Impartial Compact Redistricting

Hello redistricting fans. I have an open source project that is making the opposite of gerrymandered districts: optimally compact districts.

The results are starting to come in for the states that have had data released.

I could use help with a couple things:

1. Publicity

2. Spare computing

Who needs to know about this? Media? People involved in various state redistricting efforts? Academics? Politicians? Activists?

And if you have a spare x86_64 Mac or Linux machine, you can download a client to run and help solve for optimally compact districts. If you want to tinker with the code you can download the source.

Why focus on optimally compact districts?

Is anyone going to just run with these maps? Probably not. But I want these maps to be available and known as something to compare to. I want to imagine starting from these maps and making changes towards keeping together actual communities or making districts easier to administer by following town and county lines. So I want to have an optimal map so that any deviation from that has to be justified.

Also, if anyone wants to tinker with these maps in another program, please point me to it and what the interchange format is. I’ll write the export code.

VA-Sen: PPP Shows a Dead Heat Between Tim Kaine and George Allen

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (2/24-27, Virginia voters, 11/10-13/2010 in parens):

Tim Kaine (D): 47 (50)

George Allen (R): 47 (44)

Undecided: 6 (6)

Tim Kaine (D): 49

Bob Marshall (R): 35

Undecided: 16

Tim Kaine (D): 49

Jamie Radtke (R): 33

Undecided: 17

Tom Perriello (D): 41 (42)

George Allen (R): 48 (47)

Undecided: 11 (12)

Tom Perriello (D): 39

Bob Marshall (R): 35

Undecided: 26

Tom Perriello (D): 40

Jamie Radtke (R): 32

Undecided: 28

Rick Boucher (D): 42

George Allen (R): 47

Undecided: 11

Rick Boucher (D): 40

Bob Marshall (R): 32

Undecided: 28

Rick Boucher (D): 40

Jamie Radtke (R): 29

Undecided: 31

(MoE: ±3.5%)

What I like about these numbers – and it’s something Tom acknowledges as well – is that George Allen does no better again Tom Perriello (who is unknown to 57% of the state) than he does against Tim Kaine. And who knows? Maybe we’ll get lucky and Allen will get teabagged to death by the likes of loonocrat Bob Marshall. Tom also teases that his presidential results show good things for Barack Obama, so yeah – I like these numbers.

Redistricting in Missouri (Updated!): Return of the Revenge of the United States Census

Well, Missouri was one of the Big Losers once the 2010 Census numbers came in. It’s sloughing a congressional district, which probably means two or more congresspeople get drawn together.

Let’s do this.

The map, if you’re familiar with my previous proposals for redistricting Missouri, isn’t going to look scads different from maps I’ve drawn before. I had to draw this map from scratch in order to use the 2010 Census data – hence the (Updated!). Sorry about the confusion there. This map is roughly 2-5-1, with the swing district probably favoring the Republican by a smidgen.

MO-01 (blue)

The C.W. is that Rep. Lacy Clay, the Democrat, will have to take all of St. Louis City to maintain his VRA seat. This is not actually true. This district, as drawn, is actually 48.7% black, 43.4% white – and it’s hard to do better, as South City isn’t much less white than north St. Charles County (which actually does have some pockets of black-majority precincts for Clay to collect). Now, granted, any part of St. Louis City is probably more Democratic than just about anywhere in St. Charles County, but if 90% of blacks vote for the Democrat, it’s pretty damn hard to see this district being competitive for Team Red. Safe Democratic.

MO-02 (green)

As I said, Republican Rep. Todd Akin is talking up a prospective Senate bid, and it sounds like a deal may be in the works for former ambassador to Luxembourg and defeated candidate for Republican National Committee chair Ann Wagner to succeed him. This district takes in a large share of the Greater St. Louis exurbs and white-collar suburbs, though I believe it retains Akin’s home in Town and Country. Akin or Wagner or not, this district isn’t terribly likely to go blue; it occupies some of the most Republican parts of the state. Safe Republican.

MO-03 (purple)

I did all I could for Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan, one of the scions of the powerful Carnahan political dynasty. I gave him the southern parts of St. Louis City. I tried to limit the damage in terms of the parts of modern-day MO-02 he soaked up. I kept the Republican territory snaking down the Mississippi River to Cape Girardeau to as plausible a minimum as I thought Missouri Democrats and Gov. Nixon might be able to get away with demanding, handing him Democratic-leaning Jefferson County to help balance things out. But I still would give Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, the Republican congresswoman drawn together with Carnahan, the slight edge here. Tossup/Tilt Republican.

MO-04 (red)

This district loses a lot of the sprawl into central Missouri in favor of scooping around urban Kansas City, picking up a portion of the northern environs currently contained in MO-06. Rep. Vicki Hartzler, the Republican representing this district, should be completely fine here; Republicans will want to protect her, as she just took over this seat last year, by cutting out some of Ike Skelton’s old stomping grounds around Jefferson City. The parts of Greater Kansas City Hartzler picks up should be red enough, too. Safe Republican.

MO-05 (yellow)

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the black Democrat representing this white-majority district, sees his turf consolidate around the more urban, likely-Democratic precincts of Kansas City. Democrats in the legislature will take pains to shore him up after his uncomfortably close reelection last year. Safe Democratic.

MO-06 (slate blue)

Republican Rep. Sam Graves gets pretty much all of “Little Dixie” in northeastern Missouri from modern-day MO-09. While Graves has been viewed in past cycles as potentially vulnerable, Republicans should be happy with the tweaks to his district, despite the addition of Jefferson City and Columbia; Little Dixie has a more Republican PVI than some of the swingy Kansas City suburbs picked up by Cleaver and Hartzler. Safe Republican.

MO-07 (magenta)

This district has changed very little. Republican Rep. Billy Long takes a bit of territory off Hartzler’s hands, but otherwise, it’s the same district. Safe Republican.

MO-08 (orange)

This district has changed very little except to exchange Emerson’s Cape Girardeau County with parts of central Missouri, including Republican Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer’s home in Miller County. Safe Republican.

Now, if Emerson pushes back against the idea of being thrown into the octagon with Carnahan next year, I drew this map with a scenario in mind that has been floated recently: Red. Todd Akin, the Republican representative from MO-02, vacating his seat to run for Congress.

This map gives Luetkemeyer most of Akin’s turf, rather than letting him take over Emerson’s district from his convenient central location. It’s still a 2-5-1 map.

MO-01 (blue)

Not much different than in the other map, including racial breakdown (43.5% white, 48.6% black). Safe Democratic.

MO-02 (green)

This district connects Miller County, where Luetkemeyer resides, with the Greater St. Louis suburbs and exurbs currently represented by Akin. This should be blood-red Republican territory. Wagner might run against Luetkemeyer, but I don’t think the Republicans would draw this map if they wanted that to happen, unless Luetkemeyer decides to retire for some reason. Either way, it doesn’t really matter in terms of partisan breakdown. Safe Republican.

MO-03 (purple)

There are two real beneficiaries of this map as opposed to the previous one. Carnahan is one of them. This district should be very close to EVEN PVI, and his incumbency as well as his political connections should be enough to consider him a slight favorite. Tossup/Tilt Democratic.

MO-08 (orange)

Skipping ahead to Emerson’s district, as the other districts haven’t changed from the previous map: she is, of course, the other beneficiary of this alternate proposal, because she’s completely safe here in a district that has changed very little other than to take in some additional Republican territory. Safe Republican.

Questions? Comments? Complaints?

A Complete Democratic Collapse in Missouri

As I am sure everyone would agree, the race for Missouri’s senate seat is going to be competitive. The Republicans have a solid roster of candidates that will force Sen. McCaskill to work very hard to keep her seat.

For better or worse, a lot of people seem to be quite negative on McCaskill’s chances to keep this seat. Missouri, they say, is red and getting redder. They acknowledge the center-right status of the state, how hard she had to work last time in a very Democratic year, how much the Republicans will devote to unseating her, and how well the Republicans did this past November.

Of course, Robin Carnahan’s performance in 2010 wouldn’t inspire anyone. Despite being strongly reelected in 2008 with the most votes of any candidate in the history of the state and being from one of its most famous political families, she lost, badly, to Roy Blunt. In fact, “badly” might be too kind. It was, quite simply, a breathtakingly awful loss.

In every county in the state, Carnahan lost support from what McCaskill previously had. Some of that was bound to happen, considering the sharp differences in Democratic fortunes between 2006 and 2010, but we’re not talking about small decreases. In a lot of counties, she lost between 30 and 40 percent of what McCaskill received in 2006. Aside from perhaps Blanche Lincoln, who else running on the Democratic ticket oversaw such losses for her party?

I’m not sure why this is the case–please chime in with details if you know them–but whatever the reason, I thought it might be helpful to visualize the changes from 2006 to 2010. One of the reasons people are down on McCaskill’s chances is that they believe the non-urban areas of the state are becoming out of reach for the Democrats, but a look at the numbers doesn’t necessarily suggest that. In fact, it almost suggests the opposite: the reason for Carnahan’s poor performance wasn’t so much a huge move towards the Republicans but rather a complete implosion of support for the Democrats. You could almost say that the Republicans are close to hitting their peak in the state’s smaller counties.

Below, I’ve attached a Scribd link to a spreadsheet compared the totals for McCaskill and Talent in 2006 to Carnahan and Blunt in 2010. Overall, the gains for the Republicans were impressive, but hardly earth-shattering. In 2006, Talent received 1,006,941 votes, while in 2010, Blunt received 1,054,160 votes. The difference was 47,219 votes, or about a 4.7 percent increase for the Republicans. Meanwhile, in 2006, McCaskill received 1,055,255 votes, whereas in 2010, Carnahan received 789,736 votes. The difference was 265,519 votes, or about a 25 percent decrease for the Democrats. I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s an astonishing figure.

But as bad as those figures might seem, it’s not nearly as awful as it appears upon first glance. It’s pretty obvious that Blunt didn’t simply win over all of the former supporters of the Democrats. Even if you assume that every single additional voter Blunt received over Talent came from McCaskill, you’re still left with 218,300 votes. Split that number in half, giving Carnahan an additional 109,150 votes, and she would have received 43.7 percent of the vote. Had she received all of those additional votes, her total would have been 46.62 percent. (Both figures assume that the Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates received the same number of votes.) With the numbers readjusted, Blunt would have received 51.35 percent in the first example 48.75 percent in the second. In both cases, Carnahan would have lost, but she would have been a lot closer, particularly in the second example.

So what, you say. Blunt still received 47,219 more votes than Talent received. That’s true, of course, but this was during the best year Republicans are likely to have in a long, long time. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Republicans are nearing their ceiling in the state, particularly in the smaller counties. It’s extremely hard, if not impossible, to keep seeing increases of eight to ten percent, if not much more, each cycle (adjusted for population growth and all that). Hell, even a five percent increase is tough to see unless you are are starting from a point of extreme low turnout and are see continuous gains in population, something the Republicans aren’t doing.

Consider Camden County. In 2010, for instance, Blunt received 11,305 votes, up 1,940 from the 9,095 Talent received in 2006, an increase of about 21 percent. In contrast, Carnahan received 4,558 votes, down 1,890 votes, almost 29 percent, from the 6448 votes that McCaskill received. (Interestingly, in absolute terms, these numbers line up almost exactly, so perhaps here, Blunt really was taking from the Democrats.) In percentage terms, Talent received 55.6 percent of the vote while McCaskill received 39.4 percent, whereas Blunt received 66 percent compared to Carnahan’s 27.2. In comparison, McCain received 63.6 percent while Obama received 35.1 percent.

Let’s assume that the Republicans do incredible things and maximize turnout like we could barely imagine. In Camden County, there are 40,705 people, and about 19.2 percent of the population is under 18 years of age. That leaves about 32,890 people. Assuming five percent can’t vote for whatever reason, that leaves about 31,245 people that can. In 2008, 21,133 voted, so there are roughly 9,100 possible voters left. If the Republicans managed a 15 percent increase from McCain’s 2008 total of 14,074, they’d get roughly 2,111 more votes. But the Democrats could get more votes, too. Even if they only saw a five percent increase, they’d get an additional 389 votes from the 2008 total of 7,773. Assuming third-party totals don’t change drastically, in this example, the Republican would get 65.7 percent of the vote, about what Blunt received this past year. In this situation, the net gain for the Republicans is about 1,722.

To me, this suggests that the Republicans have to grow by leaps and bounds to keep up with minor Democratic improvements. Indeed, that looks to be the case. It’s important to consider the sheer size of the counties that form the base of the Democratic party in the state. In St. Louis County, where Blunt amazingly lost a significant percentage of Talent’s total from 2006, a small gain easily could erase if not surpass the increase from a tinier county. Let’s assume there was a similar increase in overall voters of about 11.5 percent, similar to my example above, which bring roughly an additional 64,380 voters to the polls for a total of 624,234. (Just in case that sounds impossible, it’s not. There are probably around 195,000 people in the county that didn’t show up but could have in 2008.) In 2008, Obama received 59.5 percent of the vote, giving him 333,123 votes. If he received just 59.6 percent in 2012, he’d get about 372,044 votes, or an increase of about 38,921 votes. The Republicans would go from 221,705 to about 248,445, a difference of 26,740. (Again, this assumes the third-party totals stay similar.) Had Obama received his 2008 percentage, he would have received about 371,419 votes. The increase of one-tenth of a percentage point, in this example, is worth about 625 votes. Imagine if he simply raised it to 60 percent of the vote, an increase of half a percentage point. In this example, he’d be up to about 374,594, a gain of 3,175 votes. If he could somehow really maximize his potential returns and get 65 percent of the vote, he’d get about 405,811 votes, a gain of about 34,392 votes.

Achieving such totals might seem ridiculously hard, but again, we are talking much smaller increases than the Republican has to see. Just in case what I described above was a little convoluted, let me try to make it more concise. Take Camden and St. Louis County yet again as examples. In 2008, McCain received 14,704 votes in Camden County. If the Republican nominee were to increase on that total by 15 percent, he’d get an additional 2,205 votes. If Obama were to receive just a two percent increase on his 2008 totals in St. Louis County, he’d get about 6,663 more votes. Such an example is simplified, of course, because it’s unlikely that the totals for one side go up while the totals for the other side do not, and there are obviously more small counties than there are big urban ones. But the point is to illustrate that the Republicans probably have to experience incredible, probably unheard of gains just to meet the small gains of the Democrats–and in basically every county of the state.

I brought up Obama, in case it wasn’t obvious, because 2012 will be a presidential year, and the campaign will almost certainly be working the state hard. It’ll probably have the resources to find a small but important (when part of the total sum) number of votes. When you consider that McCaskill is likely to outperform Obama in the smaller counties, giving her an even bigger base erodes the advantage the Republican senate candidate might otherwise have in the smaller counties. And with the Republican senate candidate likely being overwhelmed in the urban areas by the Obama campaign turnout efforts, McCaskill has even more of an edge.

Well anyway, this diary is probably long enough. Suffice it to say that as long as it’s not an awful year, McCaskill has, at worst, a fifty-fifty shot of keeping the seat. If she is able to not drop off too much from her totals in the smaller counties from 2006, she should probably win. If she’s able to meet or exceed them, she will [knock on wood] almost certainly win. Whatever the case, I wouldn’t use 2010 as a basis for much of anything. It was a terrible year and saw, as the the title suggests, a complete collapse in Democratic support. Despite what the Republicans might wish, I’m skeptical they will witness this again any time soon.

Note: if my math or comparisons seem off, please let me know. I am almost certain I didn’t make an error, but despite appearances to the contrary, I am not perfect.


SSP Daily Digest: 3/1

FL-Sen: Mike Haridopolos is starting to look like one of those guys who just seems to track muck wherever he goes – or has been. How do you like this for both ridiculous and corrupt? He received an astounding (a) $152K (b) in taxpayer money to (c) write a book that (d) no one would ever read – and that (e) never got published because (f) the manuscript was too shitty to print. Getting that much (a) to do (c) is remarkable in any environment, but particularly when (a) is in the form of (b), and (d) ensures that the whole venture will be a major money-loser. (E) and (f) are really just the punch line – which makes Haridopolos the joke (and Florida taxpayers the serious losers here).

MA-Sen: I get the sense that Deval Patrick’s decision to blab to the National Journal about the candidates he’s talked to who might run for senate must either have been deliberately planned or really unappreciated. Patrick said that 2010 special election candidate Alan Khazei and Newton Mayor Setti Warren told him they are “in, for sure” – leading Warren to tell Wicked Local Newton that he’s merely considering the race and has no timetable for an announcement. Was Patrick fluffing Warren in a helpful way, or was he just cracking out of turn?

MT-Sen, MT-Gov: Was this even a thing? Dave Catanese asked Gov. Brian Schweitzer if he and Sen. Jon Tester might trade places – the term-limited Schweitzer running for senate and the flat-topped Tester running for governor. Schweitzer said nuh-uh.

TN-Sen: I won’t call it a “must-read,” but a strong “should-read” piece in the Tennesean gives some good background on Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who may be one of the strongest (only?) Dem options to take on Sen. Bob Corker in 2012. Dean has a Phil Bredesen-like “moderate” background, has been largely successful as mayor, and also has a very wealthy wife. But the article notes that Dean first has to win re-election as mayor this August (though he’s the favorite) – and more importantly, he hasn’t express any particular interest in running for senate. Maybe a run against freshman Gov. Bill Haslam in 2014 might be a better choice.

VT-Sen: Republican state Auditor Tom Salmon says he’ll decide on whether to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders this week. He has a conference planned for noon Thursday.

IN-Gov: Mike Pence, a very likely gubernatorial candidate, offered quite a bit less than a full-throttled defense of Gov. Scott Walker’s attempts at union busting, perhaps in an effort to avoid a rift with the man he’s hoping to replace, Gov. Mitch Daniels. But given that Daniels’ decision not to follow Walker’s lead engendered a ton of teabagger vitriol, I’m wondering if Pence’s move to go soft here might cause him trouble in a potential GOP primary.

ME-Gov: Speaking of Scott Walker, Gov. Paul LePage, elected with 38% of the vote, says that he, too, will pursue his lifelong dream of destroying collective bargaining rights. LePage may run into static from the GOP legislature, though, before he has the chance to fully transform himself into Kochbot 2.0.

MS-Gov: It’s always a little tricky when someone is referred to as a businessman of some sort, but I’m going to guess that newly-announced Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron Williams, “owner of Pascagoula-based Hazmat Services Inc.,” is a lot closer to the Some Dude end of the spectrum than the zillionaire kapitalist side.

WI-Gov: Speaking of Scott Walker yet again, the RGA has a new ad coming out in support of said governor, but of course, NWOTSOTB. Meanwhile, a fellow who says he did “micro-targeting” for Obama in 2008, Ken Strasma of Strategic Telemetry, has a poll out which he says supports the idea that Walker could be vulnerable to a recall. And through the use of un-revealed “micro-targeting models,” Strasma also thinks that there would be more than enough people willing to sign a petition in each of the eight Republican state senate districts where senators are currently exposed to the legal possibility of a recall.

WA-Gov: Show of hands – does anyone here think Gov. Christine Gregoire will actually seek a third term? Hey, maybe we’re all wrong, but the very fact that she’s even been entertaining the idea has already been a big enough surprise. Anyhow, Gregoire says she’ll decide by “early summer.”

Meanwhile, Democratic King County Executive Dow Constantine, whose name proverbially “came up” last December (see SSP Amazing Daily Digest, Issue #44) as Rep. Jay Inslee was seen to be holding his fire, sounds largely like a “no.” Constantine said he might “at some point be interested in an opportunity,” but “I have on my plate a few matters in King County government and I’m going to remain focused on that this year.” Of course, with Gregoire now fogging in the control tower, everyone else is probably going to be put in a holding pattern.

CA-36: This may not be a huge surprise, but Janice Hahn said that now ex-Rep. Jane Harman was querying her about her future political plans when she was a guest of Harman’s at the State of the Union address in January (going so far as to ask Hahn whether she’d be interested in running for CA-36), then tipped Hahn about her resignation announcement hours before she made it. This helps explain Hahn’s particularly energetic burst out of the gates, but it doesn’t explain – or excuse – Debra Bowen’s anemic start. Two weeks after announcing, Bowen’s website is still nothing more than a splash page with a big “Contribute” button, and I haven’t seen a single announcement of any high-profile endorsements. Does a sitting Secretary of State really have that few friends in high places?

FL-25: When you’ve lost Eric Cantor… the no. 2 Republican in the House was in Miami for a fundraiser, but already-doomed Rep. David Rivera was pointedly asked to stay away. Worse, Cantor said he has “concerns” about Rivera, and worse still, he was seen meeting with former state Rep. Renier Diaz de la Portilla, a possible replacement for Rivera. (Diaz de la Portilla, who served just one term in the state House a decade ago, is the brother of former state Sen. Alex, who was touted as a possible FL-25 candidate last cycle, and current state Sen. Miguel.)

NY-13: Rep. Mike Grimm is obviously doing the sensible thing here, working with Democrats (and somewhat less-insane-than-usual Republicans) to secure funding for government programs that actually matter to New Yorkers. Money for cops = popular! Of course, “the sensible thing” has pissed off local teabaggers, which could prove a problem for Grimm as he seeks re-election.

NY-25: The namejacking anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List is running an ad thanking Ann Marie Buerkle for her vote to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. Kudos to Dave Catanese, who says the size of the buy (which includes online ads) is $75,000, and that the ad itself is expected to run 182 times. It sounds like SBA is also planning to spend another $125K running radio ads in a number of other GOP-held districts: IL-08, IL-14, NH-01, PA-07, and PA-08.

OR-01: Another GOP name has surfaced as a possible challenger to David Wu: State Sen. Bruce Starr says he’s considering a run. I think it would be more interesting to get a sense of which Dems are likely to succeed Wu, though, since odds seem slim that a Republican will hold this seat. But of course, most Democrats aren’t saying much, and that includes DCCC chair Steve Israel. When your own party’s re-election chief says “no comment” about your future, you’re long past the point where you should be stepping aside.

Census: The good folks at the Census Bureau will have redistricting data this week for DE, KS, NE, NC, and WY. In other census news, be very glad that Robert Groves is the director of the bureau and the guy he replaced is long-gone. Steve Murdock told the Houston Chronicle that “it’s basically over for Anglos” in Texas and that it’s a “terrible situation.” Wow.

Crossroads GPS: Karl Rove’s dark money front organization says it’s already spent a million bucks on House race ads this year, which the DCCC “has been unable to come close to matching,” according to The Hill. The article makes reference to the David Brock-Kathleen Kennedy Towsend (oy) group that’s supposed to be the Dem answer to Crossroads, but has anyone heard a peep from “American Bridge” yet?

Dave’s Redistricting App: Dave’s got some new census data for all you mappin’ fools to play with.

Las Vegas Mayor: Diarist atdleft has a good roundup of ads currently in rotation in the Las Vegas mayoral race. If you haven’t been following this one, current mayor Oscar Goodman is term-limited out, and a field including two Dems (Larry Brown and Chris Giunchigliani), one Republican (Victor Chaltiel), and one independent (Goodman’s wife Carol) is vying to replace him. There’s a top-two primary on April 5th and a run-off (if no one gets 50%) on June 7th.

Teabaggers: Even though 84 Republican freshman joined the House this January, just 11 have joined Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus – and the caucus is now actually smaller than it was when it first started. Anyhow, at least a few of these (click the link for the article) are probably sitting in blue enough territory that this decision will cause heartburn for them on the campaign trail. (But see the classic rock-and-hard-place conundrum faced by Mike Grimm in the NY-13 bullet above.)

Twitter: The Fix compiled a list of their favorite Twitterers in all fifty states. I haven’t checked it out yet, though, so I don’t even have an opinion. But enjoy!

Attempting Texas

Now that Dave has uploaded Census data for Texas, I thought I’d give one of the most interesting states this decade a go on his website. There are ups and downs re: the realism of this map. Of the four new seats, I made one new heavily Democratic VRA seat in Dallas-Fort Worth meant to elect an Hispanic (though that % is still under 60), one competitive South Texas seat that is majority but not safely Hispanic (again, under 60%), and overwhelmingly Republican seats in north Houston and — not sure how to describe this region — between Weatherford/Fort Worth in the north and Killeen in the south. As for protecting Republican incumbents, the new GOP Houston seat made it harder for me to help Mike McCaul, whose district barely voted for McCain, and the Hispanic boom in San Antonio can only hurt Quico Canseco (though a better mapmaker than I could have split the difference with Lamar Smith to help Canseco’s reelection chances). But overall, this is a decent map. Take a look below the fold…


RURAL EAST TEXAS: 3 Republicans

District 1 (brown)

Representative: Louie Gohmert (R)

Areas: Tyler, East

Demographics: 70% white

2008 Vote: McCain 69-31

Gohmert stays safe and this seat barely changes.

District 4 (red)

Representative: Ralph Hall (R)

Areas: Rockwall, Texarkana

Demographics: 80% white

2008 Vote: McCain 69-30

Sheds some suburban population but remains similarly situated.

District 8 (lavender)

Representative: Kevin Brady (R)

Areas: Montgomery County, Southeast

Demographics: 80% white

2008 Vote: McCain 74-25

The most densely populated spots in Montgomery County are ceded to the new District 35 in northwest Houston, but this district’s general shape stays the same. It remains among the wealthiest and most Republican seats in the state.

HOUSTON AND SOUTHEAST: 5 Republicans, 3 Democrats


District 2 (green)

Representative: Ted Poe (R)

Areas: Humble, Port Arthur

Demographics: 63% white

2008 Vote: McCain 57-42

Cedes parts of Jefferson County to Ron Paul and northern Harris County to the new District 35.

District 7 (gray)

Representative: John Culberson (R)

Areas: west Houston

Demographics: 67% white

2008 Vote: McCain 57-42

Contracts a bit in area and moves slightly south and east, but stays fairly Republican for near-downtown Houston.

District 9 (turquoise)

Representative: Al Green (D)

Areas: south Houston, north Fort Bend

Demographics: 39% black, 33% Hispanic, 17% white

2008 Vote: Obama 78-22

Surprisingly, I was able to keep black pluralities both here and in District 18 despite the Hispanic population explosion of the last decade.

District 14 (olive)

Representative: Ron Paul (R)

Areas: Galveston, Lake Jackson

Demographics: 65% white

2008 Vote: McCain 63-36

Paul’s district shrinks and becomes even more coastal but stays securely Republican. It still amazes me that a downright libertarian continues to get elected in military-heavy country like southeast Texas.

District 18 (yellow)

Representative: Sheila Jackson Lee (D)

Areas: central Houston

Demographics: 44% black, 34% Hispanic, 17% white

2008 Vote: Obama 80-19

The most Democratic district in Texas remains so, changing only to accommodate population growth.

District 22 (brown)

Representative: Pete Olson (R)

Areas: Sugar Land, Missouri City, Pasadena

Demographics: 57% white (20% Hispanic, 13% Asian – future VRA seat?)

2008 Vote: McCain 58-42

Welcome to the district most likely to become majority-minority during the 2010s. Tom DeLay’s old turf remains Republican enough — slightly more so than the state at large, in fact — but in 2021 we are probably looking at a new VRA district right here.

District 29 (light green)

Representative: Gene Green (D)

Areas: east Houston

Demographics: 69% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 63-37

Green has managed 20 years as an Anglo Congressman for Houston’s Hispanic-majority district, but as the Latino population reaches South Texas levels, can he withstand a primary challenge? Given his seniority, most think so, but GOP mapmakers may try to concentrate Hispanics previously represented by Sheila Jackson Lee or Al Green to mess with him.

District 35 (purple)

Representative: TBD

Areas: northwest Houston, Conroe, south-central

Demographics: 72% white

2008 Vote: McCain 67-33

I made this district too Republican, at the expenses of Mike McCaul, John Culberson, and Ted Poe. A professional gerrymanderer could do better. Regardless, legislators will make a safe GOP seat in north Houston.

DALLAS-FORT WORTH: 7 Republicans, 2 Democrats


District 3 (fuchsia-purple)

Representative: Sam Johnson (R)

Areas: Plano

Demographics: 76% white

2008 Vote: McCain 61-38

Huge growth in the Metroplex suburbs means this district is now confined to Collin County.

District 5 (yellow)

Representative: Jeb Hensarling (R)

Areas: Mesquite, east-central

Demographics: 74% white

2008 Vote: McCain 64-35

I’m not sure if Hensarling still lives here, as Districts 30 and 32 both ate up some white areas of north Dallas, but he would move here if need be as this district is quite solid for a Dallas County Republican.

District 6 (teal)

Representative: Joe Barton (R)

Areas: Arlington, east-central

Demographics: 67% white

2008 Vote: McCain 60-39

The former Energy and Commerce Committee chairman remains quite safe in this meandering Arlington-to-rural-East-Texas seat.

District 12 (blue-gray)

Representative: Kay Granger (R)

Areas: Fort Worth

Demographics: 69% white

2008 Vote: McCain 57-42

Now entirely within Tarrant County, this district loses its rural areas but stays fairly Republican. As the Metroplex trends more Democratic, this may become competitive by 2020.

District 24 (dark purple)

Representative: Kenny Marchant (R)

Areas: Carrollton, Irving, Grapevine

Demographics: 65% white

2008 Vote: McCain 58-41

This fast-growing seat may also become a tossup in the next decade, though it remains affluent, suburban, and decidedly Republican.

District 26 (pink)

Representative: Mike Burgess (R)

Areas: Denton County

Demographics: 81% white

2008 Vote: McCain 66-34

I maintained the odd “dripping” shape of this district; in fact, this is one of the least changed seats in the state (in addition to the whitest).

District 30 (peach)

Representative: Eddie Bernice Johnson (D)

Areas: central and south Dallas

Demographics: 45% black, 28% white, 25% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 79-20

As District 32 moved east, toward Richardson and Garland and away from white-flight Dallas proper, Johnson had to pick up some white areas of north Dallas, though Democratic primaries in the district will still be dominated by African-Americans.

District 32 (orange)

Representative: Pete Sessions (R)

Areas: north Dallas, Garland

Demographics: 62% white

2008 Vote: McCain 55-44

A rapidly diversifying area, this district may be unsalvageable for Republicans in ten years, but for now I did my best to help Sessions (who might not live here) and future area GOPers.

District 36 (gold)

Representative: TBD

Areas: urban Fort Worth-to-Dallas serpent

Demographics: 58% Hispanic, 20% white, 19% black

2008 Vote: Obama 74-25

Republicans really do not have a choice anymore; they must draw a second Democratic vote-sink in the Metroplex, and almost everyone expects it to be a VRA coalition or Hispanic-majority district linking the region’s two primary cities. Low Hispanic turnout might enable a white or black Democrat to win, but any serious primary candidate will need to have ties to the Latino community, at least.

CENTRAL TEXAS: 5 Republicans, 1 Democrat

District 10 (pink)

Representative: Mike McCaul (R)

Areas: northeast Austin, Brazos Valley

Demographics: 63% white

2008 Vote: McCain 50-48

My biggest regret in this map is failing to give McCaul a safe district; he had to lose safe GOP areas of Harris County to enable the creation of a new district around Houston and these were replaced with counties east of Austin that are no more Republican. Again, a more skilled mapmaker can split the difference between this and District 35 to make two safe GOP seats.

District 17 (ash purple/puce)

Representative: Bill Flores (R)

Areas: stretches down to Waco, Temple, College Station

Demographics: 65% white

2008 Vote: McCain 62-37

This once-important district (back when unhinging Chet Edwards was a priority for state Republicans) is now little more than a “leftovers” seat sandwiched between fast-growing seats like the 8th, 10th, and 31st (in addition to the new District 34).

District 25 (salmon pink)

Representative: Lloyd Doggett (D)

Areas: Austin, San Marcos

Demographics: 52% white, 33% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 67-32

Much as Republicans would like to crack Austin’s Democratic base, growing Dem strength in Central Texas is sufficient for them to make a compact, geographically logical seat for Doggett.

District 31 (weak yellow)

Representative: John Carter (R)

Areas: Round Rock, New Braunfels

Demographics: 77% white

2008 Vote: McCain 57-41

Carter’s district had to move south to accommodate the new District 34 and, even then, it contracted considerably in area.

District 34 (green)

Representative: TBD

Areas: Weatherford and Arlington all the way down to Killeen

Demographics: 75% white

2008 Vote: McCain 67-32

Now here’s a classic DeLaymander-style district: it stretches incoherently from the Metroplex in the north down to the heart of Central Texas. In any case, it’s safely Republican, maybe enough so that Carter should be further shored up at its expense.

WEST TEXAS: 3 Republicans

District 11 (lime)

Representative: Mike Conaway (R)

Areas: Midland, San Angelo

Demographics: 65% white

2008 Vote: McCain 75-24

This is actually the least altered district in the state, I believe.

District 13 (light brown)

Representative: Mac Thornberry (R)

Areas: Panhandle, Amarillo

Demographics: 76% white

2008 Vote: McCain 77-22

Actually extends into what used to be Kay Granger land to get enough population.

District 19 (chartreuse)

Representative: Randy Neugebauer (R)

Areas: Lubbock, Abilene

Demographics: 64% white

2008 Vote: McCain 72-28

Now looks slightly less silly on its pinched southern flank.

SAN ANTONIO, EL PASO, & SOUTH TEXAS: 4 Democrats, 3 Republicans, 1 competitive

District 15 (orange)

Representative: Ruben Hinojosa (D)

Areas: Victoria down to the Mexican border

Demographics: 72% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 53-46

The first of the “fajita strip” districts intended to maximize Hispanic strength in the Rio Grande Valley. It could still afford to shed a few Latinos to the new District 33, whose Hispanic majority is less than secure for VRA purposes.

District 16 (green)

Representative: Silvestre Reyes (D)

Areas: El Paso

Demographics: 76% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 65-34

This district has essentially been urban El Paso for all of contemporary Texas history.

District 20 (pink)

Representative: Charlie Gonzalez (D)

Areas: San Antonio

Demographics: 68% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 64-35

Much like the 16th, this is a compact urban seat.

District 21 (brown)

Representative: Lamar Smith (R)

Areas: north San Antonio, Hill Country

Demographics: 68% white

2008 Vote: McCain 64-35

Smith remains safe; maybe too safe. But I’m not sure how to transfer significant numbers of Republicans from his district to Canseco’s without begging for a VRA lawsuit.

District 23 (light green)

Representative: Quico Canseco (R)

Areas: between El Paso and south San Antonio

Demographics: 69% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 57-42

This actually got significantly more Democratic, much to my dismay as someone hoping to craft a realistic GOP map. I suppose I could have kept north San Antonio in the district, but the 21st would have become pretty awkward-looking. Still, Republicans will probably do just that.

District 27 (shiny green)

Representative: Blake Farenthold (R)

Areas: coast down to Brownsville

Demographics: 67% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 52-47

From Farenthold’s perspective, this district is no worse than his current one, but if I were him I’d move into the new District 33 (if he doesn’t already live there), which is significantly whiter and slightly more Republican.

District 28 (mauve)

Representative: Henry Cuellar (D)

Areas: east San Antonio down to Mexican border

Demographics: 73% Hispanic

2008 Vote: Obama 60-40

This is a pear-shaped seat now, with a pinched San Antonio and Seguin top and a robust bottom. Again, I could have diluted its and the 15th’s Hispanic pops to make the 33rd closer to safety from otherwise inevitable lawsuits. But hey, at least Laredo is in one district!

District 33 (periwinkle)

Representative: TBD

Areas: Fort Bend County down to Harlingen

Demographics: 58% Hispanic, 35% white

2008 Vote: McCain 51-49

No one will like this district. It’s ugly, geographically incoherent (Houston exurbs and border towns?), not Hispanic enough to avoid a lawsuit, and politically competitive (likely Democratic in a year like 2008 and Republican in a year like 2010). This seat is an unfortunate product of big population growth both in Fort Bend County and the Rio Grande Valley. Again, mapmakers will almost surely come up with a more elegant solution than this.


Texas has twelve VRA-protected districts in this scenario. As I said, there are areas in which I overconcentrated Republicans and would like to spread them thinner to help potentially endangered GOP incumbents. At other times, my districts are just plain fugly. But in general, the map we see from Texas should vaguely resemble this, with a new Dem VRA seat in Dallas, a new GOP seat in Houston, a new GOP seat in Central, and a new Hispanic VRA seat in South Texas that may lean Democratic, but will not be overwhelmingly so.