s 2.7 million residents. 

Tags Congressional map Dina Titus Donald Trump gerrymander Joe Biden Mark Amodei Nevada Steve Sisolak Steven Horsford Susie Lee

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