Arkansas Redistricting: Legislature Reaches Agreement, Governor Will Sign

It’s a done deal:

The state Senate gave final approval to a congressional redistricting plan today and sent the bill to the governor for his signature.

Gov. Mike Beebe has said he will sign the bill, which divides five counties, including Sebastian and Jefferson, between districts but keeps Fayetteville, Fort Smith and Russellville in the 3rd Congressional District and keeps Pine Bluff in the 4th District. …

Under SB 972 and HB 1836, Jefferson County would be split between the 4th and 1st districts, Crawford, Newton and Sebastian counties between the 3rd and 4th districts, and Searcy County between the 3rd and 1st districts.

Also, Madison, Franklin and Johnson counties would move to from the 3rd to the 4th District, Yell County would move from the 2nd to the 4th and Lincoln, Desha and Chicot counties would move from the 4th to the 1st.

The legislature has now recessed, so there’s definitely no going back. Here’s the new map, which eliminates the “Fayetteville Finger”:

ARDem at Blue Arkansas thinks this is a sucky map, and blames Dems for caving. Considering we comfortably control the trifecta here, it sounds like we did a very lousy job.

83 thoughts on “Arkansas Redistricting: Legislature Reaches Agreement, Governor Will Sign”

  1. like they were intentionally trying to take out Ross. I know that’s not really true, but all they did is ensure a Republican wins his seat when he quits. Why Fayetteville Dems apparently threw a fit not to be put in his district is beyond me. On the bright side, Crawford is more vulnerable now. Doesn’t look like they weakened Griffith at all…wasn’t that what Mark Pryor was lobbying for?

  2. Despite having trifectas, the GOP accepted a sub-optimal map in Indiana and the Dems accepted a sub-optimal map in Arkansas.  

    Things that make you go hmmm. . . .

  3. without the Fayetteville Finger, and Fayetteville Dems’ resistance will ensure an uphill battle to hold the 4th when Ross retires. However, the 1st now looks like a legit Dem-leaning district, at least in non-presidential races, what with its Delta backbone.

  4. Trifecta in Name Only.  

    May that be the new SSP acronym that nobody else knows, a la NWOTSOTB.

  5. A lot of elected Democrats in Fayetteville didn’t want to share a district with South Arkansas and South Arkansas elected Democrats felt the same, so regionalism was a big reason in this. This map could have been much better, but if Democrats choose good candidates, they may be able to make it would.

  6. For a southern state I’d expect it to grow faster, but its behaiving more Rust-Belt-y it seems.  With WalMart, and such an overall small population, I guess I thought they’d grow a decent bit fatser than the national average.

  7. But this map is much uglier than either the status quo or the Fayetteville finger. I really don’t understan the logic that says Fayetteville needs to stay in the 3rd, but we can cut a big chunk out of the middle of it and make a weird inverse ‘u’ shape.


    It fails aesthetically, on compactness and as a Democratic map.


    1. hold this AR-04 for as long as he wants it.  He actually almost selfishly ruined the map by pushing for getting the Delta region, which would have weakened AR-01 for Democrats.

      Democrats can still compete and win in AR-02 and AR-01, but it needs good recruitment and a better year.

  8. It is in works with the State Senate, who are devising an aggressive gerrymander there, unlike here.  The reason why they can now afford to be more partisan here is that the map won’t be put up to a vote by the body.  Rather, it will be approved by the reapportionment committee, which is the Governor, A-G, and SoS with only the latter being Republican.

  9. looks like a Republican map. They could have at the very least made Ross more safe. But they make him even redder. Then they add hardly enough to make a statistical difference of dem votes in the other two. I would bet anyone here money that if Ross leaves (very likely) that this makes a 4-0 R map. The could have very easily made a 2-2 map that would turn into a 3-1 map when Ross leaves. The Arkansas Democrats just accepted their own extinction. Ridiculous.  

  10. that Ross does not care about being protected because he is going to switch parties to run for governor in 14?  Why go through a messy primary against the AG?

  11. Looking at the Lincoln/Boozman numbers as someone suggested upthread is probably a better indication of Dem strength on the Congressional level as opposed to 08 Obama/McCain.

    If we do that, the 1st district contains a lot of counties that Lincoln won in a terrible year as a damaged and unpopular candidate. I think the 1st can swing towards in in 2012, but the Dem strength is Pulaski County is completely wasted, and I don’t think the Dems will win it back in 2012.

    Odds of Dem wins in 2012:

    1st-50 % We now have a fighting chance with the right candidate here.

    2nd- 30 % AA turnout would have to be very high for a Dem to win here.

    3rd 0 % Forget it.

    4th- 95 % Ross will hold this seat but after he retires or runs for Gov we lose it.

  12. that Griffin will run for Senate in 2014.  With the right candidate, the Dems could win an open seat race in AR-02.  Combine that with AR-01’s more favorable lines and the Dems could control three Arkansas seats in January 2015.  Of course, that assumes that Ross does not run for governor in 2014.    

  13. If the goal was to screw Ross, they would have put Pine Bluff in the eastern district AR1. It’s clear that the priority wasn’t to protect him. But it’s still weird: it makes only AR1 more blue, but leaves Pine Bluff out. Maybe the blue dogs who signed off on this were worried about a black Dem winning the AR1 primary.  

  14. AR only has four districts, is trending away from us, and has always been super-conservative anyway. IN has nine districts of which only 1-2 on the new map are safe R, and will be as purplish in 10 years as AR will be deep red.

    If it’s a trade, I like our side of the deal a lot better.  

  15. I think a lot of SSPers were expecting radically different, devious maps that tossed incumbents around and split counties all in the name of maximizing the bottom line.  In truth, legislatures are often cautious when it comes to redistricting, and there is a huge gap between what is theoretically possible to draw and what actually happens.

    Not saying redistricting isn’t powerful, or that gerrymandering isn’t real.  Just that there are limits to it in practice, and often times the final product is a bit more restrained than what was possible.  They have to consider the desires of incumbents, the desires of the actual voters who may not appreciate being thrown from one district to the other, historical lines, etc.

    If they really wanted to get crazy in Indiana, they would have drawn a Gary-to-Indianapolis super-Dem district.  If we wanted to get crazy in Arkansas, we would have packed the northwestern district with more Republicans, and turned one of the other GOP seats into (if not majority) at least plurality African-American.

    I’m still hoping for an aggressive map in Illinois, but I’m starting to think it may only target a few Republicans instead of the 5 or 6 we easily could.  Same goes for Maryland, I’d be surprised if the two Republican districts are changed significantly.

  16. AR-01 goes from 38.4% Obama to 39.1% Obama (not counting the split part of Jefferson County), while AR-02 goes from 44.1% Obama to 44.3% Obama. AR-04 gets worse, going from 39.3% Obama to 38.1% Obama (again, not counting the split counties).

  17. Obama preformed particularly poorly in Arkansas. Look at Lincoln/Boozman. While they may have gotten near the same %, Lincoln’s win was more of a statement of where Democrats are still strong.

    Also look at the LG race in 2010.

  18. I feel slimy just thinking about that prospect.

    And unless 2014 is an exceptionally bad year of 2010 proportions, Pryor ain’t going nowhere. He’s barely a Democrat as it is, but he’s also active in his community, and visible in the state as a whole. They could get Lincoln for being out of touch because she obviously was and just dug herself in further whenever she opened her mouth, but Pryor isn’t going to go down so easy, especially given who his dad was.  

  19. any of the large, dynamic metro areas fueling growth elsewhere in the South (Houston, DFW, Austin, Orlando, FL Gulf Coast, Charlotte, Research Triangle, Atlanta…). It’s much more like other Delta states (Louisiana and Mississippi) than like those increasingly educated, suburbanized coastal states.

  20. If you offered 1,000 people the chance to live in whichever of the 50 states they wanted, how many would pick Arkansas? It doesn’t have the desirable cities or location of most of its neighbors, and outside of Wal-Mart, it doesn’t have a thriving business sector. (Bentonville, home of Wal-Mart, is the fastest growing part of the state.) Plus it has a high level of poverty.

  21. the young people who can, do leave for the metro areas elsewhere with growth/better jobs (e.g. D/FW and Houston).

    The partisan Republican shift in the state in the ’08 election was explained locally iirc in substantial part by inmigration of Rust Belt retirees.  There seems to have beeen substantial growth in relatively low cost retirement communities in western Arkansas particularly.  Arkansas residents seem to be about as fundamentally ambivalent about the/their parties as before but the inmigrants were claimed to have brought a lot of GOP loyalty and more market for right wing radio and such in that article, pushing the public dialogue and partisanship in the state to the right.

    More generally, rural/small town/small city populations are stagnating, aging, and then dropping in most of the huge geographical blunted triangle formed by the Appalachians and Rockies and Gulf Coast to about the Florida Panhandle, which includes Arkansas.  In the northern part of it (Great Lakes/Ohio and Missouri Valleys) the old industrial cities are in decline/depopulating.  And there seems to be a southward working of the pressure in the Plains and along the Mississippi.

    A couple of the states in the triangle have resisted trend.  Each of them has a city or two with more modern/competitive industries, though, which have at least temporarily retained substantial population that would otherwise have had to leave for the Coasts or Basin.  I.e. Helena, Kansas City (Kansas) and Omaha, Denver, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Columbus, Louisville/Lexington, Nashville, Birmingham, Baton Rouge, OKC, Houston and D/FW.

  22. Little Rock is getting an Apple Store this Fall! The place can’t be that uneducated and non-suburban! /snark

  23. What I’ve been thinking for some time. Arkansas is trending against us, so maybe there’s really only so much we can do there. Indiana, OTOH, may hold more promise.

    And the more I think about it, the more I’m liking the idea of having more states do independent redistricting. It really won’t hurt Dems in California, and we should really thank our lucky stars for it in Arizona. And in crunching the numbers so far, we probably need not fear a court drawn Nevada map (should The Legislature deadlock).

  24. Obama plummeted in AR-01 and AR-04, while still keeping it respectable in AR-02, whereas Kerry lost all three of those districts by about the same amount, and Gore actually won AR-01 and AR-04.

    Historically we seem to have a lot more strength in AR-01 and AR-04 that may not be apparent from the Obama numbers.

  25. I’m quite familiar with Dr. Richard Florida’s musings on “the creative class”, and I think there’s plenty of truth to it. Arkansas’ problem is that there’s nowhere in that state offering the incentives “creative class” types are looking for.

    In addition, there isn’t much to entice young families or retirees, either. At least next door in Texas, Austin offers sophistication for “creative class” folk, great weather for retirees, and low prices & good schools for young families.

  26. but this

    the desires of the actual voters who may not appreciate being thrown from one district to the other

    probably doesn’t have much grounding in reality. I don’t have any of the statistics of “rational ignorance” at my fingertips, but the percentage of voters who know – even in a general sense – the shape of their congressional district has got to be very small. And the percentage who care for anything other than pure partisan reasons has got to be even smaller.

  27. A Dem member of the redistricting committee stated that they are going after Andy Harris for sure.

  28. And I suspect The Legislature there will agree upon a 6-1-1 map that makes Roscoe Bartlett’s district a GOP vote sink while targeting Andy Harris. While an 8-0 map is theoretically possible, none of the Dem incumbents wants a swingy seat, and Maryland needs to keep 2 VRA seats in place.

    The same goes here in Nevada should The Legislature resolve taxes and the budget in time to do redistricting. I’ve seen some crazy maps here, but most likely there will be two districts that Obama will win handily next year, and two districts that Obama will likely win narrowly. To do otherwise would require committing THE Cardinal Sin of drawing two Vegas-to-Reno seats that Sandoval would veto and many legislators from both parties would object to anyway on regional interest grounds.

    Remember that state legislators don’t often act as agents of The DCCC or RNCC. Most of the time, they keep local interests in mind and prioritize those over what the DC powers that be may or may not want. That obviously was behind what’s happening in Arkansas.

  29. I think the AZ redistricting commission has been an unqualified success so far. 3 of the 8 districts were highly competitive and changed hands at least once, and 2 of them changed hands twice. Without the commission, they might have come up with a static 6-2 map.  

  30. SSPers bemoaning California’s “unilateral disarmament” forget that California had the opportunity for a Democratic gerrymander and instead opted for Mutual Assured Protection — no reason they wouldn’t have done the same this year, given the opportunity.

  31. but do you think it will be as aggressive as some of the maps on here which put him in an Obama district (compared to the current 40-58 Obama-McCain district it is)?  I’m sure they will tweak the lines a bit, as they have done in Indiana and Arkansas, maybe give Kratovil a better shot at a rematch, but I don’t think they are going to radically alter the Eastern Shore district (such as connecting it to Baltimore) and make it impossible for Harris to hold.

    As for Bartlett, I would love to see his district drawn into Montgomery but that seems even less likely.

  32. sunk the “Fayetteville Finger” plan which would have made AR-04 much safer for us, no?  Maybe I shouldn’t have said the desires of voters, but rather the desire of local politicians from the area (which one assumes at least somewhat reflects their voters).

  33. Also, the AR GOP went hog wild acting like the “Fayetteville to the Fourth” proposal was the spawn of Satan.  Also, it was opposed by the AR Chamber of Commerce for some reason.

  34. And that’s why I’m looking forward to The IRC’s map. As I’ve been saying here, I think it helps that there’s a Pima County majority this time. They may really want to do an all Pima AZ-08. And because they will be under pressure to keep some competitive districts on the table, AZ-01 may not be made safer for Gosar, while either one of the existing Maricopa districts will be redrawn as “fair fight” or the new AZ-09 seat will be.

  35. is cut out Harris’ base on the mainland and probably add that to Dutch’s district.  Then, they add Dem-leaning territory to the Eastern Shore.  The end result will likely be a district that McCain won by a hair, but one that Kratovil will easily win.

  36. As they’ll want to protect Ruppersberger and Sarbanes, but I can see MD-01 taking in Annapolis and some of Prince George’s and/or Howard Counties. A 60% Obama district just isn’t happening, but a 50% Obama MD-01 is possible.

    And since Bartlett isn’t a crazy teabagger who’s made as many enemies as Harris, I suspect there’s more motivation for The Legislature to target Harris.

  37. and much more plausible than the maps I’ve seen that just draw it into Baltimore to make a 55%+ Obama district.  I guess I’m just a bit cautious about expecting too much more in a state where the map is already a Dem gerrymander (and a very good one that held up even in bad years for us).

    In Indiana, the GOP actually had the opportunity to totally undo a previous Dem map, rather than just improve an existing GOP map, and they went fairly cautious, only nudging Donnelly’s district five points down and IN-09 a few points more GOP.  In the competitive IN-08 they actually increased the Dem performance by one point.

    If they do in fact shift Harris’ district by 9 or 10 points that would be pretty amazing as they are already working with a Dem map.

  38. I care more about aesthetics in this case simply because Arkansas is trending away from us. There isn’t anything we can do to stop it. I’d rather have something nice and pretty to look at for the next ten years even if it isn’t exactly nice to our party than something hideous like this. Arkansas’s 3rd in this map reminds me of Texas’s 19th. I hate them both.

  39. The people of the NW want to remain in a district that is in a NW. Same goes for every other part of the state.

  40. Even though it’s trending away we can easily still make a 2-2 map, with all the Delta counties in AR-1 and Pine Bluff into AR-2, this ain’t it, though.


  41. Last cycle, there absolutely was one massive reason why Dems made a conservative map–then Rep. Gary Condit really needed every Central Valley vote he could get.  With Costa, that’s not so true now.  Now, because the are politicians, they probably won’t go completely crazy, but an aggressive gerrymander is ABSOLUTELY possible and even likely.  One thing I don’t think they’ll do is cascade Bay Area votes (Eshoo, Honda, Miller, Woolsey, and even Lee) into the Valley…alas.

  42. Will probably lose at least Fredrick, and maybe even Hagerstown, to MD-8.  This would allow his district to take in more hard-red areas in northern Baltimore and Harford counties, along with the most right wing parts of Howard.  

    I’m not sure where southern Harford would go.  Honestly the Baltimore districts are a mess, and one of them should vamoose entirely and move to Howard county.  

  43. A Republican map would pack the AA population into one district as much as possible and make the other 3 as conservative as possible.

  44. I think at least 1 Republican on the commission has to approve, so I don’t see how an aggressive gerrymander is possible, let alone likely.

  45. you look at we could have done it is essentially a Republican map. We could have done sooooo much better. They didn’t even try and strengthen Ross for gosh sakes. I see no way we avoid a 4-0 Republican map when Ross leaves. I can’t get over how bad AR dems screwed this up.  

  46. Packing AA’s into one district would make it very hard for the GOP to ever win that one, and lock the state into the current 3-1. Republicans would split up the remaining Democratic strongholds of the state and make a play for 4-0 as soon as Ross retires, and perhaps even give themselves a shot at defeating Ross himself. In other words, a lot like what this map does.

  47. if we have a good year and Arkansas Democrats rebound, we could conceivably win back AR-01 and AR-02 under these lines and have a 3-1 majority again.

    Whether you think that is plausible will determine your opinion on this map.

    We should have gone for 2-2 in my opinion, or at the very least made one district very favorable for us as a buffer against the GOP sweeping the state when Ross retires.

  48. His idea was to move White County to AR-1 and then shift some more of the Delta to his district, but it’s clear he didn’t get much of a say in the map.

  49. Pryor probably would have lost to Boozman though; he would have gotten over 43%, I think.

  50. A Republican gerrymander is what the Senate passed over a week ago, but was killed by the State House.  This map is “Fayetteville to the Fourth” map without the characteristic Fayetteville to the 4th.

    This is a slight improvement over the status quo.

    The fact is that if you look at Obama/McCain numbers for Arkansas, you (not you, personally, just in general) have a very misconceived idea of Democratic strength.

  51. I fully agree. It is clear that the state is trending towards Republicans, why would they give or make a competitive district? That would be crazy. Even more stupid politically then this map is for us.  

  52. Is actually very similar to this one. The only changes are that the 4th wound up with a little more of the northwest, and the 1st wound up with a little less of the Delta. Otherwise, the maps are identical.

    Unless we are talking about different maps?

  53. speaking of that terrible map the AR Senate passed a weak ago by a vote of 13 Republicans to 7 Democrats.…  That one was killed in the House.

    I also believe that this map is a small improvement on the current map, which it mostly is.

    I’m just making the point to him that this final product is NOT the map that the Republicans would draw.

  54. Then we have no shot. If Ross doesn’t run for Governor in 2014 I would be very surprised. As for us winning the other two districts, well maybe if they were open we would stand a chance, but if not then I do not think we have any chance whatsoever. I am not trying to be rude in asking but do you really think this is a good map?

  55. Ross had a fairly narrow escape against a token Republican opponent in November.  My impression is that he cut a backroom deal with the local and national GOP to survive ’10 but that nearly wasn’t enough.

    But if you’re an RNC planner looking at the 2012 map and making a list of vulnerable, he’s very high on it along with GOP majorities in the Arkansas legislature.  In fact, Republicans might win all three without really intending to because of the turnout and degree of upset and activism in the right wing electorate generally plus the amount of conservative white electorate realigning to them since 2009.

    There are good reasons why Republicans might not even want to win any of these.  The Republican-siding Blue Dogs are dwindling and the Republican leadership surely hopes to keep them around in sufficiently large numbers to keep the Democratic caucus in the House compromised- or even passing legislation Republicans prefer.  Similarly in the Arkansas legislature.  But mid-level and average Republicans are usually unable to resist grabbing for any and all power and offices that can be had.  That usually wins out.

  56. But it’s not an awful map, either.  It’s a disappointing one to be sure.  Dems should have stuck with “Fayetteville to the 4th.”

  57. Pryor always seemed much stronger than Lincoln.  I get the feeling that Pryor could dodge a GOP wave, short of personal scandal.

  58. kinda sorta acting like devil’s advocate, trying to give counterarguments against those that say this is a terrible map.  I’m not happy with the map, but somebody needs to defend it.

  59. I’m not trying to be rude or that guy that nobody likes but why? It is a terrible, terrible map. I just can’t get over it. They actually add Republican territory to Ross’s seat. He’ll still win it but what the heck would you do that for? And this hardly makes a dent in the other two districts. Griffith is by far Pryor’s biggest fear and they could have drawn him out by creating a near safe dem district while not harming Ross. Ugh….  

  60. I’m really not mad at you LO and I did not intend to come off as such- I just really hate this map and am a bit frustrated at it, not you.  

  61. If Doyle Webb and Kim Hendren weren’t running the Republican Party, it would have been worse in Arkansas.

    Pryor has time to learn…and he’s already looking like he realizes what’s going on. Pryor’s approval ratings are not that high…it’s not because he’s disliked but more cause people need to get to know him better. One of the things that may come back to haunt him is he really hasn’t campaigned in the state since 2002. Fortunately, he’s trying to change that now.

  62. Also, sorry I came off as a dick in calling you “wrong.”  I definitely should have phrased that better.

  63. No offense taken. I’ll reference one of Doug Tuttle’s “signs you are an SSPer”: your most heated debates involve redistricting.

  64. I had a brain meltdown and forgot California doesn’t exclusively go by the state leg anymore.  Oops. Still, the current map is effectively a GOP gerrymander.  I can’t see who could be a targeted Dem?  Maybe Costa?  And there are plenty of marginal GOP seats (Lungren, Calvert, Dreier, McKeon, maybe even the 45th).  Not saying we’d get them all, but each is in a precarious spot.

  65. Lungren: If his district is drawn completely into Sacramento County, it only becomes a point or two more Democratic, although that could be enough.

    McKeon: His district needs to lose a lot of population and will probably be restricted to LA County, but that won’t change the partisan lean that much.

    Dreier: Most likely screwed.

    Calvert: Will probably be restricted to Riverside Co, which he lost in 2008. Most likely screwed.

    Bono-Mack: Will probably remain in Riverside Co., but if it hangs onto its Democratic areas like Coachella and Palm Springs, we can probably get it sometime this decade (perhaps even 2012 with a strong recruit. Steve Pougnet remach?).

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