If Democrats lose control of the House of Representatives in November, there will be plenty of blame to go around. But one villain in that disaster surely will be former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. To understand why, you need to go back to 2012. The political world was somewhat more normal then, and Cuomo, a centrist Democrat with long-term presidential ambitions, made a Faustian bargain, as Chris Smith described earlier in the summer in Vanity Fair. He claimed that he was seeking to end years of gerrymandering by creating a nonpartisan commission to draw the state’s congressional maps. Instead—in a short-sighted, last-minute, politically opportunistic move—he allowed legislators to file a redistricting plan shortly before midnight on a Sunday in March, and put off a potential state-constitutional amendment to create an independent commission until after the 2020 census.
This year, after that commission stalemated in its plans, the New York Court of Appeals threw out the Democrats’ proposed congressional-district map in April and brought in a “special master” named Jonathan Cervas to redraw it. The final map—released on May 16 and approved later that week—may well have ended any chance Democrats had of keeping control of the House. At least that’s what David Wasserman, the senior editor at The Cook Political Report, thinks. “The New York Court of Appeals’ decision to strike down Democrats’ gerrymander likely drove a stake through the heart of any remaining chance Democrats had to hold the House majority in 2022,” he told me. For 2022, The Cook Political Report now identifies 162 blue seats as safe, compared with 191 safe red seats.