SSP Daily Digest: 11/30

AK-Sen: Joe Miller lost yet another courtroom round yesterday, although this one was kind of inconsequential from a legal standpoint: he’d wanted his court challenges to the election to be held in his town of Fairbanks, but the venue will be the state capital, Juneau, instead. In most states that wouldn’t be a big deal, but given the difficulty of getting from one town to the other, that provides one more logistical disincentive for Miller to continue his lost cause.

FL-Sen: After having spent every day for the last two years laboriously typing out “Alexi Giannoulias” over and over, now I’m going to have to get used to “Mike Haridopolos.” The newly minted Republican state Senate President is already acting Senate-candidate-ish, doing the DC circuit today, including a visit to the all-powerful US Chamber of Commerce.

ME-Sen: Maine-area tea partiers are breathlessly telling everybody that they’ve found a primary challenger to Olympia Snowe who is “credible” and has the financial resources to become an “instant contender.” The problem is, they’re stopping there and not saying specifically who the mystery person is, although an announcement allegedly will happen in early 2011. (UPDATE: There’s one useful piece of news buried deep in the article, actually: Chellie Pingree says she won’t run for the Dems for this seat in 2012.)

MO-Sen: This may be the most interesting news of the day: despite a likely run from a former one of their own (Jim Talent), the NRSC is actively encouraging Sarah Steelman’s interest in the race, with John Cornyn assuring her that they’d stay neutral in a Talent/Steelman primary. As a former state Treasurer, she seems to have more credible chops than the Sharron Angle/Ken Buck axis that cost the GOP a couple seats this year, but still has enough credibility with the tea partiers so that it looks like the NRSC isn’t trying to shove them back in the attic; they probably also think a female candidate might match up better against Claire McCaskill.

MN-Gov: The numbers didn’t budge much during the first full day of the Minnesota gubernatorial recount (where Mark Dayton leads by just shy of 9,000): Dayton gained 20 votes, while Tom Emmer lost four, after 44% of the ballots were recounted yesterday. Emmer challenged 281 ballots; Dayton challenged 86. While there weren’t any write-ins for “Lizard People” this time, there was one vote cast for “Who Farted?”

MO-Gov: Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s interest in running against his boss, Dem Jay Nixon, has been pretty clearly telegraphed for years already, but he’s starting to make that look more tangible. He now says he won’t run for another term as LG, and he also appeared at last week’s RGA conference in San Diego.

NY-01: Tim Bishop lost some minor ground with the counting of military ballots in the last House race still undecided. There weren’t very many of them, but they broke pretty heavily in Randy Altschuler’s way: 44-24. Bishop’s lead is now apparently 215.

WA-08: Maybe this one is better filed as “WATN?” Suzan DelBene, who narrowly lost to Dave Reichert, has landed on her feet; she was just appointed by Chris Gregoire as the new director of the state Dept. of Revenue. It’s unclear, though, whether this is intended to raise her statewide profile and give her some governmental experience for future runs, or if this takes her off the table for a 2012 run in WA-08 (or hypothetical WA-10).

NY-St. Sen.: Democratic state Sen. Antoine Thompson conceded to GOP challenger Mark Grisanti yesterday in the Buffalo-based SD-60. That means there are 31 GOP-held seats in the New York Senate; to get to a 31-31 tie, the Dems will need to hold both Suzi Oppenheimer’s SD-37 (looking likely) and Craig Johnson’s SD-7 (not looking likely, as he trails by several hundred, with the exact number not clear yet). (Or alternately, they could, as occasionally rumored, flip Grisanti, who was a Dem up until when he ran for the race and will essentially need to be one in order to be re-elected.) Thompson’s loss is, in fact, pretty mystifying — I knew this was a Dem-heavy district, but it went 77-22 for Obama (the equivalent of D+24 based on just 2008 numbers)! Ordinarily, a Dem would have to be under indictment or in dead-girl/live-boy territory to lose in that kind of district; in fact, everyone seems mystified, but the theory is that an upsurge in white votes in that district motivated by the candidacy of local fave Carl Paladino pushed Grisanti over the hump (although there are claims (we don’t have the data to confirm yet) that Andrew Cuomo still managed to win in the 60th, which would tend to counteract that theory).

State legislatures: We already mentioned four party-switchers from the Dems to the GOP in the Alabama legislature, following the change in the majority there, but there’s also a handful of other changes to mention (though not as many changes as we saw in 1994): 13 changes in 5 states. That includes 5 in the Georgia House and 1 in the Georgia Senate, 1 in the South Dakota Senate, 1 in the Maine House, and in 1 in the Louisiana House (which had the consequence of officially flipping the chamber to GOP control, although that body already had a GOP speaker). Politico has more on the changes in the south (in a rather hyperbolically titled article).

DSCC: It’s official: Patty Murray is the one who got left holding the burning bag of dog doo. She signed on for a second stint as head of the DSCC for the 2012 cycle. She also ran it during the 2002 cycle, when the Democrats lost two seats.

DGA: One of the other Dem holes needing to be filled also got filled today: Martin O’Malley, fresh off a surprisingly easy victory in Maryland (and possibly looking at something bigger in 2016), is taking over the helm at the DGA. With only a couple troublesome holds on the horizon in 2012, I’d imagine this job was a little easier to fill than the DSCC.

Demographics: Democracy Corps (or GQR, if you prefer) is out with a memo that’s worth a read. Most of it is about messaging, which is a little outside SSP’s scope (though still worth a read, in terms of what worked, and mostly didn’t work, in 2010, and what recent polls have shown works better going forward). There’s also some discussion of demographics, though, in terms of what kind of a turnout model they’re expecting (or at least hoping for) in 2012.

California Redistricting Pick Six

Starting today at 9:30AM Pacific, the eight current members of the California Redistricting Commission will choose the six additional members (two of each party group) who will complete the panel. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to correctly guess who those six members will be.

The current eight are as follows:

Rose Report (


Cynthia Dai – Female, Asian-American, San Francisco, SF County

Elaine Kuo – Female, Asian-American, Mountain View, Santa Clara County

Jeanne Raya – Female, Latina, San Gabriel, LA County


Vincent Barabba – Male, Anglo, Capitola, Santa Cruz County (former director of U.S. Census Bureau)

Jodie Filkins Webber – Female, Asian-American, Norco, Riverside County

Peter Yao – Male, Asian-American, Claremont, LA County (city councilmember)


Stanley Forbes – Male, Anglo, Esparto, Yolo County

Connie Galambos Malloy – Female, African-American, Oakland, Alameda County

The lists of remaining members can be found at

Here are my picks:

Gil Ontai, Rep, San Diego (only applicant left from San Diego)

Byrd Lochtie Other, Humboldt (only person from North of Sacramento)

Maria Blanco, Dem, Los Angeles (only applicant from LA City)

Teresa Espana, Other, Fresno (Central Valley)

James Vidal, Rep, Riverside

Gabino Aguirre, Dem, Ventura

And having gone through them, I doubt I’ll get more than two of them right. The combination of the leadership strikes and the lottery produced some disproportionalities that I couldn’t figure out how to overcome.

Teabagger Cattle Call

Here’s something fun. There are ten Republican senators up for re-election in 2012, so my question to you is, who among that group is most likely to get teabagged to death? There are of course a lot of factors which go into this question, but at the end of the day, all we’re asking is which GOP incumbents are most likely to get derailed on their way to seeking their party’s (re-)nomination?

I’ve taken a stab at ranking this gruesome tensome, in order of likelihood of getting consumed by the tea-flavored beast:

  1. Olympia Snowe
  2. Orrin Hatch
  3. Kay Bailey Hutchison
  4. Richard Lugar
  5. Bob Corker
  6. Scott Brown
  7. John Ensign
  8. Roger Wicker
  9. Jon Kyl
  10. John Barrasso

Ensign deserves an asterisk. While he’s probably vulnerable in a primary, I don’t really see such a race turning into a teabagger-fueled challenge. So on an ordinary list, he’d rate much higher, but here, he’s toward the bottom of the pack.

What do you say? How would you rank this list? I see a lot of juicy targets for the Sharron Angle/Christine O’Donnell brigade!

Wyoming Rule – Analysis

Over the past few weeks there has been a flurry of diaries about the Wyoming Rule (California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Maryland, Oregon, New Mexico, and my Washington map below). Many of these diaries asked at the end what they thought about the Wyoming Rule, and the intent of this diary is to examine some of the benefits and drawbacks of the Ruie itself. 

The primary benefit of the Wyoming Rule is that the districts are smaller for many states – or about 75%-80% the size of the current projected district size. California would go from 52 seats to 68, Washington from 10 to 12, and Oklahoma from 5 to 7. Other states would stay the same – Hawaii, Nebraska, and Rhode Island.  (The number of districts for each state was researched by borodino21). The range between states would drop from about 400k (Rhode Island to Montana) to 300k (South Dakota to Alaska).

The smaller district sizes in most states means that there are more opportunities to preserve communities of interest. For some states like North Carolina, this means it may be possible to create additional minority-majority or minority-influence districts. In other states, it may be possible to draw more CDs that encompass only one county or city.

While I do not wish to subscrible to albguy's method of creating as many Democratic districts as possible (while I do enjoy his method of pushing the limits of a redistricting map), the smaller districts may make it harder to create all Democratic seat maps.

In Washington, a more realistic map under the Wyoming Rule likely means two safe(r) Republican seats in Western Washington and two or three safe Republican seats in Eastern Washington. Now perhaps one or two of those districts may be better considered swing districts (especially a Vancouver to Yakama district), but the result of the Wyoming Rule is a 7-5 delegation (compared with the current 5-4 delegation with the possibility of a 6-4 delegation after the 2011 redistricting).

The Wyoming'd New York faces a similar problem. In jsramek's New York – the delegation would be 30 Democrats and 6 Republicans. This map also includes the cracking of Staten Island, which would probably not be politically viable – even for a solidly Democratic state legislature. While this is better than the 8 Republicans representing NY in the 2011-2012 Congress, many of the maps made for the Redistricting Contest would contain 1 or 2 Republicans out of New York's 28 Congressional Districts. 

The resaons for these results is that the smaller district sizes make it more difficult to crack Republican strongholds – or areas without overwhelming the nearby Democratic area. So, back to New York, at least 4 upstate districts are created as Republican vote sinks, instead of the possibilty of spreading them out. In Western Washington, eastern King, Pierce, Thurston and Clark counties are Republican areas, as well as Lewis and most of Cowlitz counties. In some maps, it is possible to divide those populations and combine them with more Democratic areas such as Vancouver, Olympia, Tacoma, and Bellevue to allow for Democrats to win those districts (but as in the 2010 elections, Republicans held on in WA 8 [East King and Pierce County] and won in WA 3 [SW Washington including Olympia]). With smaller districts, you can create two safe Republican districts in those Republican areas in exchange for two additional safe Democratic districts (and possibly another swing district). 

So, where does that leave us?  I think the advantages of the Wymonig Rule outweigh the drawbacks. More representation is better from a democracy standpoint, but it also helps Democrats in the big picture. For all of the concerns about not being able to maximize Democratic seats, the Republicans would not be able to either. In addition, more Congressional seats will also help Democrats in the Electoral College.




SSP Daily Digest: 11/29

AK-Sen: When Norm Coleman… the man who has pretty much set all current standards for pointlessly dragging out an election for partisan purposes… is telling you to pack it in, believe me, it’s time to pack it in. The ex-Sen. from Minnesota is the latest GOPer to tell Joe Miller to stop the madness. (What’s his angle? He may have designs on behind-the-scenes Beltway leadership, possibly RNC chair, and with that in mind would probably like to discourage nonsensical R-on-R courtroom violence.)

IL-Sen: The 59-41 Dem edge in the Senate drops to 58-42 for the rest of the lame duck session today, as Rep. Mark Kirk gets sworn in as the newest member. (Illinois, of course, was the only of the special election seats that flipped to the GOP.)

IN-Sen: This NYT story doesn’t really have any new specifics about Richard Lugar’s upcoming teabagging that you don’t already know, but it has a spectacular quote from former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, another Republican who occupied the same pretty-conservative-but-not-a-jerk-about-it space as Lugar:

If Dick Lugar… having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.

MA-Sen: The Boston Globe takes a look back at Deval Patrick’s reelection town-by-town, and also wonders what it may mean for Scott Brown’s first re-election battle in 2012. Patrick, for instance, won back many of the larger blue-collar (and usually Democratic) communities like Lowell and Quincy that Brown won. The question for 2012, though, is: how much of Brown’s initial success was unique to Brown (more charismatic than your garden-variety blue-blood Republican like Charlie Baker), and, by contrast, how much of that was unique to the turnout model produced by the special election?

MD-Sen: Republicans may already be settling on a favorite for the Maryland Senate race in 2012, and they’re considering the same strategy as 2006, running an African-American against Ben Cardin. (In ’06, recall, Michael Steele, well, still lost badly, but made the race more competitive than Maryland is used to.) There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Charles Lollar, who just ran against Steny Hoyer in MD-05 and apparently wowed a lot of people on the stump. Of course, he also lost 64-35, but, well, you’ve gotta start somewhere. (Eric Wargotz, who just lost to Barb Mikulski, is also reportedly interested in trying again.)

MO-Sen: The Beltway seems abuzz about a potential Claire McCaskill/Jim Talent rematch (thanks to McCaskill tweeting about her random airport meet-up with Talent, no doubt), but the missing part of the story seems to be that Talent, if he runs, could be walking right into a juicy establishment/tea party battle. Ex-Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who lost a feisty gubernatorial primary in 2008 and threatened a 2010 primary run against Roy Blunt, has been turning up the volume on a potential run too. Ed Martin, last seen losing narrowly in MO-03, has also become the subject of some speculation. One unlikely run at this point, though, is former Ambassador to Luxembourg (which is code for “very wealthy donor”) Ann Wagner, who has been linked to the Senate race but just announced a bid for RNC chair instead this morning.

NJ-Sen: When did Bob Menendez’s numbers start to look like Richard Burr’s? A poll from Fairleigh Dickinson (favorables only, no head-to-heads) finds vast indifference about the Garden State’s junior Senator. At least he’s above water, with 31/25 faves, but 29% are unsure and 15% have never heard of him.

NM-Sen: Jeff Bingaman, assuming he runs again, is already facing his first GOP opponent, although one from the Some Dude end of the spectrum. William English ran (apparently in the GOP primary) for the open NM-02 seat in 2002, although he seems best known for saying controversial things in his local newspaper, perhaps most notably that Barack Obama “literally amounts to an African dictator.”

TX-Sen: Yet more names are surfacing on the GOP side for possible primary challenges to Kay Bailey Hutchison: today, it’s Houston-area state Sen. Dan Patrick.

VA-Sen: Corey Stewart is the Prince William County Supervisor and a likely candidate in the GOP Senate primary, if his latest pronouncements are any indication. He’s started firing shots across the bow of presumptive favorite George Allen’s comeback, saying he had a “mediocre” Senate record and that his base has moved on.

MN-Gov: The recount of the 2.1 million ballots in the Minnesota gubernatorial race officially kicks off today. You probably already know the candidates, but the Star-Tribune today profiles the really key players at this juncture: the lawyers. One of them, interestingly, is Eric Magnuson, who you may remember from the 2008-09 recount as state supreme court chief justice and head of the canvassing board; having left the court, now he’s on Tom Emmer’s team.

WV-Gov: It’s still not clear when the election will even occur (to set a permanent replacement for Joe Manchin), but acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin isn’t going to get a free pass in the Dem primary, facing likely opposition from two of the people most actively involved in establishing when that election will happen. Both SoS Natalie Tennant and state House speaker Rick Thompson are eyeing the race, with Thompson “planning” to run and Tennant “seriously considering.”

CA-20: Look for a likely rematch in the 20th, which turned into one of the nation’s closest races this year. Andy Vidak “promises” he’ll try again vs. Jim Costa in 2012, although if he couldn’t make it this year, the odds of him getting over the hump in a presidential year model seem even slimmer. (Unless, of course, the boundaries of the 20th get changed by the citizens’ commission, but the VRA is likely to keep compelling a Hispanic-majority Fresno-to-Bakersfield district.)

CA-45: Further south, Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet is another potential rematch. The Democrat already filed for a 2012 campaign, although he says he hasn’t ruled another race in or out and is establishing the committee to settle up some unpaid bills from his 2010 race.

CT-05: And here’s one more: Justin Bernier, who was initially the GOP’s preferred candidate in the primary in the 5th but got shoved over after Sam Caligiuri dropped down from the Senate race, is saying he’s considering another run in 2012 (motivated in part by the likelihood of an open seat with Chris Murphy’s likely Senate run).

PA-11: Don’t assume that Corey O’Brien is going to be the Dem nominee in the effort to take back the 11th in 2012, as there’s a long list of possible contenders on the bench in this bluish seat. At the top is Scranton mayor (and, briefly, gubernatorial candidate) Chris Doherty, but other names you might see are Wilkes-Barre mayor Tom Leighton, former Pittston mayor (and Paul Kanjorski crony) Michael Lombardo, state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, Wilkes-Barre solicitor William Vinsko, and new state Sen. John Yudichak.

California: Finally, those of you not living on the West Coast may be unaware that there are parts of the country where the Republicans are the ones in “what did we do wrong?” soul-searching mode. The WaPo looks at the epicenter of that, in California (where they didn’t pick up any House seats, lost all the statewide races, and even lost ground in the state legislature), where local GOPers are flummoxed by the state’s changing demographics.

(General h/t to Brian Valco, bearer of many of today’s links.)

The Great Realignment: The 1928 Presidential Election, Part 2

This is the second part of two posts analyzing in more detail the 1928 presidential election.

The Great Realignment

The previous post noted that:

In 1928 the Democratic Party nominated Governor Al Smith of New York. Mr. Smith was nominated as a Catholic Irish-American New Yorker  who directly represented Democratic-voting white ethnics. Mr. Smith’s  Catholicism, however, constituted an affront to Democratic-voting white  Southerners, who at the time were the most important part of the party’s  base.

The 1928 presidential election thus saw a mass movement of white  Southerners away from the Democrats, corresponding with a mass movement  of white ethnics towards the Democrats. This was the beginning of the  great realignment of the South to the Republican Party and the Northeast  to the Democratic Party.

This change can be illustrated with a map detailing the state-by-state shift from the 1924 presidential election to the 1928 presidential election:


There are a number of things that stand out with this map.

More below.

The first, as has been previously noted, is the degree to which the shift replicates the current electoral map.

This is not all, however. Two other things are very, very out-of-whack here. To get a hint at what these are, it is useful to compare the 1924 to 1928 state-by-state voting shift to that of different elections.

One example is the change from 2004 to 2008.

In 2008 President Barack Obama improved by 9.7% from the performance of the previous Democratic candidate, Senator John Kerry. In 1928 Governor Al Smith improved by 7.8% from the performance of Democratic candidate John Davis. The shift from 1924 to 1928 is therefore roughly comparable to the shift from 2004 to 2008.

Here is a map of that shift:


Although both Democratic candidates improved by roughly the same percentage from the previous election, where and how they improved look completely different.

In 2008, Mr. Obama generally improved everywhere. In only five states does he do worse than Mr. Kerry. This is the famous Appalachian corridor with which Mr. Obama was so weak.

Moreover, the degree of movement is generally modest. Only two states – Hawaii and Indiana – have more than a 20-point shift from how they voted in 2004. No state shifts more than 40 points (although Hawaii certainly comes close, going from a 8.7% Democratic margin to a 45.3% Democratic margin).

These two patterns: uniform and moderate movement (i.e. when a candidate does better in the popular vote, said candidate does better in almost every state, and states generally do not have wild swings from how they voted from the previous election) are not just confined to 2008. Here is the shift from 2000 to 2004, when President George W. Bush improved by 2.9% from his performance four years earlier:


One again we see that the national shift right brought most of the states with them, and that only three states shifted more than 10% from 2000.

Let’s take another look at 1928 to finish:


Here neither pattern is present. In 1928, the country moved 7.8% more Democratic from 1924. Despite this, Democratic candidate Al Smith did worse in 23 out of 48 states. Three states – Florida, Georgia, and Texas – voted more than 40% more Republican than they did in the previous election. In Texas, Republicans went from 19.8% of the vote in 1924 to 51.8% of the vote in 1928. Fifteen states voted more than 10% more Republican than they did in 1924.

In comparison, in 2008 only one state – Arkansas – voted more than 10% more Republican than it did in 2004 (and it did so by the barest of margins: 10.1%). This was despite Mr. Obama’s improvement from 2004 being roughly equivalent to Mr. Smith’s improvement from 1924.

A lot of interest has gone into Mr. Obama’s weakness in Appalachia. But Mr. Smith’s Southern problem in 1928 (i.e. the fact that he was a Catholic) makes Mr. Obama’s Appalachian problem look puny.

If Mr. Smith improved by 7.8% from the performance of his Democratic predecessor with so much weakness in the South, the shift in the states that voted more Democratic must have been huge. And indeed, the New Yorker gained more than 20-point shifts in nine states. In Massachusetts, Democrats went from 24.9% of the vote in 1924 to 50.2% in 1928.

All in all, the 1928 presidential election was the scene of some enormous movement on a state-by-state basis. In 2008 only two states shifted more than 20 points from 2004, as Mr. Obama did 9.7% better than Mr. Kerry. In 1928, on the other hand, sixteen states shifted more than 20 points from 1928, as Mr. Smith did 7.8% better than the previous Democratic candidate.

This is what a realigning election looks like – extreme movement on from one state to the next, enormous differences by region, and a powerful correlation between which states shift Democratic and which states are voting Democratic almost a century later.

P.S. For those interested, here is a table of the state-by-state voting shift from the 1924 presidential election to the 1928 presidential election:

State 1928 Republican   Margin 1924 Republican   Margin Change
Alabama -2.84% 40.80% 37.96%
Arizona 15.34% 5.79% 9.55%
Arkansas -20.96% -31.93% 10.97%
California 30.50% 48.97% -18.47%
Colorado 30.78% 35.04% -4.26%
Connecticut 8.06% 34.01% -25.95%
Delaware 30.42% 20.90% 9.52%
Florida 16.72% -28.82% 45.54%
Georgia -13.19% -55.77% 42.58%
Idaho 29.30% 30.76% -1.46%
Illinois 14.65% 35.48% -20.83%
Indiana 20.09% 16.56% 3.53%
Iowa 24.20% 38.39% -14.19%
Kansas 44.96% 37.94% 7.02%
Kentucky 18.82% 2.95% 15.87%
Louisiana -52.58% -56.21% 3.63%
Maine 37.66% 50.20% -12.54%
Maryland 14.74% 4.00% 10.74%
Massachusetts -1.09% 37.40% -38.49%
Michigan 41.44% 62.24% -20.80%
Minnesota 16.94% 44.38% -27.44%
Mississippi -64.20% -81.79% 17.59%
Missouri 11.43% 5.79% 5.64%
Montana 17.89% 23.12% -5.23%
Nebraska 27.01% 17.51% 9.50%
Nevada 13.07% 19.81% -6.74%
New Hampshire 17.63% 25.11% -7.48%
New Jersey 19.97% 34.76% -14.79%
New Mexico 18.16% 5.50% 12.66%
New York 2.35% 26.63% -24.28%
North Carolina 9.87% -19.16% 29.03%
North Dakota 10.34% 40.72% -30.38%
Ohio 30.43% 34.63% -4.20%
Oklahoma 28.28% -5.59% 33.87%
Oregon 30.04% 26.83% 3.21%
Pennsylvania 31.35% 46.26% -14.91%
Rhode Island -0.61% 23.17% -23.78%
South Carolina -82.85% -94.35% 11.50%
South Dakota 20.98% 36.34% -15.36%
Tennessee 7.72% -9.21% 16.93%
Texas 3.67% -53.92% 57.59%
Utah 7.72% 19.32% -11.60%
Vermont 34.00% 62.55% -28.55%
Virginia 8.01% -29.69% 37.70%
Washington 35.75% 42.08% -6.33%
West Virginia 17.39% 5.38% 12.01%
Wisconsin 9.24% 28.96% -19.72%
Wyoming 28.31% 36.28% -7.97%
Total 25.22% 17.42% -7.80%


(MI, NC, IL) Redistricting Potpourri

This diary presents potential redistricting maps for Michigan, North Carolina, and Illinois. It also carries the ulterior motive of the following bleg:

I’ve started working on two related projects for Michigan for Dave’s App. I’m collating partisan data and renaming the voting districts by municipality name and precinct number. (Currently, Michigan’s voting districts are named using a 14 digit code.) I could use the following three forms of help:

1. I need a precinct map for the city of Detroit. This is looking ahead a bit, because Detroit is the final portion of the state I intend to work on, but it would really help. My Google-fu has failed me thus far.

2. In order to enable collaboration (see third form below), I need to figure out how to get the lines in my copy of vt26_d00.csv sorted by county and voting district number. The vt26_d00_data.csv file is already sorted like this, but its counterpart is somewhat helter-skelter. The solution that occured to me was to try sorting it using OpenOffice Calc (my only spreadsheet program), but that immediately lost leading zeroes, which breaks the CSV file. Any ideas out there?

3. Actual collaboration in collating and renaming. I’m currently going through the counties alphabetically. After two-ish weeks of sporadic effort, I just finished the H’s with Huron County. (On to Lansing’s Ingham County next!) That’s about 19% of the state population. Doing Flint’s Genessee County took most of the day yesterday, and I’m fairly frightened of Kent/Macomb/Oakland/Washtenaw/Wayne. Even if you’re just interested in helping with some of the smaller, easier counties, I’d be grateful. If you’re willing and interested, send me an email at my user name at so that I can send you information about the conventions I’ve been using. Also, post a comment letting me know you emailed me — it’s a secondary email that I don’t otherwise check.

After the jump, you’ll see the following forms of actual content to assuage my conscience from this bleg:

Michigan: what my partisan map progress looks like so far and a potential Republican gerrymander (an abgin-esque atrocity by Michigan standards)

North Carolina: a Republican map that packs five Democratic incumbents into two districts

Illinois: an oxymoronic “good government” map of Illinois — I’m posting it mostly to show that two majority Hispanic districts in Chicago are easily created and to show off an particular idea for a reconfigured 17th district.

Michigan Partisan Progress So Far

Michigan Republican Gerrymander

Michigan redistricting law heavily discourages county and municipality splitting. This map probably looks tame by most states’ standards, but it’s basically an abgin-esque “finding the limits” map by ours.

The Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint CMSA

This map has its origins in a comment — I don’t recall which thread — that posited an I-75 district linking together Kildee and Peters. This is my attempt to make that district and show its consequences.

I started by painting in all of Genessee County (I really don’t think you can get away with having a district consisting of only portions of three different counties.) Then I painted in the bare minimum number of people to take in Saginaw City from Saginaw County — no GOP plan is going to saddle one of their representatives with Saginaw. Finally, I snaked down through Oakland County, taking heavily Democratic Pontiac and Peter’s home area of Bloomfield /Bloomfield Hills.  That, as it turns out, is a district. So I started working other districts around it.

End result: Peter’s 9th district has been eliminated by trisection. Its eastern third is now in Miller’s 10th, its central third is in Kildee’s 5th, its western third is in McCotter’s 11th.

I won’t dissect the districts in detail, but suffice it to say that I think this is a fairly successful Detroit-area map for the GOP. McCotter gets majorly shored-up (although he might at primary risk from an Oakland-based politican), Miller probably washes out in trading the Thumb for eastern Oakland, and Peters gets the short end of the reapportionment stick.

Taking a look statewide…

… there are some interesting repercussions, mostly favorable to the Republicans. Starting with one of the pieces of bad news, however, with the 5th and 10th sucked down into the Detroit area, the 4th is forced to cover the Thumb. Dave Camp becomes an incumbent in-name only, with only his home county of Midland and the western portion of Saginaw County overlapping between his current district and this one. I would guess that this district is at least as Republican as his current one, but I’m not entirely sure.

With the 4th swinging east, the 1st gets to pick up the Republican-leaning Traverse City area, mildly shoring up Benishek. The 2nd and 3rd also get pulled north by the 4th’s relocation. That, in turn, allows Upton to take in all of Republican Allegan County and Walberg to newly acquire heavily Republican Barry County — a significant upgrade for him that I’ve been otherwise unable to find. I’m genuinely unsure about how the changes to Roger’s 8th district pan out — he loses Republican northern Oakland, and gains some swingy territory in central Michigan along with fairly Republican (I think) Ionia County.

Summary: This map definitly eliminates a Democratic incumbent. I think it also shores up four Republican incumbents while severely inconveniencing another, with the effects on yet another being unknown.

North Carolina Republican Gerrymander

This map has its origins in SaoMagnifico’s recent Wyoming Rule diary on North Carolina. While composing a counter-suggestion to his proposed map, I discovered that there’s a significant African American population in and around Fayetteville. I’ve seen some insisting that this population could be linked with Raleigh’s to produce a new VRA-seat. My attempts at drawing that district while preserving the current 1st have failed, but it turned out to work well when linked with Charlotte’s African-American population instead.

This is a 7-4-2 Republican/Democratic/swing map.

A quick run-through:

The 1st district (blue) stays more or less in place. VRA: 49% black, 44% white (is this kosher?). 2008: Obama 62%, McCain 37%.

The 2nd district (green) shifts substantially west. Still contains all of Ellmer’s (and Etheridge’s) Harnett County. 2008: McCain 56%, Obama 43%.

The 3rd district (purple) now hugs the coast all the way down to (and including) Wilmington. Incumbent Jones is (barely) drawn outside the lines, but I’ve been told he’s outside the lines already. 2008: McCain 57%, Obama 42%.

The 4th district (red) packs Price and Miller into one uber-Democratic (majority-white) district. 2008: Obama 73%, McCain 26%.

The 5th district (yellow) continues to hug the northwest corner of the state. Foxx now lives in her district. 2008: McCain 60%, Obama 38%.

The 6th district (teal) shifts west. This is kind of like a bizzaro-12th, covering broadly similar territory between Charlotte and Greensboro, but with the intention of being a Republican district instead of an African-American gerrymander. Coble still lives here, I think. If not, he’s close. 2008: McCain 56%, Obama 43%.

The 7th district (grey) is still in the southeast corner of the state, reaching north into the eastern parts of the old 2nd — but it’s been reconfigured to exclude incumbent McIntyre. 2008: McCain 56%, Obama 43%.

The 8th district (slate blue) is the center-piece of this plan. It strings together all three of Watt, Kissell, and McIntyre into a minority-majority district. VRA: 41% black, 35% white, 13% Hispanic. 2008: Obama 66%, McCain 33%.

The 9th district (cyan) now lies exclusively east of Charlotte. So far as I know, Myrick still lives in the district. 2008: McCain 55%, Obama 44%.

The 10th district (magenta) pulls in closer to Charlotte. 2008: McCain 59%, Obama 40%.

The 11th district (lime) stays in place. 2008: McCain 52%, Obama 46%.

The 12th district (cornflower) is a (majority white) Democratic new open seat in the Triad. Effectively, the Republicans get rid of both of McIntyre and Kissell and replace them with a Triad-area Democrat. 2008: Obama 60%, McCain 38%.

The 13th district (salmon) is a swing(!) district surrounding the Triangle. 2008: McCain 50%, Obama 49%.

If not screwing with Shuler is something you can’t see the Republicans doing, here’s an area map for the changes necessary:

(Please ignore the 5th changing colors.]

New stats

5th:  56 Mc / 42 Ob

10th: 57 Mc / 42 Ob

11th: 58 Mc / 42 Ob

Illinois Good-Government Redistricting

This map was drawn to avoid splitting counties and muncipalities — an idea I support in the abstract if not necessarily in practice. I won’t go into detail at all about it, because I don’t feel like I understand Illinois well enough. But I wanted to draw attention to two features to see what people think who do understand Illinois politics. (The 11th and 16th — both green — can be hard to distinguish. DeKalb, LaSalle, and points east are in the 11th.)

Feature one: Here’s the VRA statistics for most of the Cook County districts.

1st (blue) — white 39%, black 53%

2nd (green) — white 26%, black 58%, Hispanic 10%

3rd (purple) — white 75%, Hispanic 16%

4th (red) — white 25%, black 12%, Hispanic 59%

5th (yellow) — white 32%, Hispanic 51%

7th (grey) — white 29%, black 53%, Hispanic 16%

9th (cyan) — white 66%, Asian 13%, Hispanic 12%

Actual census numbers may change this, of course, but 2 VRA Hispanic district seem possible with a miminum of fuss.

Feature two: Note district 17 [dark blue] in the whole-state map above. It links together the Quad Cities, Bloomington-Normal, and Champaign-Urbana. Is this a workable Democratic district?

If not — I’ve gotten the impression that Bloomington-Normal is fairly Republican for a mid-sized city — how about this, which substitutes in Decatur?

Tennyoming: Redistricting Tennessee, But With 12 Districts

Under the Wyoming Rule, Tennessee would increase its share of districts to an impressive round dozen. But while the Volunteer State was once a swing state, it has become solidly Republican, at least for the time being. It remains unclear whether the wing of the party represented by the relatively moderate Sen. Corker or the wing of the party represented by Lt. Gov. Ramsey, who called Islam a “cult” during the primary campaign, will win in the battle for the soul of the Tennessee Republican Party, and whether the victor may determine where the fickle electorate lurches next.

As it rests now, though, Tennessee Republicans could force a 9-3 map under Wyoming Rule redistricting, and the only reason why they could not draw a 10-2 map is the Voting Rights Act.

TN-01 (safe Republican)

Rep. Phil Roe’s district just loses a few counties.

TN-02 (likely Republican)

Rep. Jimmy Duncan’s district is now consolidated around Knoxville.

TN-03 (safe Republican)

Rep.-elect Charles Fleischmann gets a nice safe district that looks a lot less disgusting than outgoing Rep. Zach Wamp’s current oddly shaped district.

TN-04 (safe Republican)

No longer Rep.-elect Scott DesJarlais’s district, this Republican-friendly open seat is leftovers from the first three.

TN-05 (safe Republican)

A partial successor to Rep.-elect Diane Black’s TN-07, this district contains her Gallatin residence and is thus her seat, for all intents and purposes. It has nothing to do with the safe Democratic district in Nashville, represented by Rep. Jim Cooper. On the contrary, this seat is safe Republican.

TN-06 (safe Republican)

Just as the previous district provided a natural home for Rep.-elect Black, DesJarlais’s gutted TN-04 is effectively replaced by this smaller district. Middle Tennessee is fertile ground for Republicans, and DesJarlais should be fine here.

TN-07 (likely Republican)

This district, which contains the home of outgoing Democratic Rep. Bart Gordon, is an open seat that leans Republican due to the territory. If Gordon runs, he might be able to win it, but it’s pretty conservative territory for the most part.

TN-08 (safe Democratic)

Team Blue finally gets on the board, with this successor to Cooper’s TN-05 solidly Democratic with its territory nibbled down to the center of Davidson County.

TN-09 (likely Republican)

With Democratic Rep. David Tanner history, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn (currently of TN-07) gets a less stupid-looking district. She should be established enough to win even though it includes a bit more of Democratic-leaning Davidson County than before.

TN-10 (safe Republican)

This western district, which includes pieces of the current TN-07 and much of the current TN-08, is an open seat that any Republican should be able to win.

TN-11 (safe Democratic)

As VRA districts go, these aren’t very stringent. This partial successor to TN-09, represented by Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen, is 51% African American, 41% white. I don’t know if Cohen lives here, but it should be safe for Democrats.

TN-12 (likely Democratic)

I screwed over Rep.-elect Stephen Fincher, who looks like a liability for the GOP in Tennessee right now anyway, and plopped him into a coalition VRA district, which is 47% white, 46% African American, and 100% problematic for Republicans. Sen. John McCain of Arizona carried Tipton County in 2008, but only won Lauderdale County by a few points, while then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois won big in Shelby and Haywood counties. Fincher could win it with a great campaign, but he doesn’t seem to run great campaigns.

Thoughts, either on the map or on the Wyoming Rule?

Redistricting New Jersey by Commission

This is my first attempt at my home state. I grew up in the existing NJ-12 (Rush Holt’s district), and currently live in the existing NJ-3 (Jon Runyan’s to be district).

New Jersey’s current map is unfortunately a fractured mess.

I tried to do the following:

1. Maintain 1 Hispanic and 1 Black district.

2. Pair 1 incumbent from each side (in this case, Holt against Lance)

3. Maintain county boundaries better than the current map. I also attempted to maintain township borders.

The problem is Frank Pallone. He lives rather deep in Monmouth County (long branch, to be precise), and Monmouth is slowly treading Republican I believe. Chris Christie won 62% of the vote here last year. He also carries a lot of clout, so he’s not  getting tossed into the ring.

The second problem is Jon Runyan. I didn’t see any easy way to throw him into a tossup even if he should get it.

I think in an ideal world, I’d throw Bergen county into its own district. But that would likely cause more havoc than its worth.

I don’t think either side can complain too much with this map, but thoughts are appreciated.

So, let’s get to it.

CD-1: Rob Andrews (Haddon Heights)

Extends into Cherry Hill a bit. Not much else to say. Now contains almost all of Camden County. Democrat favored.

CD-2: Frank Lobiondo (Ventnor)

Extends into south Burlington County. Republican favored, though not by much. I think a Democrat can win this open seat.

CD-3: Jon Runyan (Mount Laurel)

Our former Philadelphia Eagle has to move to his vacation home. One of the Republican heads of the redistricting commission is from Ocean County. He gets an Ocean County based district with a bit of Monmouth County left. Republican favored.

CD-4: Chris Smith (Hamilton)

A bit ugly, but no moreso than his current district. Some new terrority that fits him reasonably well. Republican favored.

CD-5: Frank Pallone (Long Branch)

Gets a nice, safe district with Edison, Trenton, some other heavy Asian Mercer County towns, and his old areas where he lives. Democrat favored.

CD-6: Rush Holt (Hopewell) vs. Leonard Lance (Clifton)

Showdown. Contains all the Brunswicks and the homes of both incumbents. I really cannot tell you who wins this.

CD-7: Albio Sires (West New York)

52% Hispanic. Democrat favored.

CD-8: Rodney Frelinghuysen (Morristown)

Fully contains Morris County, and half of Somerset County. Republican favored.

CD-9: Donald Payne (Newark)

56% black. Democrat favored.

CD-10: Bill Pascrell (Paterson)

Passaic, Essex, Union counties. Democrat favored.

CD-11: Steve Rothman (Fair Lawn)

Passaic, Essex, Hudson counties. Democrat favored.

CD-12: Scott Garrett (Wantage)

Leftovers. Holds several full counties. Picks up needed population in Hunterdon county, otherwise the same. Republican favored.

Weak GOP gerrymander for PA – 13-5 in a good year

Republicans had a great night in Pennsylvania this November, which makes drawing a decent map for them really hard.

The problem for them is, fundamentally, that they won in all the wrong places. They knocked off Carney and Kanjorski, whereas if they’d taken only one of them they could have packed the survivor’s district and used the redder bits of his district to make Charlie Dent a little later. They held PA-6 and took back PA-7 and PA-8, meaning that it’s that much harder to protect their representatives in the suburban Philadelphia area, whereas if the Dems had held one seat then it would have been possible to shift the other districts further from the city.

And they didn’t knock off Critz or Altmire, meaning that they’ll have to work a little harder to give them unwinnable districts.

All in all, they’d have a lot more options for the coming redistricting if they’d won a few less districts and if more of them had been in western PA.

But what’s done is done. Republicans can enjoy their gains for now and they’ll just have to work to try to keep them – because there’s no way they’ll willingly concede seats in the next redistricting.

This map is an attempt to strengthen the Republican freshmen and to eliminate the last two Democratic representative in western Pennsylvania outside Pittsburgh. By giving Tim Holden a reasonably strong Democratic district, it frees up enough red territory to give the Republicans a fighting chance of a 13-5 advantage out of the state.

But this is not without risk. McCain got beaten by ten points in Pennsylvania and five Republicans in this new map will represent districts he lost. If they all flipped, Democrats would have a 10-8 advantage out of the state. If Joe Pitts can’t adapt to his new district, it could be as bad as 11-7.

On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to defend all twelve Republican congressmen in the state effectively. This map improves the prospects of each Republican in a district Obama won by at least four points net. I won’t pretend this map doesn’t have weaknesses, but it’s probably the best the Republicans can do.

As an added challenge, I endeavoured to keep townships together, as I don’t think the advantage gained by splitting them outweighs the negative press received for doing so. This doesn’t apply in Philadelphia, as the Republicans have no reason to care about a backlash there.

I would have like to be able to give Sestak-Toomey results, as it’d establish how safe these seats would be in a good year (i.e. if Joe Pitts’ district would still have been a bit marginal this year then he might be in trouble either way), but sadly not all counties have put up results by precinct yet. Most have, but several important ones like Montgomery and Erie haven’t, so sadly we lack that method of double-checking.

Overall map

Philly close-up


Incumbent: Bob Brady

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
684861 35 50 8 5

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 88 12
New lines 87 12
% change -1% +0%

Like I said, redistricting isn’t going to be as much fun for the Republicans as it might have been. If they want to enjoy themselves, they’ll have to make their own entertainment.

In this map I represented that by drawing the new PA-1 as minority-majority (which the Republicans would be mad not to try for, as with no retrogression they can create two Democratic vote sinks that will be almost impossible to eliminate).

I also noted that according to his candidate petitions Bob Brady lives in Ward 34 Precinct 34, which is on the very western edge of West Philadelphia. I therefore slipped it into Allyson Schwartz’s district.

Now, Bob Brady is quite capable of moving a few blocks back into the district, assuming election law actually requires him to. And he’s represented a minority-majority district for long enough that making it 50% black won’t have him quaking in his boots. But still, Republicans have to get their giggles somehow. And spite is the gift that keeps on giving.

The district itself is somewhat less interesting. It keeps its strip through southern Delaware County to Chester, as well as the areas of Darby, Yeadon and Sharon Hill, and combines these these with south, west and central Philadelphia, together with portions of north Philly and much of Kensington.


Incumbent: Chaka Fattah

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
685048 34 50 10 3

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 90 10
New lines 88 12
% change -2% +2%

Chaka Fattah is harder to draw out, so Republicans will have to settle for just giving him the biggest district in the state population-wise.

There’s very little to say about this district. It narrowly remains above 50% black and takes in the rest of Philadelphia, bar small portions of the Northeast and Northwest. Much of it is new to Fattah, but I can’t imagine him facing too many problems with it.

PA-3 (was PA-13)

Incumbent: Allyson Schwartz, Bob Brady, Patrick Murphy

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
681192 83 8 3 4

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 59 41
New lines 64 35
% change +5% -6%

It’d be much easier to pack the Democratic vote if the Philadelphia suburbs hadn’t elected so many Republicans this year. As a result, the task is largely left to Schwartz, who gets a district that’s absolutely safe in the hope she doesn’t get ideas like running for governor any time soon.

I’ve renumbered the districts, because if you’re going to gerrymander you should at least care enough to cover your tracks by numbering the districts in a vaguely logical order (even if my order does involve flying betwen north and south Pennsylvania like a fairground ride.)

The district keeps its core in southern Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia, although much of northern Montgomery is moved elsewhere. To this it adds Northwest Philadelphia west of Wissahickon Creek and north of Cresheim Creek, plus Bensalem southern parts of Levitttown in Bucks County. In doing so, it also mops up the home of Patrick Murphy, in an attempt to keep him out of Fitzpatrick’s hair.

SE PA close-up

PA-4 (was PA-8)

Incumbent: Mike Fitzpatrick

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
682279 92 2 2 2

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 54 45
New lines 52 47
% change -2% +2%

Fitzpatrick’s district is improved by four points net and Murphy is removed from his district. That said, it’s not all smiles for him.

Swapping southern Bucks for reddish or marginal parts of eastern and northern Montgomery helps him a little. On the other hand, he could be helped a lot more if the last 35,000 of his population requirement didn’t have to be filled by taking Easton off Charlie Dent’s hands.

This district is slightly more Republican than the nation as a whole, and if Fitzpatrick endears himself to his constituents he could well survive. On the other hand, he has to be hoping Sarah Palin gets nowhere near the Republican nomination. The last thing he needs in 2012 is a combination of presidential year turnout and a candidate guaranteed to drive suburban voters into voting for Democrats.

PA-5 (was PA-6)

Incumbent: Jim Gerlach, Manan Trivedi

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
680512 90 3 3 3

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 58 41
New lines 53 46
% change -5% +5%

Jim Gerlach is never going to be entirely safe, but this district might give him a bit of extra comfort for a couple of cycles.

Like Fitzpatrick, he has to help Dent out in the Lehigh Valley, in Gerlach’s case grabbing Bethlehem plus southern portions of Lehigh and Northampton counties. Nevertheless, these areas aren’t overwhelmingly blue and in all other cases boundary changes are in his favour.

He gives up much of Chester County to let the new PA-6 through and abandons Reading and its most Democratic suburbs to Tim Holden.

In return, he picks up absolutely blood-red, 70-30 McCain areas in northwest Berks and northeast Lancaster, which are less likely to turn blue suddenly than his current suburban turf.

PA-6 (was PA-7)

Incumbent: Pat Meehan

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
679961 90 5 2 3

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 56 43
New lines 51 48
% change -5% +5%

Pat Meehan is probably the big winner on this map, which is largely accidental, as I figured that if there had to be a Republican casualty in the southeast, he’d be first in line as a freshman who hadn’t previously served in Congress.

His district moves a net ten points towards Republicans. Well, I say his district. Rather than being centred on Delaware County, it now draws less than 250,000 from that source. In the process, it has offloaded the homes of Sestak and Bryan Lentz to Joe Pitts’ district.

It makes up for this by heading west through the central parts of Chester county, turning northwestwards and heading through Lancaster county into southern Lebanon county and eastern Dauphine county, finishing up in the outer suburbs of Harrisburg.

With no part of the district outside Delaware County large enough to provide a base for primary challengers and with a lot of new turf that won’t turn blue in a hurry, Pat Meehan can afford to feel very pleased with himself.

Until he realises that Obama still won this district, so he can’t feel entirely comfortable.

PA-7 (was PA-16)

Incumbent: Joe Pitts, Joe Sestak, Bryan Lentz

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
681623 91 4 3 1

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 48 51
New lines 49 51
% change +1% +0%

Although he represents the first district we’ve yet seen that McCain won, Joe Pitts is probably the biggest Republican loser on this map.

It’s not drastic in terms of pure partisanship. Obama improves by only 1% compared to the old lines. But whilst he’s dropped Reading and Lancaster and picked up reliably red turf in southern York County, he’s also absorbed a little over 200,000 new largely Democratic voters in Delaware County.

If he’s ready to adapt himself to a more suburban audience, he’ll do fine. McCain won the new district and it’s likely Bush did so with huge margins. But if he can’t do that and if Joe Sestak fancies running for Congress again, there could be problems for Pennsylvania Republicans.

PA-8 (was PA-17)

Incumbent: Tim Holden

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
683263 77 9 10 2

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 48 51
New lines 56 43
% change +8% -8%

This isn’t, I will admit, a pretty district, but it’s a functional one. The cities of Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Pottsville and Reading are joined by stretches of extremely red countryside, forming the semblance of an M, then parts of central Schuykill are shoved in to make sure Holden runs here.

A community of interest district of south-eastern Pennsylvanian cities that don’t simply look to Philadelphia is created, Tim Holden gets a much safer district, but a progressive enough one for him to be troubled in the primary and Republicans get to take vast red areas from his current district, as well not having to face up to him in the general election. Everybody wins, except the 30% Obama areas that get their voting preferences drowned out by the cities.

PA-9 (was PA-15)

Incumbent: Charlie Dent

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
681623 88 3 7 1

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 56 43
New lines 54 45
% change -2% +2%

This district isn’t as much as an improvement as some, but Charlie Dent won’t be too disappointed. His new territory in the Poconos went for Obama, but Pat Toomey won it by over 5,000 votes and the Coal County portions of the district went narrowly for McCain.

In the old core of the district, meanwhile, his margins are hardly hurt by exchanging Easton and Bethlehem (and his last challenger) for red bits of north Berkshire County is hardly going to hurt.

Of course, Dent has always won fairly easily by keeping his head down and he might suffer some backlash from this fairly deliberate attempt to carve up the Lehigh Valley. But I doubt that’ll do him enough damage to cancel out the four-point net Republican improvement in this district.

PA-10 (was PA-11)

Incumbent: Lou Barletta

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
680221 97 1 1 1

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 57 42
New lines 52 47
% change -5% +5%

Let’s be honest here – Paul Kanjorski was a terrible candidate. He nearly lost a district that Obama won by fifteen points in 2008, and followed that up by a ten-point defeat against the same opponent in 2010, whilst Joe Sestak carried the district by four points.

Given a better year for Democrats and a better candidate like Corey O’Brien, Barletta could be in real trouble. The district is therefore heavily reconfigured. Swingy Carbon and Monroe Counties are given to Dent, whilst in Lackawanna County it abandons Scranton (and O’Brien’s residence in Moosic) to the 11th, whilst absorbing most of the 11th (old 10th)’s portions of Lackawanna County, as well as the entirety of Wyoming County.

In the south-west of the district, it expands to take in much of the Coal Region, including the entirety of Northumberland and Montour counties, northern Dauphin and northwest Schuykill.

It’s still a district Obama won, although the margin is slightly less than he managed nationally. But without the Democratic juggernaught of Scranton and with downscale and monolithically white coal counties which ought to be sympathetic to his immigrant-baiting populism, Barletta might just have a chance of holding on past 2012.

PA-11 (was PA-10)

Incumbent: Tom Marino, Chris Carney, Corey O’Brien

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
680774 94 2 1 1

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 45 54
New lines 46 53
% change +1% -1%

Chris Carney performed very strongly in his portion of Lackawanna County, but he got beaten by at least ten points everywhere else. There’s no great shame in that, as they’re all red counties and he outperformed Joe Sestak by at least 5% in every single one of them, but he did lose pretty big.

Carney initially won by the simple expedient of running in a very strong Democratic year and facing an incumbent who choked his mistress. He retained his position in 2008 by maintaining a very conservative voting record. But this isn’t a very Democratic district and Marino ought to be able to hold on here with ease.

I therefore didn’t feel any great need to concentrate on making Marino too safe. I gave him the rest of Lycoming County to build his base and he also picked up Perry, Juniata and Mifflin counties, which whilst small are also the most Republican in Pennsylvania. These advantages, however, are more than outweighed by the loss of Wyoming County, the addition of a section of Centre County (including State College) that went for Obama by 15 points and Scranton.

Obama won the Lackawanna parts of the district by 32 points. McCain won the rest by 13 points. So it’s not like my attempts at diluting Scranton’s votes are subtle. But it ought to work, especially since Carney’s path to a rematch is likely to be blocked by a primary with a Lackawanna Democrat and since many of the primary voters will be further to the left than the Blue Dog Carney.

PA-12 (was PA-19)

Incumbent: Todd Russell Platts

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
682014 92 3 3 1

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 43 56
New lines 41 58
% change -2% +2%

I didn’t set out to strengthen Platts, but given the strength of the red turf around him it was hard not to. His district loses much of York County to give Joe Pitts a chance and compensates by grabbing the rest of Cumberland County plus Franklin County.

Except for York and a very few Harrisburg suburbs, there’s pretty much no Democratic strength in the district.

That said, it’s neither an overly cohesive nor a pretty-looking district. Franklin County doesn’t really belong in s South Central Pennsylvania district and the lines in York are as bad as they are because I had to preserve Platts’ home in the district.

If Republicans pick a more cautious option, expect them to concede a seat in the Delaware County area and combine Pitts with Platts. Platts’ occasional outbursts of sanity would surely doom him in the primary and it’d be possible to draw much neater lines.

For that matter, I wouldn’t be shocked if Republicans drew Platts out of here anyway and replaced him with somebody more reliably obstructive.

SW PA close-up

PA-13 (was PA-9)

Incumbent: Bill Shuster, Mark Critz

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
680879 96 2 1 0

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 35 63
New lines 42 57
% change +7% -6%

Removing Mark Critz really isn’t that difficult. He lives in Johnstown and derives his margin of victory from parts of Cambria County plus the towns along the Monongahela River.

By throwing all of Cambria County into the new 13th, which otherwise takes only a few small and red-leaning parts of Armstrong and Indiana from the old 12th, he’s left with a district a net fourteen points more Republican than the one he currently has. Meantime, Shuster keeps all his old base.

Otherwise, this district is basically just a much less ugly version of the old 9th. County fragments are reduced, with the district no longer taking in any of Fayette or heading north-west through the Appalachians towards Harrisburg. Spurs towards the Allegheny Plateau and Pittsburgh make it a little less compact than it might otherwise have been, but it’s a long way from the worst district on this map.

In the process, it goes from being a 35% Obama to a 42% Obama district, but there’s really not much need for an R+17 district in Pennsylvania. R+10 or so is fine.

PA-14 (was PA-5)

Incumbent: G. T. Thompson, Kathy Dahlkemper

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
683996 95 3 1 0

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 44 55
New lines 46 52
% change +2% -3%

The most populous district designed for a Republican, this district remains broadly similar to the old 5th, it just shifts a county or so north-west.

In the process, the city of Erie is drawn into the district. Without Erie, the district is actually even more Republican than before (the removal of State College to the 11th helps). With it, the district moves towards the blue team, although as there’s a lack of Democratic strength anywhere in it outside the north-west of the district, it shouldn’t be overly vulnerable.

Kathy Dahlkemper lives here, but most of the district is new to her and the rest of the district could be won by just about any Democrat, so there’s no reason to assume she’d be the obvious 2012 challenger.

PA-15 (was PA-3)

Incumbent: Mike Kelly

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
681691 94 4 1 0

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 49 49
New lines 47 51
% change -2% +2%

I know almost nothing about Mike Kelly, so if he’s a complete nutter then you might need to give him a safer district. If he’s at least somewhat sub-Bachmann, however, this district, which maintains the core of the old 3rd, ought to be defensible by him.

Residual Democratic strength in Lawrence and Beaver Counties might cause him a little problem initially, but at least on a presidential level Democratic strength is already limited to the areas bordering the Ohio, Beaver and Shenango rivers, and if he’s still around by the end of the decade then Democratic strength in western PA may be a bygone memory.

PA-16 (was PA-4)

Incumbent: Jason Altmire, Keith Rothfus

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
682825 96 2 1 1

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 44 55
New lines 42 57
% change -2% +2%

Altmire just hung on this year, but the unwinding of Democratic strength in the west will make his job a little harder everyday. This map just aims to make it that little bit harder.

Beaver and Lawrence counties, which still vote Democratic downticket, are replaced by large chunks the considerably more Republican Westmoreland County. Of the seven state representatives representing Westmoreland-based districts in the general assembly, Democrats hold two that was uncontested and one that was contested this year, Republicans hold three (including one gain), whilst the seventh representative was nominated by both parties, so the downticket trend is clearly well-advanced there.

In Allegheny, most of the land north of Pittsburgh and the rivers is taken, except for a small area in the north-east that I dumped into the 13th. South of the Ohio, a thin line of swingy tonwships is also taken to help out Tim Murphy.

This might not finish off Altmire entirely – you’d need to dissect his base and doing so could endanger somebody else – but it’ll make his life more difficult and make him that much more vulnerable to bad Democratic years.

His 2010 challenger, Keith Rothfus, remains in the district, but other and more intimidating candidates might emerge.

PA-17 (was PA-14)

Incumbent: Mike Doyle

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
684659 74 21 1 2

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 70 29
New lines 69 30
% change -1% +1%

Doyle’s district maintains its original core of the city of Pittsburgh and some close suburbs, but to achieve population equality and to screw over Mark Critz whilst protecting Tim Murphy, it then heads down the Monongahela valley, taking in parts of Allegany, Washington, Westmoreland, Fayette and Green counties and reaching almost to the West Virginia border. No townships are split, which is the reason the district becomes slightly less Democratic.

The district remains entirely safe, and the other half of Mark Critz’s base is securely esconced in a Democratic district.


Incumbent: Tim Murphy

Population White Black Hispanic Asian
683653 95 2 1 1

Obama % McCain %
Old lines 44 55
New lines 46 53
% change +2% -2%

Murphy takes, somewhat obviously, everything that’s left. This basically consists of non-riverine portions of Fayette, Greene and Washington, south-east Westmoreland and much of south and south-west Allegheny.

Whilst it does get a little more Democratic, Murphy has represented most of this area for long enough not to face too many problems.

–  –  –  –  –  –  –  –

I think it will have become clear by now where the major weaknesses with the map lie. How long can the GOP hold on to suburban Philadelphia seats that are trending against them, and would it be smarter just to give them up? How do you get three Republicans out of the Lehigh Valley and the north-east without making yourself very vulnerable to waves? Is it safe to split Erie County? How much do you have to weaken Altmire to guarantee his defeat? How much duct tape will be needed to shut up Joe Pitts?

I’d guess that at some point towards 2020 this map will be 10-8 Republican at best. It could get even worse. But I can’t see them abandoning any of their incumbents, so they have relatively little choice.

Suggestions as to how they can do this better are, of course, gratefully received