Virginia fair maps, Congress, State Senate and State House

With all the talk by Virginia Gov Bob McDonnell about fair redistricting, I thought it would be interesting to make a map that is actually fair. However, instead of just doing a congressional map, I did a State House and State Senate map as well. Do to the fact that it is 150 districts, I will not be giving information on each like i usually do. Instead, i just did a count and classified each district. Any district with less than 45% Obama is Safe R, 45-49.9 is Likely R, 50-53.9 is Lean R, 54-56 is Toss-Up, 56.1-59.9 is Lean D, 60-64.9 is Likely D, 65 and up is Safe D.

First up, the plan for the Congressional seats.

3 Safe R, 3 Likely R, 1 Toss Up, 2 Lean D, 2 Safe D.

That would be 3 Probably R, 2 Probably D, and 3 Competitive seats.

State Senate Plan

15 Safe R, 3 Likely R, 5 Lean R, 4 Toss-Ups, 2 Lean D, 7 Likely D, 4 Safe D.

That would be 18 Probably Republican, 11 Probably Democrat, and 11 Competitive.

State House

31 Safe R, 16 Likely R, 8 Lean R, 9 Toss-Ups, 10 Lean D, 12 Likely D, 14 Safe D.

47 Probably Republican, 26 Probably D, 27 Competitive.

My initial reaction was one of surprise, as I thought the seat count would be more even. But as I thought about it, Virginia was closer than the nation as a whole, so if we use the nation as a whole as the way to determine how safe a district is, we of course get this result. If you assume 08 is closer to the truth, dems would win almost all of the “competitive” districts. If we assume it is more like 2010, than those would go to republicans. If you want more info on any districts or VRA or any of that good stuff, lemme know.

Virginia State Senate Map

As has been mentioned repeatedly here on SSP, Virginia redistricting will apparently be done through a deal where in exchange for an incumbent protection map for an 8-3 in-favor-of-Republicans Congressional delegation and allowing the GOP-led House of Delegates (HoD) to draw its own map, the Democratic State Senate will get to draw its own map to protect its slight 22-18 advantage. While the circumstances of this deal may change if the Department of Justice does indeed force Virginia to have a second minority-majority district (read: African-American) in the southeast part of the state, for the time being this deal is the basis for redistricting.

Due to the off-year nature of elections in Virginia, it is more difficult to predict turnout and momentum, particularly with the 2011 election coming up in November affecting all 40 Senate seats and the 100 seats in the HoD. While the 2009 election had the governor’s race at the top of the ticket, it did not impact the State Senate because its seats are elected in non-gubernatorial years. Considering the disastrous performance of the Democratic candidates on top of the ticket which contributed to the loss of five Democratic seats in the HoD, we can be thankful that this is the case. Otherwise, the GOP would likely have taken control of the State Senate in addition to the governorship and thus controlled the entire redistricting process.

With all of this in mind, I have been formulating a State Senate map that both protects the Democratic majority and gives it a chance to increase its lead given the right circumstances. In doing so, I’ve attempted to not draw GOP incumbents out of their districts because of how this would likely engender resentment and could upset the redistricting deal. I’ve also tried to draw realistic districts though my map is certainly a gerrymander – however, based on the previous State Senate map, I don’t think it’s any worse in terms of compactness or ignoring communities of common interest. Additionally, I preserved all black majority-minority districts in the Tidewater and around Richmond, as well as the same number of white plurality districts in Northern Virginia (NoVA). In reviewing the new districts I drew, I will refer to their old Dem-GOP and Obama-McCain numbers based on an attempted sketch that I made of the current districts on Dave’s Redistricting App. I have also kept every district’s population total inside of 1,000 from the ideal number. The final result of my efforts is this map, which creates a good chance for a 24-16 Democratic edge after 2011 (if everything goes according to plan):


Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to draw my home town of Harrisonburg into a Democratic district, but you can’t win them all. Anyway, details on my map are after the jump.

We’ll begin with the districts from the western side of Virginia. Here’s a map that stretches from  Southwest Virginia (SWVA) north into the Shenandoah Valley and east into what is known as Southside Virginia. I’ll discuss districts 40, 38, 22, 21, 19, and 23 here.


VA-40 (Brown) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

In its current form, this district is one of the most Republican districts in Virginia. However, on my map it is now the most GOP-heavy based on 2008 numbers. This ought to please William Wampler, Jr., who represents this district.

Before – Dem average: 38.1%,  Obama: 33.2%

After – Dem average 37.1%, Obama 32.9%, Race: 94.2% W, 2.4% B, 2% H

VA-38 (Aquamarine or Light Blue) – DEM Incumbent, Likely DEM with Incumbent and Likely GOP otherwise

The Democratic representation in this district is a holdover from the days when coal unions still held more power and plenty of Southern and Appalachian Democrats were still consistent voters for the party. Phil Puckett, the incumbent here, took office in 198 and went unopposed in 2007. He ran unsuccessfully for the Lieutenant Governor’s nomination in 2005. As a conservative Democrat who Johnny Longtorso compared in his recent diary on the State Senate to Bobby Bright, Puckett is the only kind of Dem who can hold this district. Luckily, he’s only 63 and could probably hold this district for a while longer. I am confident that the day he retires, the district will fall into Republican hands. For that reason and the fact that there weren’t exactly many Democratic areas to extend the district into, I didn’t really alter the complexion of the district very much. We can see the 2008 shift in Appalachian voters in the numbers:

Before – Dem avg.: 46.5%, Obama: 39.8%

After – Dem avg.: 46.7%, Obama: 39.5%, Race: 93.7% W, 3.7% B, 1% H

VA-22 (Navy Blue) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

This district was extended down into the southwest some while losing Radford, a town with college students in it and therefore more blue. However, everything else about this district is red except the color I gave it on the map. It incorporates the city of Salem which is famous for its appearance in the movie Borat where he’s at the rodeo and sings the national anthem incorrectly. Yeah, it’s a conservative area. Its northeastern edge contains half of Botetourt County, which is where the incumbent, Ralph K. Smith, lives. Hopefully, he lives in the western half of the county that’s still in this district.

Before – Dem avg.: 40.2%, Obama: 39.1%

After – Dem avg.: 39.7%, Obama: 37.9%, Race: 91.7%, 3.7% B, 1.7% H, 1.4% A

VA-21 (Chocolate) – DEM Incumbent, Lean/Likely DEM

Originally, I extended Phil Puckett’s district over to Radford to attempt to pick up more Dem voters. However, I realized that was something of a dummymander so instead I included Radford in the new VA-21 which joins the other college town of Blacksburg, where Virginia Tech is located, in the southern part of the district. The most important Dem source of votes is the city of Roanoke, which is entirely in this district, and is the largest city in western Virginia, and is where incumbent John Edwards lives.

Before – Dem avg.: 54.2%, Obama: 56.2%

After – Dem avg.: 54.7%, Obama: 57.4%, Race: 74% W, 15.9% B, 4.1% H, 3.7% A

VA-23 (Teal) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

This district was mostly unaltered, though it became slightly more Democratic. However, it is still solidly red for incumbent Steve Newman. It’s home of Lynchburg, where Liberty University is, so I guess that’s appropriate.

Before – Dem avg.: 38.1%, Obama: 37%

After – Dem avg.: 40.9%, Obama: 39.3%, Race: 78.8% W, 15.7% B, 2.1% H, 1.4% A

VA-19 (Lime Green) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

Fresh incumbent William Stanley took over this district after Robert Hurt defeated Congressman Tom Perriello in the 2010 election for the Virginia 5th Congressional District. However, the 19th has been greatly altered, losing all of Danville and part of Pittsylvania County while adding the rest of Campbell County and parts of Carroll, Floyd, Henry, and all of Patrick counties. What’s left is a redder district:

Before – Dem avg.: 41.3%, Obama: 41.6%

After – Dem avg.: 36.6%, Obama: 34.1%, Race: 85.2% W, 10.5% B, 2.2% H

Sticking with the Southside area, we’ll move along the southern border of the state towards Richmond and the Tidewater. Here’s a picture of the area, and I will talk about districts 20 and 15:


VA-20 (Gray) – Dem Incumbent, Safe DEM with Incumbent, Lean DEM/Toss-up otherwise

Roscoe Reynolds has represented this district since winning a special election to replace then-Democrat and later everyone’s favorite “blame ‘Anchor babies’ for all of America’s problems” Congressman Virgil Goode. He’s a Blue Dog but not too far to the right. His district originally went over to the city of Galax and into SWVA. I have shifted it towards the center, grabbing many heavily African-American areas and the Dem-leaning city of Danville to join Reynold’s hometown Martinsville. Considering he won with over 60% of the vote in a district where Obama got 40%, I’m confident he can hold the bluer district I’ve built.

Before – Dem avg.: 42.5%, Obama: 40%

After – Dem avg.: 50.3%, Obama: 52.7%, 57.7% W, 37.2% B, 3% H

VA-15 (Gold) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

VA-20 stole major blue areas from VA-15, and in the meantime, VA-15 became both redder and the largest district in the state. Incumbent Frank Ruff, who lives in Clarksville, right at both the border of Virginia and North Carolina and where the VA-15 meets VA-20, should be pleased with it.

Before – Dem avg.: 44.9%, Obama: 46.9%

After – Dem avg.: 43.2%, Obama: 45%, Race: 66.4% W, 29% B, 2.3% H

Continuing east, we will now discuss the Richmond area. We’ll discuss districts 12, 11, 10, 9, and 16. Here’s a map:


VA-12 (Light Blue) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

This district used to contain a small part of Richmond but no more. The growth in Henrico County guaranteed that the district would have to shift boundaries and it has. Former GOP Majority Leader, Walter Stosch, represents this district, and while he’s getting up in years, I’m sure he’ll be fine with this district.

Before – Dem avg.: 41.4%, Obama: 45.2%

After – Dem avg.: 40.5%, Obama: 43.7%, Race: 72.8% W, 12.2% B, 4.3% H, 8.4% A

VA-11 (Chartreuse) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

Outside of NoVA, few areas of the state had larger growth than Chesterfield County. This created an opportunity to shrink VA-10 to make it more Democratic while leaving VA-11 with most of the redder areas. VA-11 stretches into the GOP stronghold city of Colonial Heights and stretches into Powhatan County in the west to create one of the reddest districts on this new map.

Before – Dem avg.: 42.6%, Obama: 47.2%

After – Dem avg.: 35.8%, Obama: 38.5%, Race: 75% W, 15.5% B, 4.4% H, 2.8% A

VA-10 (Pink) – GOP Incumbent, Lean DEM, DEM PICK-UP +1

VA-10 was reduced in geographic scope more than any other district on the map from its original form as far as I can tell, becoming perhaps one-third of its previous size due to the large growth in Chesterfield County. By slightly increasing the parts of Richmond that are in the district and by putting all of the Dem-leaning areas of Chesterfield County in the district, I’ve created the first real Dem pick-up opportunity without drawing out the incumbent, John Watkins, who lives in Midlothian which remains in the district.

Before – Dem avg.: 41%, Obama: 43.2%

After – Dem avg.: 53.3%, Obama: 58.3%, Race: 63.4% W, 24.4% B, 6.7% H, 3.2% A

VA-9 (Navy Blue) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

The first majority-minority district to discuss, VA-9 did not change much, holding onto a part of Richmond and all of Charles City County while only adding a small part of Henrico to leave the county in only two districts and a tiny part of New Kent County for population reasons. It remains a 50%+1 black district.

Before – Dem avg.: 73.3%, Obama: 78%

After – Dem avg.: 68.4%, Obama: 73.9%, 34% W, 56.4% B, 4.1% H, 2.6% A

VA-16 (Lime Green) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

Another majority-minority district, the VA-16 incorporates parts of Richmond and Chesterfield County while having all of Prince George and African-American-heavy Petersburg and Hopewell.

Before – Dem avg.: 67.1%, Obama: 73.9%

After – Dem avg.: 62.4%, Obama: 70.5%, Race: 35.1% W, 51.7% B, 9.2% H, 1.6% A

VA-18 (White, picture below) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

Moving on to the Tidewater area, I’ll first give us a picture of the most gerrymandered district on this map, VA-18, which was drawn for VRA reasons originally. It has been slightly shifted east but remains an awkward construction whose sole purpose is to create a 50%+1 black district stretching from eastern Southside to Portsmouth in the Tidewater.


The statistics for VA-18:

Before – Dem avg.: 64.9%, Obama: 67.9%

After – Dem avg.: 61.6%, Obama: 65%, Race: 41.2% W, 52.4% B, 2.8% H, 1.2% A

VA-1 (Royal Blue, picture below) – DEM Incumbent, Lean DEM

Right above VA-18 is VA-1, which used to include the city of Poqouson to the east along with Newport News and parts of Hampton. Now it runs down into where VA-13 used to be (I’ll get that to that momentarily), taking in sections of Southampton and Isle of Wight counties and all of Surry and Sussex. At the same time, it stretches up to take in the college town of Williamsburg and the Dem-leaning areas right around it in James City County and southern York County. As incumbent John Miller lives in Newport News, most of the city is located in VA-1 but the part of Hampton that was in it has been removed.


As I said a moment ago, VA-13 was once located in this area, running from Hopewell, through Suffolk and into part of Portsmouth. However, NoVA clearly needed another district somewhere and this seemed like an appropriate district to ax as its incumbent is 75-year old Fred Quayle, who while powerful, could easily be close to retirement. He apparently teaches at Old Dominion University and could be coaxed into spending his time doing that for his remaining years. Remember, the Dems get to draw this map, and doing it this way certainly helps Miller, whose district had a GOP-majority average.

Before – Dem avg.: 43.8%, Obama: 47.1%

After – Dem avg.: 50.7%, Obama 55.7%, Race: 57.1% W, 30.4% B, 6.3% H, 2.8% A

Now, for the rest of the Tidewater districts. We’ll cover districts 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 14 here:


And a further zoom in:


VA-2 (Green) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

VA-2 is home to incumbent Mamie Locke, who lives in Hampton, and the district is another majority-minority one. This district was not greatly altered from its original form, just picking up some GOP and less-blue parts of Newport News to help out VA-1.

Before – Dem avg.: 68.3%, Obama: 73.7%

After – Dem avg.: 64.6%, Obama: 69.8%, Race: 38.2% W, 51.2% B, 4.9% H, 2.2% A

VA-5 (Yellow) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

Another majority-minority district, VA-5 is represented by Yvonne Miller of Norfolk, who ranks 4th overall in seniority in the Senate, and chairs the Transportation committee. Needless to say, her district is very safe. While it originally included a small part of Virginia Beach, it instead has part of Portsmouth now to accompany its sections in Norfolk and Chesapeake, where it dips down to take in the heavily African-American areas of that city.

Before – Dem avg.: 72.3%, Obama: 77.4%

After – Dem avg.: 70.7%, Obama: 75.5, Race: 37.1% W, 51.1% B, 5.7% H, 2.9% A

VA-6 (Teal) – DEM Incumbent, Lean DEM

Another swing district that needed to be aided. Originally, VA-6, which includes the entire Eastern Shore, crossed the Chesapeake Bay and included Mathews County (now in VA-3) while also jutting down into Norfolk, where incumbent Ralph Northam lives, and Virginia Beach. However, the district has been shifted to remove the very red Mathews Co., and now incorporates the eastern half of Hampton city while removing some redder areas of Norfolk from it. Hopefully, Northam lives in the part of Norfolk in the district. If not, it could be altered slightly without affecting its numbers much to do so.

Before – Dem avg.: 50.5%, Obama: 53.5%

After – Dem avg.: 53.8%, Obama: 57.7%, Race: 55.7% W, 30.6% B, 7.4% H, 2.8% A

VA-7 (Orange) – GOP Incumbent, Lean DEM/Toss-up, DEM PICK-UP +1

Drawn to include only Virginia Beach still, this district has been designed to take in all the Dem-leaning and Dem-heavy parts of the biggest city in Virginia. In doing this, the diverse district has become a toss-up or possible Democratic pick-up, and given the shifting demographics here, it should continue moving in a blue direction. It’s not clear if the incumbent, Frank Wagner, lives in this part of Virginia Beach, but I’m going to guess he does.

Before – Dem avg.: 46.3%, Obama: 49.6%

After – Dem avg.: 51.4%, Obama: 56.4%, Race: 55.5% W, 24.6% B, 7.9% H, 7.7% A

VA-8 (Slate Blue) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

VA-8 takes up most of the rest of Virginia Beach, particularly the wealthiest areas and the areas to the east, south, and southwest of the Naval Air Station Oceana with a large military presence.

Before – Dem avg.: 42.7%, Obama: 44.5%

After – Dem avg.: 41%, Obama: 40.7%, Race: 76.5% W, 10.3% B, 5.1% H, 5% A

VA-14 (Olive Green) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

This district stretches into the edge of Virginia Beach, contains almost all of Chesapeake as well as the southern half of Suffolk, and a little part of Isle of Wight County. It is possible that if the aforementioned Fred Quayle wants to run again, he could move a little south from where (I’m assuming based on the old VA-13 and Wikipedia) he lives in upper Suffolk down into VA-14 and challenge incumbent Harry Blevins. It’s possible that VA-14 could be drawn to include both, forcing a primary.

Before – Dem avg.: 40.7%, Obama: 41.9%

After – Dem avg.: 40.1%, Obama: 39.7%, Race: 69.9% W, 20.2% B, 4.1% H, 2.9% A

Moving north in the direction of the Northern Neck region, we have VA-3 and 28.


VA-3 (Purple) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

Home to Minority Leader Tommy Norment, this district clearly had to protected in a sense, and definitely needed to include his home in James City County. Most of the county is still in this district so hopefully he doesn’t live right next to Williamsburg. By stealing Williamsburg and the rest of Newport News for VA-1, the district had to move north. At the same time, by way of water contiguity I was able to include the incredibly red city of Poqouson in the district as well, helping out VA-1 as well.

Before – Dem avg.: 44.6%, Obama: 46.4%

After – Dem avg.: 36.5%, Obama: 35.6%, Race: 81.9% W, 10% B, 3% H, 2.4% A

VA-28 (White) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

You can see on other maps on here that VA-28 stretches up around Fredericksburg into Stafford and Spotsylvania Counties. However, most of the district covers the rest of the Northern Neck area. While not unbelievably red, it would take a conservative Democrat to have a chance here.

Before – Dem avg.: 43.2%, Obama: 46.1%

After – Dem avg.: 42.3%, Obama: 44.3%, Race: 71.2% W, 21.2% B, 4% H, 1.2% A

The rest of the area above Southside and moving towards NoVA needs to be covered – districts 24, 25, 26, 27, 4, and 13-so here’s a picture:


VA-24 (Purple) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

Bland, conservative district where part of my family is from, represented by Emmett Hanger. He’s a staunch conservative but willing enough to talk to the other side that he faced a major primary challenge in 2007, holding on in a close one.

Before – Dem avg.: 36.4%, Obama: 37.7%

After – Dem avg.: 33.6%, Obama: 35.1%, Race: 89.9% W, 4.7% B, 3.3% H

VA-25 (Pink) – DEM Incumbent, Likely DEM

The district of failed 2009 gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, the district has been altered slightly to keep Deeds’ home of Bath County in the western part but loses trending-red Alleghany and Covington city within it. Lexington has been added from VA-24 with its college population, and the district now fully encompasses Albemarle County, which is generally trending blue, and of course the best little city on Earth, Charlottesville (UVA graduate so I’m biased).

Before – Dem avg.: 56.9%, Obama: 59.3%

After – Dem avg.: 56.7%, Obama: 59.5%, Race: 77.8% W, 11.4% B, 4.5% H, 3.9% A

VA-26 (Gray) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

The only notable thing about this district is that it had to keep Harrisonburg to appease incumbent Mark Obenshain. I’m from Harrisonburg originally and it is painful to be have my hometown represented by one of the probably two most conservative members of the Senate. If you’re a Republican and you want a crazy bill to be sponsored, call up Mr. Obenshain. He’s a nice guy but definitely not politically desirable in any way.

Before – Dem avg.: 37.6%, Obama: 41.5%

After – Dem avg.: 36.8%, Obama: 40.7%, Race: 85% W, 3.6% B, 8.1% H, 1.5% A

VA-27 (Spring Green) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

Another fairly solid GOP district that dips into part of Prince William County to take in some of the red areas still on the outer part of that county in NoVA.

Before – Dem avg.: 41.1%, Obama: 43.3%

After – Dem avg.: 39.9%, Obama: 42.2%, Race: 81.1% W, 9% B, 5.6% H, 1.7% A

VA-4 (Red) – GOP Incumbent, Safe GOP

And yet another solid GOP district.

Before – Dem avg.: 38.3%, Obama: 39.8%

After – Dem avg.: 38.7%, Obama: 40.7%, Race: 78.3% W, 12.9% B, 4.9% H, 1.4% A

VA-13 (Purplish Pink) – Open Seat, Likely GOP (for now)

Having more or less seen a doubling of its total population in the last ten years, Loudon County presents a great challenge to redistricting. The eastern half of the county is more liberal and more urban, and is where most of the growth has occurred. However, growth has happened everywhere in the county to some degree, with the western and northern parts of the county still more GOP-flavored. Interestingly, the southwest and middle of the southern part of the county are bluer. Anyway, by getting rid of VA-13 in the Tidewater, I was able to create a new district in NoVA that stretches from Loudon and Prince William Counties over to Winchester at the top of the Shenandoah Valley. While this district is currently more Republican, it is possible that continued growth in Loudon could make the district more and more competitive. It is my hope that the district will eventually become a swing district where the Dems can make a play; in a sense, it is something of an anti-dummymander.

Before – old district in the Tidewater

After – Dem avg.: 43.5%, Obama: 46.5%, Race: 73.2% W, 7.9% B, 9.1% H, 6.7% A

Before moving into NoVA directly, we need to cover VA-17:


VA-17 (Black) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM (considering he has been in office awhile)

This district may not be realistic because of its narrowness. However, the current VA-17 has a Democratic incumbent, Edd Houck, in a fairly red district who needs to have much better numbers. Thus, the new district includes all of Fredericksburg now, and stretches from its bottom in Spotsylvania, VA (where Houck lives), to its top in Prince William County. This drastically alters the old district Houck was in, which President Obama lost by 10 points and was 75% white or so, to a new one that is not far away from being simply white-plurality and Obama won by 13 points.

Before – Dem avg.: 42.5%, Obama: 45.5%

After – Dem avg.: 51%, Obama: 56.5%, Race: 55.1% W, 24.2% B, 12.5% H, 4.2% A

Northern Virginia is the last task at hand. Currently, every district in this region is held by a Democrat, so the project is very much to shore up some districts.


The southern half of NoVA:


The northern half of NoVA:


VA-29 (Sea Green) – DEM Incumbent/Possibly Open, Lean/Likely DEM

Chuck Colgan, the incumbent, is the Senate Pro Tempore, and is 84 years old. He wanted to retire before the 2007 election but Governor Tim Kaine coaxed him to hang around. It seems likely that he is waiting to see what his district looks like before announcing his retirement. Via Johnny Longtorso, the former mayor of Manassas, a popular Republican, is probably waiting for him to retire. Given this information, I have redrawn VA-29, which had way too many people due to the explosive growth in Prince William County, to avoid keeping Manassas and Manassas Park. It may be a stretch (mainly because of what VA-34 looks like) but I thought I would give it a shot. By the way, this district becomes a majority-minority district with a white plurality.

Before – Dem avg.: 46.7%, Obama: 52.4%

After – Dem avg.: 51.2%, Obama: 58%, Race: 47% W, 19.4% B, 21.7% H, 8% A

VA-30 (Gray) – Open, Safe DEM

Given that incumbent Patsy Ticer has announced that she will not run for another term, this district ought to see heavy competition for the Democratic nod considering it is essentially a sure-thing for Democrats. So really, you could draw this district in a variety of ways because she’s out. I drew it to not include Alexandria, which it had before, and to only include Arlington and Fairfax Counties. It also remains a slightly minority-majority district with a white plurality.

Before – Dem avg.: 67.7%, Obama: 69.5%

After – Dem avg.: 65.8%, Obama: 66.9%, Race: 49.7% W, 9.5% B, 24.6% H, 13.2% A

VA-31 (Khaki) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

Another relative given for the Democrats, I drew Falls Church out of this district, which makes it less Democratic but still pretty solidly blue.

Before – Dem avg.: 68.4%, Obama: 68.8%

After – Dem avg.: 61.2%, Obama: 62.1%, Race: 70.2% W, 4.6% B, 9% H, 13% A

VA-32 (Orange Red) – DEM Incumbent, Likely DEM

This district snakes into Fairfax to pick up some bluer areas closer to Arlington while taking up part of Loudon County. It’s possible that this district would need to be redrawn because I have no clue where in Fairfax incumbent Janet Howell lives. Then again, a couple could probably switch districts.

Before – Dem avg.: 57.1%, Obama: 60.2%

After – Dem avg.: 54.3%, Obama: 58.7%, Race: 55.4% W, 7.8% B, 10.2% H, 22.8% A

VA-33 (Royal Blue) – DEM Incumbent, Likely DEM

With its new shape, this district becomes more solidly blue, shoring up incumbent Mark Herring’s position.

Before – Dem avg.: 49.6%, Obama: 55.4%

After – Dem avg.: 51.3%, Obama: 57.2%, Race: 57.2% W, 7.8% B, 18.6% H, 13% A

VA-34 (Green) – DEM Incumbent, Likely DEM

Chap Petersen, who represents this district, is probably one of the most well-known State Senators in Virginia and is probably bound for higher office some day. He lives in Fairfax City, and this district has been drawn to take that in and snake out to pick up the cities of Manassas and Manassas City. In the process, it becomes a majority-minority district with a white plurality.

Before – Dem avg.: 54.4%, Obama: 57.4%

After – Dem avg.: 51.6%, Obama: 58.5%, Race: 47.9% W, 10.5% B, 22.6% H, 15.5% A

VA-35 (Purple) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw occupies this seat, meaning that it will probably stay very blue. It stretches from the western part of Alexandria around the VA-30 to take in Falls Church, remaining a majority-minority district with a white plurality.

Before – Dem avg.: 61.8%, Obama: 65.3%

After – Dem avg.: 63.6%, Obama: 66.9%, Race: 46.8% W, 15.4% B, 20.1% H, 14.5% A

VA-36 (Gold) – DEM Incumbent, Likely DEM

This district loses Dem-heavy areas to VA-17 and VA-39, but is still pretty solidly blue.

Before – Dem avg.: 57.8%, Obama: 63.9%

After – Dem avg.: 53.9%, Obama: 58.5%, Race: 51.6% W, 16.4% B, 16.5% H, 11.8% A

VA-37 (Dodger Blue) – DEM Incumbent, Leans/Likely DEM

This district winds around Fairfax, from Burke (where just-elected-in-a-special-election incumbent Dave Marsden lives), to part of Centreville, making it bluer.

Before – Dem avg.: 51.3%, Obama: 56.2%

After – Dem avg.: 53.6%, Obama: 57.1%, Race: 60.3% W, 5% B, 12.1% H, 19.2% A

VA-39 (White) – DEM Incumbent, Safe DEM

Incumbent George Barker only won in 2007 in his first race by 151 votes so making his district bluer was very important. In the process, given its original position, it became much bluer, mainly due to taking parts of VA-36.

Before – Dem avg.: 51.8%, Obama: 55.9%

After – Dem avg.: 58.9%, Obama: 61.5%, Race: 59.8% W, 11.9% B, 13.9% H, 11.2% A

And there it is, folks. Hopefully the Democrats can pick up VA-7 and VA-10 to take two extra seats in this set up to increase their majority to 24-16. And in the long run, knowing that eventually VA-38 will be lost to the GOP, it’s nice that VA-13 is hopefully going to continue trending towards being very much a toss-up district.

VA – A foreigner’s (first) attempt at a “good governance” redistricting map for Virginia

Dear all,

This is the first time I've tried using Dave's App and making a redistricting map. I'm hoping you could tell me what things I've done wrong. (For one, I've kept the population of each district very close to the target population, 3,000 off at most, because I didn't know just how close you have to keep it. Could I have been more flexible?)

This is the map, but please do read on:


First off, I had an idea with this map. Most of the redistricting maps here are drawn, with great expertise, to either create the most realistically (or unrealistically) Democratic-friendly map; or, in a know-your-enemy / worst-case-scenario kind of way, the most GOP-friendly map; or the map that best fits the current political realities of the state, trying to guess what the real map will end up being.

Since I have nowhere near enough expertise to weigh in, I've just been observing, with some awe. But, as a foreigner, I still have trouble getting over my initial incredulity at the whole American practice of gerrymandering in the first place. The kind of gerrymandering that yields these sometimes mindbogglingly contorted looking districts, tracing unlikely looking paths from, say, the suburbs of one city to those of another halfway across the state, often seemingly without regard to keeping communities together. It's one of the oddest and unhealthy looking aspects of the US political system, for an outsider.

I'm from a country where we don't have any districts at all (it's all PR), and both in my adopted home country and the big European countries I know best (Germany, the UK), nothing like this kind of gerrymandering seems to exist. And often when I see the draft maps here, I can't help fantasizing about what a redistricting map purely based on good governance would look like. (I'm really curious what the new CA and FL maps will look like!)

Continued beneath the fold … 

That said, among the many things I have learned about on SSP is the VRA, and I approve. I don't like the 60+% black/hispanic vote sinks that segregate the minority altogether and allow the VRA district incumbent practically guaranteed re-election. But I have totally embraced the need for districts in which minority group candidates are favoured, so minority groups are represented more proportionally in Congress. It's history's bill: it would be great if a black candidate stood as good a chance to be elected anywhere, but the reality is that in too many parts of the country, black/hispanic candidates will only be elected in black/hispanic-majority districts.

I wanted to draw my ideal "good governance" map for a state, the way it would look if there were no bothersome laws, legislative majorities or incumbencies to take account of.

I drew up these criteria:

  1. The number of districts that lean one way or another politically should be roughly proportionate to the parties' general share of the vote. (E.g.: don't stack all the voters of one party into two districts so the other party can easily win in five, when the two parties get about equal amounts of votes altogether).
  2. There should be a number of districts where a minority group candidate would be favoured roughly proportional to the group's share of the overall voting age population. However, districts in which a minority group makes up a small majority (<55%) or a mere plurality, and "coalition" districts in which minorities together outnumber whites should be preferred over segregating individual minorities in 60%+ vote sink districts.
  3. There should be as many competitive districts as possible, both to avoid safe incumbents coasting to victory without having to worry about accountability; and to keep the number of those whose vote doesn't "count" because their party is irrevocably in opposition to a minimum.
  4. Districts should be compact and keep communities of interest together.
  5. While uniting communities of interest is good, it is not beneficial for public policy if the residents of cities and surrounding suburbs are pitted against each other. (A story that struck me was the fight, at a state level I imagine, over public transport in Atlanta, in which the residents of the suburbs managed to block the extension of the city's public transport system because they feared that it would just bring more blacks into their neighbourhoods.) The map should draw cities and surrounding suburbs into common districts where possible.

As you will recognize, but I didn't quite realize beforehand, some of these points make some of the others impossible. Applying point 2 in particular throws a spanner in the works when it comes to points 4 and 5. Creating that many minority-majority districts means contorted shapes, and splitting off black or hispanic city neighbourhoods. Since minority voters tend to vote Democratic, creating more minority districts also means creating more safe Democratic districts, so it's a problem with point 3 too.

Virginia turns out to neatly illustrate all this. My other problem is that I know little about Virginia, so it's hard for me to guess where communities of interest lie exactly in any case. (Any feedback much appreciated.)

Virginia redistricting - data table

(All these data from within Dave's app. I noticed that if you download the data on race by congressional district (18+ population, hispanic and non-hispanic by race) from the census site, there's slight variations, though never more than 1% up or down.

Here's maps with some more detail:

Redistricting map NoVa

Redistricting map Richmond 

Redistricting map Hampton Roads 

How does this stack up with my criteria?

  1. Fulfilled: My redistricting map creates six Republican districts, four Democratic districts, and one Democratic-leaning district.
  2. Fulfilled: The map creates two districts in which a minority group has a plurality (blacks in VA-3 and VA-4) and a third district in which the minority groups together outnumber non-hispanic whites (VA-11). (I tried to group together disproportionally hispanic towns and neighbourhoods in VA-11, so there’s at least one district where they make up as much as 23% of the VAP – as close to having a district of their own as possible.) That's three minority-favoured districts compared to one now. Pitfall: while non-hispanic whites make up no more than 45% of each of these districts' VAP, they are 43%-45% in each, meaning that disparate turnout rates could also end you up with no minority Congressmen at all. Unlikely in an Obama year, but a concern otherwise.
  3. Failed: My redistricting map actually makes most districts less competitive. This is due to applying point 2. In order to create two more minority-favoured districts, I had to take black votes out of largely white districts, shoring up Republican majorities there. I also took some from the existing minority-majority VA-03, a Democratic vote sink – but that means that instead of having one D+38 district in the south, I ended up with two, still safe D+17-23 districts. Same in the north – by taking black and hispanic precincts from VA-8, I reduced that Democratic vote sink from D+32 to a still safe D+19, while creating an additional safe Democratic seat in VA-11 (D+18). All in all, I went from four arguably toss-up seats (VA-2, VA-4, VA-5 and VA-10) to one (VA-10).
  4. Partial: In the Northeast and the Southeast, districts are pretty contorted looking because of heeding point 2 (though I did manage to cut VA-03 short of stretching all the way up into Richmond neighbourhoods). Elsewhere, some districts are reasonable compact (VA-05 and VA-09, as well as VA-10 up north), but VA-1 stretches a long way across the state… How could this be done better, and do these districts unwittingly split any communities of interest?
  5. Partial: Creating three minority-favoured districts meant splitting a number of cities, in particular Richmond, but also Norfolk, Hopewell, Danville and Franklin – plus the agglomeration in NoVa.

Here's maps of each individual district:


Redistricting map: VA-01


Redistricting map VA-02


VA-03 redistricted 

VA-04 (or as I like to call it, the dragonboat

VA-04 redistricted 


VA-05 redistricted 


VA-06 redistricted

VA-07 (the crab, or is it a lobster?)

 VA-07 redistricted


 VA-08 redistricted


 VA-09 redistricted


 VA-10 redistricted


VA-11 redistricted

Virginia: 2 Maps

Here are two maps of Virginia I drew which are visual opposites. One is 7-4 in favor of Republicans with 3 majority minority districts for Dems with one in nova and the other two around Richmond and Hampton Roads, both of which are majority VAP black. The other is a ‘fair district’ map with compact districts designed to give the state a delegation more reflective of a purple state: 5 likely Dems after Frank Wolf retires, 5 likely Republicans, and 1 swing district. Since I don’t know as much about the political geography of Virginia as I do North Carolina this diary will be less extensive than the previous one.

First Map:




VA-01 (Blue)     Rob Wittman (R)

56.4% McCain

The 1st moves away from northern VA, westward, and loses some black voters to become a stronger R district.

Safe Republican

VA-02 (Green)     Scott Rigell (R)/ Randy Forbes (R)

56.5% McCain

The 2nd takes in Chesapeake and wraps west around Norfolk to create a solid R district, but pits both incumbents together, though Rigell would probably be favored since it contains most of the old 2nd.

Safe Republican

VA-03 (Purple)     Bobby Scott (D)

72.4% Obama     38.1% White/50.6% Black

The 3rd moves out of Richmond to become centered on Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Hampton, while becoming slightly less black and democratic.

Safe Democratic

VA-04 (Red)     Open

68.9% Obama     41.5% White/50.4% Black

The 4th undergoes major changes to become a black majority district based on Richmond then extending its tentacles to draw in minority areas and giving Democrats a new fourth seat.

Safe Democratic

VA-05 (Yellow)     Rob Hurt (R)

56.3% McCain

The 5th moves westward some while ceding minority voter territory to the 4th, which makes the district considerably more Republican.

Safe Republican

VA-06 (Teal)     Bob Goodlatte (R)

57% McCain

The 6th cedes some territory to the neighboring 5th and 9th to shore them up, but also moves Roanoke to the 9th so that it can take in some more Democratic friendly territory from the 11th in NOVA and allow the 10th to become more gop friendly.  Although Goodlatte lives in Roanoke he still would represent a decent amount of his old district.

Safe Republican

VA-07 (Gray)     Eric Cantor (R)

59.1% McCain

Cantor’s district completely leaves the Shenandoah Valley to take in the remainder of Richmond and the surrounding area while in the process becoming a safer district for him.

Safe Republican

VA-08 (Slate Blue)     Jim Moran (D)

63.9% Obama

The 8th conforms more to the Potomac to allow the 11th to be majority minority, other than that there aren’t any significant political changes.

Safe Democratic

VA-09 (Cyan)     Morgan Griffith (R)

57.6% McCain

The 9th pretty much just needed to gain population, but I also wanted the 6th to absorb territory from NOVA, so I gave the 9th Roanoke and Salem which made it more Democratic.  However, it seems unlikely that Rick Boucher is itching for a rematch against Griffith, and even if he were, this district is still looking pretty favorable to Republicans.

Safe Republican vs. Generic D

Leans Republican vs. Rick Boucher

VA-10 (Magenta)     Frank Wolf (R)

51.2% McCain, 54.5% R

The 10th pivots to sprawl out west from Fairfax County rather than northwest while becoming considerably more Republican in the process, though with a good candidate and environment Dems could win this seat.  However, Frank Wolf would likely be heavily favored here until he retires.

Safe Republican with Frank Wolf

Likely Republican if open

VA-11 (Chartreuse)     Gerry Connolly (D)

65.6% Obama     41% White/17.7% Black/23.6% Hispanic/15% Asian

Connolly’s district changes significantly to become majority minority and much more heavily Democratic, though I might have drawn out the part of Fairfax in which he lives. Regardless, Connolly or any other Dem should have no trouble winning here.

Safe Democratic


Republicans shore up the 1st, 2nd, 5th, and 10th. Democrats pick up the 4th and shore up the 11th.

Second Map:




This map takes a fairly divergent view of the VRA than does the first by allowing the 3rd to simply be majority minority even though it’s not majority black, which probably would not hold up in court, but regardless, this map is designed to have ‘compact’ districts and give each party 5 safe or likely seats with one swing seat.

Districts 01-Wittman, 05-Hurt, 06-Goodlatte, 07-Cantor, and 09-Griffith are all over 55% Republican and are designed to be safe Republican districts, or likely at worst.  Cantor is the only Republican in the game of musical chairs who would have to relocate for his district since Richmond is now pretty Democratic.

Districts 03-Scott, 04-Open, 08-Moran, and 11-Connolly are all over 58% Obama districts and are pretty much safe for Dems.  The 3rd is now 49.8% White. The 10th (Wolf-R) is a 55.7% Obama district and contains about half of Wolf’s current territory and gives him a new half which Obama won with about 61%, so this should prompt him to retire allowing Dems to gain the seat.

The 2nd-Rigell(R)/Forbes(R) is a swing/lean R district at 50.5% McCain, 53.2% Republican.

Summary: Dems have districts centered on Hampton Roads, Richmond, and 2-3 in DC suburbs/exurbs depending on how Dems defeat or force retirement on Frank Wolf.  Republicans have 5 districts in the rural areas of the state. Virginia Beach is meant to be a competitive, slightly R leaning seat, so for the time being Scott Rigell would still probably hold it.

On a final note, the first map goes to show that it’s pretty difficult to draw and practically impossible for the DOJ to force Virginia to have 2 majority voting age black districts, but that it secures the partisan balance pretty well at 7-4.  The second map is merely meant to be an opposite view from the first map in terms of compactness since it would be highly unlikely to be passed even as a compromise map and possibly violates the VRA concerning retrogression.

Mini Redistricting Contest: Virginia, Part 2

We received three entries (so far) in our mini redistricting challenge for VA: from sawolf, okiedem, and drobertson. But now Dave Wasserman’s gone and added a new wrinkle: He says that the DOJ might force Virginia to junk its likely compromise map and proceed with two separate VRA seats. What kind of map can you come up with that creates two majority-minority districts in the Old Dominion?

UPDATE: SaoMagnifico has a map in the first thread taking another crack at the “compromise” plan.

Mini Redistricting Contest: Virginia

(I’m bumping this one up. Not a single map as yet? Come on, people! – promoted by DavidNYC)

So Politico has some details about an incumbent protection map that’s supposedly been agreed to in Virginia:

Members of Virginia’s House delegation unanimously agreed to a redistricting plan that will protect all of their seats and strengthen the three GOP freshmen who ousted Democratic incumbents last November, POLITICO has learned.

The new map, according to multiple sources in both parties who are familiar with the plan, was crafted in the past month chiefly by Virginia’s eight GOP members. But it has received crucial private support from the state’s three House Democrats – notably Rep. Gerry Connolly, who barely survived reelection last November and whose Capitol Beltway-area district would get a Democratic bump.

The delegation is hoping for legislative approval in three weeks when the politically divided General Assembly convenes a special session.

So here’s the contest: Though the details are sketchy, draw what you think this map might look like using Dave’s Redistricting App. Make sure to read the entire Politico piece – most of the details are on the second page. Dave Wasserman has some ideas (here and here), but what are yours?

UPDATE: Looks like we have three entries so far: sawolf, okiedem, and drobertson. Whaddya think?

Virginia: A Democratic gerrymander of the Old Dominion

As a native Virginian and Democrat, I was very excited when Dave was able to add voting data for Virginia to his redistricting app because of how it would ease tinkering with Virginia.

Naturally, the map I produced here is entirely unrealistic, if not because of the shape and scope of some of the districts I drew but because of the fact that the GOP controls the Virginia House of Delegates and the governor’s mansion. With the Democrats controlling the State Senate, it seems likely that a incumbent-protection map will be drawn this time around.

However, I set this map up to create the opportunity for Democrats to control seven of the state’s eleven House seats. The result was more or less a 6-1-4 map (7-4), with a D+3 seat in the Tidewater as the swing-iest district.

Without further adieu, here is the final product:


VA-01 (Gray)

Appropriately, we’ll start with CD-1, which stretches northwest from its most southern point in eastern Hampton in the Tidewater (as well as below Richmond) to the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Greene and Madison Counties, as well as all the way into the outer D.C. suburbs. Clearly, communities of interest did not come into play with this map.


Here’s the part that goes south of Richmond and Petersburg and down into eastern Hampton:


And the northern part of the district:


The statistics for this district as follows (NOTE: Dev. stands for deviation from the ideal population total):


VA-02 (Blue)

The Virginia 2nd is the most contestable district on this map with only a slight Democratic edge. Encompassing the Eastern Shore, part of Virginia Beach, and part of Norfolk, it could be best held by an ex-military moderate Dem, given the large military community in the area. Just don’t bring back Glenn Nye, please.


Here is the Virginia Beach/Norfolk part of the district, with the city outlines highlighted in pink:


The most Republican parts of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake are taken by VA-03 to give this district its slight Dem lean.

And the statistics for this district:


VA-03 (Purple)

The third Congressional District takes up parts of the current VA-03 represented by Bobby Scott but is not a minority-majority district.


It is not a strong Dem district but it has a very solid Democratic base in its portions of Hampton, Newport News, and its small parts of Norfolk and Portsmouth. If I had left the parts of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach that are in this district in VA-02, I could have made that district about 50-50 and this one more than 60-40 but again, I was trying to make a map with a good shot at seven Democratic representatives.

Here is the part of the district that winds around central Suffolk. One side goes into the southwest corner of Suffolk, which is one of the fastest-growing cities in the state, growing more than 25% between 2000 and 2010. The other juts into Southampton County above Franklin, taking one precinct from that small independent city (a 52-48 McCain precinct).


Here’s the Newport News/Hampton section of VA-03, also encompassing the city of Williamsburg with its university population from the College of William & Mary.


Lastly, the statistics for this district:


VA-04 (Yellow)

Here we have the VRA required minority-majority district. Fifty percent of the population is black; it is also about 6.5 percent Hispanic. It is chiefly made up of the state capital, Richmond, as well as probably the most African-American city in the state, Petersburg. It stretches down into Emporia and all the way east through Suffolk, Chesapeake, and into Portsmouth to also pick up more minority-heavy precincts. I would have preferred to leave the district at 46 or 47 percent, with blacks + Hispanics equaling over 50 percent but I’m under the impression that the law and the nature of Virginia politics would necessitate the minority-majority district having at least a 50 percent African-American population.


Here is the Richmond, Petersburg, and Hopewell section:


And the Suffolk and Portsmouth part:


The statistics for this district:


VA-05 (Red)

Despite what it may look like, this district is contiguous. Barely.


The district is made up of suburban Richmond and snakes all the way down to and along the North Carolina border for quite some distance. Just north of Emporia, at the top of Greensville County, the district barely connects west to part of Brunswick County to remain contiguous.


The district also makes its way up north to part of Spotsylvania County, not far away from what Virginians typically refer to as Northern Virginia.


The statistics for VA-05:


VA-06 (Green)

The most convoluted and gerrymandered district on this map is most certainly the sixth district. A friend of mine looked at what I had created and called it the “Virginia Python,” which seems an apt name for it. It essentially connects a series of college towns and strong minority areas to form a fairly Democratic district.


In the northern part of the district we have the liberal bastion of Charlottesville, where my alma mater, the University of Virginia, is located. Surrounding the city is Albemarle County, an increasingly blue part of the state. The most northern part of this district, however, is my home city of Harrisonburg, which is a university town as well (James Madison University and a small Mennonite college). The demographic trends of that city are the kind you want to see in a Democratic district. It has gotten bluer and bluer with each Presidential election as both the student population and the Hispanic population have grown steadily. In fact, the city of Harrisonburg is, per capita, one of the most diverse cities in the state. Each of its five precincts is over 8 percent Hispanic, with two having 16 and 18 percent, and one with 28 percent.

You’ll notice that the district also extends to Lexington in the west, the home of Washington & Lee University (and the Virginia Military Institute, though I expect it is not the major source of the town’s 61 percent Obama vote).


Moving southeast, the district meanders through parts of southern Virginia that have heavy black populations, as well as another university town, Farmville, where Longwood University is located.


Lastly, as we move southwest, the district passes through the most Democratic parts of Lynchburg but more importantly this part of the district makes its way down to Roanoke, Blacksburg, and Radford. Roanoke is the largest city in the western part of the state, with about 97,000 people as of the 2010 census. Blacksburg, the home of Virginia Tech (the state’s biggest university) and Radford (home of Radford University) are also blue areas this district takes in.

To the very far south, the district adds in the fairly African-American cities of Danville and Martinsville, as well as the areas of Halifax, Pittsyvlania, Henry, and Franklin Counties that are more Democratic.


The statistics for the “Virginia Python”:


VA-07 (Navy Blue)

This is the most conservative district on the map, stretching from the far west corner of what is really Southwest Virginia (SWVA) into the more central southern part. SWVA has a strong union tradition in some of its counties due to the coal industry; however, the strength of unions and Democrats in general is clearly on the wane, illustrated by the surprising (to some) loss by Blue Dog Rick Boucher in the current VA-09 that makes up much of this area in 2010.


The statistics for VA-07:


VA-08 (Brown)

This conservative district makes up much of what is currently the VA-06 represented by Republican Bob Goodlatte. It stretches from Wytheville in SWVA to Winchester around the Maryland border.


I drew VA-08 to curl around Radford, Blacksburg, and Roanoke while taking much of Salem (a much more conservative independent city than most any part of Roanoke right next door). Here’s a close up of that:


The statistics for this district:


VA-09 (Neon Green)

Finally, we have reached Northern Virginia (NoVA), the strategic lynch-pin in all Virginia Democratic strategies from here on out. This is the area of the state that is key to the transformation of Virginia from a sure-thing in the Republican column to its new status as a swing state. In drawing three NoVa districts, I wanted to create a fairly well-balanced trio that would all be strongly Democratic. VA-09 is the “Arlington” district in NoVA, encompassing the very blue county that abuts Washington, D.C. The district also makes it way through Falls Church and out all the way into the more developed and liberal parts of Loudon County, the fastest growing county in the state, which saw a more than 30 percent increase in population from 2000 to 2010.


The statistics for this district:


VA-10 (Pink)

VA-10 contains all of Alexandria, one of the bluest cities or counties in Virginia, but also meanders out through Fairfax City, and all the way west to Manassas, taking in large chunks of Fairfax County, the state’s most populous entity (over 1 million people) in the process. The demographic and political trends of this area are generally favorable for Democrats, and having Alexandria in it almost guarantees that the district would remain blue even in the worst year for Democrats.


The statistics for this district:


VA-11 (Orange)

Lastly, VA-11 is made up of most of the most Democratic sections of Fairfax County (those directly next to Arlington and Alexandria) but runs through the Democratic-trending Prince William County and all the way to Fredericksburg, a growing city that is also a university town (Mary Washington University) and whose suburbs in Stafford County are increasingly Democratic.


The statistics for VA-11:


The overall statistics for the districts on this map:


Clearly, the four GOP districts are all vote sinks that would be sure-things in every election. Perhaps from the state party level this is not a great situation for Democrats because the VA GOP could focus all its resources on VA-02, as well as VA-06 and VA-03, without risking its hold on VA-01, VA-05, VA-07, and VA-08. At the same time, this map gives Democrats a good shot of holding seven seats a fair amount of the time, or at least six (a majority). Anyway, thanks for reading, Comments are definitely appreciated.

Virginia I hardly knew ye (6R-5D w/o Wolf)

You know, I've got to say, I find it interesting that so many people think that Virginia must be destined to have a shored up 8-3 map (with Gerry Connolly's 11th district being only marginally Democratic!) With Democrats still in control of the senate, I find it hard to believe that they're just going to just allow the Republicans to hold so many seats (and just shore them up). This map is probably not the one that gets made (I don't know where incumbents live and as such I probably drew a few out of where they live), but I think it's a lot closer to what Democrats are going to try for rather than just allowing Republicans to strengthen all of their seats. So my goal here was to keep 5 Republican incumbents, shore up Gerry Connolly, weaken Scott Rigell, and make Frank Wolf's district more Democratic (thus giving us the seat when he retires).

With that said, my vision for Virginia below the fold:

(Parentheses denote previous district numbers)

VA-05 (Yellow, Robert Hurt – R)

Dem 46.7% Rep 53.3% (Dem 47.3% Rep 52.7%)
Obama 48.2% McCain 51.8% (Obama 48.5% McCain 51.5%)
Black 22%, White 71.4%
Population 727,824

Notes: Not very much has changed here, though what changes happened favor the Republicans (the change might be slight, but Tom Perriello would have lost against Virgil Goode in 2008, small changes can make big differences). Robert Hurt probably won't complain too much about this district. (Likely R)

VA-06 (Blue-Green,  Bob Goodlatte – R)

Dem 40.9% Rep 59.1% (Dem 42.1% Rep 57.9%)
Obama 42.3% McCain 57.7% (Obama 43.2% McCain 56.8%)
Population 727,426

Notes:  In order to make VA-10 more Democratic, I needed to have this district absorb the more Republican parts of NoVA, but given that either way VA-10 needed to shrink, it's a good bet that something like this would have happened anyways. The district is heavily Republican and still retains Roanoke so Goodlatte can continue being re-elected indefinitely). (Safe R)

VA-07 (Grey, Eric Cantor – R)

Dem 42.2% Rep 57.8% (Dem 43.3% Rep 56.7%)
Obama 45.2% McCain 54.8% (Obama 46.6% McCain 53.4%)
Black 15%, White 74.5%
Population 726,655

Notes: Assuming Cantor still lives in the district (which is likely given that I didn't change the district much) he's going to be very happy with its configuration, he becomes safer now. (Safe R)

VA-09 (Bright blue, Morgan Griffith – R)

District profile (old numbers)

Dem 44.2% Rep 55.8% (Dem 43.7% Rep 56.3%)
Obama 41% McCain 59% (Obama 40.3% McCain 59.7%)
Population 727,973

Notes: So VA-09 doesn't really change too much, the district becomes somewhat more Democratic, although I doubt it matters much, as it's still going to be pretty safe for Morgan Griffith, unless Rick Boucher decides to run again. Safe R (Leans R if Boucher runs).


VA-01 (Blue, Rob Wittman – R)

Dem  42.5% Rep 57.5% (Dem 44.8% Rep 55.2%)
Obama 45.7% McCain 54.3% (Obama 48.4% McCain 51.6%)
Black 15.7% White 73.1%
Population 727,330

Notes: This map shores up Wittman, and ensures that even in an open seat situation it'll stay with Republicans (Safe R)


VA-02 (Green, Robert Hurt – R)

Dem  52.4% Rep 47.6% (Dem 49.1% Rep 50.9%)
Obama 56.5% McCain 43.5% (Obama 52.4% McCain 47.6%)
Black 27.4%, White 57.2%
Population 727,531

Notes: I'm not going to lie, this district is meant to make life difficult for Scott Rigell, and I think I succeeded. To be honest, I doubt that Glenn Nye would have beaten Rigell in 2010, but then again, another Democrat could probably do it, particularly with Obama on the ballot. (Toss-up against Rigell/Likely D Open)


VA-04 (Red, Randy Forbes – R)

Dem 46% Rep 54% (Dem 48.2% Rep 51.8%)
Obama 48.3% McCain 51.7% (Obama 51% McCain 49%)
Black 29.5% White 61.6%
Population 726,491

Notes: This district shores up Forbes somewhat, it goes from a district that Obama won by two to won he lost by two and a half. In an open seat in the right year this district could be trouble for the Republicans, but even then they'd be favored. (Likely R)



VA-03 (Purple, Robert Scott – D)

Dem 70.1% Rep 29.9% (Dem 71.3% Rep 28.7%)
Obama 74.8% McCain 25.2% (Obama 75.7% McCain 24.3%)
Black 52.5%, White 36.6%
Population 727,748

Notes: Well this monstrosity is a carry-over from the last map, to be honest, I'm not sure if the VRA requires this district to be majority-black or simply majority-minority but I kept it like this just to be safe. If I hadn't there's a good possibility I could have made the fourth more Democratic (probably not enough to give Forbes any problems, but enough to make it competitive in an open seat).



Virginia Bipartisan Map: 7-4 (Updated with Vote Totals)

Cross posted on my blog http://frogandturtle.blogspot…. which you should visit for more redistricting maps.

I was reading the recent diary on Virginia redistricting and saw people calling for a 7-4 Republican map. I decided to post this one to see how it works.

Both parties have a voice in Virginia’s redistricting process this year so expect either a quick compromise or a long battle that ends in a court drawn map. The Republicans control the Governorship and the State House but the Democrats control the State Senate. The Republicans hold an 8-3 majority of Virginia’s House seats, 3 of them were won in 2010. The Republicans will want to protect their freshman Robert Hurt (R) and Scott Rigell (R) who won in swing districts as well as Frank Wolf (R) whose district is trending Democratic. Trying to protect them all will be difficult because the Republicans will not want to create a dummymander. Therefore, I drew a 7-4 Republican map that the Republicans will like because although they lose one district, the 2nd and 5th districts are now more Republican. The Democrats should like this plan too because it strengthens the 11th district and creates a new Democratic district. I also ensured that the 3rd district’s African American population exceeded 50%. As for the districts on the map, there are 3 Safe Democratic, 1 Likely Democratic, 1 Lean Republican, 2 Likely Republican and 4 Safe Republican.

Here is a link with a map of Virginia’s current congressional districts (after clicking the link, scroll down to the bottom of the page:)…

A few notes: The “Average 2000-2009” refers to the average performance of Democrats and Republicans in that district from 2000 to 2009. Change does not refer to the average performance; change refers to how well Obama performed in the new district compared to the old one. “Old Demographics” refers to the demographics of the old district in 2000.



Virginia’s 1st Congressional District Rob Whitman (R) Blue

President 2008: Obama 143,841 47%, McCain 165,688 53%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 101,210 44%, Republicans 128,630 56%

Change: McCain +3

Demographics: 6.1% Hispanic, 19.7% African American, 68.8% White

Old Demographics: 18.4% African American, 74.7% White

Status: Safe Republican

This district becomes more Republican as it loses parts of Newport News and Hampton in the south and losing Democratic Prince William County in the north. To keep population equal with other districts, the 1st district gains Republican leaning rural counties such as New Kent. The 1st district also picks up the Delmarva Peninsula which leans Democratic but the removal of most of Newport News makes this district more Republican.


Hampton Roads

Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District Scott Rigell (R) vs. Randy Forbes (R) ? Green

President 2008: Obama 139,807 48%, McCain 152,608 52%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 101,215 46%, McCain 121,240 54%

Change: McCain +6

Demographics: 5.0% Asian, 5.9% Hispanic, 21.3% African American, 64.2% White

Old Demographics: 21.4% African American, 67.0% White

Status: Lean Republican

I could not do much to strengthen Rigell because I had to keep the 3rd district majority African American so it could not pick up many precincts that voted for Obama and had a low African American population. Anyway, I strengthened Rigell a bit by removing Hampton and most of Norfolk. I also added Republican parts of Chesapeake where Rep. Randy Forbes (R) of the 4th district lives. If he chooses to run in the 2nd, he will have the seniority advantage but more of Rigell’s current district is in the 2nd. Also, Forbes is popular because although Obama won his district, Forbes has won easily in the past few elections.

Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District Bobby Scott (D) Dark Magenta

President 2008: Obama 194,505 69%, McCain 85,991 31%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 123,854 64%, McCain 69,604 36%

Change: McCain +14

Demographics: 51.3% African American, 39.0% White

Old Demographics: 56.0% African American, 37.7% White

Status: Safe Democratic

Scott’s district gets more Republican as it loses all of Richmond and picks up less Democratic precincts from the 1st in Newport News. I kept the district majority African American by picking up African American areas in Suffolk, Petersburg, and Sussex County. Although Scott’s district becomes more Republican, it is still extremely safe for him and majority African American. He should have no problems winning reelection.


Richmond Area

Virginia’s 4th Congressional District Robert Hurt (R) vs. Randy Forbes (R) ? Red

President 2008: Obama 133,903 42%, McCain 187,735 58%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 97,669 41%, Republicans 142,126 59%

Change: McCain +17

Demographics: 23.3% African American, 71.1% White

Old Demographics: 33.1% African American, 62.0% White

Status: Safe Republican

Forbes may run here because this district contains some of his current territory in Chesterfield County and some southeastern rural counties. Hurt will run too because his home Chatham is in this district. If Forbes ran, As for Hurt’s district, I strengthened it because the Republicans will try to protect him from a tough race. I removed heavily Democratic Charlottesville from Charlottesville while adding parts of the current 4th district such as Republican Amelia County near Richmond. Hurt should have no trouble winning reelection here.

Virginia’s 5th Congressional District Vacant Eric Cantor (R) ? Yellow

President 2008: Obama 129,143 43%, McCain 175,646 57%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 92,922 40%, McCain 137,356 60%

Change: N/A

Demographics: 5.4% Hispanic, 10.8% African American, 79.9% White

Old Demographics: N/A

Status: Safe Republican

Cantor’s 7th district is now Democratic so I expect him to run here, although his home is in the 7th district. The 5th district contains much of his current territory by including some conservative rural counties near Richmond such as Goochland, Hanover County in the Richmond exurbs, Spotsylvania County in the D.C exurbs and the string of rural counties in Central Virginia in Cantor’s current district. The 5th district also picks up some far D.C exurbs though because it represents Winchester and western Loudon County. Cantor used to represent a 53% McCain district that was trending Democratic but his district is now 55% McCain and the rural areas are not trending Democratic. Cantor should be safe here.

Virginia’s 6th Congressional District Bob Goodlatte (R) Teal

President 2008: Obama 137,543 46%, McCain 162,585 54%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 102,396 44%, Republicans 130,058 56%

Change: Obama + 7

Demographics: 9.1% African American, 82.2% White

Old Demographics: 10.9% African American, 84.8% White

Status: Safe Republican

Goodlatte’s district becomes more Democratic as it loses heavily Republican Amherst County and picks up Charlottesville. The Republicans will probably want Charlottesville in Goodlatte’s district because it provided Tom Perrellio with his winning margin and more in 2008 and Goodlatte has enough Republicans in his district to offset Democratic votes in Charlottesville. Goodlatte should be safe here.

Virginia’s 7th Congressional District Vacant Gray

President 2008: Obama 186,082 61%, 121,294 McCain 39%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 124,386 54%, Republicans 105,495 46%

Change: N/A

Demographics: 6.7% Hispanic, 34.5% African American, 52.0% White

Old Demographics: N/A

Status: Safe Democratic

Republicans may decide to sacrifice one district in order to protect Robert Hurt and Eric Cantor. The 7th district also helps Scott Rigell (R) in the 2nd district because by losing Richmond, the 3rd district has to pick up African American areas currently in the 2nd district so the 3rd can remain majority African American. Anyway, the 7th district is a combination of the current 3rd, 4th and 7th districts. The 7th contains all of Richmond, all of Henrico County, Chesterfield County’s close in suburbs and Hopewell. In the current map, the Richmond area is split between three districts but the Richmond area now has its own district so Richmond area legislators should like this district. Possible candidates for this seat could be State Senator Donald McEachin (D) who represents part of Henrico County or Henry Marsh (D) who represents some heavily African American parts of the district.


Northern Virginia

Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Jim Moran (D) Slate Blue

President 2008: Obama 178,372 66%, McCain 92,487 34%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 146,592 64%, Republicans 82,791 36%

Change: McCain +7

Demographics: 12.5% Asian, 16.5% Hispanic, 9.9% African American, 57.9% White

Old Demographics: 9.5% Asian, 16.4% Hispanic, 13.4% African American, 57.1% White

Status: Safe Democratic

Moran’s district does not undergo major changes as Moran retains his base in Arlington and Alexandria. His district becomes a few points more Republican in order to protect Gerry Connelly (D) of the 11th district. Moran loses the close in suburbs near Alexandria such as Fort Washington to the 11th District. To compensate for the loss of the close in suburbs near Alexandria, the 8th district gains Democratic parts of McLean, Oakton, Herndon and Tysons Corner. Although Moran’s district is not as Democratic as its current form, Moran should have no problems winning reelection in the general or the primary.

Virginia’s 9th Congressional District Morgan Griffith (R) Periwinkle

President 2008: Obama 111,232 40%, McCain 166,719 60%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 94,587 43%, Republicans 123,531 57%

Change: McCain +1

Demographics: 3.7% African American, 92.1% White

Old Demographics: 3.8% African American, 93.3% White

Status: Likely Republican

Griffith’s district does not undergo major changes as he loses Alleghany County which usually votes Democratic at a local level. The 9th district had slow population growth so the 9th gained Franklin and Bedford Counties which are both strongly Republican. It is possible Rick Boucher (D) who previously held this district will run again but it will be more difficult for him because of the new Republican counties in the district. Anyway, it was difficult to strength Griffith without creating convoluted lines or making the 6th district Democratic enough for a competitive race.

Virginia’s 10th Congressional District Frank Wolf (R) Deep Pink

President 2008: Obama 149,174 53%, McCain 132,937 47%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 107,560 49%, Republicans 113,791 51%

Change: McCain +1

Demographics: 17.9% Asian, 11.0% Hispanic, 6.9% African American, 60.7% White

Old Demographics: 6.6% Asian, 7.1% Hispanic, 6.7% African American, 77.2% White

Status: Likely Republican

Northern Virginia is trending Democratic so drawing Wolf a district that will be safe Republican in the long term is impossible but I drew a district that should protect him for the next few years. I removed the western part of the district around Winchester which leans Republican but I also removed the Democratic parts of Herndon, McLean and Manassas. Although the 10th district is growing quickly, it had to gain a few more areas so it gained some moderate areas near Fairfax City and some conservative parts of Prince William County. Wolf is popular so he should hold this seat. If he retires though, Democrats will have a shot here.

Virginia’s 11th Congressional District Gerry Connelly (D) chartreuse

President 2008: Obama 149,097 60%, McCain 99,321 40%

Average 2000-2009: Democrats 105,702 55%, Republicans 88,099 45%

Change: Obama +5

Demographics: 10.6% Asian, 21.4% Hispanic, 17.4% African American, 46.9% White

Old Demographics: 10.9% Asian, 9.1% Hispanic, 10.1% African American, 66.8% White

Status: Likely Democratic

Connelly faced a tough race last year from Keith Fimian (R) in 2010 which is a high water mark for Republicans. If Connelly could survive in 2010, he can survive any year barring a major scandal. Anyway, I strengthened Connelly so he would not have another tough race. I removed the moderate areas near Fairfax City, Fimian’s home Oakton, and conservative parts of Prince William County. I added Democratic areas near Alexandria and Democratic Manassas. These changes should protect Connelly

By what margin will Bob Shamansky win?

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Virginia – 7D, 4R

I set out the other day to create a safe 6D, 5R map of Virginia, and found that in fact it’s quite easy to do better.  

Going through the districts in order of partisan lean.  

Solid D


Red district in Southside, Hampton Roads

52% Black, 39% White

67.8% Obama, 63% Democrat


Greenish district in NOVA

48% White, 20% Black, 21% Latino

63% Obama, 57% Democrat


Purple district based in Richmond

53% White, 35% Black

62.2% Obama, 58.5% Democrat


Purple district in Fairfax county

54% White, 19% Asian, 17% Latino, 8% Black

59.9% Obama,  56.2% Democrat

Likely D


Pink district in Loudoun, Fairfax, and Arlington

57.1% Obama, 57.3% Democrat  

Lean D


Green district in Hampton Roads

56.2% Obama, 53% Democrat


Yellow district in West

53.6% Obama, 53.7% Democrat

Solid R:


Blue diestrict in Eastern Virgina

55.8% McCain, 58% Republican


Grey district in Southside/Richmond suburbs

60.2% McCain, 62.1% Republican


Turquoise district based in Shenandoah valley

58.9% McCain, 62.2% Republican


Light blue district in Southwestern Virginia

64.5% McCain, 61.8% Republican.

Admittedly, although favored, Democrats could lose VA-5, VA-2, and VA-10 in the right election, giving them only four absolutely solid seats.  That said, historically Republicans have been very unlikely to hold onto southern seats with any sort of Democratic lean.