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I've said it before and I'll say it again - the most lasting impact of the Tea Party revolution that began in the 2010 election cycle is not what occurred in Washington, but what occurred in state governments around the country. This is true not just because of the suddenly-resurgent 10th Amendment movement, or the boldness of states reclaiming their rights under federalism. It's also true because of the direct impact those state governments are having on national politics.
Take my home state of Indiana. Heading into 2010, Democrats controlled the State House and held down 5 of the 9 Congressional seats. Besides seeing Republicans take the seats of two Democrat Congressmen (Ellsworth and Hill), the 2010 election brought a tidal wave of Republicans to take over both the State House and the State Senate by large majorities. Yes, that instigated conservative legislation at the state level, but it also set the stage for dramatic changes to the states' representative district lines (for both state races and national races) that will impact the next decade.
Consider what it does to the national races:
The goal for Republicans is a map where they can hold onto a seven-to-two edge over the next decade. (Republicans currently have a six-to-three edge in the congressional delegation.)
Democratic Reps. Peter Visclosky and Andre Carson will be tough to beat in heavily blue Gary and Indianapolis districts, respectively, but if Republicans can take [Democrat Representative Joe] Donnelly's seat and keep their 2010 gains, the delegation should be more than three-quarters Republican for the foreseeable future. (See The Fix's preview of the map-drawing in Indiana from November.)
You might remember the day after the election, I commented that Donnelly's remarkably narrow victory over Jackie Walorski was going to be a short-lived victory for him. His betrayal of constituents by following his liberal Democrat leadership had almost cost him his job in a district that had been heavily gerrymandered in his favor by Democrats back in 2000.
When those lines were redrawn in 2010, Donnelly would undoubtedly lose his unfair advantage and consequently his seat - particularly given the fact that Walorski had proven herself to be a capable fundraiser and worthy opponent who would now have the benefit of great name recognition. And here we are:
Under the new map, his district will be significantly altered in a way that would make it very tough for him to win. Gone are heavily Democratic Michigan City in the northwest and Kokomo in the south. The district shifts east to pick up all of heavily Republican Elkhart County and part of Kosciusko County from neighboring Rep. Marlin Stutzman's (R) 3rd district. It also grabs two smaller counties that lean significantly toward Republicans ? Miami and Wabash ? from Rep. Dan Burton's (R) 5th district.
This news managed to accomplish the impossible: it made "Silent Joe" Donnelly issue a statement:
"As for my future plans, my decision will ultimately be based on how I can best serve the people of this great state," Donnelly said. "I will soon be sitting down with my wife and children and expect to make a decision in the coming weeks."
And we'll all be waiting with bated breath, Joe. Additionally, the maps will shore up some support for Republican Todd Young in Indiana's 9th district. Obviously the Democrats are not happy about the new maps. But even outside political analysts agree, they are much cleaner and more appropriate than the skewed and rammykacked maps the Democrats concocted in 2000. The Washington Post's Aaron Blake put it this way:
[D]espite the Democrats' objections, the new map actually looks significantly cleaner than the one Democrats drew in 2001.
Daniels has called for a clean map ? where communities of interest are intact and the districts aren't contorted into odd shapes ? and he appears to have gotten it.
In other words, the Democrats' epic overreach following the election of Barack Obama has backfired by provoking a kickback in states all over the country that is undoing their unfair gerrymandering and setting the stage for a decade-long shift back towards the right. All hail the hope and change!