5-2 Colorado Dem map

There have been many fantastic maps drawn that highlight the potential extremes of gerrymandering, from both political parties.  I humbly submit my attempt at making a safe 5-2 map in Colorado that will endure even in bad years for us.  Now, I know that either a compromise map or a court-picked one is likely due to the split control in the Colorado legislature, this is purely a what-if scenario if Democrats ran the process and were very aggressive.

Also, this is my first time using Dave’s redistricting app and I would appreciate comments and helpful criticism.

My goals were difficult.  Colorado is historically a Republican-leaning state and though our statewide ticket did great in 2010, we lost two of our five incumbent representatives.  The red counties simply got redder, but there is reason for optimism at the way some other areas of Colorado have trended, in particular the Denver area and suburbs, Boulder, and Fort Collins.

I started with this map as a baseline for what to expect in a tough election, that of the 2004 presidential race where Kerry lost Colorado by 5%, and compared that to Obama’s easy win in 2008.

Massive swings across the state, with the most impressive being those in the corridor from Colorado Springs, up to the top of the state.  Several counties flipped to blue in a big way…Larimer, Jefferson, and Arapahoe being the most significant I think for long-term Democratic strength in Colorado.

So it was my goal to build on the emerging Democratic strength in those areas, make two GOP vote sinks by combining Mike Coffman’s and Doug Lamborn’s districts, as well as Cory Gardner’s and Scott Tipton’s districts, and leave the rest reasonably safe for us.  Here goes:

In short, I looked to the maps being proposed by Colorado legislature Democrats for inspiration (primarily in what I did with CO-05, CO-06, and CO-07), and then read a number of good ideas in the comments that I tried to incorporate.

The maps proposed by Democrats in the legislature are good, and more or less ensure a 4-3 split for us by turning CO-06 into a Democratic district.  But they don’t budge the needle much in CO-03 or CO-04, leaving both as winnable, but still Republican-favored.  Such is the nature of compromise and preparing to win should they go to court.  I am free from such concerns.

1st-Dark Blue: (DeGette).  Tradition seems to favor keeping the oddly shaped Denver county as whole as possible in this district, but I clipped the northern parts, and moved this district more to the south, eating up a portion of Arapahoe County and even getting into the northern-most parts of GOP stronghold Douglas county.  It certainly drops at least 10 points worth of Democratic performance, but this doesn’t come close to being competitive.  The bulk of the district is in precincts Obama was hitting 70% in.  There’s simply no reason to waste so many Democratic votes in CO-01.  Stats: 67% White, 6% Black, 21% Hispanic, 4% Asian (old: 52% W, 9% B, 33% H, 4% A).

2nd-Green: (Polis).  State Democrats were already looking to expand this Boulder-based district out to grab more physical area than it has now.  Instead of sending him out to Grand Junction, I had him go north to take Larimer County (home of Fort Collins) which Obama won by 10%.  This is still a very safe Democratic district, and by depriving CO-04 of it’s biggest current county, I am able to do other fun things.  Stats: 81% W, 1% B, 13% H, 3% A (old: 79% W, 1% B, 15% H, 3% A).

3rd-Light Blue: (no incumbent).  There’s Dem-leaning Pueblo, all by itself down there in the current CO-03, and the proposed Dem maps take GOP-stronghold Grand Junction out but put in a bunch of red counties currently in CO-04 and CO-05 that still makes it hard for us.  I simply chose to have it go for the ski counties instead, and turned this into a district I’m sure Obama won by a good margin.  Since the Dem maps already attempt to split El Paso county this time, I figured I might as well follow suit, and sent a finger up to grab a bunch of majority-minority precincts in southern Colorado Springs.  Even if that is not politically likely, just by removing all the ultra-red counties along the western border, and substituting them for central ski counties, we should be able to make a Democratic seat.  Stats: 69% W, 3% B, 24% H, 1% A (old: 75% W, 1% B, 22% H).

4th-Red: (Gardner and Tipton).  Now the fun begins.  By removing Fort Collins from CO-04, it must seek additional population, so I simply had it run around the perimeter of the state and go up through the conservative counties of the current CO-03, in effect combining both districts to make an ultra-GOP vote sink, based in Greeley and Grand Junction.  Yeah it looks bad, but hey the Republicans are always complaining that the rural counties don’t get a voice…here’s your dream district!  Stats: 75% W, 1% B, 20% H (old: 79% W, 1% B, 17% H).

5th-Yellow: (Lamborn and possibly Coffman).  An idea I borrowed from the legislature Democrats.  Why have two solid GOP districts along the I-25 when the districts can be narrowed and combined into an ultra-GOP vote sink?  Coffman doesn’t live in this district but unfortunately for him most of the current CO-06 is here, including his best performing areas in Douglas County.  He could try to run in the new Aurora-based 7th but he would get destroyed.  My guess is he would seek other office or retire.  He wouldn’t be the first guy to see his district evaporate.  Stats: 79% W, 3% B, 11% H, 3% A (old: 77% W, 6% B, 11% H, 2% A).

6th-Purple: (no incumbent).  Also basically copied from the proposed maps.  Changes from an exurban GOP stronghold south of Denver into an east suburban Aurora district.  Contains swingy areas in the south, but the northern half of this district contains some of the most heavily minority precincts in the state…Coffman has no chance in this district, no Republican does.  It skips across a few county lines, but it’s fairly compact compared to the oddly-shaped current CO-07 that contains a lot of this area right now.  Stats: 51% W, 12% B, 29% H, 5% A (old: 88% W, 2% B, 6% H, 3% A).

7th-Orange: (Perlmutter).  Drops most of the eastern Aurora-based earmuff and settles into a nice compact Jefferson County based district.  The location plays to Perlmutter’s strength in Jefferson but even if he leaves, the pieces in Denver and Adams county ensure it will stay blue.  Stats: 68% W, 1% B, 25% H, 3% A (old: 69% W, 6% B, 20% H, 3% A).

25 thoughts on “5-2 Colorado Dem map”

  1. by drawing it around the top of the state rather than the bottom. Someone here had proposed a 2nd district that took in just Greeley and Fort Collins. The 4th would then be connected across the top of Weld and Larimer counties and the San Luis Valley would be kept whole in the 3rd. And in the ideal world where this map passes, Salazar is running again and he’d like that :-)

  2. Opposite ends of a state getting combined into a district because they are culturally similar, and different from the rest of the state. There are a lot of earmuffs districts out there, but I don’t think any span a whole state (even a much smaller state). I like this one because it’s easy to justify, it gives rural Colorado a district.

  3. If, for selfish reasons, it would draw my former home in El Paso County out of Doug “teach my how to Dougie” Lamborn’s district.

    The light blue district would be a really interesting primary between a ski country Dem (like Christine Scanlan or Dan Gibbs) versus a Pueblo Dem (almost definitely House Minority Leader Sal Pace). There are huge benches in each area, though, and by taking in S. Colorado Springs, you gave Senate Majority Leader John Morse a place to run, since though his house remains in CD-5 he was police chief in Fountain for years.

    The 6th is perfect for Sen. Morgan Carroll if she wants it (as it is in other maps), but there are plenty of folks who could run there for team Blue as well.

    Funny enough, an earmuff rural district could ensure that BOTH Tipton and Gardner lose, if Mesa County Republicans coalesce around a candidate and Tipton/Gardner split the western/eastern halves of the state. Has there ever been a primary where two sitting Reps were drawn into the same district and both lost?

  4. It’s just that the airport, which, of course, is virtually unpopulated, is within the city-county limits.

  5. The only negative comment I have is that you ought to change the name of the map.  “Nasty” just won’t get it done. As a longtime resident of CO-5 and Fremont County I am delighted with the District 3 you have drawn. As a long suffering Democrat (under Hefley and now Lamborn)your district 3 is precisely where I believe our real interests lie. I would really like to share it with a considerable following on Facebook but I fear that the headline will work against our interests.

    p.s. Where can I find the Dave app that you speak of.

  6. I believe that what will happen is that it goes to court and the final map is 4-3 Dem-Rep or no less than 3-3-1.  What do you think of that?

  7. The upsidedown nunchucks district?  The upsidedown nut cracker district? The thighmaster district? lol

    Very creative map.

  8. He’s Hickenlooper’s State Ag. Director (or some comparable position), and by all accounts is much happier than he was in D.C.

    I could be wrong, and he could just need a break, but his lackluster campaign + how readily he accepted a state cabinet position makes me think he’s finished with national office.  

  9. It’s a brilliant map.  Another quick change I might suggest…people who haven’t been there don’t realize that downtown Colorado Springs isn’t crazy town.  Draw a tendril from your Ft. Carson area up to soak up very blue Colorado College and its neighboring environs along Tejon, Cascade, and Nevada Avenues (lots of mom-and-pop shops, left-wing churches, Poor Richard’s Bookstore, antique and rug shops, and the best North Indian/Nepalese food in Colorado), and the numbers get even better.  Even better, have it travel west along CR-24 (Colorado Ave.) into very blue Manitou Springs…it shouldn’t be wasted on the genius rural monstrosity.

  10. all I had were county results.  I was able to get some more useful data by looking at congressional races that broke down their returns by county as well (helpful for the districts that split counties, like CO-07).  But when it came to El Paso county I was shooting in the dark.  All I know is that when I drive down there to visit relatives I can almost feel the Christian fundamentalism seeping into my car.  But I knew Obama almost hit 40% in this county so there had to be good precincts to be had.  I just started scrolling over precincts and saw quite a few Hispanic and African-American heavy areas on the southern area of Colorado Springs, so I grabbed them for CO-03.

    Thanks for the information…adding the areas you suggested would make CO-03 even better for us.

  11. But you’re a Tiger too?  I was born and raised in Denver and am now in grad school up here, but I still bleed black and gold!

  12. The south Springs around Ft. Carson is actually much less blue than areas in downtown.

    El Paso gets its deserved reputation because anything at or north of Garden of the Gods is rightly referred to as “The Evangelical Vatican” (Focus on the Family, New Life Church formerly pastored by out-of-the-closet-case Ted Haggard, and muchmore) as well as being the home of the Air Force Academy and wealthy sub-division of Briargate.  Rural El Paso Cty also sucks for us.  For a rough look at the boundaries of the positive areas in the Springs for us, look at a map of Democratic-held HD-18 and SD-11.

  13. Caveat emptor…I’m not sure where Lamborn’s actual residence is (I mean, within Colorado Springs).

  14. Was actually just back on campus last week. In the Bay Area for school, but spending the summer in Denver and almost certainly moving back after graduation.

    Tiger through and through, though! Always amazing to meet another one in the most random of places!

  15. You lucky guy.  I haven’t been back since they had an exhibit on Emma Goldman in Worner Center a few months back.  Where are you in Denver?  A real meeting of Denver SSP folk might be fun. E-mail me, especially if you’re near DU.

  16. So let Palmer Park be the line.  The shit doesn’t really hit the fan until you get to Woodman Ave., but I’m not sure there are enough Dems to justify the stretch.

  17. I meant it to be nasty to Republican incumbents in Colorado, but I have changed the title as you suggested.

    Thanks for the response!

  18. is what happens with the Boulder-based 2nd district.  Currently, it moves from Boulder in towards Denver, eating up additional Democratic votes in Jefferson and Adams County.  The 7th district as it stands does a ear-muff around Denver to grab all remaining Dem-friendly counties, completing the packing of Dem votes in the area.  The Democratic maps proposed all move the 2nd out further away, allowing enough population in Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, and Denver itself for three more districts, giving us four of the state’s seven right there.  I hope the court agrees with that, rather than continuing the packing that has gone on.

    Even if the court just approves a map that is similar to current lines, I like our chances long-term in CO-04 as Fort Collins continues its leftward drift.  Honestly I think we’d have a better shot at getting that one back than CO-03.

  19. But it would seem that, beyond political affiliation, people in the mountains and people in the plains would have different cultures and interests, right? There are different types of rural areas, which is why MN-07 and MN-08 should be kept separate.

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