Lately there has been a lot of Debate over the number of Democratic Congressional Districts that Democrats could gerrymander out of the state of Michigan if they had complete control (right now they hold the Governorship and State House. They stand a good chance at taking control of the State Senate while the Governor’s race is a tossup). A few people, namely IHateBush, have said that it is possible to succesfully draw a map that would yield 12 Democratic seats and only 2 Republican seats. I’ve been trying for several weeks to draw a 12-2 map, meanwhile protecting endangered incumbents (specifically Schauer) and I’ve determined that a 12-2 map would be far overeaching and in a neutral or Republican leaning year might end up 9-5 or worse. I think the best Michigan Democrats could do is create 11 safe or Democrat leaning districts and 3 strongly Republican districts. I’ve drawn a map that I think does just that, although I still am not entirely confident that we could hold both of my “Thumb” districts in a Republican year. But without further ado, here’s my map.
District 1 (Bart Stupak D): Since this is my home district, and I couldn’t face the specter of Tom Casperson or some other Republican becoming my Congressman when Bart Stupak retires, I’ve gone to pretty great lengths to make this one safer. I added the remainder of Bay County, Isabella County (home to CMU) Clare County, and Roscommon County, all counties that President Obama won. I took out the Republican leaning counties of Charlevoix, Antrim, Crawford, Oscoda, Otsego, and Montmorency. Overall Obama’s performance in this district goes from about 50% to about 53%.
District 2 (Vern Ehlers R) this is probably the most gerrymandered looking of all of my new districts, but it has to be if we are going to have a Democrat leaning district in Western Michigan. It takes in the Dem leaning Counties of Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, Lake, Mason, and Oceana along the Lake Michigan shore, the Strongly Democratic County of Muskegon, and then tentacles into Kent County and picks up the cities of Grand Rapids, Kentwood, East Grand Rapids, and Wyoming. Barack Obama won this district 57.2-41.1 giving it a nice, healthy PVI of D+4.3. Vern Ehlers likely would not be reelected to this district.
District 3 (Fred Upton R + TBD [successor to Pete Hoekstra] R) I’ve combined the old 2nd and 6th districts to form this heavily Republican District. It takes in Ottawa, Allegan, Van Buren, Northern Berrien, and suburban Kent Counties. Whoever succeeds Pete Hoekstra next year would probably be favored in a Primary against Upton, who is somewhat too moderate for this very conservative district.
District 4 (Dave Camp R) another one of my heavily Republican districts, this one takes in some of the rural and conservative Counties in Northern and Central Lower Peninsula, but it is based in Midland and Traverse City (Grand Traverse County) Barack Obama only won 2 counties in this new district, Gratiot and Clinton. Dave Camp’s home in Midland is preserved in the new 4th.
District 5 (Open, leans D) The new 5th district is the one that I would be least confident of us holding in a Republican year, but still in a neutral year it favors us. It has a PVI of about D+2-3 and it includes the Democratic County of Saginaw, about 2/3 of staunchly Democratic Genesee county (minus the city of flint) the Dem leaning Shiawassee County, sparsely populated Republican Counties in “the Thumb” and Tossup St. Clair County. Luckily former Democratic Congressman James Barcia’s home in Bay City is not in this district, for we really could get a more progressive Congressperson from this district. (State Sen. John Gleason, perhaps?)
District 6 (Mark Schauer D) I increased the Democratic performance in this district by drawing strongly Democratic Kalamazoo County out of Upton’s district and into this one. I also added tossup county Cass and the Democrat leaning portions of Berrien County. I took out Jackson and Lenawee County as well as the portion of Washtenaw that was in this district.
District 7 (Open, Democrat) It’s high time that Lansing is put into a Democratic district again, and that’s just what I’ve done. This new district is L shaped and contains Ingham, Jackson, Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties. Barack Obama won all these counties, except Hillsdale. Obama won the district 56.4-41.9 giving it a 2008 PVI of D+3.5. If I had to guess what Democrat might win this district, I’d say State Rep. Barb Byrum (daughter of 2000 candidate Diane Byrum), State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (distinction of being the “most liberal” Senator), or Lansing mayor and Former state Senator Virg Bernero.
District 8 (Gary Peters D) I’ve made this one a bit more Democratic by removing the cities of Rochester and Troy while adding Berkley, Southfield, and the rest of Waterford Township. Removing the city of Troy also removes a potential future challenger to Peters, State Rep. Marty Knollenberg (son of Joe Knollenberg). This district should be safe for Peters or a future Democrat if he runs for higher office.
District 9 (Candice Miller R + Dale Kildee D) In 2002, Republicans drew David Bonior’s (D) Congressional District http://factfinder.census.gov/s… much more Republican, forcing him to retire or face certain defeat at the hands of their preffered candidate, Secretary of State Candice Miller. It’s payback time. I’ve drawn the most Democratic parts of Macomb County, including Miller’s home, into a district with exurban Republican Lapeer County, as well as the 90-10 Obama city of Flint, and other staunchly Democratic portions of Genesse County. This includes Dale Kildee’s home, but he’ll be in his eightees by 2012 so he probably won’t be the one running against Miller, if Miller runs at all.
District 10 (Mike Rogers R) The last Republican district that I drew, the 10th includes fast growing and largely Republican Livingston County (home to Mike Rogers), Northern and Western Oakland County, and Shelby township in Macomb County. I considered drawing Livonia (Thad McCotter’s home) into this district as well, but I don’t want there to be any chance that he returns to Congress
District 11 (Sander Levin D) This distric largely reverts to it’s pre-2002 boundaries. It now would contain all of Sterling Heights, Warren, Troy, Clawson, and Royal Oak, along with the most Democratic south Oakland Suburbs. This district would be safe for Levin’s successor (hopefully state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton).
District 12 (Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrict D) Doesn’t change much except that it moves farther south and includes all of Dearborn. It’s still majority African American and very strongly Democrat. The only problem with the configuration of this district is that John Dingell lives in Dearborn. If he is still serving in 2012 (which I doubt) a tendril can be drawn from the 14th District to pick up his home so that he wouldn’t be drawn into Kilpatrick’s district.
District 13 (John Conyers D + Thad McCotter R) Contains all of Northern Detroit and also reaches all the was west to include Redford Township, Livonia, Northville and Plymouth. There’s no way Thad McCotter could win this majority African American Detroit District. Safe for Conyers and his successors.
District 14 (Open D) This one looks very much like Lynn River’s old district http://factfinder.census.gov/l… and would probably elect an Ann Arbor Democrat (State Sen. Liz Brater, fmr. State Rep. Chris Kolb, who would be the first openly gay congressman from Michigan, or maybe even Rivers if she wants to get back into politics.) Also includes a large portion of Suburban Wayne County taking in the Democratic cities of Canton and Westland. If John Dingell is still serving and runs for re-election in 2012, then a tendril will have to be drawn to include his home in Dearborn, but when he finally retires it will probably elect someone more progressive. Obama won this district 64.5-32.6.
What does everyone think of my map? Suggestions, corrections, questions, comments? I want to hear them.