Communications Strategy

Case Study
Fair Redistricting

The Challenge

Following the 2020 decennial Census, New Heights helped manage a national and state-based civil rights coalition to fight for fair and equitable maps in 2021/2022 redistricting. For decades, gerrymandering had silenced the voices and suppressed the vote of communities of color that had been historically marginalized and underserved. 

New Heights was honored to join incredible partners like Common Cause, Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the Brennan Center for Justice, the ACLU, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, NAACP, the League of Women Voters, State Voices, and so many others in a coordinated effort to create better outcomes for communities that desperately need it.

The Approach

One of the first steps was conducting research and creating a messaging paradigm. Alongside ASO Communications and Frameshift, New Heights helped develop communications materials and trainings for coalition partners based on focus groups and research that centered communities of color. The framework was specifically designed to encourage affected communities to participate in the redistricting process and to tell their stories. 

We were clear-eyed about our goal. We were never going to be able to overtake the narrative about the partisan horserace, but we could influence the conversation and move people toward fair representation, equity, and policy outcomes. 

The Result

With legal challenges and two Supreme Court cases still ongoing, the last chapter of this redistricting cycle has yet to be written. But here’s what we know: This cycle’s maps are among the most fair in decades (still not fair, but more fair than before), there was greater civic participation in the process than ever before in history, and that media narratives adopted our frame – and used our language – more so than ever before. 

We were able to draw a line between the messaging research, communications toolkits and talking points, and reporter narratives – and ultimately, how official redistricting leaders understood the stakes. Until federal, state, and local maps are actually fair and accurately represent their constituents, we won’t declare victory. But this year was a leap forward, and New Heights was privileged to play a role along the way.

Credit Markus Spiske

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