Landscape in flux ahead of primary voting: The Note
Four states still haven’t finished drawing congressional districts.
The TAKE with Rick Klein
It's not just that politics is moving fast. It's that it's moving fast inside a voting structure that itself has not settled down.
As April of the midterm election year begins, four states still haven't finished drawing congressional districts that will be filled in mere months. Two states have already had to push back their primaries because of redistricting battles.
This week brought news that the Ohio Supreme Court won't review the state's new House map until after the May 3 primary there. On Thursday, a New York state judge threw out the new map there and gave lawmakers less than two weeks to draw a new one -- a rebuke to Democrats who carved up the state to their benefit.
The process of redrawing House maps has already run counter to expected narratives. An exhaustive analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that, pending final resolutions in a few states, the new 2022 map will feature 11 more Democratic-leaning seats, six less GOP-heavy ones and the smallest number of competitive House districts in a quarter century.
Plus, voting laws that were the center of so much controversy in 2021 could still change in significant ways. Lawmakers in Georgia just this week abandoned efforts to further tighten voting laws beyond last year's changes, and a federal judge in Florida on Thursday struck down key parts of the new voting law there.
"At some point, when the Florida Legislature passes law after law disproportionately burdening Black voters, this Court can no longer accept that the effect is incidental," District Court Judge Mark Walker wrote.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, promised an appeal and predicted that the original law would stand. Separately, DeSantis' veto of a redistricting plan his own party helped craft means the issue is headed to a special legislative session later this month.
Big questions remain unanswered. One guaranteed result is confusion about the process of voting, in a year where the fundamentals of democracy are being tested.
The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper
Parents and advocates in Florida are waging the latest culture war battle in federal court, suing the state over legislation critics call the "Don't Say Gay" law.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of LGBTQ students, parents and several advocacy organizations who say the legislation, officially known as the Parental Rights in Education bill, is an "unlawful attempt to stigmatize, silence and erase LGBTQ people in Florida's public schools."
"I am frightened that this new law will prevent my daughter's teachers from protecting her from bullying at school," said Lindsay McClelland, the mother of a transgender fifth grader who is a plaintiff in the suit. "All I want is for my daughter to be able to learn in a safe environment like any other student."
The bill prohibits classroom instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade and includes the caveat that any instruction on those topics cannot occur "in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards." Under the legislation, parents are allowed to sue if the topics are taught.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has pushed for a host of controversial legislation pertaining to "parental rights," signed the legislation into law Monday. DeSantis is up for reelection this year and is widely considered a potential GOP presidential contender.
"This calculated, politically motivated, virtue-signaling lawsuit is meritless, and we will defend the legality of parents to protect their young children from sexual content in Florida public schools," DeSantis' office said in a statement sent to ABC News.
The TIP with Alisa Wiersema
North Carolina GOP Rep. Madison Cawthorn is closing the week at odds with some members of his own party after claiming lawmakers invited him to orgies and used cocaine in front of him. Days later, those claims landed him in hot water with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
As reported by ABC News' Mariam Khan, McCarthy told the freshman lawmaker he had "lost his trust" and that Cawthorn needed to take steps to regain that trust and "turn his life around" or else there would be consequences, such as losing his committee assignments. Cawthorn told McCarthy that his allegations about the sex parties and cocaine use were exaggerated and untrue, a source familiar with the conversation told ABC News.
In a new ad released following the meeting with McCarthy, Cawthorn said "the entire left-wing establishment has targeted him" and said in a tweet that he "won't bow to the mob."
Meanwhile, Cawthorn's history of exaggerated claims and controversial statements in Washington are also affecting his positioning on the campaign trail. On Thursday, Sen. Thom Tillis, a fellow North Carolina Republican, endorsed Cawthorn's primary challenger, Chuck Edwards. The move signals eroding party support for the Trump-backed freshman -- initially painted as a rising Republican star -- as he faces his first re-election challenge.
"The 11th Congressional District deserves a congressman who is fully dedicated to serving their constituents. Unfortunately, Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards Western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement," Tillis said in a statement.
NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight
60. That’s the percentage of self-identified baseball fans who told a SurveyMonkey/Los Angeles Times poll that a contentious labor dispute between MLB players and team owners that lasted much of the winter had caused them to lose interest in the 2022 baseball season. Yesterday was supposed to be Opening Day, but it was delayed a week (to next Thursday, April 7) by the two sides’ failure to reach agreement. So will some fans tune out? We’ll have to wait until the end of the season to know for sure, but the smart bet is probably that the lockout won’t significantly harm MLB’s bottom line. You see, polling questions like this are a honeytrap for political analysts, too. Read more from FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich.
ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Friday morning with new attacks in Kyiv despite Russia's pledge to pull back forces. ABC's James Longman joins us from the Ukraine capital. Then, ABC News contributor Maria Elena Salinas breaks down the Biden administration's plan to drop Title 42 at the border. And, ABC's Kaylee Hartung reports on new details that led up to Bruce Willis' decision to retire from acting. http://apple.co/2HPocUL
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