The most likely redistricting scenario for 2010 is one in which Democrats control the House, Senate and Governor’s office in Colorado. The Governor’s office is the only one where there seems like there might be a problem. Mostly because Bill Ritter is no lock for re-election.
But the Democrats are in pretty solid (though not impregnable) control of the legislative branch at this point. They’re up 38-27 in the CO House and up 21-14 in the Senate. Thanks to partisan battlin’, redistricting last time around was, as the kids say, a hot mess.
Presumably, this time should be smoother and as long as the Democrats don’t do any overly-obvious gerrymandering that risks a political backlash, they’ll be fine. I would think that no hugely obvious changes in the composition of the delegation, currently 5-2 in favor of Dems, would do the trick on that front, even if they subtly manipulate the districts to their advantage. A gentle gerrymander, if you will….follow along for that!
CD-1 Diana DeGette (D) – Dark Blue
Her district shifts very slightly around the periphery, but largely remains the same–Denver-centric and safely Democratic, as one would expect for the dean of the delegation. For the record, Colorado has quite a young delegation…DeGette was elected in 1996, but John Salazar, the next most experienced, was only elected in 2004.
CD-2 Jared Polis (D) – Green
His district loses its last bits of Weld County and its liberal ski towns as it shifts south and grabs Golden, Wheat Ridge and the rest of Arvada. It’s slightly more conservative, perhaps, but not by too much–its liberal Boulder center pushes left on the suburban areas, which aren’t exactly the most conservative parts of the Denver suburbs anyway. The moderately liberal Polis should be fine, and it’s a safely Democratic seat regardless.
CD-3 John Salazar (D) – purple
Adds: Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek, Lake, Chafee
Loses: Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Custer, Otero, a bit of Mesa County
How to shore up a district that’s basically totally rural without dipping into the votes of the major cities on the Front Range? Two words: ski towns. The new district drops some ranching counties on the periphery while adding overwhelmingly liberal ski-centric counties.
DATA FREAKOUT ALERT!
3rd District adds these counties:
Pitkin: 74-25 Obama (15,000)
Summit: 66-33 Obama (23,500)
Lake: 62-36 Obama (8,000)
Eagle: 61-38 Obama (42,500)
Gilpin: 59-38 Obama (5,150)
Clear Creek: 58-40 Obama (10,000)
Chaffee: tie (16,000)
3rd District loses these counties:
Moffat 70-27 McCain (13,000)
Rio Blanco 77-21 McCain (6,000)
Jackson 68-30 McCain (1,500)
Custer 63-35 McCain (3,500)
Otero 55-44 McCain (20,000)
Garfield tie (44,000)
It’s over 100,000 people that will be magically transformed from rather Republican voters into heavily Democratic ones in this district. That should be enough to swing the PVI a good 5 points toward the blue, no? Still not hugely Democratic, but significantly more so.
CD-4 Betsy Markey (D) – Red
Adds: Grand, Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, the rest of Weld County, and a bit more of Boulder County.
Loses: Everything east of Weld County (all of eastern CO, basically)
Markey smashed Marilyn Musgrave by racking up votes in Larimer and Weld counties which overwhelmed the heavily-Republican rural vote (which was about 10%-ish of the district). It’s the same principle in her new district, but with fewer to overwhelm. Plus, the addition of a few more competitive suburban Denver & Boulder voters should anchor it even more firmly. Finally, one of her rural counties is Routt County (Steamboat Springs–awesome ski town!), which went 63-36 for Obama and would be one of her most populous rural counties. So her new district is still swing-ish, but should be somewhat safer.
CD-5 Doug Lamborn (R) – Yellow
Adds Custer, Crowley, Otero counties
Loses Chaffee, Lake and Park
Doug will be fine with this–trading three centrist counties for three conservative ones, plus keeping his Colorado Springs base? What’s not to like for him…and Republicans?
CD-6 Mike Coffman (R) – Turquoise
Gains: Some more of Jefferson County, most of rural eastern Colorado that was formerly Markey’s
Loses: most of Arapahoe
Assuming Mike can survive primary challenges, he should be fine in this safely Republican seat. His seat will change a lot in 2012 under this map, but Republicans should be fans of its new configuration, which makes it well-nigh impossible for Democrats to overcome their registration advantages.
CD-7 Ed Perlmutter (D) – Gray
It’s a similar district in terms of demographics, but it shifts east. Perlmutter should be fine here, and picks up all the remaining fast-growing suburban areas east of Denver. Now about two-thirds white (with 6% Af-Am., 3% Asian, 18% Latin), it’s the second most diverse district after the central-Denver-centric 1st.
There you have it. Three fairly liberal Dem seats (1, 2, 7), two fairly Dem seats (3, 4) districts and two safely Republican ones (5, 6). A gentle gerrymander, if you will.
Johnny Longtorso’s map has similar ideas to this one, and for the record I think he’s an ace redistricter, but I think mine fixes a crucial problem–shoring up Salazar’s district so that a less conservative Democrat could win it. He makes Markey safer than I do, though. So if you want more Colorado redistricting 2010 action, check it out: