Experts say Michigan's new political district maps are fairer and will shift political landscape

Posted at 6:23 AM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 06:23:51-05

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan's new political maps are set to make local elections across the state more competitive. Experts say the maps are fairer and any leftover advantage comes down to geography.

“In the past the districts had been drawn by, in the case of the last two times, Republican legislatures and so they unsurprisingly were more favorable toward Republican outcomes," said Matt Grossmann, the director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University. "So voters will see that these districts will be less favorable toward Republican outcomes."

That's not to say these new maps are unfair towards the state GOP.

“Given a 50-50 statewide split in the vote, you should expect about a 50-50 statewide split in the House and Senate and congressional seats," Grossmann said.

Michael Li who studies redistricting with the Brennan Center for Justice says the commission was successful in that regard.

"I think Michigan is one of the decade's great success stories," he said. "You know, a lot of people were really very closely following what happened at Michigan because, last decade, Michigan had really gerrymandered maps, some of the worst in the country."

Li says he also was happy to see how public the process was.

"Some of the initial maps that the commission put out got panned a lot. People were very critical of the maps, but the commission heard a lot of testimony about that took a lot of that criticism in and made adjustments to the maps," he said.

The new maps will have pretty big impacts on Michigan's political landscape. The change we'll likely notice first is, due to shifting district lines, there are incumbents who will face off against one another if they run for reelection.

“There are a whole bunch of legislators that are in districts with each other. There are some districts with no current legislators in there," Grossmann said. "It really is a bit of a free for all and we're seeing that already with members of Congress changing the location of where they're going to live or deciding not to run for Congress. All of that is in response to these new lines.”