Oct 2 (Reuters) - When Republican-controlled states such as Texas and Florida gained U.S. House of Representative seats thanks to 2020 census data showingtheir populations are booming, it appeared Democrats were in for another bleak redistricting cycle.
But the census also found that most of the nation's growth is in urban areas and among minorities. Coupled with the shift of suburban white voters toward Democrats during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump, the party's prospects for the next decade are looking less dire.
Proposals for new congressional maps in Republican-controlled states such as Texas, Indiana and Georgia do not aggressively target Democratic incumbents and instead seek mostly to protect vulnerable Republicans whose suburban districts have become political battlegrounds.
Meanwhile, Democrats are poised to push through their own maps in states such as New York and Illinois, where urban growth and rural decline offer a chance to eliminate Republican districts. Gains there could help countermand Republican advantages elsewhere.
In most states, the power to redraw congressional district maps after the decennial U.S. Census lies with the legislature, and lawmakers often attempt to manipulate maps to benefit their own party in a practice known as gerrymandering.
The stakes are high: Republicans only need to pick up five seats in 2022 elections to retake the House, which would give them effective veto power over Democratic President Joe Biden's legislative agenda.
Republicans currently control the redistricting of 187 congressional seats compared with only 75 for Democrats, according to an analysis by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. The remaining 173 seats are in states that have single districts, bipartisan control or independent redistricting commissions.