Redistricting Wisconsin

With all the redistricting fun, I feel as if I should take a stab at my home state, Wisconsin.  Unfortunately for Democrats, this past cycle was an absolute bloodbath.  We lost basically everything that was competitive, with the exception of Ron Kind’s seat and some State Senate and Assembly seats, even the State Senate Majority leader and Speaker of the State Assembly were defeated.   Thus this leaves Republicans with complete discretion with redistricting.  While there is plenty to do with the state legislative seats (of which I also created a map of State Senate seats that can potentially lock Democrats out for years), there simply is not that much that can be done with congressional seats.  While Republicans might take this year’s results as a sign that Wisconsin will have a permanent conservative majority, it is instructive to look at the 2008 map and see how it is basically the complete opposite.  As a result, with the exception of the Milwaukee area, the Madison area, and a few other areas, most of the state is basically swing areas, as the 2008 and 2010 maps indicate.

Thus, the problem for the Wisconsin GOP is that Wisconsin will support at least 3 Democratic seats.  Milwaukee and Madison are simply too large and too Democratic to get rid of Moore and Baldwin. Besides I cannot imagine a Republican wanting to take on inner-city Milwaukee or lefty Madison.    As for Ron Kind, if he can stand a year like this, he has his seat for life.  Additionally, Wisconsin is peculiar in that it has a number of rural Democratic voters in the West and Southwest parts of the state, so it would be difficult to get rid of a third Democratic seat.  

With this in mind, I decided that the best and safest path would be not necessarily an incumbent protection map, but protecting Ryan and Duffy.   With Ryan being Budget Chair in the House, I simply cannot see him wanted to change shift.  He has no reason for running for Governor and for him to run for Senate would see him give up his seat for at best a 50/50 run and more importantly, give up his power in the House.  He is probably more powerful in the House than in the Senate, so I think he would stay put.  However, his district has become quite marginal, so much so even Obama won his district.  Thus, I wanted to make him safer so that his district is more in line with his views.  Additionally, I view Duffy as an asset to protect because he is young, telegenic, and could eventually be statewide material.  Thus, I wanted to move his district a few more points Republican.  This meant weakening Ribble, but I think he should still be fine in his district and I see protecting Duffy more important in the long run.  

So here we go:





First District (Gray): This district becomes significantly more Republican with the subtraction of the city of Racine, which is heavily Democratic, and the addition heavily Republican Waukesha county.  Even if Ryan were to retire, or venture a run for Senate or some White House gig, this would likely elect another Republican.  However, given Ryan’s clout in the House, I really cannot see him wanting to give that up.

Second District (Blue) This does not change that much.  Still based in heavily Democratic and fast growing Dane County.  Baldwin or any Democrat would be favored to hold.  

Third District (Yellow):  If the GOP could not take out Ron Kind this year, they will never take him out. This still contains the lean Democratic rural parts of Wisconsin. However, to help out Duffy, I added the very Democratic northern counties and subtracted some Republican-trending Minneapolis exurbs, making this district a little more Democratic.

Fourth District (Green):  This Milwaukee-based district expands to include Racine, in order to help out Ryan.  This is actually a majority non-white district.  With Milwaukee and Racine, this still remains the most Democratic and most partisan (PVI-wise) district in the state.

Fifth District (Red):  While Sensenbrenner’s district is weakened to help Ryan is still is solidly Republican. This district does contain more of Milwaukee county, but that is more than overwhelmed by the heavily Republican and heavy turnout Washington and Ozaukee counties.  While it is likely Jim will retire soon, this will return a Republican as the Democrats have basically no Bench in this area.

Sixth District (Indigo): As Petri is also liable to retire soon, this could become ripe for a pickup.  However, the district remains a lean Republican district, so it would be an uphill climb for any Democrat.  

Seventh District (Purple):  As stated above, my other goal was to help out Duffy as I can see him becoming a potential statewide threat.  The issue is that so much of this area is fundamentally swingy.  However, with the subtraction of Wausau, Stevens Point, and the Lake Superior counties (although still keeping his home in Ashland), and the addition of some Twin Cities exurbs and traditional Republican NE Wisconsin territory, this shifts a few points Republican.   This takes out a significant amount of the Democratic bench, so this should help out the freshman significantly.

Eight District  (Teal): The downside of helping out Duffy is hurting another freshman Ribble.  The territory swap is enough to perhaps swap the PVIs.  Since this district contains so many Democratic cities (Appleton, Green Bay, Wausau, Stevens Point) this might become a marginally Democrat district. However, most of this district is traditionally Republican areas, so it is not as if Ribble is being let out in the cold.  

So the conclusion of this is that the current 5-3 split in the delegation is likely to remain, with the Young Guns of the state seeing an improvement in their districts.

6 thoughts on “Redistricting Wisconsin”

  1. 4 Solid Republican districts, and 3 solid Democratic districts and one lean-R district seems likely.

    One thing is that Midwestern states tend not to gerrymander oddly shaped districts. That is very much a coastal and southern thing. I would be shocked if they took anything like the monstrosity of a 3rd you drew. Not that they CAN’T do that, but I doubt they WILL. Gerrymandering for either political party is not viewed positively in the Upper Midwest. That’s why Iowa has no counties split, Wisconsin has block-like districts, and Michigan has relatively clean lines for having a comparably large population.

    Republican, remember, are on borrowed time here, and they don’t want to seem to be putting partisan agenda above the issues of the state. If they seem to be coming way out of right field with this, they will lose a lot of political capital, and probably control of the state legislatures in 2012. I don’t see them risking that. They want a permanent ruling majority at the state level. I have a feeling that will mean hanging Duffy out to dry. They will fudge the lines a bit to make it maybe a D+1 or EVEN PVI, but I don’t see them going balls out and putting Superior in Kind’s district.

  2. republicans will go redistricting crazy in WI.  I think this is the 1st one party redistricting in WI in my memory.

    There  is basically three approachs for the GOP. Scenerio A is a stab at 6-2 which would be protect all five incumbents and make a serious run at Kind.  Scenerio B would be 5-2-1 with a weakening of Kind but more of an emphasis perserving Duffy / Ribble / a post Ryan 1st CD. Then a third approach would be locking in place a 5-3 map.  

    1st thanks for posting the map.  Its great-appreciate the effort.  My comment is that GOP strongehold Jefferson will not be in CD2. That’s a given.  A waste of too many votes.

    Scenerio A is so mind blowing it hards my head.  It would have to be sloppy and would involve attaching the Eastern rural part of Dane County to CD9 or CD6. Then the SW corner of the state would have a connection between La Crosse and Madison.  

    Scenerio B would be current districts with a Sr Croix swap to the 7th–Portage goes to the 6th.  Then the 3rd picks up Columbia and part of Dodge county. Some sort of swap.

    A pretty good 5-3 map is what you have above.  I might swap Portage into the 6th for Manitowoc to help the 8th but your map is a big move towards 5-3 republican.

  3. at 2009 population numbers for the counties plus the 2010 election results.

    I think there is a 50-50 chance of either Scenerio 2 or 3. I think without drawing a crazy map 6-2 is out of the question.  I don’t see them chopping up Kind’s district three ways.  

    So they either concede a seat to Kind and protect all 5 incumbents or the GOP will improve Duffy’s position by 5% or so while they hurt Kind.  Under the second choice they will hurt Kind but not chop his seat up in the meat grinder.

    Sorry to response to my own post but my thinking changed.  

  4. After his performance this year, I think Kind needs to stay. That part of Wisconsin is still too Democratic to mess with.

    The hard part for the GOP is going to be protecting the freshmen in the north without too much weakening of Petri’s district, which is swingy and would be a tossup when he leaves. Duffy’s district in particular has a long history of electing Democrats.  

  5. There are very few strongly partisan areas.  Outside of Dane County and Milwaukee County (strongly Democratic) and the Milwaukee suburbs (Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, Walworth Counties) the rest of the state is very evenly divided.  Outside of a couple Democrats who had some corruption issues, and some open seat races, all but one of the Republican pickups were seats that the Democrats had picked up in 2006 or 2008.  

    In other words, we basically had a “reset” to 2004 plus getting rid of a few corrupt Democrats I wasn’t too sad to see go anyway.  Actually there are five Assembly Democrats, and one Senate Democrat, who can really give themselves a pat on the back for surviving the wave.  Three are in “exurban” Madison (we have to be the one place where exurbs are actually moving more Democratic when people move there), one is in Appleton, and two are in the Eau Claire area.  

  6. I did a minimalist redistricting of WI last night, on the assumptions that:

    1. they’ll stick with a relatively clean map as opposed to an aggressive gerrymander.

    2. they’ll try to keep the current districts mostly intact.

    3. otherwise they will try to help Duffy, who is probably too conservative to hold his current D+3 district for long.

    I had Duffy take St. Croix county from Kind and Vilas county from Ribble, both of which (barely) went for McCain. Duffy’s district needs to grow and Kind’s needs to shrink, so I had Duffy give Kind the smaller and bluish Chippewa county in return for St. Croix.

    Otherwise Baldwin’s district needs to shrink and Petri’s and the two Milwaukee-area districts need to grow, and I fixed most of this by messing with Jefferson county, which is purple and already split between 3 districts. I may post the map when I get home.    

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