As the nation focuses on the highly anticipated national midterm elections, heated races are underway at the state level as well. The outcomes of these races will in turn impact the makeup of future U.S. Congresses.
With numbers from the 2010 Census being calculated, state Senate and House members will have to redraw districts for the U.S. House of Representatives (members of the U.S. House represent certain districts within their state). Each state is given a certain number of seats within the U.S. House of Representatives based on its population. States such as California have 53 members in the U.S. House because its population is the largest of all the states. By comparison, a state like Delaware has only one member in the U.S. House because its overall population is so small.
The advantage of winning state elections in a year ending in zero is that members of the state legislatures have the power to determine the districting lines, which can favor the political parties that create them. Redistricting can only occur once every 10 years, after new Census data is released.
According to a study by Election Data Services, based on 2010 Census estimates, 12 U.S. House seats will probably shift from states in the Midwest and Northeast to states that have a rapidly growing populations in the South and West.
"The potential power to redraw congressional districts has injected unheard-of spending into this year's state legislative races," revealed NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman.
If a particular party wins a majority within its state legislatures, then that party will hold the power to decide the layout of new districts.
"A year that ends in zero, it is also very important in terms of control of Congress, because those legislators who are elected this year will draw the congressional district lines for a decade in most states." --Ed Gillespie, Former Republican National Committee Chairman
"This is the most purely political process in politics." --Tom Boiner, of theNational Committee for an Effective Congress on redistricting.
1. What is a state legislature? How is it similar or different to the U.S. Legislative branch?
2. What does the term "redistricting" mean?
3. What is the U.S. Census and how often does it occur?
1. According to the video, why are political parties vying heavily to win state legislative races in 2010?
2. Why do some states have more political districts than others?
3. Have you ever been in a situation where a group was allowed to make the rules? Do you think it was fair? Why or why not?