New York Redistricting: Big Apple, Small Changes

by Jacob Rubashkin March 1, 2024 · 3:24 PM EST

After two years of legal challenges, a torpedoed judicial nomination, an electoral wipeout, and a flurry of legislative activity, New York finally has a congressional map in place for the rest of the decade.

Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Empire State’s new congressional map into law this week, capping off a saga that began when the state’s high court tossed out a Democratic-drawn gerrymander in 2022 and crescendoed later that year when Republicans flipped four House seats using a map drawn by a court-appointed special master.

The map Democrats ultimately passed is a far cry from the gerrymander that the state legislature attempted in early 2022, and in fact differs only slightly in partisanship from the special master’s map used last cycle — an outcome that surprised many observers, given the drama surrounding the legal challenges Democrats used to get another chance to draw the lines.

Some Democratic strategists in Washington, DC and New York had hoped that state legislators would more forcefully target as many as seven Republican-held seats with the new map, perhaps as a counterbalance to an aggressive Republican gerrymander in North Carolina that will net the GOP up to 4 seats. But those hopes went largely unfulfilled, with one exception.

The new map remains highly competitive for both parties, with seven seats beginning on the battlefield. Given the limited changes in district-level partisanship, Inside Elections is shifting just one race in Democrats’ favor.

New York’s 22nd District. GOP Rep. Brandon Williams of Syracuse was already one of the most vulnerable House Republicans in the country, and his district was the most affected of any in the delegation, shifting from one that would have voted for Joe Biden in 2020 by 7 points, 52-45 percent, to one Biden would have carried by 11 points, 54-43 percent. 

Williams won a narrow victory in 2022, running 4 points behind the top of the ticket, and is not seen as savvy a campaigner as 4th District Rep. Anthony D’Esposito or 17th District Rep. Mike Lawler, the two Republicans who represent more Republican districts. He’s broken with his party on fewer occasions than other New York Republicans, and has some personal baggage as well. Democrats are sorting through a primary but either one of their candidates, DeWitt Town Councilor Sarah Klee Hood or state Sen. John Mannion, would be formidable. Move from Toss-up to Tilt Democratic.

Elsewhere, the mapmakers made minor changes that could still affect outcomes this year. 

New York’s 1st District. Republican Nick LaLota’s Long Island district sits on the periphery of the battlefield. The new map turns it from a seat Biden would have carried by 0.7 points to one Trump would have carried by 1.2 points. That makes things slightly more difficult for Democrats, who haven’t avoided a primary here between 2020 nominee/chemistry professor Nancy Goroff and former CNN anchor John Avlon, but isn’t enough to merit a ratings change yet. Lean Republican.

New York’s 3rd District. Democrat Tom Suozzi is fresh off of his special election victory in this Nassau and Queens seat, and the state legislature shored up his position in this new map. The new 3rd would have voted for Biden by 11 points, up from 8 points under the old lines. That’s a boost to Suozzi, but the special means this race is getting off to a later start than some of the other contests in New York, so we’re keeping this race at Lean Democratic for now.

New York’s 16th District. While this district won’t be competitive in the general election, it’s playing host to one of the most competitive Democratic primaries this cycle. Progressive Rep. Jamaal Bowman is facing a well-funded challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who has support from AIPAC and affiliated organizations. There was some speculation that the legislature might place more of the Bronx back into the 16th District, which would have benefitted Bowman, but instead the seat remained dominated by Westchester. Solid Democratic.