Redistricting New York

(This diary is cross-posted on the Swing State Project and the Albany Project.)

Using Dave’s Redistricting Application I have drawn a plan for the state of New York.  Already, 27 out of 29 Representatives are Democrats.  However, the state is set to lose one seat in the 2012 redistricting, and several current Democrats hold marginal districts.  

This plan tries to eliminate the remaining two Republicans.  NY-26, held by Christopher Lee in the western part of the state, is divided up among neighboring districts (and those districts themselves are drawn in a way which still favors Democrats) while Peter King’s district, NY-3 on Long Island, is made considerably more Democratic, whereby he will have a harder time getting re-elected.  At the same time, currently marginal districts, like NY-1, NY-13, NY-19, NY-20, NY-23 and NY-24 are made more Democratic.  NY-29, Eric Massa’s district, is renumbered NY-26 (as the 29th seat is eliminated because of reapportionment) and that district also becomes more Democratic.

Under the plan here, ALL districts in New York state voted by at least 54% for Obama and at most 45% for McCain.  This is possible because upstate New York (the area north of Westchester Co. and the less Democratic part of the state) voted approximately 54% for Obama, and 45% for McCain.  Therefore, it’s possible to create all districts in upstate which are 54% Obama/45% McCain (or 54/44 or 55/44) if one draws the lines correctly.  I have managed to do so, while at the same time paying attention to incumbent protection and keeping the districts relatively compact (it took a while to get it just right).  Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties) only voted about 53/46 Obama/McCain, but by extending parts of some districts into New York City, it’s also possible to have all districts there at least 54/45 (in fact, only NY-1 and NY-3 are made to be 54/45; NY-2, NY-4 and NY-5 are all at least 57/42.  Staten Island-based NY-13 was, ofcourse, easy; all you have to do is combine parts of the current district with Manhattan.

I believe the 54/45 Obama/McCain margin for a safe Democratic district is applicable to New York.  If this were California, for example, I would not feel such a district safe at all.  But Obama’s improvement on John Kerry was not that high in New York, and in a few districts Obama actually performed the same as or marginally worse than Kerry (NY-3, NY-5, NY-9).  The other thing is that Democrats have managed to win districts in the state which are currently significantly less Democratic than the 54/45 margin: NY-1 (52/48 Obama/McCain), NY-13 (49-51), NY-19 (51/48), NY-20 (51/48), NY-23 (52/47), NY-24 (51/48), NY-29 (48/51).  I feel that if Democrats can win these marginal seats in the state, then any district that’s at least 54/45 should be safe.

Like with my redistricting plan for California, I include my “TTP” number here.  I feel that it’s a good measure relating to incumbent protection — something that has to be a significant factor in any realistic redistricting proposal.  (The “TTP” number is Territory Transfer Percentage, for lack of a better label.  It provides the percentage of the new district’s territory, in terms of population, that was formerly a part of the current district.  So, for example, in NY-7, the “TTP” is 77.  The proposed district contains much of the same territory as the current district, and 77% of the new district’s population was formerly a part of the old district; in other words, Joseph Crowley would be looking at a district where 77% of his new constituents are the same as his old constituents.)  I was aiming for a “TTP” score of at least 55 for each district, and was successful in all but two districts — NY-6, which loses a lot of territory in order to make the new NY-3 more Democratic, and the new NY-26, which combines much of Eric Massa’s current territory with parts of Chris Lee’s district and parts of Buffalo currently in Louise Slaughter’s NY-28.

Last but not least, this plan protects all minority-majority districts in the state.  The black percentage in several districts goes down a bit, but they are still drawn to ensure African-American representation.  (Demographic stats below include percentages for groups that total 10% or more of the population of a particular district).



District 1:

Incumbent: Timothy Bishop

Current District:  Obama 52; McCain 48

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 71; hispanic 17

TTP: 69

The district continues to encompass the eastern half of Long Island, albeit some areas are new to the district.  NY-1 is made more Democratic by taking out very Republican Smithtown and more marginal areas in Brookhaven and then adding very Democratic areas in Islip.

District 2:  

Incumbent: Steve Israel

Current District:  Obama 56; McCain 43

Proposed District:  Obama 57; McCain 42

Demographics: white 63; black 16; hispanic 13

TTP: 61

The district is made marginally more Democratic as the lines are redrawn.  The new district is centered on Huntington and Babylon in western Suffolk Co. but also branches out east to include parts of Islip and Brookhaven and west to include parts of Oyster Bay and Hempstead in Suffolk Co.

District 3:  

Incumbent: Peter King

Current District:  Obama 47; McCain 52

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 66; black 21

TTP: 70

Much of the district remains the same.  What makes the reconfigured district considerably more Democratic is an arm (approximately one-fourth of the new district’s population) that now extends into heavily African-American areas in Queens.

District 4:  

Incumbent: Carolyn McCarthy

Current District:  Obama 58; McCain 41

Proposed District:  Obama 59; McCain 40

Demographics: white 60; black 15; hispanic 13

TTP: 71

Remains similar to the current Nassau County district.  Some very Democratic areas in Hempstead are taken out to become part of the new NY-2.  To make up for the loss, NY-4 extends slightly into neighboring areas of Queens.  The result is a marginally more Democratic district.

District 5:  

Incumbent: Gary Ackerman

Current District:  Obama 63; McCain 36

Proposed District:  Obama 57; McCain 42

Demographics: white 48; asian 23; hispanic 23

TTP: 75

The new district continues to include most of the current territory in Queens and northern Nassau County.  It is extended eastward along the northern shore of Long Island, all the way to Smithtown.  The new lines drop the Democratic percentage, but at 57/42 Obama/McCain (and approximately 57/42 Kerry/Bush as well) the new district should be safe for us.

District 6:

Incumbent: Gregory Meeks

Current District:  Obama 89; McCain 11

Proposed District:  Obama 79; McCain 21

Demographics: black 45; white 22; hispanic 18; asian 10

TTP: 52

The new NY-6 contains most of the territory of the current NY-6.  Some African-American areas in the east are taken out to strengthen Long Island-based districts.  To make up for the loss, NY-6 extends west into African-American areas in Brooklyn.  The new NY-6 is 45% black versus 52% for the current district (using data from Dave’s Application, not the 2000 census figures, as the numbers have changed over the decade), but the next largest ethnic/racial group, whites, are only at 22% in the district, so an African-American Representative is basically assured here.

District 7:  

Incumbent: Joseph Crowley

Current District:  Obama 79; McCain 20

Proposed District:  Obama 79; McCain 21

Demographics: hispanic 39; white 30; black 14; asian 13

TTP: 77

Remains very similar to the current district which stretches across parts of Queens and the Bronx.  The largest ethnic/racial group here are Hispanics (at 42% in the current district and 39% under the proposed lines).

District 8:  

Incumbent: Jerrold Nadler

Current District:  Obama 74; McCain 26

Proposed District:  Obama 65; McCain 34

Demographics: white 69; asian 15; hispanic 10

TTP: 59

The new district contains much of the same territory as the current district — an interesting combination of very progressive areas in Manhattan and more conservative  parts of Brooklyn (large Orthodox Jewish population in that part of Brooklyn).

District 9:  

Incumbent: Anthony Weiner

Current District:  Obama 55; McCain 44

Proposed District:  Obama 64; McCain 35

Demographics: white 48; asian 24; hispanic 20

TTP: 58

The new NY-9 is more compact than the current NY-9 in that it’s confined entirely to Queens.  The more conservative Orthodox Jewish areas in Brooklyn are taken out and the partisan numbers go up for the Democratic Party.

District 10:  

Incumbent: Edolphus Towns

Current District:  Obama 91; McCain 9

Proposed District:  Obama 84; McCain 15

Demographics: black 45; white 24; hispanic 22

TTP: 68

The new Brooklyn-based district is largely similar to the current one.  The black percentage goes down from 59% to 45% but, in circumstances similar to NY-6, continued representation by an African-American Congressman or Congresswoman is assured here.

District 11:  

Incumbent: Yvette Clarke

Current District:  Obama 91; McCain 9

Proposed District:  Obama 82; McCain 18

Demographics: black 47; white 34; hispanic 11

TTP: 76

See District 10 above.  The new district contains a vast majority of the current territory of NY-11.  The black percentage goes down from 56% to 47% but that is still enough to assure representation by an African-American.

District 12:  

Incumbent: Nydia Velázquez

Current District:  Obama 86; McCain 13

Proposed District:  Obama 86; McCain 13

Demographics: hispanic 45; white 25; asian 22

TTP: 85

The new district remains very similar to the current Hispanic-plurality one (the current district is about 47% Hispanic according to data in Dave’s Application, while the new one is a couple points less Hispanic).

District 13:

Incumbent: Michael McMahon

Current District:  Obama 49; McCain 51

Proposed District:  Obama 59; McCain 40

Demographics: white 69; hispanic 13

TTP: 78

The new district combines all of Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn just over the Verrazano Bridge with very progressive areas in Manhattan (mostly the Upper West Side).  As you would guess, the Democratic percentage surges, even with less than a quarter of the new district’s territory coming out of Manhattan.

District 14:  

Incumbent: Carolyn Maloney

Current District:  Obama 78; McCain 21

Proposed District:  Obama 81; McCain 18

Demographics: white 67; hispanic 14

TTP: 69

The new district is now confined entirely to Manhattan, as the Queens areas are taken out.  The district becomes marginally even more Democratic than the current progressive stronghold.

District 15:  

Incumbent: Charles Rangel

Current District:  Obama 93; McCain 6

Proposed District:  Obama 95; McCain 4

Demographics: hispanic 47; black 37; white 10

TTP: 63

New district is similarly centered on Harlem and other areas in northern Manhattan.  The district crosses over to encompass parts of the Bronx, and the African-American percentage goes up from 29% in the current district to 37% under the new lines (while the Hispanic percentage goes up slightly from 46% to 47%).

District 16:  

Incumbent: José Serrano

Current District:  Obama 95; McCain 5

Proposed District:  Obama 95; McCain 5

Demographics: hispanic 66; black 28

TTP: 95

Remains very, very similar to the current Bronx-based district.

District 17:

Incumbent: Eliot Engel

Current District:  Obama 72; McCain 28

Proposed District:  Obama 60; McCain 39

Demographics: white 59; black 18; hispanic 16

TTP: 67

The new district includes much of the same territory in the Bronx, and Westchester and Rockland Counties.  Parts of the Bronx are detached while the district expands outward into Orange County (this is geographically necessary, because of population shifts between New York City and the rest of the state).  The new district becomes a little less Democratic, but is still very safe.

District 18:  

Incumbent: Nita Lowey

Current District:  Obama 62; McCain 38

Proposed District:  Obama 61; McCain 37

Demographics: white 63; hispanic 19

TTP: 95

Westchester-based NY-18 remains very similar in shape and partisan preference to the current district.

District 19:  

Incumbent: John Hall

Current District:  Obama 51; McCain 48

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 74; hispanic 12

TTP: 62

The new district NY-19 becomes more Democratic as areas in Orange and Dutchess Counties are rearranged.

District 20:  

Incumbent: Scott Murphy

Current District:  Obama 51; McCain 48

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 88

TTP: 68

The district remains similar to the current one, but is made more Democratic, as more Republican areas (Greene Co. and part of Delaware Co.) are taken out, while part of Albany is added.

District 21:  

Incumbent: Paul Tonko

Current District:  Obama 58; McCain 40

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 87

TTP: 67

The new district continues to be centered on the Albany area.  It becomes less Democratic as it expands north and west into more conservative territory, but remains a safe seat.

District 22:  

Incumbent: Maurice Hinchey

Current District:  Obama 59; McCain 39

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 44

Demographics: white 85

TTP: 68

The new NY-22 is similar in many ways to the current one.  Progressive areas around   Ithaca/Cornell University are taken out to shore up the neighboring NY-24, but the Democratic percentage here still remains safe.

District 23:  

Incumbent: Bill Owens

Current District:  Obama 52; McCain 47

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 89

TTP: 69

The new district combines the more Democratic parts of the current NY-23 with Democratic territory around Rochester (as well as GOP-leaning but less-populated territory in Monroe Co., east of Rochester).  The overall Democratic percentage goes up by a few points.

District 24:  

Incumbent: Michael Arcuri

Current District:  Obama 51; McCain 48

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 86

TTP: 58

Arcuri had a close call during his 2008 re-election bid, so the more Democratic district created by this plan should help.

District 25:  

Incumbent: Daniel Maffei

Current District:  Obama 56; McCain 43

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 86

TTP: 56

NY-25 continues to include most of Syracuse and Onondaga Co. (although parts have been taken out to shore up the neighboring NY-24), and stretches west towards the suburbs of Rochester.

District 26:  

Incumbents: Eric Massa, Christopher Lee

Current District:  Obama 48; McCain 51 (current NY-29); Lee’s district, current NY-26, is Obama 46; McCain 52

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 79; black 14

TTP: 44

This new district combines much of Massa’s territory in NY-29 (44% of the new district), parts of Lee’s (22% of the new district) and the part of Erie Co. that is currently in NY-28 (31% of the new district), with a small remainder coming out of the current NY-27.  It stretches from Massa’s home in Corning to encompass parts of Buffalo currently in NY-28.  Lee’s home is put into the new NY-26 but his district is split among neighboring ones (22% to the new NY-26 here, 40% to NY-28, and the remainder split between

NY-27, NY-25 and NY-23).

District 27:  

Incumbent: Brian Higgins

Current District:  Obama 54; McCain 44

Proposed District:  Obama 54; McCain 45

Demographics: white 88

TTP: 87

This Buffalo-based district remains very similar to the current configuration.

District 28:  

Incumbent: Louise Slaughter

Current District:  Obama 69; McCain 30

Proposed District:  Obama 55; McCain 44

Demographics: white 75; black 14

TTP: 56

The new district looks quite similar on a map (stretching from Rochester to Niagara Falls) but the Democratic percentage goes down as parts of Buffalo are taken out.  Nevertheless the seat remains safe for a Democrat.

So that’s my plan for New York.  Thank you for any comments or suggestions.

175 thoughts on “Redistricting New York”

  1. Generally I like it.

    Two concerns:

    6, 10 and 11: Is that legal?

    Upstate:  Good job making all the districts have nearly identical partisan balance.  Only concern would be that in a bad year there could be some losses.  I guess that would be a risk you’d have to take to eliminate Lee.

  2. This is very cleverly done, and I commend you for it. But as always, I have some concerns. First, I think you’re asking for various VRA attacks by playing with black and hispanic percentages in the minority-majoritiy districts too much. Dropping below 50% seems to be the bad thing that you just can’t do unless you can make the case that an alternate map would itself be a racial gerrymander.

    Second, I think that upstate is probably a house of cards. I’m open to the possibility that the Republicans are just done forever up there, but it seems really unlikely to me.  

  3. of the upstate districts if they were open in a bad year.

    And Peter King probably wins your NY-3 easily, his entire home base is there and King is fairly popular among Democrats in his home area.

    I would eliminate Peter King’s district (see my gerrymander), and give Chris Lee a heavy GOP district, and move all the districts downward.  A 27-1 solid map is much better than a 28-0 shaky one.


  4. I think it’s great that a bunch of you have taken the time to do these exercises, but do any of you know if any of those responsible for redistricting have taken a look at any of these proposed maps yet? Do you think any of them might?

  5. in particular what you did with the 9th and 13th districts. There is absolutely no reason for Weiner and McMahon to have districts as weak as they are, given that they are in the middle of NYC.

    I say that if we are going to go after Pete King, go after him all the way. Give him at least a 60% Dem seat, make all the other LI seats as Democratic as possible, gerrymander ruthlessly, sending tendrils into NYC as necessary. It’s possible to keep the 3 African American seats at just above 50% Black each and have NY-6 pick up some of the most heavily GOP areas in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, if you draw the lines creatively. I made a map that did that a while ago, though I never bothered posting it. But if we’re not willing to do that, then give him a swingy seat that he can win, then we might as well make NY-3 into a safe GOP seat, and bring NY-1, 2, and 4 to as near to 60% Obama each as is possible.

    I’d be a bit concerned about upstate, as others have said. I think if you conceded one maximally GOP district for Chris Lee, make the other ones further upstate safer, and then reach one or two more of the districts (like NY-19 and NY-22) that are closer to NYC down through Westchester, and even into the Bronx, you could get something more resistant to the possibility of a Republican wave. Of course, with NY you can do pretty much anything as long as you are willing to have enough arms sticking into NYC…

  6.    But I’m not sure about Slaughter’s and Tonko’s districts.  Can they really win marginal districts?  I think the perfect plan would be to pack as many upstate Republicans into Chris Lee’s district and get rid of Peter King.  

  7. Peter King is 65, and might be susceptible to being Scozzafavaed – but I don’t know if there are any potential candidates say in Nassau or the state Assembly/Senate.

    I’m under the impression that the other LI districts have been shaky for Ds in the past, and we’d benefit from an incumbent protection plan in NY.

    Packing Rs in King’s district would also encourage the CfG, etc, to primary him.

  8. All of us here are talking about upstate NY, when in reality it’s the suburbs in Long Island that’re moving Republican.

    I mean, Obama did pretty badly there (worse than Gore, and barely better than Kerry). If 2010 goes badly, it might be Long Island (and not upstate) districts that fall.

  9. his run for reelection for Nassau County Executive. Congressman Tim Bishop’s reelection race bears watching, because parts of that Suffolk County-based district are traditionally Republican, and it’s still a closely-divided district. I’m not predicting that he will be defeated, but it wouldn’t shock me, either.

  10. We hated this plan at The Albany Project.  If you ask most of us, we’ll tell you that we don’t want to gerrymander the crap out of our state just to win one or two more seats.  Let’s have contiguous, logical districts instead of stretching NY-23 from Plattsburg to Rochester.  

    I would also echo the comments of those that say we should have one Republican seat.  That probably makes a lot more sense then putting multiple seats at risk.  Plus I’m not sure that this map even really puts Arcuri or Massa into safe seats.  

  11.      I wouldn’t worry too much about New York Democrats losing their seats in a wave election. Even in 1994, when Cuomo was defeated, only one NY seat changed hands, with Hochbrueckner losing in the first district. I think that’s the only time since 1980 that an incumbent NY Democrat has been defeated in a general election for the House.

        If there’s a Republican wave election anytime in the next decade, New York state will be the least of our worries. Losing 5 seats in New York would only make a difference if the Republicans win 213-217 elsewhere.

        I agree completely with the unilateral disarmament point. Our playing nice in New York won’t stop them from screwing us in Texas, Florida, and anywhere else they can. The Democrats have been bringing a knife to a gunfight for far too long. We need to show everybody, ourselves as much as our opponents, that we are not afraid to fight hard for what’s right.

        What I might want to think about more is whether insuring the reelection of Blue Dogs and Blue Dog Wannabes like Arcuri, McMahon, Murphy, Owens, and Higgins is in our long-term best interest. If they’re not helped by redistricting, maybe they’ll lose in 2012 or 2014, but if their areas are trending away from the hard-right Republicans, as seems to be the case, we might get more progressive Democrats in those seats later in the decade. It’s like the Republican operative said after they took the Senate in 1980, “If we’d known we were going to win, we would’ve run better candidates.”

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