With Washington gaining a tenth congressional district this year, the general assumption is that the new seat will be a heavily Democratic seat in the Seattle suburbs, which will turn Dave Reichert’s WA-08 into a Republican leaning district. I attempted to see if there was any way to prevent this. My goal was to draw a new Democratic WA-10, make WA-08 more Democratic, and protect all the surrounding districts, especially the potentially vulnerable WA-02, and keep WA-03 competitive, if not Democratic-leaning. My goal with the suburban Seattle seats was to keep them all around D+5, which I think is the perfect balance between keeping the seats Democratic and making sure that they aren’t too packed. I came up with two ways to do this:
one that is slightly more compact that draws 7 Democratic seats, one lean-GOP seat, and two safe GOP seats…
The only difference between these two maps is the Southwestern part of the state and the 3rd and 6th districts. In the first map, the 3rd is a district with a pvi of somewhere between EVEN and R+3 that takes up the Vancouver area, most of Cowlitz, Skamania, and Klickitat counties (gotta love those Washington county names), the Yakama Reservation, and the Hispanic-majority areas of Yakima county. In the second map, all the areas east of Clark co that were in the third in the first map are now in the 6th, and the 3rd stretches up along the Pacific coast. This 3rd is probably about D+1 or D+2.
The rest of the state is the same in both these maps. The 6th has dropped Tacoma and gained Olympia, which makes this area look a lot neater without really changing the partisan makeup at all. The 9th is now a very compact Tacoma district. The 1st is now a district composed of the Puget sound islands, Whatcom county, and Skagit county north and west of Mt Vernon. I tried to make the 5th as Democratic as any district in Eastern Washington could be, which is not really saying much. It contains the city of Spokane, which is slightly Democratic, but not the heavily Republican surrounding areas, the college town of Pullman, the Tri-Cities area, and some surrounding areas with large Hispanic populations (the district as a whole is 25% non-white). It is still probably considerable Republican-leaning, probably with a PVI of something like R+5. The devious thing about this district is that it draws Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rogers into the same district. I expect McMorris Rogers will win the resulting primary, with the support of both the Republican “establishment” and the support of conservatives like Sarah Palin. Maybe this will convince Doc Hastings to jump into the gubernatorial primary. I haven’t heard any talk about him doing that, but it seems he could find a niche as the “true conservative” candidate. Democrats would of course love this because Doc Hastings would have no chance of winning the general election for governor.
Now on to the Seattle area:
The 2nd has swapped out some areas with the 1st, gaining the part of Snohomish Co part of the 1st and dropping some of the Northern areas. It is now probably a point or two more Democratic. The 7th has lost some heavily Democratic areas to the new 10th and gained some swingier suburban areas. It is somewhat less Democratic, but this doesn’t matter at all really. The new 10th is carved out of SW King Co, with territory taken from the 7th, 8th, and 9th districts. It contains Dave Reichert’s home in Auburn as well as some GOP-leaning areas in the eastern part of the district, but the heavily Democratic areas along the coast that make up the majority of the district’s population should make sure it has a strong Dem-lean, probably with a pvi of about D+6. Dave Reichert might be able to hold on to this district, but I think the Democratic candidate would start out with a solid advantage over Reichert given the fact that Reichert has never represented most of the district and the fact that Obama should be carrying this district with >60% of the vote. The 8th has also become more Democratic, with the loss of some GOP-leaning areas to the 10th and the gain of some heavily Democratic areas in the NW of King Co.