"In the '90s, there were four or five marginal seats in Michigan, and I was in one of them," Levin said. "I had tough races four times in a row. That's much better."
Competitiveness is not required by Michigan's redistricting rules, said State Rep. Peter Lund, a Republican who led the Michigan House committee redrawing the congressional map. Complaints about the Republican success in packing Democrats into districts to minimize the party's success ring hollow to him.
"I understand Democrats don't like" the reconfiguration, he said. "If they were the ones drawing the maps, I'm sure we wouldn't like what they drew."
The districts he and other Republicans crafted and that Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law reflect that "Democrats tend to live in areas that are more Democratic," Lund said. Also, requirements under the federal Voting Rights Act to maintain two Detroit-centered districts in which minorities are a majority of voters influenced the process.
What Republican-controlled redistricting did in Michigan occurred in other states. In Ohio, with Republicans shepherding the redistricting process, the party won 12 of 16 districts even though Obama won the state by two percentage points.
In Florida, just six of 67 counties gave Obama more than half of his votes, three of them in the Miami area. As the president carried Florida by just shy of one percentage point, Republicans won 17 of 27 congressional districts.
The clustering of Democrats in urban areas, including in disproportionately black and Hispanic districts as mandated by the federal law, hinder the party as it seeks a majority of House seats, said Tom Davis, a former Virginia representative who led the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2000 and 2002 campaigns.
"If you wanted to carve it up to the Democrats' advantage, you can't," said Davis. "You just go miles and miles with nothing but Democrats, and that hurts them."