Lost in the tumult of Tuesday's Wisconsin recall elections was the fact that Gov. Scott Walker quietly signed a redistricting bill that could decide the outcome of some future elections, according to some analyses.
The map passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature redraws state legislative and congressional districts and in several cases it consolidates either liberal or conservative voters to make certain districts far less competitive. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel examined districts that were close during the highly contested 2004 presidential election and found that many will become much more lopsided.
The conservative Weekly Standard magazine wrote that the bill "should help Republicans at the polls in 2012, but not too much." It's a sentiment shared by Democrats who have brought legal challenges against the new map, charging that it favors their rivals.
"Gov. Walker and Republicans have taken the most partisan, extreme actions possible this session on everything from trampling workers' rights to undercutting public education, quality health care and job training in the budget," Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca said in a statement. "Now they are looking to shield themselves from being held accountable for these despicable actions."
State legislatures draw new electoral maps every decade to reflect updated census data, and it is always a contentious process. The party in power has the ability to shield its incumbents for years by ensuring that their districts contain substantial numbers of likely supporters.
"It is a raw manipulation of power," former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-Wis., told The Journal-Sentinel. "Anybody who thinks this is legitimate redistricting is smoking something that isn't legal."