Alot of people have pointed out that House losses in Ohio shouldn’t be a big deal because the GOP has already gerrymandered Ohio to their maximum advantage.
However, what that fails to take into context is that Ohio is about to lose 2 of its 18 seats once the census figures are published, which gives the GOP an opportunity to take a 13-5 House advantage to 13-3. Below are some scenarios that will enable them to accomplish that:
Lost Seat #1: Shore up Jim Renacci, combine Tim Ryan and Betty Sutton.
This scenario seems like the easiest call for the Republicans. Currently Renacci was just elected to OH-16 which contains Stark (Canton/Massillon), Wayne (Wooster), Medina (Cleveland exurbs), and Ashland (rural, very conservative) Counties.
This district was drawn in 2000 to protect GOP moderate stalwart Ralph Regula who lived in the Canton area. Canton & Stark County also happen to be the most Dem friendly parts of the district as currently constructed, voting for both Kerry and Obama in 2004 & 2008. With Renacci’s home in Wadsworth (Medina County), it will be easy for Republicans to combine parts of the current OH-10, 13, 16, 17 & 18 into two districts.
Renacci’s new district will shift north and west, abandoning Stark County in the process by swallowing the Medina & Cuyahoga County portions of OH-13 (these suburbs: Strongsville, North Royalton & Brecksville are the most reliably GOP leaning areas of Dem-heavy Cuyahoga County), the eastern Lorain County portion of 13 (Avon, Avon Lake, North Ridgeville: fast growing GOP suburbs) and the western edge of OH-10 (Bay Village, Rocky River, Westlake). Whatever portions of Wayne & Ashland counties in the southern part of his current district that won’t fit population-wise can be eaten up by Gibbs in present-day OH-18.
That leaves a new Democratic district comprised of Akron, Canton & Youngstown that draws Sutton’s home in Copley (just outside Akron) and Ryan’s home in Niles (just outside Youngstown) into the same district and forces a primary between the two most promising congressional Dems in Ohio. Taking one of these two out will be a major boon to the GOP by eliminating or weakening the strongest challengers to Portman or Kasich in 2014 and 2016.
Lost Seat #2: This is where it gets harder for the GOP to come up with another lost Dem seat. The possibilities in order of likelihood:
1. With Renacci squeezing Kucinich to the west, the Republicans could draw a new minority-majority district in Cleveland by moving Fudge and Kucinich into the same district. This would involve LaTourette scraping off the eastern edge of Fudge’s territory. The new map would basically be the city of Cleveland + inner ring suburbs.
In this situation, Kucinich would likely retire or move to the suburbs to challenge Renacci where he would lose in an R+ district.
2. Split up Columbus 3 ways. Columbus presents a problem for Republicans in the state. It is the area that is experiencing the most population growth in the state, and it is also the area that is trending the strongest towards Democrats.
Currently OH-12 (Tibieri) and OH-15 (Stivers) represent the city by drawing in as much as they can from the sparsely populated surrounding counties. Even here, both districts are perpetually threatened, with Kilroy (D) holding OH-15 for one term before her defeat this year. OH-12 is actually the bluer of the two Columbus districts, but Dems can never seem to recruit the right candidate to beat Tibieri.
To stave off flipping one of these seats permanently to Team Blue, the GOP could find a way to give Gibbs or Turner a slice of the Columbus pie and keep Dem votes divided.
3. The last scenario I could see happening doesn’t get the GOP to 13-3, but could be a prudent strategic move for them in SW Ohio.
By eliminating OH-2 (Schmidt), they could expand Chabot’s district to the east and leave him less vulnerable to a Democratic wave year like 2008. Turner and Johnson (OH-6)would take what was left of Mean Jean’s territory and help shore up their own re-election hopes.
Schmidt’s constant underperformance is likely a drag on RCCC funds as they constantly have to defend the 2nd most Republican seat in Ohio due to the relative unpopularity of Ms. Schmidt.
These are just a few scenarios and I’m sure I’m missing others. Another possibility would be to force Marcy Kaptur and Bob Latta into a showdown, but Kapur’s seat is already so gerrymandered, I’m not sure how you draw in Toledo & the islands without strengthening the Dems.