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Despite court drama, ratings unchanged in Alabama and Mississippi

Under new lines, primaries may be the only competitive elections

The Supreme Court blocked a ruling that would have created a second Alabama district — in addition to Democratic Rep. Terri A. Sewell's — in which Black voters could influence the outcome.
The Supreme Court blocked a ruling that would have created a second Alabama district — in addition to Democratic Rep. Terri A. Sewell's — in which Black voters could influence the outcome. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — It’s been a roller coaster of emotion in the South. What looked like another mundane round of redistricting in Alabama and Mississippi escalated to a Supreme Court case that had potential ramifications in other states. In the end, however, the final decision settled the situation back to a status quo result, for this year at least. 

The bottom line is that Republicans currently have a 6-to-1 advantage in Alabama’s House delegation and a 3-to-1 advantage in Mississippi’s House delegation. With control of redistricting in both states, Republicans looked to lock in that edge for another 10 years. 

In January, however, a panel of three federal judges tossed out Alabama’s map and ordered the state to draw a new map that includes a second district in which Black voters have a better chance to elect a candidate of their choice. 

Since that decision acknowledged a potential violation of the Voting Rights Act, it had the potential to force mapmakers in other states with large Black populations, such as Louisiana and South Carolina, to draw additional Black opportunity districts. Those seats would likely have been more Democratic and put a hurdle in front of GOP efforts to regain the House majority. Republicans need a net gain of five seats in November. 

[More House race ratings | Initial Senate race ratings]

It was a glimmer of hope for Democrats, who weren’t in charge of drawing as many seats nationwide through the redistricting process compared to Republicans.

But in early February, action from the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Alabama map to stay in place for the 2022 cycle. The action eliminated imminent legal pressure on other states to draw more Black opportunity districts, and the court plans to hear the case on its merits in the fall. Its decision will have wide-reaching ramifications for redistricting in the future.

As it stands, all 11 districts across Alabama and Mississippi are rated either Solid Republican or Solid Democratic. Louisiana still hasn’t finalized its lines. 

That means the most important electoral action will be in the primaries. There’s a competitive GOP primary in Alabama’s 5th District on May 24 to replace Rep. Mo Brooks, who is struggling to maintain support in the U.S. Senate race. (Former President Donald Trump recently withdrew his endorsement from the congressman.) And GOP Rep. Steven M. Palazzo is facing another competitive primary in Mississippi’s 4th District on June 7. Those races, including potential runoffs, look like the extent of House race action for this cycle. 

Races rated Solid Republican

Alabama

 Mississippi

Races rated Solid Democratic

Alabama

Mississippi

Nathan L. Gonzales is an elections analyst with CQ Roll Call.

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