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Republicans could lose as many as four seats in Pennsylvania based on new congressional map

Former President Barack Obama waves after speaking at a campaign rally for Tom Wolf (left), Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor, in November 2014 at Temple University in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court approved a new congressional map after lawmakers and Wolf failed to agree on a revision. (2014 file photo/Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has approved a new congressional map for the state that could hand Democrats several additional seats in November’s elections, after the original map was determined to be an unconstitutional gerrymander that disproportionately favored Republicans, according to the Washington Post.

The map was drawn by Nate Persily, adviser to the court, and approved by a 4-3 vote.

Republicans, with the verbal support of President Donald Trump, are expected to challenge the map, but it’s unclear whether there is strong legal ground for a challenge to the court’s redraw.

What is the impact of the new map?

The new map redraws the congressional districts in a way that more closely reflects the way voters were split in the 2016 presidential election. Trump won Pennsylvania with 48.6 percent of the vote.

Republicans currently hold 13 out of 18 seats. The new map is split with 10 districts that Trump won and eight that Hillary Clinton won. According to the Pew Research Center, an overwhelming majority of congressional districts are won by presidential and congressional candidates of the same party.

What were the guidelines for the redraw?

The new map splits fewer than half as many counties as the Republicans’ 2011 map did. The new districts are also much more geographically compact.

According to the court’s majority, the new map is superior to previous proposals based on “traditional redistricting criteria of compactness, contiguity, equality of population, and respect for the integrity of political subdivisions.”

Why did the court draw the map?

Republican lawmakers and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) couldn’t agree to a new map by the Feb. 15 deadline set by the court.

Any challenge by GOP lawmakers to this map would likely be based on the argument that drawing congressional maps is the job of the Legislature. However, the Legislature’s failure to pass a map that had the approval of the governor when given the opportunity may undermine that stance.

Trump urged the Pennsylvania GOP to keep fighting for their original map.

“Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new 'pushed' Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning. “Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money!”

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