Contest Entry: Peter King is Out to Sea

As has been thoroughly discussed in other diaries, New York is likely to lose one House seat in the 2010 census. And given the population trends, the district likely to disappear will be upstate. This presents a problem for Democrats, who now control all but one seat there. If the Democrats keep their monopoly on state government in 2011, they will need to make some uncomfortable compromises: unless a seat is somehow removed from downstate, they will either have to leave one incumbent Democrat without a seat to run in or weaken all upstate Democrats in order to remove Chris Lee. Keeping in mind the pitfalls of the “Dummymander” (PDF), I have made the following choices:

1. To “pair” two upstate Democrats in one seat;

2. To ensure that all downstate seats are safe for current or future Democratic incumbents, including the ones that are not currently safe;

3. To give all but one upstate upstate Democrat a familiar seat that s/he can win;

4. To the extent possible, pack upstate Republican voters in Chris Lee’s seat; and

5. To comply with all contest requirements.

Follow me below the fold for maps, data, and discussion. . .

As a preliminary matter, I will refrain from “hiding the ball” and share overview maps; one for upstate, and another for downstate. In the city especially, districts can be difficult to make out, but I will attempt to clarify below.

Upstate Overview:

Upstate 590

Downstate Overview:

Downstate 590

In general, my discussion will move from west to east, and from upstate to downstate. By no coincidence, this means that higher-numbered districts will be discussed first. We begin, therefore, with western and central New York.

WNY 590

Buffalo 590

Rochester 590


District Population Black% Hispanic% Asian% Obama Votes McCain Votes Obama% McCain% Swing From 2008 Map
28 699,770 13% 5% NA 191,081 130,799 59% 40% R+20%
27 699,850 15% 4% 1% 192,759 123,020 60% 38% D+12%
26 700,982 3% 2% 1% 146,555 172,357 45% 53% R+2%
25 699,439 5% 2% 2% 187,103 154,111 54% 44% R+3%
24 700,615 3% 2% 2% 158,656 136,049 53% 45% D+5%
22 700,635 4% 3% 2% 174,645 147,498 53% 45% R+12%

Who loses?

Eric Massa currently represents NY-29. In a map with 28 districts, there can obviously no longer be one numbered 29, but by no coincidence, on my map there is also no corresponding district. Massa’s Corning home is now in NY-22, which reaches from  the NYC suburbs all the way north to Monroe county and the Rochester suburbs. Maurice Hinchey continues to live in NY-22, and retains most of his political base. However Ithaca is removed and given to NY-24 to strengthen Michael Arcuri. Thus Massa and Hinchey are the two Democratic incumbents I have chosen to pair. My best guess is that Hinchey would retire rather than face this map. I expect that Massa would fare well here. In any case, one of the two must go. For population equity, and (again) to strengthen Arcuri, Dan Maffei’s NY-25 (Syracuse, Wayne, Monroe) is three points more Republican than before. This was one of the more frustrating aspects of my map. However, the district is substantially as it was before, Maffei retains his Syracuse base.

What remains?

From a thousand miles away, it looks as though I have retained the much-derieded “earmuff” district (i.e. NY-28). However, it is substantially different from before. Louise Slaughter retains most of Rochester (i.e. her base) and Niagara falls, but gives up her half of Buffalo. This is sufficient to cause a 20% Republican swing in NY-28. But Neither Slaughter nor her successors should worry: Obama still won the new district 59/40%. In return, Brian Higgins’s NY-27 picks up the rest of Buffalo, and his district swings 12% more Democratic, making it a safe seat. Chris Lee’s NY-26 (Erie, Wyoming, Allegany, Monroe) expands substantially, picking up all of the nasty bits and becoming two points more Republican. I could have made Lee’s district even more Republican, but this would have required (a) touch-point contiguity (not allowed in this contest), or (b) substantially reconfiguring NY-25, NY-24, and NY-23. I considered option (b), but decided against it mainly because I thought there was real value in leaving the cores of existing districts intact. I believe the incumbents would agree. Finally in this region, NY-24. Michael Arcuri had a close call here in 2008. So he gets a district that is 5% more Democratic. To provide for this, I removed the most Republican precincts to the east and added  Ithaca. I would not call the 24th safe, but for Arcuri it should be substantially improved.

We proceed to eastern Upstate:

Albany Troy Schenectady Saratoga

District Population Black% Hispanic% Asian% Obama Votes McCain Votes Obama% McCain% Swing From 2008 Map
23 699,639 4% 2% 1% 146,382 125,538 53% 45% D+3%
21 699,912 6% 3% 2% 183,489 140,360 56% 43% R+5%
20 700,285 4% 3% 1% 176,803 149,128 53% 45% D+5%

(Note that for the sake of space, I will not reproduce images from above).

Who loses?

Paul Tonko’s NY-21 (Albany, Schenectady, Montgomery) becomes 5 points more Republican. However, at 56/43 Obama, it is still reasonably comfortable for him. And in the event, he retains almost all of his former territory. Suffice to say that if Democrats are having trouble in this district, they are likely losing the House of Representatives.

What Remains?

NY-23 (Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Clinton) becomes 3 points more Democratic, and NY-20 (Saratoga, Dutchess) swings 5 points D. Both land at 53/45 Obama. Bill Owens and Scott Murphy both won their special elections in districts that were substantially the same, except more Republican (the 23rd also picks up some Syracuse precincts). If Owens and Murphy cannot win in these districts as I have strengthened them, then one or both should be sacrificed in redistricting. In that respect, 2010 should be revelatory.

The march south continues with a look at NYC’s northern suburbs:

Northern Suburbs

Manhattan Bronx Westchester

District Population Black% Hispanic% Asian% Obama Votes McCain Votes Obama% McCain% Swing From 2008 Map
19 700418 7% 10% 2% 170,996 139,646 54% 45% D+6%
18 700,555 10% 15% 4% 165,531 118,461 58% 41% R+7%
17 700,144 27% 18% 4% 175,408 80,686 68% 31% R+7%

Who loses?

NY-18 takes the greatest hit here, becoming 7 points more Republican, and even reaching down into Long Island. But Nita Lowey has very little to be concerned about. Her Westchester base, though reduced by being parceled out to several surrounding districts, is largely intact. And at 58/41 Obama, it is difficult to imagine a serious Republican challenge. As above, if there’s a tidal wave here, NY-18 is not the first district Dems will need to worry about.

What Remains?

John Hall’s NY-19 (Putnam, Dutchess, Westchester) gets the biggest boost, becoming 6 points more Democratic. It’s probably fair to say that Sue Kelly is out of the running for good. And because the core of Hall’s existing district is retained, he won’t need to worry about unfamiliar and hostile territory. NY-17 does take on some more hostile territory in Sullivan county, but at 68% Obama, Eliot Engel should not lose much sleep.

Finally, we protect Michael E. McMahon and make Peter King walk the plank. Into the city!




Suffolk 590

District Population Black% Hispanic% Asian% Obama Votes McCain Votes Obama% McCain% Swing from 2008 Map
16 701,167 30% 63% 2% 160,961 8821 95% 5% 0
15 699,479 31% 50% 3% 218,488 13,982 93% 6% 0
14 700,439 6% 14% 13% 217,459 54,510 79% 20% D+2%
13 700,540 9% 13% 12% 108,539 85,063 56% 44% D+14%
12 700,623 12% 49% 10% 168,574 23,627 87% 12% D+2%
9 699,725 8% 21% 18% 130,195 61,300 68% 32% D+25%
8 700,774 3% 10% 10% 192,868 84,698 69% 30% R+9%
7 701,294 14% 40% 14% 141,199 39,762 78% 22% R+3%
5 699,981 4% 22% 23% 135,473 86,728 61% 39% R+5%

The City, Continued:

District Population Black% Hispanic% Asian% Obama Votes McCain Votes Obama% McCain% Swing From 2008 Map
11 700,323 50% 10% 6% 166,981 39,649 80% 19% R+21%
10 700,640 50% 10% 2% 197,163 61,690 76% 24% R+30%
6 701,002 51% 13% 4% 206,280 55,143 79% 21% R+20%
3 700,343 16% 12% 4% 168,982 112,455 60% 40% D+25%
4 700,408 17% 12% 6% 191,113 130,871 59% 40% D+2%
2 700,451 9% 14% 3% 167,660 132,736 56% 44% R+1%
1 699,901 4% 8% 2% 163,358 144,040 53% 47% D+2%

(Note: sorry about the strange table format just above.)

Everything is tied together to some degree here, so I will shift my categorization from above.

Without a doubt, Peter King (NY-3) is the biggest loser. His new district, if you can cal it that, is the purple one that sprawls over my three downstate images from Long Island into Brooklyn. NY-3 is now a 60% Obama district, and probably out of reach for the Republicans (that makes this a 27-1 map). So how did I do it? In a nutshell, I made him walk the plank.

First, I protected the existing white Democrats downstate. Tim Bishop’s NY-1 (Suffolk,The Hamptons) and Carol McCarthy’s NY-4 (Nassau, Hempstead)  both reach out over Long Island Sound into Westchester, but are otherwise substantially the same as before. Gary Ackerman’s NY-5 (Great Neck) is barely changed from before. NY-9 (Queens) is quite strengthened. Whites are now just a plurality, but Weiner keeps his home base, so he should be safe. I made some changes around the edges of NY-2 (Suffolk, Plainview), but nothing that should phase Steve Israel.

Keeping in mind my goal of not disturbing the Democratic incumbents, I at first thought that it might not be possible to sufficiently weaken NY-3 with what was left, considering the accommodations needed for VRA districts. With touch-point contiguity, it would have been a fairly quick job, but without that I had to take some care. The problem is that there are a number of contiguous Nassau and Suffolk precincts that are very white and very Republican. (i.e., King’s base). They would have to be parceled out among the VRA districts, but how? First, NY-11 picks up all of the Republican territory possible in Brooklyn, becoming 21% more Republican. But Yvette Clarke retains here home base and her black majority, so she’s in no trouble.

Now the fun part. NY-10 is still based in Brooklyn and majority black. But it is a whopping 30% more Republican now. How? It reaches across Jamaica Bay into Nassau and Suffolk (I like to think of this as the Republican ferry). Towns is still safe, but King is sunk. Most of the rest of former NY-3’s territory is vacuumed into Greg Meeks’s NY-6 (still black majority and based in Queens, but now reaching accross Nassau to touch Suffolk). NY-3 is thus drawn towards Brooklyn, and more Democrats.

I deal with Staten Island in a similar way. Nadler’s NY-8 retains the Upper West Side (and my present apartment), and hugs a shipping lane near New Jersey to  Raritan Bay and the southern tip of Staten Island. Lots of Republican precincts there go to NY-8, but as you can see from the chart above, Nadler is in no trouble (he also retains his Republican Brooklyn precincts, but he never had trouble there before, so far as I know). NY-13 gets a big boost, taking on much more of Brooklyn. But it’s not so mangled that Staten Islanders are likely to take out blame on Michael McMahon, who now has a solid Obama district.

Wrapping up, NY-14 (the Upper East Side) is much the same, as is NY-12 (Queens, Brooklyn), so Maloney and Velázquez should be happy. In the rest of the city, my no-change-broken-record continues. Crowley’s 7th (Parkchester, Jackson Heights) is sitting pretty. Rangel’s NY-15 is now about 50% Hispanic, but that is because of demographic changes in Harlem, not my fiddling. Serrano’s ultra-Bronx 16th is as it was, and retains the required Hispanic supermajority. All should be pleased with their very familiar districts.

The political trends were in my mind as I drew this map, and to be honest I am still uncomfortable with upstate. But I think there are at least a few solid districts up there, and even if Republicans make gains, they will not be riding back to the majority on this map on the basis of New York wins.

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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A “Fair” map of Pennsylvania

So, with the caveat that I don’t really believe that neutral redistricting is possible, I’ve redistricted my own state of Pennsylvania as I think it might appear if the legislature deadlocks and a Federal district court has to appoint a special master to draw the lines. There are 18k “missing” people in this map, which I assume is a software bug in Dave’s app. Anyway, without further ado. . .

Delaware Valley:

Delaware Valley



Eastern PA:

Eastern PA

Central PA:

Central PA

Western PA:

Western PA



Louisiana Redistricting: Party like it’s 1992!

So the images are pretty self-explanatory. I’ve created two minority-majority districts and protected (I think) Charlie Melancon. My working assumption is that we’re at the end of the road for electing white Democrats in the deep south. Of course, the final map will not look like this: I’ve recreated the Cleo Fields’s illegal “Z” district. So what I have in mind is what a Democratic gerrymander might look at. Enjoy….

North Louisiana:

N Louisiana

South Louisiana:

South Louisiana



Baton Rouge and Lafayette:

Baton Rouge and Lafayette

New Orleans:


Taking Another Swing at New Jersey

The last time I redistricted NJ, I started from the north. That made for a messy 12th district that I wasn’t happy with. This time I started in the south, and came up with what I feel is a better map, especially because it isolates Ocean County in a Republican district.

District numbers are again the same, with the old 13th renumbered the 11th.

On to the maps!  

Newark Enlargement:

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North Jersey:

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Central Jersey:

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South Jersey 1:

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South Jersey 2:

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Redistricting New Jersey with Dave’s App

So, Dave’s redistricting app now supports New Jersey. Keeping in mind that no political data is available, I stuck to the current district lines as much as possible. The biggest changes are in north and central Jersey, which had to lose a district. Merged are the two GOP members from the old 11th and 7th. Now both can attempt to run in the new 7th.

The old 13th was renumbered 11, and retains a healthy hispanic plurality (if not quite majority). The Black majority of the 10th is also protected.

With the exception of Rush Holt, who may have a slightly more difficult district (with some more work I may have been able to avoid this), I believe that the entire Democratic delegation is protected.  

North Jersey:

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Central Jersey:

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South Jersey:

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This is all supposedly based on 2008 estimates, but I think Dave would have to tell you exactly how he aggregated the numbers.

PA-Sen: Specter Bloodies Toomey

Arlen Specter may be way behind in the polls, but it’s now clear that he won’t be going down without a fight. In a new ad, he attacks Pat Toomey for selling credit default swaps on Wall Street.

Clearly Specter has only one advantage at this point: his impressive warchest, and so he’s trying to extinguish Toomey while he still can. But given his numbers, my guess is that it won’t work, and that he’s really only bloodying Toomey for us, saving the DSCC the money later.

Update: I see that Singer beat me to it.

Q-Poll: Dodd is in Genuine Trouble

Read and worry:

Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd trails former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, a possible Republican challenger, 50 – 34 percent in the 2010 Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today, as voters disapprove 58 – 33 percent of the job the Democratic incumbent is doing, his lowest approval rating ever.

Dodd doesn’t even beat Sam Caligiuri, who leads him 41/37 in this poll.

Dodd is a Senator that I like very much, and I would have to say that he was often my favorite Presidential candidate last year, but I think these numbers suggest that it’s time for him to hang up his hat, sadly. The CT public actually blames him for the AIG bonuses, apparently, which they are quite angry about.  

Q-Poll: Specter Plastered by Toomey

Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter trails former Congressman Pat Toomey 41 – 27 percent in a Republican primary for the 2010 Senate race, with 28 percent undecided, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.


Voters approve 52 – 33 percent of the job Specter is doing, with a 71 – 16 percent positive score from Democrats and a 41 – 37 percent boost from independent voters, off-setting a 52 – 36 percent disapproval from Republicans. This is Specter’s highest approval among Democrats and lowest approval among Republicans since Quinnipiac University began polling Pennsylvania in 2002.

Even Better:

Pennsylvania’s junior Senator Robert Casey gets a 52 – 23 percent approval rating. The Democrat’s 35 – 39 percent score among Republicans is better than Specter’s negative score.


The meaning of all of this? Unless Specter is able to carve out a miraculous recovery with Republicans, he is apparently on a path to committing political suicide by primary next May.

These numbers suggest that he should have either switched parties or gone directly to the independent route–which I think his favorability numbers suggest he probably could have used to win.

This is frankly a little bit unreal. I thought Specter might be behind or a little bit weak in the Republican primary, but these numbers suggest that he has no chance at all. We need a real Democrat in this race, so I really hope Joe Torsella is up to raising they money.

Paterson is toast, part II

This time the news comes from Marist:

New Yorkers are sending a strong message to Governor David Paterson, “Shape Up!”  Just 26% of registered voters report the governor is doing either an excellent or good job in office.  That’s a drop of 20 percentage points since the Marist Poll last asked this question at the end of January.  In fact, Governor Paterson’s approval rating is the lowest approval rating a New York State governor has received in the Marist Poll’s nearly thirty year history of statewide surveys.  Has the governor lost favor within his own party?  Here’s the party breakdown.  Among registered Democrats in New York State, 30% think Paterson is doing an above average job while 65% disagree.  Across the aisle, Republicans also overwhelmingly disapprove of Paterson’s performance.  Just 26% of members of New York’s GOP approve of the job Paterson is doing as governor while 72% think he is doing a fair or poor job.  Only 20% of non-enrolled voters agree that Paterson is doing well in the position.  Opinions across the state are consistently low.  24% of upstate voters approve of the job Paterson is doing as governor.  26% of suburban voters say he is doing an above average job, and 30% of New York City voters share this position.

The poll isn’t all doom and gloom: Schumer is as popular as ever, and Gillibrand seems set to be reelected. But my bottom line is this,  if Democrats don’t find a new Gubernatorial candidate, we will very likely lose the office.