Redistricting Washington: Can you think like a commission?

It’s hard to tell how a nonpartisan commission will draw maps. As we’ve seen with Iowa’s first round of maps, they can make some unusual choices. For this map, I tried to hew as closely to the existing districts as possible, within reason; there are some odd territorial splits (such as WA-09 jumping across Puget Sound) that might make more sense to a local than to a East Coast resident like myself.

I tried to limit city and county splits where possible, but sometimes it was unavoidable. The biggest split is Tacoma, half of which I had to put in WA-06 and half in WA-09. I also tried to either ignore partisan data or encourage competitive districts. Thanks to the way the map is set up currently, the latter was pretty easy to accomplish; there are five districts that I would consider competitive (WA-02, 06, 08, 09, and 10).


Seattle area

WA-01 (blue) – Instead of jumping across Puget Sound, it stretches across northern King County and farther up into Smohomish. Old district: 56.2% Murray, new district: 56.5% Murray.

WA-02 (green) – Expands very slightly, picking up a little bit of Snohomish and dropping the one random descent into eastern King County. Old district: 50.5% Murray, new district: exactly 50.0% for each (the margin is 118 votes in favor of Rossi).

WA-03 (purple) – This one probably changes the most. Northern end of the district is chopped off, and it moves east to Yakima. Old district: 52.5% Rossi, new district: 55.5% Rossi.

WA-04 (red) – Moves east, losing Yakima and gaining Walla Walla. Old district: 64.4% Rossi, new district: 63.9% Rossi.

WA-05 (yellow) – Loses Walla Walla, gains bits of Franklin County. Old district: 58.6% Rossi, new district: 58.4% Rossi.

WA-06 (teal) – Drops part of Tacoma, picks up islandy parts on the west side of Puget Sound. Old district: 53.1% Murray, new district: 53.0% Murray.

WA-07 (grey) – Seattle and a bit of the suburbs south of it. Old district: 81.0% Murray, new district: 81.5% Murray.

WA-08 (light purple) – Loses Pierce County. Adds a bit of the inner Seattle-area suburbs. Old district: 50.8% Rossi, new district: 53.0% Murray.

WA-09 (sky blue) – Loses the southwestern swath of territory, picks up a bit on the northern and eastern borders. Old district: 52.8% Murray, new district: 54.1% Murray.

WA-10 (magenta) – The new seat. Most of Pierce County, all of Thurston County, and some parts south and southwest of Thurston. 50.9% Rossi.

I don’t know if anyone got drawn out of their districts, but the only incumbent that would probably be seriously miffed is Reichert. Losing Pierce County would be a blow to his re-election chances. He could always move to the new WA-10, though.

14 thoughts on “Redistricting Washington: Can you think like a commission?”

  1. Rep. Reichert lives in Auburn and would likely run in WA-10 in your scenario.

    Rep. Smith (WA-9) lives in Tacoma. I am not sure if he would be drawn into WA-6 under your proposal.

  2. Only one (necessary) east/west district, and you kept the existing districts intact as much as you reasonably could while trying to respect county and city boundaries.

    I don’t know the politics of the Seattle suburbs but would it make sense for Inslee’s district to swap its rural-looking eastern end for that close-in suburb at the northern end of Reichert’s district?

  3. I went a bit of the opposite way with my map. Since the commission is appointed by the majority and minority leaders of each house in the legislature, I figured that they would go for a incumbent protection map particularly in regards to Reichert and Herrera, who are both currently in districts Obama won.

    WA-01 (blue) – Loses some Democratic eastside suburbs such as Kirkland while picking up some more conservative exurban ares of Snohomish County from Larsen. Old district: 56.2% Murray, new district: 55.9% Murray.

    WA-02 (green) – Loses some relatively conservative territory in southeastern Snohomish County to Larsen. Old district: 50.5% Murray, new district: 51.5% Murray

    WA-03 (purple) – Like yours expands into Eastern Washington and loses Pacific, Wahkiakum, Thurston, and parts of Lewis and Cowlitz. Old district: 52.5% Rossi, new district: 57.1% Rossi.

    WA-04 (red) – Essentially the same as yours. Old district: 64.4% Rossi, new district: 63.8% Rossi.

    WA-05 (yellow) – Also about the same. Old district: 58.6% Rossi, new district: 58.4% Rossi.

    WA-06 (teal) – Loses some Democratic Suburbs around Tacoma to Smith. Old district: 53.1% Murray, new district: 53.2% Murray.

    WA-07 (grey) – Pretty much the same as the old district and yours. Old district: 81.0% Murray, new district: 81.3% Murray.

    WA-08 (light purple) – Loses increasingly Democratic eastside suburbs to the new WA-10. Old district: 50.8% Rossi, new district: 52.5% Rossi.

    WA-09 (sky blue) – By far the most changed district under my plan. District expands southwest to take all of Thurston, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties while gaining part of Lewis and Cowlitz counties. All of Lewis County could be fit into this district, but due to it being by far the most conservative county in Western Washington, I extended the district down into Democratic Longview. Old district: 52.8% Murray, new district: 52.0% Murray.

    WA-10 (magenta) – The new seat. Fully contained in King County with southern suburbs from the old WA-09 and eastern suburbs of Seattle from the old WA-08. Should easily elect a Democrat with a Murray percentage of 57.3%.


    P.S. Inslee lives on Bainbridge Island and would definitely be outside of your proposed WA-01, but is rumored to be running for governor anyway.

  4. Vashon Island is somewhat out of place on your map.  It looks like it should be part of the Kitsap Peninsula where you have put it, but it does not identify with it at all.  There are no bridges to the island and only one small, infrequent ferry between the island and the Kitsap Peninsula.  The major amount of traffic to and from the island is the ferry between it and downtown Seattle.  It identifies as a close-in suburb of Seattle.  The second most traffic is a ferry between the south end of the island and Tacoma.  

    That’s why it is currently in Seattle’s congressional district and is in King County instead of Kitsap County.

  5. That’s what I’ve always expected the new 3rd to look like. Here are few of my thoughts, though (I’m a local):

    I agree with commenters above that Vashon Isl. needs to go in WA-07, where it is now (it also gets included with West Seattle in the legislature and county council). I might go so far as to include Bainbridge Isl. as part of WA-07 too; it’s effectively a wealthy suburb for people who work downtown and commute via ferry and has very little in common with the rest of the Navy-dominated Kitsap Co. (Bainbridge Isl. doesn’t even show up as an island on Dave’s App, so you’d need to refer to a different map for its outline.) For some reason, it got stuck in WA-01 last decade (maybe with the rationale it’s an affluent burb like Edmonds and Shoreline) but with Jay Inslee (who lives on Bainbrige) about to quit there’s no reason to preserve that bit of weirdness.

    In WA-01 and 02, I think they’d probably keep Everett in the 2nd, and move the 1st further north more to the east, taking in Maltby and Mill Creek and other low-density burbs like that, that feel more like the Eastside. Everett is blue-collar and has its own identity apart from the Seattle burbs, and also it has the naval station, so I think they’d probably keep it with the 2nd so Larsen keeps both it and Whidbey NAS (further north, on Whidbey Isl.).

    Similarly, WA-09, instead of terminating in a big ball of Tacoma’s southeastern suburbs, may form a narrow passage through the Tacoma area so that it continues south to include Ft. Lewis and McChord AFB. That’s Adam Smith’s turf, and he’s ranking member on Armed Services, so certainly he has an interest in continuing to represent one of the nation’s largest army bases. It may also continue as far south as Olympia, conceivably, which would make the 9th much bluer… with your new WA-10 pushing north into the exurbs of SE King County, encompassing Reichert’s house and making the 10th redder, thus making both him and Smith happier.

    The way your map is currently drawn, Reichert might actually be in the 9th (you have Auburn proper in the 9th, but he probably doesn’t live in Auburn per se but incorporated burbs to its east, which would be in your 8th). I’m not sure where in Tacoma Adam Smith’s house is, either… one other thought about Smith is that when he was in the state Sen., I think it was in the SeaTac area, which is where he grew up (he’s also the Rep. you associate most with sticking up for the airport’s interests, so he might get to keep that in his portfolio too). Overall, great work, though.

  6. It gives dems a chance at 7 seats.  The modified 8th is surely a flip, and the new 10th is pure swing (but would probably lean slightly dem in a purely neutral environment).

  7. Can’t do what I was talking about, i.e. giving Adam Smith all of Olympia, Ft. Lewis and SeaTac (along with Federal Way, Des Moines, and all the stuff between the airport and Tacoma). I don’t know if a commission would do this, but I wound up giving Renton, SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines to the 8th (so it now reaches the Sound), and gave Federal Way to the 10th, which is the Dave Reichert lean-R foothills suburbs/exurbs district otherwise. The 9th only goes as far north as east Tacoma and Puyallup now, but keeps going past Olympia to take in Lewis County, which otherwise was odd man out. Lewis Co. is nasty red, but luckily Olympia balances it out. With Renton and the airport area added to the 8th, and with it shorn of rural Pierce County, it’s a blue district now, ready for Roger Goodman, Ross Hunter (or Darcy Burner).



    2010 Patty Murray percentages:

    1st: 56.6%

    2nd: 51.1%

    3rd: 44.7%

    4th: 36.1%

    5th: 41.7%

    6th: 52.0%

    7th: 81.2%

    8th: 55.9%

    9th: 51.5%

    10th: 47.4%

    I wound up keeping Bainbridge I. as part of the 1st. Turns out it’s been that way for many decades, so it’s a tradition they’re likely to honor. Also, I’m a little proud of this… I managed to turn the 5th into a district with no divided counties, with a deviation of only 332.

  8. I don’t think it warrants a new diary. The main feat is having a district that contains all of Seattle and some of its most liberal surroundings while still being a 8-2, although most of the democrat seats are just lean D, as they at least 51.0%, which would be about 56% Obama. My main goal was a minority influence district.

    2 and 3 are more than 60% Rossi, 8 is 81.5% Murray, 9 is 54.5% and 10 56.1%, both Murray. 1, 4, 5, 6, 7 are all between 51.0% and 51.2%. Obviously they would be toss-ups, but they are just a tiny bit less democratic than the state itself, and I’m not unhappy with that. I’m going to do a map trying to get 8 55% Murray Districts soon.

Comments are closed.