The Republican Party has been handed many opportunities by the need to redraw congressional districts on the basis of the 2010 census. Some strong Republican states like Texas have grown substantially, offering the opportunity for several new seats for Republicans in Congress. Other states lost population, leaving Republican lawmakers with difficult decisions and scrambling to hold onto gains made in the 2008 election.
This situation has the potential to reverse some of the gains made by grassroots candidates supported by groups like the tea parties and the Republican Liberty Caucus who brought many new Republicans into the House of Representatives last fall, some of them in states which are losing seats in redistricting and are controlled by very small Republican majorities in their state legislatures.
Early indications are that in states where Republicans face redistricting losses the priorities of the establishment lawmakers in those states and the interests of the people of the states who brought the party gains in the last election are drastically out of sync and as they redistrict, party leaders seem poised to do a lot of harm to their relationship with the grassroots activists who are becoming increasingly necessary if they want to keep winning elections.
Early indications are that the inclination of state party leaders is to solve tough redistricting challenges by sacrificing newly elected candidates favored by the grassroots in order to strengthen the positions of establishment incumbents who are not nearly as popular with grassroots voters. The superficial benefits of this strategy for the party elite may quickly be outweighed by the backlash from activists who are not pleased with the way the Republican Party is run and just need a little nudge like this to start challenging large numbers of Republican incumbents in party primaries.
The first stand-out example of this problem appears to be over redistricting in Michigan and the fate of its recently elected third district representative, Justin Amash. Amash won a strong victory in a mixed district. Since his election he has been one of the most followed freshman congressmen and one of the most politically consistent in his adherence to the fiscal conservatism and constitutional principles which characterized the anti-establishment uprising on the right in 2010. Amash has not exactly been a clone of Ron Paul, but he exhibits the same adherence to principle over party and this makes the party leadership kind of nervous.