Redistricting Oregon: O So Svelte

Dave Bradlee finally managed to sort the obnoxious problems with Oregon’s 2010 Census data, which means it’s time for me to give my home state a whirl.

Nothing too much has changed, as you can see. It just has pretty lines and definitely preserves communities of interest. Only three counties (Columbia, Josephine, and Lincoln) are split between congressional districts, and none of those three are split between more than two districts.

OR-01 (blue)

Democratic Rep. David Wu, who lives in Multnomah County, is out. Unfortunately, some depopulation along the Oregon Coast means this district is stretching a bit further south to find constituents, which is maybe the only part of this map I’m not thrilled about (for aesthetic reasons). As for the politics, as this is a horse-race elections site: Despite Yamhill County’s Republican lean, the great majority of this district’s population is in true blue northwestern Oregon. If Wu can be kept out by this redistricting job, state senators Suzanne Bonamici and Mark Hass are probably in line, provided Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian doesn’t want the job. The inside scoop is that if Wu’s job opens up, he’s got first right of refusal. Likely Democratic.

OR-02 (green)

Walden lives in Hood River. Hood River has been moved elsewhere. Even if Walden doesn’t move back – and I think the diehard conservatives in eastern Oregon, which is (surprisingly enough) one of the most conservative parts of the entire country, may prefer to send Oregon Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli or Bend-area state senator and ambitious “rising star” Chris Telfer to Congress instead of Walden, a close ally of (the possibly doomed) Speaker Boehner who has taken flak for being a leading member of the quasi-moderate Main Street Partnership – this district is red enough to elect an Oregonian version of Christine O’Donnell without a fuss. Anyway, I felt Hood River County belongs with eastern Multnomah County in terms of communities of interest more than it belongs with the high desert cow counties. Safe Republican.

OR-03 (purple)

Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s district has consolidated all of Multnomah County, taken over Hood River County, and poked up into Columbia County just a tad bit, simultaneously withdrawing from Clackamas County. As for politics: Che Guevara could get elected here by double-digit margins. Walden could run here, but he would get clobbered. Wu could also run here, but he would also get clobbered. Mostly, I just think this district looks nice. Safe Democratic.

OR-04 (red)

One of the enduring mysteries of Congress is the charmed existence of Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, a blunt, unabashed, aggressively off-the-reservation left-winger sitting in a light-blue seat. Last year, when conditions seemed perfect for a Republican to potentially upset DeFazio, Republicans in the district nominated certifiable crazy person Art Robinson. DeFazio’s final margin was closer than expected, perhaps on account of his taking victory against Robinson pretty much for granted, but it was still fairly convincing. This district hasn’t changed much. DeFazio still has the red ball-and-chain that is Linn County tethered to him, but it’s easily offset by flaming liberal Benton and Lane counties, both of which are anchored by legendarily left-wing college towns. In terms of actually drawing the map, since I wasn’t consulting political data, it was basically just leftover western Oregon and as much of southern Oregon as fit with population limits stretching east from the coast (which turned out to be not much). Likely Democratic.

OR-05 (yellow)

What is there to do about Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader? Well, one thing to do that would make Clackamas County residents happy would be to give the piece of OR-03 reaching down a little bit into Schrader’s home county back to this fairly swingy district. Another thing might be to embark on a registration drive in increasingly Hispanic Salem and its suburbs, but that’s not really redistricting’s job. Redistricting’s job is to preserve communities of interest, and that was my chief consideration here. As a progressive who generally supports Democrats, I’m not honestly worried about Schrader, and this is why: Republicans target OR-05 every cycle, and every time, they do worse than they were expecting. Last year, Schrader was supposed to lose to Scott Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuun (who, yes, still lives in this district). He won by over five points instead. Republicans were supposed to take over the district in 2008 when then-Rep. Darlene Hooley retired. Schrader crushed Hooley’s 2006 opponent (who was supposed to beat her then, too) by 16 points. Fun fact: in this D+1 district, Republicans haven’t even come as close as five points away since 1994 – the cycle before then-Rep. Jim Bunn lost to Hooley (in 1996) by a margin nearly identical to the margin by which Schrader prevailed last year. For whatever reason, this district is fools’ gold for the Oregon Republican Party. But my favorite part of this redrawn district? It consists simply of all of Polk, Marion, and Clackamas counties, and it’s just 515 heads over the target population. Sexy. Lean Democratic.

25 thoughts on “Redistricting Oregon: O So Svelte”

  1. You’ve turned it into a 53-46 Bush and 52-45 Obama district. It’s gone from D+1 to R+1 or R+2. Yes, Schrader won in 2010, but that doesn’t mean he’s safe for eternity, especially since he only won the three counties you retained in the district by about 1,000 votes.

  2. And your analyses are generally correct.

    Similar to Johnny L, I am somewhat concerned about an Allen Alley or Chris Dudley running against Kurt Schrader. However, long term, I suspect OR-05 will be politically more like an (SF) East Bay district by ’20.

    One unknown — how that district would react if a repeal-anti-gay marriage initiative gets to the ballot for ’12. (There are wingnut aspects to that district.)

  3. We don’t need a district where “Che Guevara could get elected here by double-digit margins,” especially since there are no Voting Rights Act issues here.

  4. Sao —

    If you’re interested, I’d love to see more redistricting stuff – perhaps state lege stuff – from you over at BlueOregon.  What do you think?   Interested?

    (One caveat: we require our writers, including guest columnists, to use their full names.  Hopefully that’s not a dealbreaker.)


    So, that’s pretty cool. Not mentioned by name (as we do tend to go by silly handles here!) but I’m just flattered to get a whole article devoted to a map that took me a little over an hour to draw (though I am quite fond of it).

    Shout-out on the front page of SSP too, which I’m nearly as flattered by!

Comments are closed.