Unlike some other states where Republicans used their gains in statewide elections to seize control of the redistricting process after the 2010 census, the re-drawing of Nevada’s voting districts was done by a court-appointed panel and overseen by a judge. Politics was still at play as Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval twice vetoed maps approved by Democratic lawmakers and tossed the task of redistricting to the courts. Democrats held majorities in both the Nevada Senate and Assembly in 2011, a year after the census set up the once-a-decade political jockeying to revamp voting boundaries to account for population and demographic changes. Before the 2010 election, the GOP had majorities in 36 state legislative bodies. Afterward, the party controlled 56. In half the states, Republicans won control of the entire redistricting process, giving them immense power to draw favorable districts for Congress and state legislatures. In other states, Republicans gained control of at least one legislative chamber, limiting the ability of Democrats to draw districts that favored their candidates.
In all, Republicans controlled the process of drawing the boundaries for 210 House districts, compared to just 44 House districts for the Democrats. The rest were drawn by split legislatures or, in a few states, independent commissions that are supposed to be nonpartisan.
In 2012, gerrymandered districts helped Republicans hold onto a 33-seat majority in the House despite widespread GOP losses. Nationwide, Democratic candidates for the House received 1.4 million more votes than their GOP opponents, yet Democrats were still stuck in the minority. It was only the second time since World War II that the party receiving the most votes had failed to win a majority of House seats, according to statistics compiled by the House clerk.
Nevada picked up a fourth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, thanks to continued population growth that had previously earned Nevada a second seat in 1982 and a third in 2002. The partisan bickering three years ago focused on Nevada’s growing Hispanic population, which now accounts for about a quarter of all residents.