In a massive victory for Democrats, a federal court hearing a challenge to North Carolina’s Republican-drawn congressional map struck it down on Tuesday evening as a partisan gerrymander designed to benefit the GOP in violation of the constitution. The ramifications of this ruling are enormous: If current district lines are replaced with a nonpartisan map, Democrats could gain anywhere from two to five seats, according to an analysis by Stephen Wolf, as shown at the top of this post.
The case could also give further ammunition to plaintiffs seeking to invalidate gerrymandered maps elsewhere on the same grounds. Republicans will inevitably appeal to the Supreme Court, which is adjudicating two other similar cases, so the outcome may yet change. It’s important to note that the Supreme Court has never before sustained a challenge to a map on the basis that it impermissibly benefits one political party over another, but it recently signaled a new openness toward doing so, so there’s a real chance this ruling could stand. And if new lines are put in place for this year’s midterm elections, that would go a long way toward helping Democrats win back the House.
The only prospect more daunting to savvy Republicans than that of a November ticket headed by Donald Trump is that of a November ticket headed byTed Cruz.
Every bit as extreme as Trump on the issues, equally combative and at least as ethically challenged, Cruz is Trump with an extra helping of meanness. So unappealing is the prospect of Cruz as the party’s nominee that there has long been a quiet consensus among Republican and Democratic strategists that the selection of the Texas senator as the party’s standard-bearer could lead to a Democratic landslide in the fall.
If Trump’s a bad dream, Cruz is a nightmare. As theWashington Postobservedin January (when establishment Republicans in Iowa were scrambling to upend the senator as the front runner in that state’s caucus competition): “There’s an opportunism to Trump’s positions, of course, just as there is to Cruz’s softened position on ethanol. But Trump’s pliability is obvious; Cruz’s isn’t. For lobbyists and senators and members of the Republican National Committee, pliability is important.”
Since January, the threat posed by Trump has become increasingly unsettling to GOP leaders — and the great mass of Americans. And recent days has seen an aggressive effort to block the billionaire.
But the last thing that the Republican establishment wanted to come from a week ofmaneuvering to managethe Trump surge that was so amply illustrated on “Super Tuesday” was a Cruz surge on “Super Saturday.”
The hope was that political careerist Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who has never shown any penchant for saying “no” to campaign donors or corporate lobbyists, would somehow gain traction.
Unfortunately for the GOP insiders who cannot seem to catch a break this election year, “Super Saturday” was super for Ted Cruz.
And what of Rubio? He finished a weak third in Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana. And in Maine he was in fourth place, trailing behind the only serious (and thus most marginalized) candidate left in the Republican race: Ohio Governor John Kasich.
The nightmare scenario of a Trump-Cruz race is now looking more likely than ever.
Republican leaders have to be asking: How did the party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower end up faced with the choice between a narcissistic billionaire who keeps saying awful things and a narcissistic senator who keeps doing awful things?
If the Republican elites who stopped listening long ago to their better angels really want an answer to that question, of course, they need only they look in the mirror.