After emerging as a formidable threat in prior election cycles, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee—a group dedicated to forcing GOP state legislatures to redraw their districts in ways more favorable to Democrats—saw a 100% failure rate in 2020.
Of 14 declared targets in 10 red-leaning or battleground states, the NDRC is not believed to have had a single success in the most recent election, despite spending at least $4.5 million in direct PAC funds.
The group also is likely to have invested untold millions in indirect, dark-money contributions through a related nonprofit foundation and various organizational offshoots subject to differing degrees of IRS oversight.
Led by former Attorney General Eric Holder—and with structural and financial support from former President Barack Obama‘s erstwhile Organizing for Action PAC—the NDRC appeared to have a major impact in the 2018 and 2019 elections.
The group relied on blue-leaning, activist judges (oftentimes Obama appointees) to force states with Republican legislatures to redraw their district maps amid accusations of racial and partisan bias.
Some of the state legislatures had flipped red in 2010, largely as a popular backlash against the Obama administration. That year’s midterm election also saw heavy Congressional losses for Democrats unlike any in modern history.
But Holder and other top Democrats—including current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi—complained that, via the decennial redistricting process, Republican state legislatures had further entrenched GOP power in ways that even Obama himself could not achieve through his divisive policies.
Thus, during Hillary Clinton’s failed 2016 bid for the White House, they set to work raising massive amounts of money to wage lawsuits at both the state and federal level in order to “build a comprehensive plan to favorably position Democrats for the redistricting process” in 2021.
The NDRC was quickly able to force the 2011 maps to be redrawn in places like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. As a result, they added several new congressional seats in Democrats’ triumphant 2018 effort to regain the House majority.
However, the activists were rebuffed a 2019 Supreme Court ruling that said redistricting was the exclusive purview of states and that the high court would not hear further challenges to “partisan” gerrymandering (although it would still adjudicate “racial” issues that violated federal civil rights laws).
With that in mind, Holder and the NDRC revised their list of 2019-2020 targets, presumably throwing even more money into state and local races in the lead-up to the next round of redistricting.
Forming coalitions with other like-minded activist groups and leftist mega-donors, they achieved many of their 2019 objectives, such as flipping both houses of the Virginia General Assembly, ousting Kentucky’s Republican governor and installing a favorable judge on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The series of political and legal victories left some panicked that Holder’s gerrymandering initiatives could work in tandem with other left-wing efforts, such as court-packing and abolishing the Electoral College—to establish permanent Democrat majorities in all three branches of government while completely circumventing the will of voters.
But NDRC’s luck appears to have run out during President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election bid against Democrat challenge Joe Biden.
With most polls projecting a Biden landslide, the incumbent president closed the gap to the narrowest of margins (at press time), as well as holding the Senate majority with only one expected net loss and appearing to gain seats back in the House.
Moreover, Democrats were unsuccessful in flipping any GOP state legislatures, according to the Associated Press—although New Hampshire Republicans succeeded in taking theirs from Democrats in the Granite State.
The NDRC had specifically targeted the legislatures in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Kansas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
The group also failed to oust New Hampshire’s popular Republican governor, Chris Sununu, who handily won his third term with 65% of the vote.
While the NDRC’s explicit goal is to influence the redistricting process, it also dabbled this year in supporting activist lawsuits to boost mail-in voting and force last-minute changes to election laws under the auspices of emergency coronavirus orders.
Ironically, the group blamed alleged GOP gerrymandering for the delays in Pennsylvania’s mail-in vote-tallying, where concerns over massive vote fraud have run rampant.
Pennsylvania ‘s Republican-led legislature unsuccessfully sued to block Gov. Tom Wolf and other state officials from flouting established election laws by extending the deadlines for counting mail-in ballots and allowing laxer regulations for which ones to accept.
US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s three liberals in a deadlocked pre-election decision that preserved the ruling by Pennsylvania’s radical-leftist court to reject the state legislature and grant Wolf’s administration the arbitrary authority to jettison normal election-integrity safeguards.
However, the Trump campaign has continued to threaten lawsuits as its once commanding 600,000 vote lead on Election Day winnowed to around 100,000 as of Thursday.
If all the votes are added up in PA, Trump is going to lose. That’s why he’s working overtime to subtract as many votes as possible from this process.
For the record, he’s 0-6 against us in court. We’ve protected voting rights. Now, ignore the noise—vote!https://t.co/mN8t6TDud7
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) October 31, 2020
Yet, NDRC press secretary Molly Mitchell claimed, without evidence, that the state’s GOP legislature had hindered efforts to make voting more efficient.
“Pennsylvania Republicans have used their gerrymandered majorities to block every nonpartisan attempt from state election officials to produce a faster and more efficient vote count, as well as the same head start that 40 other states allow,” Mitchell said.
“The fact that Republican legislators and their leadership, who carried a minority of the statewide vote in 2018 but retained their majorities because of gerrymandered maps, have not offered any clear rationale for why they would not let the state start counting these ballots before polls closed should call into question their motives,” she continued. “Regardless of how long the process takes, we need to wait and make sure that every vote is counted.”
Holder’s group was not the only one to lose money betting on Democrats in 2020. The campaign broke records with an estimated $14 billion spent trying to rout high-profile Republican lawmakers such as Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine.