New Mexicyoming: Four Wyoming-Size Districts in the Land of Enchantment

Redistricting according to the highly hypothetical Wyoming Rule is the latest SSP trend. In brief, the rule throws out the inequality currently on display in the House, where the at-large district of Wyoming is dramatically overrepresented in terms of population compared to the average district in, say, Los Angeles.

I took on the task of drawing a Wyoming Rule map for New Mexico. Under the rule, the Land of Enchantment would add one congressional district. Using 2008 population estimates, I managed to draw a 3-1 map with no less than three VRA minority-majority coalition districts.

NM-01 (safe Democratic)

43% white, 4% Native, 47% Latino

64% Obama, 35% McCain

This district covers most of the Albuquerque area, excluding the whiter, more Republican suburbs and exurbs in eastern Bernadillo County and creeping up just barely into Sandoval County. It’s quite close to being an outright Latino-majority district; growth rates suggest it will be by the end of the decade, if I remember right. No reason studly Rep. Martin Heinrich couldn’t win here, as it’s a heavily Democratic district.

NM-02 (likely Democratic)

33% white, 17% Native, 48% Latino

58% Obama, 40% McCain

In Maryland, this would be a safe Democratic seat, but inconsistent voter turnout among Native Americans means that for New Mexico, this is just a district in which Democrats start off with a pretty decent advantage. Indeed, virtually all of this district will be represented by Republican Rep.-elect Steve Pearce in the 112th Congress, although western New Mexico tends to be more liberal than eastern New Mexico, which balances out the current NM-02 for a Republican-tilting swing district. Rep. Harry Teague could certainly win here, but as this district is likely to be outright majority-Latino by redistricting, the base might prefer a Latino representative.

NM-03 (safe Democratic)

43% white, 13% Native, 41% Latino

63% Obama, 36% McCain

This district in northern New Mexico is basically just a smaller version of Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s current district, ceding McKinley County and much of Sandoval County to NM-02 and ceding Quay, Curry, and Roosevelt counties to NM-04. It is strongly Democratic and actually plurality-white, although minority groups still make up the majority of the population. Luján would cruise here, much as he does in the current version of his district.

NM-04 (safe Republican)

60% white, 2% Native, 33% Latino

40% Obama, 58% McCain

The whitest, most conservative district in the Wyoming Rule drawing of New Mexico covers the state’s southeastern quadrant, with tendrils reaching into the Republican-tending eastern part of the greater Albuquerque area, including eastern Bernadillo County. Rep.-elect Pearce would be fine here.

Thoughts, either on the Wyoming Rule or on the New Mexico electoral map?

15 thoughts on “New Mexicyoming: Four Wyoming-Size Districts in the Land of Enchantment”

  1. The only thing that I would say about CD #2 that you haven’t mentioned is that Harry Teague does not currently live there. He lives in Lea County (Hobbs) ironically the same town that Steve Pearce lives in as well. I’m not sure a white Democrat wouldn’t have a hard time winning that district though. Likely an ambitious politician from Las Cruces or Silver City or even possibly Gallup/Soccoro would be the front runner and would qualify it as a lean dem I would venture to say. I would worry about very inconsistent voter turnout among Latinos and Native Americans (as you noted). A Hispanic Republican like Susanna Martinez or Jon Barela could potentially do very well here. Depends a lot of future Latino growth and voter preference shifts. That district would be a pain to get around as it would be huge landwise!

  2. Is a Native VRA district possible? I know there probably isn’t a large enough population for a native majority district, but using the Wyoming rule, would a Native plurality district be doable?

  3. I’m pretty sure you put me in NM-04… What did I ever do to deserve being permanently represented by a right-wing nut-job like Steve Pearce (and make no mistake, this district is even more Republican than the Obama numbers suggest, as Kerry almost certainly got closer to 35% there!).

    In short, while I commend you getting three reasonably safe Democrats out of the state, I want it to be known that I’d have to make a pretty big sacrifice, I hope you people are all happy!!! 😉

  4. I’ll have a pretty nutbar version of North Carolina along tomorrow evening; redistricting in the Tarheel State, Wyoming Rule or otherwise, is wacky. It’s the kind of state where you just want to go take a cold shower to get the ick off after you redraw its districts; unlike with, say, Maryland, there really isn’t a quick-and-dirty way of drawing compact districts while keeping it VRA-legal. I did manage to draw a Wyoming Rule map (16 districts) with a quarter of districts either black-majority or minority-majority coalition, so my drawing is VRA-compliant, but it’s ugly as sin.

    Here’s a sneak preview:

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