The Great SSP Redistricting Contest (Round 1)

Now that we’ve finally been able to name a winner in our 2009 predictions contest, we’re ready to open up some new frontiers. Check it out:

The Short Version: Redistrict New York state so that your map would likely elect at least 26 Democrats and no more than two Republicans. Post your plan as a diary. Win babka.

The Long Version: Dave (of Dave’s Redistricting App) and Jeffmd have been hard at work implementing partisan political data for New York, and the results have recently gone live. So you have from now until Sunday night, January 10th, at midnight Eastern in which to post a diary containing your maps & descriptions. Jeff, who has graciously agreed to judge this contest, will then decide which plan he deems “best.” There are a few criteria which I’ll detail below, and those have to be met in order for your plan to be eligible. But as far as what constitutes the “best” plan, well… this is going to be something like an art contest, and the judge’s sense of aesthetics will rule the day. After all, redistricting is as much art as it is science!

Here are the criteria to follow:

0) Not that we would expect anyone to do otherwise, but you have to use Dave’s Redistricting App.

1) You must have 28 districts of equal population size, within ~±1% of the ideal district size of 700,334 (i.e., any district between 693,331 and 707,337 will work).

2) You must draw seats for at least 26 Democrats – 26-2, 27-1, and 28-0 plans are all acceptable.

3) Assume that all current incumbents are re-elected in 2010. You will therefore have to eliminate at least one incumbent’s district.

4) Your over-arching goal should be to shore up all Democratic seats which are potentially vulnerable. If you choose to eliminate an incumbent Democrat’s district, the trade-off should mean bluer districts for remaining incumbents.

5) Not a requirement, but bonus points for screwing Peter King in some fashion

6) Water contiguity is permitted (bonus points for connecting along bridges).

7) Touch-point contiguity is not permitted. (Touch-point contiguity occurs when two geographical units only meet each other at a single point. Think of the famous “Four Corners” in the American southwest: Arizona and Colorado share touch-point contiguity, as do New Mexico and Utah.)

8) VRA compliance is required. VRA-compliant districts should be centered around the geographic areas covered by the the present-day districts listed below. These districts may be re-numbered and re-shaped however you see fit, so long as your final plan includes districts which meet the criteria below. They may also be combined & re-fashioned, especially in the case of NY-10 and NY-11.

We won’t require strict adherence to any particular set of numbers, but these are probably pretty decent guidelines:

     • NY-06 area (Jamaica, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway): 50%+ African-American

     • NY-10 area (Bed-Stuy, Canarsie, East New York, Downtown Brooklyn): 50%+ African-American

     • NY-11 area (Crown Heights, Brownsville, Park Slope, Flatbush): 50%+ African-American

     • NY-12 area (Greenpoint, Bushwick, Glendale, Lower East Side): 48%+ Hispanic

     • NY-15 area (Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Upper West Side, Washington Heights): Majority-minority

     • NY-16 area (South Bronx, Morrisania, High Bridge, Port Morris): 60%+ Hispanic

9) All 28 districts must be described in your writeup. Each district writeup must include:

     • A list of any current incumbents whose homes are in that district. If more than one incumbent lives in a district, you must describe whom you think the district “belongs” to.

     • A brief narrative summary of major counties, cities, towns, and/or neighborhoods encompassed by the district. This list need not – and should not – be exhaustive. It should just hit the high points.

     • Demographic information about racial breakdowns by percentage.

     • 2008 presidential election results, both for the new district and the old district (to the extent there is a corresponding old district).

     • Total population.

10) Your writeup must include maps sufficient to show all 28 districts with reasonable detail. Use zoomed-in maps for densely populated areas. Please make maps no more than 590 pixels wide – any larger and they break the site’s formatting on many monitors. But by all means link to full-size images.

11) Your map can be as gerrymandered or as compact as you wish. Bonus points for creativity.

12) Only one entry per user – but you can post your diary at any time during the contest period (again, until midnight Eastern time on Sunday, Jan. 10th).

13) Please email your saved .DRF.XML to Jeff (jeffmd [at] swingstateproject [dot] com). Dave has instructions for locating your file in his help file (scroll down to the section “Saved Files”), for Mac OS, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Do not post this file online.

If you have any questions or need any clarifications, please feel free to ask in comments. To the winner goes the babka!

P.S. To assist you, a list of each represenative’s area of residence is below the fold. If you have more detailed information about any of them, please let us know in comments.

UPDATE: Please put the phrase “Contest Entry:” at the start of your diary title, and please also put the tag “redistricting contest” in your tags.

Also, here’s a helpful map of NYC neighborhoods (warning: large PDF).

UPDATE 2: There are special instructions for turning on the political (Obama vs. McCain) data:

To access this new data, you need to check the “Use Test Data” checkbox in the upper right corner of the app before selecting New York State. (Because the data format is different than I have been using, I’ve separated it into a separate directory on the server.)

NY-01 Bishop Southampton village NY-16 Serrano South Bronx
NY-02 Israel Huntington village NY-17 Engel Riverdale
NY-03 King Seaford (Oyster Bay) NY-18 Lowey Harrison
NY-04 McCarthy Mineola (North Hempstead) NY-19 Hall Dover Plains (Dover)
NY-05 Ackerman Roslyn Heights (North Hempstead) NY-20 Murphy Glens Falls
NY-06 Meeks Far Rockaway NY-21 Tonko Amsterdam
NY-07 Crowley Woodside NY-22 Hinchey Hurley
NY-08 Nadler Upper West Side NY-23 Owens Plattsburgh
NY-09 Weiner Forest Hills NY-24 Arcuri Utica
NY-10 Towns East New York NY-25 Maffei DeWitt
NY-11 Clarke Flatbush NY-26 Lee Clarence
NY-12 Velazquez Williamsburg NY-27 Higgins Buffalo South District
NY-13 McMahon Staten Island NY-28 Slaughter Fairport (Perinton)
NY-14 Maloney Upper East Side NY-29 Massa Corning
NY-15 Rangel Harlem

59 thoughts on “The Great SSP Redistricting Contest (Round 1)”

  1. contiguity. It’s allowed in the real world, and if prohibited here limits some of the best options to achieve the other goals.  

  2. Is there any resource out there that maps out the specific parts of New York City?  I’m not talking Queens v. The Bronx, I mean more specific like Morningside Heights vs. Ozone Park vs. Williamsburg, etc.

  3. I’m not one of the redistricting types, so I probably won’t be participating.

    Have fun, y’all!

  4. NY-16 area (South Bronx, Morrisania, High Bridge, Port Morris): 60%+ Hispanic

    60%+ is excessive under the VRA – which generally supports 50%. (This is not the place to argue that 50%+ is already excessive to ensure a minority wins the election).

    Are you going to require a supermajority Hispanic district in the NY 16 area – or just a VRA compatible district?

    Also, do you want a specific title for the contest diary?

  5. Love it!  There is always one GOP Representative who sticks out in their state in the minds of left-leaning individuals as “that one”.

    Bachmann of Minnesota, Wilson of South Carolina, Blackburn of Tennessee, Gohmert of Texas, etc

  6. Dave here (the author of the app for those who haven’t seen me post before).

    A couple of notes:

    — please let me know of any bugs or difficulties; I’ll keep checking here at SSP and will try to respond quickly to issues.

    — the locations of the drf.xml files on the Mac is in the help file.

    — when you are done, the drf.xml would be helpful to Jeff as he judges, because he can zoom and pan around. When you create Area Maps (zoomed in areas) they are saved in the drf.xml, so he can cycle thru them.

    — you don’t really need to submit the map.xml. That is simply a vehicle to turn the area maps and overall map into JPGs (which requires a Windows tool that you can get from my website). But really, everyone mostly uses Print Screen to capture the bits and turn them into an image.

    — the new CD labels are movable!!! (but the locations are not saved in the drf.xml, so you’ll have to reposition after you reload).

    Good luck!

  7. I saved my map to work on it later.  I tried to open the file from the File Menu and it says there’s an error reading the drf.xml file.  Did I miss a step somewhere?  TIA

  8. Here are the addresses and voting districts of most of the representatives, largely based on New York voter registrations.  I’ve omitted the full address numbers for privacy.

    01-Bishop: Wooley St., Southampton (Southampton 6)

    02-Israel: Dix Hwy., Dix Hills (Huntington 100)

    03-King: Roth Rd., Seaford (Hempstead 36)

    04-McCarthy: Nancy Rd., Mineola (North Hempstead 111)

    05-Ackerman: Deer Run, Roslyn Heights (North Hempstead 99)

    06-Meeks: 194-xx 109th Rd., St. Albans (Queens 33-28)

    07-Crowley: 48-xx 65th St., Woodside (Queens 30-45)

    08-Nadler: 3xx W. 70th St., Upper West Side (Manhattan 35-67)

    09-Weiner: 0xx Ascan Ave., Forest Hills (Queens 28-36)

    10-Towns: Highland Blvd., East New York (Brooklyn 54-56)

    11-Clarke: 2xx Midwood St., Prospect Gardens (Brooklyn 43-78)

    12-Velázquez: Woodhull St., Carroll Gardens (Brooklyn 52-100)

    13-McMahon: Westbury Ave., Staten Island (Staten Island 61-35)

    14-Maloney: ???

    15-Rangel: 0xx W. 135th St., Harlem (Manhattan 70-31)

    16-Serrano: 9xx Grand Concourse, South Bronx around Yankee Stadium (Bronx 77-74)

    17-Engel: 49xx Henry Hudson Pkwy. W., Riverdale (Bronx 81-67)

    18-Lowey: Beverly Rd., Rye (Harrison 10)

    19-Hall: Ridge Rd., Dover Plains (Dover 1)

    20-Murphy: 6xx Glen St., Glens Falls (Glens Falls 5)

    21-Tonko: Princeton St., Amsterdam (City of Amsterdam 1)

    22-Hinchey: Brucken Rd., Hurley (Hurley 3)

    23-Owens: Blue Heron Way, Plattsburgh (Plattsburgh 3)

    24-Arcuri: Crestway, Utica (Utica 4)

    25-Maffei: N. Pebble Hill Rd., Syracuse (DeWitt 3)

    26-Lee: ???

    27-Higgins: Morgan Rd., Buffalo (Buffalo South 19)

    28-Slaughter: Manor Hill Dr., Fairport (Perinton 14)

    29-Massa: Upper Delevan Ave., Corning (City of Corning)

    Note that Nydia Velázquez lives in Carroll Gardens, not Williamsburg.  And Gregory Meeks lives in St. Albans, not Far Rockaway.

  9. In real life, is there actually  a requirement for a 50% Black district in SE Queens? Section 5 of the VRA does not apply to Queens.  It seems to me that a solidly Democratic plurality-Black district would pass Section 2.

  10. The contest guidelines indicate 700,334 as the ideal district size, but Dave’s app defaults to 696,082 as the average district size. What am I missing?

  11. I’m all finished with my map and work and all, and I tried to send the file.  I followed the posted Vista pathway through all the junk folders and such, and attached the file.  But when I tried to send the email, it said that there was no file specified.  I clicked on the file and it said it had 0 bytes.  Help!

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