Redistricting Maryland With Partisan Data

I tried out the new partisan data feature for Maryland in Dave’s App. I made an 8-0 Democratic Gerrymander. Just for kicks, I also made a 4-4 GOP Gerrymander, although there is no chance that the Republicans will control redistricting in Maryland. The Democratic gerrymander shamelessly aims to make every seat about as Democratic as the state of Maryland as a whole, while the GOP gerrymander aims to squeeze out the maximum number of lean-Republican districts, although it is not certain that Democratic incumbents would be defeated in all 4 seats.

8-0 Democratic Gerrymander

4-4 Republican Gerrymander

8-0 Democratic Gerrymander

MD-1 60-37 Obama

MD-1 contains all of the Eastern Shore except Cecil County (which you can argue is not really part of the “Eastern Shore” of Maryland). Then it jumps across the Chesapeake to Annapolis, and goes spiraling inland to pick up Democratic precincts in the DC suburbs. Kratovil should now be more worried about a primary challenge than the general election.

MD-2 59-38 Obama

I maintained the overall design of MD-2 and MD-3, giving each part of the Baltimore suburbs. MD-2 picks up Cecil County from MD-1. Ruppersburger remains just as safe.

MD-3 59-38 Obama

MD-3 combines part of Baltimore City and County with parts of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties. No real change for John Sarbanes.

MD-4 71-26 Obama; 50% Black

I tried to get the most I possibly could out of MD-4… The district is based in Prince George’s County, but now stretches through a very thin strip of land all the way to Garrett County in the far western corner of Maryland. Despite my best efforts and this district’s preposterous shape, I could not find a way to get it below 71% for Obama without bringing the African American percentage under 50%. Donna Edwards has nothing to worry about.

MD-5 62-36 Obama

MD-5 becomes a little less Democratic, mostly to help MD-1. But the overall shape of the district remains, and Hoyer is safe.

MD-6 59-39 Obama

Wave goodbye to Roscoe Bartlett (R). Most of his district is now in Montgomery County. A Democrat from Gaithersburg/Rockville should have little difficulty dispatching him.

MD-7 62-35 Obama; 50% Black

Although MD-7 is 50% Black, it only voted 62% for Obama. The white voters in the Baltimore Suburbs and Harford County are strongly Republican. Elijah Cummings ought to be fine, but he would be wise to make at least some effort to appeal to some white voters.

MD-8 60-37 Obama

Strongly Democratic Montgomery County dilutes GOP leaning areas of Howard, Baltimore, and Carroll Counties. Chris Van Hollen should be quite safe.

4-4 Republican Gerrymander

MD-1 56-41 McCain

This version of MD-1 is actually a bit more Democratic than the current version. But Frank Kratovil is unlikely to ever be truly safe in a 56-41 McCain district.

MD-2 52-45 McCain

It is possible that either Dutch Ruppersberger or Paul Sarbanes could win in this Baltimore Suburbs district, but MD-2 now leans GOP.

MD-3 77-21 Obama

MD-3 is a Central Maryland leftovers district, stretching from the DC suburbs to the Baltimore suburbs, taking the most Democratic areas that remain. This is essentially an open seat. Neither Paul Sarbanes or Steny Hoyer live in this district, though might potentially prefer running in MD-3 than the alternative of running in a GOP leaning district.

MD-4 89-9 Obama; 69% Black

This version of MD-4 packs Democratic and African American voters in Prince George’s County to just about the maximum possible extent. Donna Edwards is very safe, but what a waste of Democratic votes.

MD-5 51-46 McCain

All the most Democratic areas are taken out of MD-5, as it moves out of Prince George’s and further north in Anne Arundel County. Steny Hoyer could probably still win this version of MD-5, but he would have to campaign for it, and he would face continual challenges.

MD-6 55-42 McCain

MD-6 becomes less Republican as it gives up its areas around Baltimore to the 2nd District. Roscoe Bartlett would continue to win in this district, and when he retires another Republican would be favored over any Democrat.

MD-7 87-11 Obama; 64% Black

MD-7 packs Democratic votes very compactly in Baltimore. There are a lot of wasted Democratic votes in this district.

MD-8 71-26 Obama

MD-8 actually becomes a little bit less Democratic, but it fulfills its task of keeping the most Democratic areas of Montgomery County out of MD-6.

After having completed this exercise, what strikes me is that the GOP Gerrymander ends up being substantially more compact than the Democratic Gerrymander. While it could be a bit more compact in a few places, it is pretty close to what you would draw if you were basing a map solely on geography. This is a good illustration of the fact that Democratic voters are much more naturally concentrated than GOP areas. In areas where Democrats do the best, everyone is a Democrat (chiefly PGC & Baltimore City). While in the GOP’s best areas, a decent number of people have the sense to be vote Democratic. So overly compact districts tend to result in a few 80/20 Democratic seats and a bunch of 55/45 Republican seats.

OH-Sen: Take Another Look at Jennifer Brunner

Far too many pundits are inclined to write off outspoken progressive and JFK Profiles in Courage Award winner Jennifer Brunner in the Ohio Democratic Senate primary. It is time to take another look at this race, and to get behind the clearly superior candidate.

Yes, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is opposed by the party establishment in Ohio and she has been out-fundraised by her opponent. However, she is running a strong grassroots campaign and she is making the establishment very nervous. They are focused entirely on getting her out of the race now, because they know that she can beat her opponent in the May primary.

Two recent developments compel your attention to this race now.

First, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows that Secretary Brunner gained five percentage points in less than a month while her opponent dropped two points, pulling her into a statistical tie in the primary. She is the candidate with the momentum as the primary draws closer.

Second, the NRSC has responded to Brunner’s strong statement against sending more troops to Afghanistan and in favor of a swift timetable for withdrawing our troops (an assessment described as “wise” by The Nation) by calling on her to “apologize not only to General McChrystal, but to all American troops, for her inflammatory and baseless attacks.” This atttack comes because she had the audacity to express doubt that the advice of Gen. Stanley McChrystal should be followed without significant validation of his recommendations, noting accurately that McCrystal was previously associated with the abuse of detainees and with covering up the truth about the death of Pat Tillman.

This is not a new playbook. The GOP hurls its ugliest attacks against the Democrats they fear most, and what scares them the most is the truth.

I am working for Brunner’s Senate campaign precisely because she is the kind of outspoken progressive who takes stands on tough issues based on principle, not political expediency. She has been a supporter of marriage equality as a matter of civil rights since the 1980s. She has called for a moratorium against capital punishment, the only Ohio statewide official ever to do so. She has been out front in the fight for real health care reform with a public option, for EFCA and pension reform, and for transparency and accountability in Wall Street bailout spending. She is endorsed by NOW and other women’s organizations for her strong support for women’s rights, and she has received awards for her outstanding leadership on civil rights.

Her opponent in the Ohio Senate primary is a lackluster candidate who has lost previous statewide elections despite outspending his GOP opponents (including a gubernatoral race against the disastrous Bob Taft), and who avoids taking stands on controversial issues. He changed his position on the death penalty when he decided to run for state attorney general. And early this year he quit his job as Director of Development in the middle of the worst financial crisis in Ohio history in order to help his campaign for the Senate.

It’s time to get off the sidelines and provide Jennifer Brunner the national netroots support that will enable her to run a successful grassroots campaign in Ohio. She doesn’t need the big corporate bucks her opponent has collected to win, she just needs enough to get her message out and fire up the ground game.

Please help add Jennifer Brunner to the Democratic caucus in the Senate by contributing $50, $25, or even $10 a month on ActBlue.

Follow Jennifer Brunner on Facebook and Twitter

Analyzing Swing States: Pennsylvania, Part 2

This is the second part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Pennsylvania. The next part can be found here.


Like Florida, and unlike Ohio, Pennsylvania’s political geography can be divided into three. The industrial southwest is reddening, the populous southeast is bluing, and Pennsyltucky remains, as James Carville memorably described it, “Alabama without the blacks.” (Actually, Pennsyltucky is a fair bit less conservative.)

The following section will concentrate on Philadelphia, the region upon which Democrats draw the most votes.

Philadelphia the City

Although cities always vote Democratic, different cities contain different political characteristics. Not all big cities are liberal (see Houston, Phoenix), nor are all liberal cities are big (see San Francisco, Boulder).

Fortunately for Democrats, Philadelphia is both America’s sixth largest city and one in which four out of five inhabitants regularly choose the Democrat. It is, moreover, a city which has become bluer for eight straight elections.

(A note: All my statistics are taken from


More below.

Philadelphia’s decades-long movement towards Democrats has corresponded with six decades of population decline; white flight has gradually weeded out Republican voters. Machine politics – characterized by such practices as street money – continues to play a major role in elections.

Demographics underlie Democratic strength in the city (as they do throughout American cities). A full 44.8% of the city’s population is black, a heavily Democratic voting bloc. Latinos (another Democratic voting bloc), while fewer than elsewhere, comprise a solid 11.8% of Philadelphia.

A large majority of Philadelphia’s white voters must vote Democratic, too. In 2008 Obama took 83% of the vote, in a city whose non-Hispanic white population was 39.0% according to the census. Assuming minority turn-out proportional to their actual population, and assuming every single non-white person voted Democratic, then at a minimum, 56.4% of Philadelphia whites supported Obama. Under a more realistic assumption (e.g. 90% non-whites voting Democratic), 72.08% of Philadelphia whites would be supporting Obama. (The equation to get this is simple: 83.01 = 0.90*61.00 + x*39.00).

Philadelphia’s white vote revolves around two factors: liberal whites moving in through gentrification, and long-standing white ethnic communities. The former voting group – often young, single, and gay or gay-friendly – is liberal by orientation; the latter group, a consequence of long-gone anti-Catholic sentiment, still votes Democratic on economic issues but is slowly treading Republican.

All in all, Philadelphia’s existence constitutes an enormous advantage for Democrats. For the past three presidential elections, it has been around 60% more Democratic than the nation as a whole. If George W. Bush had won 80% of the vote in 2008 (and John Kerry had won 20% of the vote), he still would have lost Philadelphia by 3.60%. That is a shocking (and sad) statistic. As long as Republicans keep on losing the city by 4-1 margins, they’ll have a very difficult time winning Pennsylvania as a whole.


Finally, notice how – for the first time in history – Philadelphia’s suburbs now lean Democratic. That shift, which I will cover next, should disturb even the most confident Republican.


SSP Daily Digest: 12/1

MA-Sen: Rep. Michael Capuano picked up several more endorsements in the special election primary to succeed Ted Kennedy, although the clock is ticking loudly on trying to make up that last bit of ground against AG Martha Coakley. He got the endorsement of the Boston Herald (Boston’s smaller daily) and also fellow Rep. Ed Markey, who had seemed a likely candidate initially.

NJ-Sen: With a Republican moving into Drumthwacket (sorry, I just like saying “Drumthwacket”) for four years and Sen. Frank Lautenberg not getting any younger (at 85), Democratic Assembly whip John McKeon has introduced legislation that would change the way that Senate vacancies are filled in New Jersey. Under current law, a governor can opt either to make a temporary appointment or call a special election. The proposed law, however, would require the governor to appoint a replacement within 30 days and it would need to be someone from the same political party as the departed officeholder. The temporary appointment would continue until the next general election.

IA-Gov: His entry to the race provoked a lot of interest back when the rest of the field was just assorted wingnuts, but with the entry of ex-Gov. Terry Branstad, there wasn’t much room for young businsessman Christian Fong. He suspended his campaign today.

MI-Gov: Lansing mayor Virg Bernero has been on some people’s wish list for a gubernatorial candidate, in light of the rather underwhelming Democratic field in Michigan. It sounds like Bernero has been hearing those calls (and noticing the polls showing Lt. Gov. John Cherry not only badly losing the general but not even summoning up much interest in the Dem primary), as now he says that he’s switching from “very unlikely” to “seriously considering” a race in the last few weeks.

OR-Gov: This is the kind of thing that can put a big crimp in your newly-launched gubernatorial campaign. Initiative kingpin (and 1998 gubernatorial loser) Bill Sizemore just got charged with tax evasion for failure to file state tax returns for the previous three years. Although the state has known about this failure for more than a year, the timing may have more to do with the recent expiration of Sizemore’s amnesty period to file rather than his announcement last week of his intention to run for governor again.

PA-Gov: Allegheny Co. Executive Dan Onorato isn’t well-known outside the Pittsburgh area, so he’s been focusing his early efforts on the Philadelphia area. He’s gotten a boost with endorsements from several prominent Democratic legislators in Montgomery and Chester Counties: state Sens. Daylin Leach and Andy Dinniman, and just yesterday, state Rep. Michael Gerber.

CA-03: The once-crowded Democratic field in the 3rd, to go up against vulnerable GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, has gotten whittled down to one. Bill Slaton, an executive with Sacramento’s municipal public utility, dropped out and endorsed Ami Bera. With Elk Grove city councilor Gary Davis also having dropped out a few months ago, Bera has a clear shot; Bera, the former Sacramento County Chief Medical Officer, has been going gangbusters on the fundraising front, sitting on $586K (more than Lungren has). Slaton had loaned himself $300K but hadn’t seemed to make much progress beyond that.

FL-10, FL-12: Two Democratic challengers who have favorable circumstances (an aging incumbent who’s barely fundraising in the 10th, an open seat in the 12th) but haven’t gotten far at fundraising yet are getting a boost on the money front. Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley is hosting a Tampa fundraiser for state Sen. Charlie Justice, while Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Allen Boyd are hosting a DC fundraiser for Polk Co. Elections Supervisor Lori Edwards (although perception-wise, it’s probably not good that it’s being held in a lobbyist’s office).

MN-01: Another Republican challenger showed up to take on sophomore Rep. Tim Walz in Minnesota’s rural 1st. Unlike former state Rep. Allen Quist (who was at his peak in the 90s), Randy Demmer is a current state Rep.

NH-02: State Rep. John DeJoie, who’s been expected to run, made official that he’s getting into the open seat race for the 2nd on the Democratic side. DeJoie has been a firefighter in Concord for 14 years; he joins attorney Ann McLane Kuster and may also be joined by Katrina Swett.

NJ-03: Jon Runyan might want to be spending the next few months working on his message discipline instead of playing for the Chargers. Runyan, shortly after announcing that he’d be running against freshman Democratic Rep. John Adler after the football season, turned around and told San Diego reporters that he hadn’t committed to the race yet and was exploring his options. Runyan’s spokesperson then corrected Runyan, saying he’s definitely in the race, and bafflingly said that the latter comment was made “in jest.”

PA-06: The Republican field in the open seat race in the 6th just keeps growing; the fifth entrant is Patrick Sellers, a former Republican committeeman. Sellers is apparently a Paulist, and made his announcement at a Philadelphia “End the Fed” rally. He joins state Rep. Curt Schroder, pharma exec Steven Welch, Chester Co. Recorder of Deeds Ryan Costello, and long-ago state Revenue Secretary Howard Cohen.

PA-19: It’s not clear yet whether Rep. Todd Platts is even going to get chosen as head of the GAO, but Republicans are already lining up to take over his dark-red seat if he does. Roll Call lists a bunch of ’em, starting with state Rep. Scott Perry, who’s already making his interest public. Eyes are also on one of Platts’ 2000 primary opponents, York County Commissioner Chris Reilly. The article also lists a slew of other possible state legislators and county officials.

NH-St. Sen.: Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty really, really wants to do lots of favors for the good people of New Hampshire, and he’s starting by hosting a fundraising event for Republicans in its state Senate, who are currently down 14-10 in that chamber. Interestingly, ex-Rep. Jeb Bradley (who downshifted to the state Senate) is on the host committee and a key recipient of the help, which may lead to the question of whether he’s looking for leverage for trying something bigger again in the future.

KY-St. Sen.: Here’s a positive tea leaf as we head into the home stretch on the special election in the Bardstown-based SD-14 next week (one of the two seats strategically excised of its Republican occupants by Democratic governor Steve Beshear): Democratic former state Rep. Jodie Haydon has raised more than four times the funds as Republican state Rep. Jimmy Higdon ($546K for Haydon, including in-kind contributions from the state Dems, vs. $131K for Higdon). Much of Haydon’s money is coming from the horse industry, which has fallen squarely behind the Dems in recent months as state Democrats seek to allow video slots at horsetracks (something Higdon and most local GOPers oppose). A Dem pickup here would cut the GOP advantage in the state Senate to 19-18 (with one GOP-leaning indie).

VA-St. Sen.: The special election to fill two vacant, formerly GOP-held state Senate seats has been set for Jan. 12. The race to take over the heavily Republican SD-8 in Virginia Beach (vacated by new Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle) doesn’t look to be very interesting; only two Republicans have signed up for it so far. Dems may have a shot at a pickup in the swingy SD-37 in Fairfax County, vacated by new AG Ken Cuccinelli. Democratic state Del. David Marsden has confirmed that he’ll run for the promotion. Dems have a narrow 21-19 edge in the Senate, which they’d like to pad in case incoming Gov. Bob McDonnell attempts any Beshear-style poaching.

Mayors: The Atlanta mayoral runoff is tonight, between white city councilor Mary Norwood and African-American former state Sen. Kasim Reed. (The one public poll of the race gave Reed a small edge.) Norwood’s final ad, and the final debate, point to how the runoff has gotten racially fraught as it comes to a close. There are also four legislative runoff elections scattered around Georgia tonight, although two are Dem/Dem and one is GOP/GOP. The remaining one, in HD-141 in Milledgeville, is between independent Rusty Kidd and Democrat Darrell Black.

Redistricting: Dave’s Redistricting App is starting to add partisan political data (the 2008 presidential election results). First up is Maryland. Give it a whirl, and leave your feedback in Dave’s diary. (D)

Redistricting fans may also want to head over to CQ today, where long pieces by both Bob Benenson and Greg Giroux give an overview of where the fireworks will be in the coming few years.

NC-Sen: Sources Say Cal Cunningham to Enter Race

Two separate sources have informed the Swing State Project that former state Sen. Cal Cunningham has reconsidered his earlier decision and will enter the Democratic primary for the 2010 North Carolina senate race. This is reminiscent of the situation two years ago, when state Sen. Kay Hagan got into the race against Elizabeth Dole after initially saying she would not run. We hope to hear more from Cunningham soon.

Also, our condolences to Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, whose husband passed away this past weekend.

UPDATE: Another source writes in to tell us that Cunningham will be delaying his announcement out of respect for Marshall.

TN-03: Flowers Drops Out

Can we now say that there is a disturbing new trend of Democratic House candidates pulling the plug on their own campaigns? Recently, we had the termination of the candidacies of Todd Book (OH-02) and Dave Roberts (CA-50), and now we can add Paula Flowers to the mix:

Former Tennessee Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Paula Flowers is leaving the race for Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, she said this morning.

Ms. Flowers, a Democrat, said she had been looking forward to serving the district, but the needs of her husband and three sons had to come first.

“It’s been a very difficult decision,” she said.

Ms. Flowers’ exit from the race leaves one Democrat, systems analyst Brent Benedict, and a crowded field of Republicans.

Flowers was viewed as a strong recruit to test this R+13 district that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the House since the early 1990s, but her fundraising never really hit the levels needed to bankroll a strong campaign. Still, unless Democrats can come up with a suitable replacement, this means that Republicans can put away the elbow-grease after their primary is settled.

RaceTracker Wiki: TN-03