Um, I understand the basic thrust of this argument:
While culture watchers are eagerly anticipating the Court’s decisions relating to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 prohibition on gay marriage, political analysts are far more interested to see how the Court rules on the historic challenge to the 1965 Voting Rights Act. If the Court moves to strike portions of the law relating to the reapportionment preclearance provisions in Section 5 of the VRA, the wailing and rending of garments among liberal and progressive media commentators will dwarf the indignation they expressed over voter identification laws in 2012. Similarly, the focus on that decision and its impact on minority voters could drive up Hispanic and African-American turnout in the 2014 midterm elections. Conservatives may cheer the end of the VRA’s anti-federalist, arbitrarily enforced, preclearance mandates, but they may also be celebrating the eradication of the Republican Party’s chances of retaking the U.S. Senate.
…but, err, no. Minority representation will have pretty much zero effect on the 2014 Senate races, and here’s why: the critical states that we’re poised to pick up are largely in states without significant minority populations. Of the states mentioned in this Mediate article – Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia – two have a higher African-American population percentage than the national average (Arkansas and Louisiana), and none have a significant Hispanic population. Arkansas and Louisiana, of course, went heavily for Romney in a high minority-turnout year; North Carolina (not on Mediate’s in-play list, but certainly on mine) flipped, albeit barely, back to the R column. For that matter: New Hampshire may be in play, and if it is, minority turnout will be irrelevant. Michigan may be a long slog for the GOP, but it’s not because of the higher-than-average minority percentage (it’s because we don’t have a good consensus candidate yet). And so on, and so on.
The real question is, what does ending preclearance for districts do for the House? Minority-majority districts are a bipartisan affair – the GOP gets as much out of them as does the CBC – but white Democrats will certainly be at the forefront of dismantling the existing racial gerrymanders (while, of course, trying to look like they’re not doing that). Assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t mandate new House maps in time for 2014 – which would be a bipartisan nightmare – 2016 could end up looking like a bloodbath. Or a mutual suicide pact.