What To Do About Redistricting? It’s Not Nothing!

The redistricting challenge is larger than you think, but so are your options for getting ahead of it.

Redistricting is changing the electoral map and it’s a challenge not to be taken lightly. Are you prepared for the consequences of your district changing?

While many incumbents feel confident their districts are relatively safe, recent trends suggest that complacency is a dangerous choice.

> In the 2010 apportionment process, the average congressional district changed by about 25%, adding roughly 115k new constituents per Member. In fact, the average number of constituents per district has increased dramatically over time. In 1999, districts had about 572k citizens compared with 710k in 2010. This magnifies the impact and cost of shifting populations from one district to another as small changes move large numbers of people.

> In 2020, more than eight incumbents lost their primaries — a record for the past few decades. According to Bloomberg Government, 2020 saw the most House incumbent primary losses in a year without redistricting since 1974. Redistricting years are worse for incumbent losses where, on average, roughly 12 incumbents lose their primaries.

> The average margin of victory in the 2020 elections for a U.S. House race was lower than at any point since at least 2012. At the same time, turnout is reaching historic highs as changes to voting laws create new opportunities for early and mail voting. Incumbents also face declining margins of victory, as the share of incumbents receiving 60% or more of the major party vote has been declining for almost twenty years.

> The tightest U.S. House race in 2020 was in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, where Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) defeated Rita Hart (D) by a margin of just 6 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast. This was the narrowest margin of victory in any U.S. House election since 1984.

The facts align — to simply ignore redistricting can lead to terrible consequences. So, what can you do?

Even in the safest districts, the plan of action is early targeted outreach. Incumbents and first-time candidates alike can benefit from defining themselves early and running lengthy branding/ID campaigns to establish their identity. By starting early and using mostly digital options, many of the most expensive and least efficient options can be avoided such as network TV, mailings, and newspapers.

The priority for any approach would be scale — to get the word out fast in a way that doesn’t bog you down from your existing plan. That leaves two excellent options:

Non-Linear Television (Smart TV, OTT, Connected Devices): Most non-linear TV can easily be targeted by county, zip, or legislative district. Digital television is almost indistinguishable from traditional cable, but your ads make it to the large screen. This allows you to get excellent reach, frequency, and quality of impressions with new voters. Further, since the buys have greater efficiency, you don’t have to spend as much to see results.

Targeted Digital Advertising: Using similar targeting to digital tv or with first-party data, you can reach just your new constituents with targeted messages. Specifically, this allows you to bring to bear hyperlocal targeting highlighting regional/community issues which may provide highly effective.

So, what are you doing to prepare for redistricting?

If you need help, reach out to our team to see what options are best for you.