The problem: Democrats are going into redistricting with a 22-18 advantage in the Virginia State Senate. They have to either hold on to 21 of those seats or carve out new seats that they can win. The question is, can they succeed? I’ve tried my best to come up with a map that gives Democrats a good chance at holding their majority.
Click for bigger view.
As you can see, it ain’t pretty. I attempted to maintain as much population equality as possible, trying to keep districts under 1,000 population variance; with districts that are targeted around 194,000 people, this is well within the normal variance allowed for state legislative districts. The Democrats may be able to massage the numbers some more than I was willing to try. To compare, you can see the 2007 results and existing Senate districts at the Virginia Public Access Project.
We’ll start in Southwestern Virginia and work our way around the state.
SD-40, incumbent: William Wampler Jr. (R)
Not much you can do with this part of the state. It’s pretty much the same as the existing district, except expanded a bit to the east to up the population.
SD-38, incumbent: Phil Puckett (D)
Believe it or not, Puckett went unopposed in 2007. Given the extreme shift away from the Democrats that this part of the state has undergone in the past couple years, I can’t imagine that will be the case this year. Again, there’s not much you can do here; the best I could do was stretch the district out to pull in Radford from SD-22.
SD-20, incumbent: Roscoe Reynolds (D)
Reynolds did have an opponent in 2007, but trounced him. I tried to help him out by putting Danville into the district, along with some parts of Pittsylvania County that have a high African-American population. The district’s black population is 25%.
SD-21, incumbent: John Edwards (D)
No, not that John Edwards. This is the one safe Democratic district this far south, as it contains Montgomery County, Roanoke, and not much else.
SD-22, incumbent: Ralph Smith (R)
Smith knocked off the incumbent in a primary in 2007, then barely beat the Democratic candidate. Rather than try to replicate that feat (because, quite frankly, if they couldn’t win it in 2007, they’re not going to win it in 2011), I just dumped all of the Roanoke suburbs into the district, so it will be safe for the Republicans.
SD-23, incumbents: Steve Newman (R), William Stanley (R)
A district had to be eliminated and spirited off to Northern Virginia, and the obvious choice is the existing 19th, as it has some Dem-friendly parts that can be appended to the 20th, and Stanley is the junior-most Senator, having just been elected this month. This is an extremely Republican district consisting of a rural swath of land between Lynchburg and Roanoke.
SD-15, incumbent: Frank Ruff (R)
Another very Republican district dominated by Lynchburg and Amherst County. It stretches down to the North Carolina border because Ruff lives in the very southeastern tip of the district.
On to Southside and Richmond…
SD-13, incumbent: none
This is where the Democrats need to get creative. The 13th used to be Republican Fred Quayle’s district, stretching from Portsmouth to Hopewell; I’ve created a district to replace it centered in Emporia, Petersburg, and the Southside counties with high black populations. In fact, this district is very narrowly majority-black (50.2%). It should be a prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats.
SD-11, incumbent: Stephen Martin (R) (possibly)
Martin’s residence is just listed as “Chesterfield County” on Wikipedia, and there’s nothing on his campaign website that says where in the county he lives, but this is the district he would run in. It’s a solidly Republican district that takes in Amelia and Nottoway Counties as well as part of Chesterfield.
SD-10, incumbent: John Watkins (R)
Watkins does live in this district. It’s another solidly-Republican suburban Richmond district.
SD-12, incumbent: Walter Stosch (R) (possibly)
Again, Stosch is just listed as being in Henrico County, which is chopped up between four districts. This is an attempt to create as Dem-friendly a district as possible. It’s still a Republican-leaning district, but it’s more likely a 55-45 district than the 60-40 district it is now.
SD-16, incumbent: Henry Marsh (D)
Marsh’s district was drawn to soak up as many black voters as possible. I’ve dropped it down to 51% black, as it loses the southern end of the district, including Petersburg. Still safe Dem.
SD-9, incumbent: Don McEachin (D)
This one loses part of Richmond and gains more of Henrico. Still majority-black, at 52%, and safe Dem.
Now we’re on to my part of the state, Hampton Roads.
SD-1, incumbent: John Miller (D)
Miller barely beat a nutcase back in 2007, so he really needs a better district. I axed the Poquoson/York/Hampton part of the district, gave him all of Newport News, and ran the district up to Williamsburg and across the James River to Surry/Sussex/Franklin. It should make his district much less Republican.
SD-2, incumbent: Mamie Locke (D)
Locke’s district consists of all of Hampton and the southern end of Newport News. Remains majority-black at 53%. Safe Dem.
SD-18, incumbent: Louise Lucas (D)
Maintains the African-American majority (53% black) without the ridiculous stretched-across-a-third-of-the-state shape that it has currently. Most of Portsmouth and part of Suffolk.
SD-5, incumbent: Yvonne Miller (D)
Another majority-black district; it’s the minority-heavy parts of Norfolk, Chespeake, and a few precincts from Virginia Beach. 55% black, safe Dem.
SD-6, incumbent: Ralph Northam (D)
Northam’s district is the white-majority half of Norfolk, the Eastern Shore, and one or two precincts in Virginia Beach. It’s 27% black. Should be pretty safe for Northam.
SD-7, incumbent: Frank Wagner (R) (possibly)
Wagner may or may not live here, I have no idea. He’s somewhere in Virginia Beach. This was an attempt to create as Dem-friendly a district as you can get in Virginia Beach. It’s certainly more diverse than the city at-large; it’s 60% white, 23% black, 7% Asian, and 7% Hispanic. It would still be an uphill climb for a Democrat to win here, but it is at least possible.
SD-8, incumbent: Jeff McWaters (R)
I’m pretty sure McWaters lives here, though. It’s the very Republican Virginia Beach/Chesapeake district.
SD-14, incumbent: Harry Blevins (R) (possibly), Fred Quayle (R)
Again, Blevins lives in Chesapeake, but I have no idea where. Quayle lives in Suffolk, but he’s probably retiring regardless of how the map looks, so that doesn’t matter. This district takes in the white parts of Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, as well as parts of Sussex, Southampton, and Isle of Wight Counties. It should be a pretty Republican district.
Okay, that was a lot. Let’s move on to the Tidewater area.
SD-3, incumbent: Tommy Norment (R)
Norment gets a district consisting of a swath of Republican areas between Newport News and the Northern Neck.
SD-4, incumbent: Ryan McDougle (R)
This district actually shrinks, which is a good thing, because it contains some swing counties that I needed for the 17th. It’s centered in the Hanover County exurbs, which are bright-red.
SD-17, incumbent: Edd Houck (D)
A ridiculous snake of a district that attempts to shore up Houck as much as possible. He lives in Spotsylvania, and it stretches from Culpeper in the northwest down to King & Queen and Essex Counties in the southeast.
SD-28, incumbent: Richard Stuart (R)
Northern Neck to Stafford. Actually shrinks, since it used to go all the way up to Fauquier. Should remain in Republican hands; Del. Al Pollard would be about the only candidate to make it competitive, and he lost when the seat was open in 2007.
Okay, two more regions to go. First is the Shenandoah Valley.
SD-25, incumbent: Creigh Deeds (D)
The Deeds district. Pretty much the same as before, should remain safe Dem, as the population is centered in Albemarle/Charlottesville.
SD-24, incumbent: Emmett Hanger (R)
Not much changes here; still a heavily Republican district in Augusta/Rockingham.
SD-26, incumbent: Mark Obenshain (R)
Same as above. Stretches up to Frederick County to pull some territory out of the 27th.
SD-27, incumbent: Jill Holtzman Vogel (R)
JHV narrowly won in 2007, but she’ll be happy with this district; it cuts out the parts that she didn’t win that year (Loudoun and Clarke Counties and Winchester).
And finally, here’s Northern Virginia.
SD-19, incumbent: none
A new district formed out of parts of the 27th and 33rd. The parts from the 27th were won by the Democratic candidate, Karen Schultz. It also takes in the southern end of the 33rd. This is a winnable district for Democrats, but it would likely depend on the candidate quality and the climate.
SD-33, incumbent: Mark Herring (D)
Herring’s district is reconfigured to span Leesburg to Sterling, and Herring should be pretty happy with that.
SD-29, incumbent: Chuck Colgan (D)
Colgan is expected to retire, and I can’t say that’s a whole lot you can do with his district. The areas around Manassas are the most Dem-friendly parts of the old district, but with Del. Jackson Miller, a Manassas native, a likely candidate for the seat, it’s going to be tough for Democrats to hold it.
SD-36, incumbent: Toddy Puller (D)
Puller’s district remains one that stretches from Mt. Vernon to southern Prince William County.
SD-39, incumbent: George Barker (D)
After the 29th, this is probably the most vulnerable district in NoVa. I tried to strengthen it by running it up to inner Fairfax. It might just be a good idea to give up on the 29th and put as much of Prince William in that district, while making the 39th a mostly-Fairfax district.
SD-37, incumbent: Dave Marsden (D)
Marsden’s district, as currently drawn, is intended to be as polarized as possible. Redrawn, it’s centered around Marsden’s home of Burke, so it will be much safer for him.
SD-34, incumbent: Chap Petersen (D)
Chap lives in Fairfax City, and should have little trouble holding down this district.
SD-32, incumbent: Janet Howell (D)
Howell’s district currently stretches from Reston, through Great Falls, and into McLean. This district stretches from Reston around to the southwestern edge of the county. It might be somewhat less Democratic now, but someone’s got to take those Republican precincts.
SD-31, incumbent: Mary Margaret Whipple (D)
This district is currently mostly Arlington, but I decided to stretch it out to Great Falls. You’d think you could unpack these districts more, but it’s tough when all the surrounding territory is Democratic.
SD-30, incumbent: Patsy Ticer (D)
Arlington/Alexandria, probably the most Democratic district in this map.
SD-35, incumbent: Dick Saslaw (D) (possibly)
Saslaw lives somewhere in Fairfax, but where, I don’t know. It may require some precinct swapping to get him in this district. Either way, it’s safe.
So there you have it. I’m not sure if I can answer my question, because there are a lot of variables in play here. The Democrats’ majority is hanging by a thread, and there are a lot of Democrats in tough districts (at least as currently drawn). It’s going to be interesting to see how they proceed.