When a federal court ruled this week that North Carolina’s congressional districts unconstitutionally favored Republicans, the state’s Democrats were quick to declare victory.

But should judges require new lines to be drawn before the 2018 elections, the chaos that would cause could end up doing Democrats more harm than good.

“Very quietly, there’s a lot of them saying, ‘No, no, no, no, this is not what we wanted, this isn’t at all what we need,'” said Republican political consultant Lawrence Shaheen, on the latest episode of the Longleaf Podcast. “I don’t think there’s anyone who’s really in favor of this except for the hard, hard partisans on the left.”

Nothing is settled at this point. You can keep up with the issue here.

But Democrats are already counting on the 2018 midterms to be a wave election as opposition to President Donald Trump galvanizes voters. And in North Carolina, the party has recruited unusually strong candidates to help tip three or more red seats blue.

Under new lines, there’s no guarantee that well-funded challengers like Dan McCready and Kathy Manning would still be in districts where they have a good shot, says Michael Bitzer, political science professor and historian at Catawba College, on the podcast.

And if the court does delay elections into January, as the judges contemplated, that completely changes the calculus for running a winning race. If the U.S. House appears closely divided after November, expect a “nuclear armageddon” of money and campaign operatives, Bitzer says.

“Everything has been tossed up into the air,” Bitzer says on the podcast.

We delve deeper into that and the federal court’s ruling in general in Episode 009 of the Longleaf Podcast. It’s available now on all podcast platforms, or in the player below.

Cover image of the L. Richardson Preyer Federal Building and Court House in Greensboro is via the Library of Congress.

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