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.

Redistricting Oregon: O So Svelte

Dave Bradlee finally managed to sort the obnoxious problems with Oregon’s 2010 Census data, which means it’s time for me to give my home state a whirl.

Nothing too much has changed, as you can see. It just has pretty lines and definitely preserves communities of interest. Only three counties (Columbia, Josephine, and Lincoln) are split between congressional districts, and none of those three are split between more than two districts.

OR-01 (blue)

Democratic Rep. David Wu, who lives in Multnomah County, is out. Unfortunately, some depopulation along the Oregon Coast means this district is stretching a bit further south to find constituents, which is maybe the only part of this map I’m not thrilled about (for aesthetic reasons). As for the politics, as this is a horse-race elections site: Despite Yamhill County’s Republican lean, the great majority of this district’s population is in true blue northwestern Oregon. If Wu can be kept out by this redistricting job, state senators Suzanne Bonamici and Mark Hass are probably in line, provided Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian doesn’t want the job. The inside scoop is that if Wu’s job opens up, he’s got first right of refusal. Likely Democratic.

OR-02 (green)

Walden lives in Hood River. Hood River has been moved elsewhere. Even if Walden doesn’t move back – and I think the diehard conservatives in eastern Oregon, which is (surprisingly enough) one of the most conservative parts of the entire country, may prefer to send Oregon Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli or Bend-area state senator and ambitious “rising star” Chris Telfer to Congress instead of Walden, a close ally of (the possibly doomed) Speaker Boehner who has taken flak for being a leading member of the quasi-moderate Main Street Partnership – this district is red enough to elect an Oregonian version of Christine O’Donnell without a fuss. Anyway, I felt Hood River County belongs with eastern Multnomah County in terms of communities of interest more than it belongs with the high desert cow counties. Safe Republican.

OR-03 (purple)

Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer’s district has consolidated all of Multnomah County, taken over Hood River County, and poked up into Columbia County just a tad bit, simultaneously withdrawing from Clackamas County. As for politics: Che Guevara could get elected here by double-digit margins. Walden could run here, but he would get clobbered. Wu could also run here, but he would also get clobbered. Mostly, I just think this district looks nice. Safe Democratic.

OR-04 (red)

One of the enduring mysteries of Congress is the charmed existence of Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio, a blunt, unabashed, aggressively off-the-reservation left-winger sitting in a light-blue seat. Last year, when conditions seemed perfect for a Republican to potentially upset DeFazio, Republicans in the district nominated certifiable crazy person Art Robinson. DeFazio’s final margin was closer than expected, perhaps on account of his taking victory against Robinson pretty much for granted, but it was still fairly convincing. This district hasn’t changed much. DeFazio still has the red ball-and-chain that is Linn County tethered to him, but it’s easily offset by flaming liberal Benton and Lane counties, both of which are anchored by legendarily left-wing college towns. In terms of actually drawing the map, since I wasn’t consulting political data, it was basically just leftover western Oregon and as much of southern Oregon as fit with population limits stretching east from the coast (which turned out to be not much). Likely Democratic.

OR-05 (yellow)

What is there to do about Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader? Well, one thing to do that would make Clackamas County residents happy would be to give the piece of OR-03 reaching down a little bit into Schrader’s home county back to this fairly swingy district. Another thing might be to embark on a registration drive in increasingly Hispanic Salem and its suburbs, but that’s not really redistricting’s job. Redistricting’s job is to preserve communities of interest, and that was my chief consideration here. As a progressive who generally supports Democrats, I’m not honestly worried about Schrader, and this is why: Republicans target OR-05 every cycle, and every time, they do worse than they were expecting. Last year, Schrader was supposed to lose to Scott Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuun (who, yes, still lives in this district). He won by over five points instead. Republicans were supposed to take over the district in 2008 when then-Rep. Darlene Hooley retired. Schrader crushed Hooley’s 2006 opponent (who was supposed to beat her then, too) by 16 points. Fun fact: in this D+1 district, Republicans haven’t even come as close as five points away since 1994 – the cycle before then-Rep. Jim Bunn lost to Hooley (in 1996) by a margin nearly identical to the margin by which Schrader prevailed last year. For whatever reason, this district is fools’ gold for the Oregon Republican Party. But my favorite part of this redrawn district? It consists simply of all of Polk, Marion, and Clackamas counties, and it’s just 515 heads over the target population. Sexy. Lean Democratic.

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

AZ Congressional Redistricting

The 2010 census data recently came out for Arizona. I haven’t seen any maps since then, so I wanted to try to guess what the commission will do to get the ball rolling.  I don’t have much local knowledge of Arizona, so if I have butchered something, please let me know!



1st District- Paul Gosar (R)

New District VAPs

White:      64.1%

Black:      01.4%

Hispanic:   15.2%

Asian:      01.2%

Nat. Am.:   16.8%

Old District VAPs

White:       62.3%

Black:       01.6%

Hispanic:    16.9%

Asian:       01.2%

Nat. Am.:    16.6%

This district gets a bit whiter as it drops its portion of Pinal County in exchange for conservative Cochise County.  I think this change is justifiable as it allows the 8th to become a more Tucson-centric district.  The PVI probably shifts a point or two to the right, making the district R+7.  Even though Democrats held this seat until this year, I think it would be tough to recover.

2nd District- Trent Franks (R)

New District VAPs

White:      70.0%

Black:      03.5%

Hispanic:   20.1%

Asian:      02.2%

Nat. Am.:   02.8%

Old District VAPs

White:      74.1%

Black:      03.2%

Hispanic:   16.8%

Asian:      02.7%

Nat. Am.:   01.8%

This district had to shed about 150,000 people.  Because the district has to take in the Hopi reservation, all of the loss came in metro Phoenix.  The district also picks up La Paz County from the 7th.  I’m not sure that Trent Frank’s portion of Glendale is in the district, but it contains most of his old territory.  Though the district gets less white, its PVI is probably around R+9.  

3rd District- Ben Quayle (R)

New District VAPs

White:      76.8%

Black:      03.0%

Hispanic:   14.2%

Asian:      03.6%

Nat. Am.:   01.0%

Old District VAPs

White:      74.9%

Black:      03.0%

Hispanic: 15.9%

Asian:      03.6%

Nat. Am.: 01.2%

This district has shifted a bit east and includes Peoria and portions of Phoenix and Glendale.  The PVI is probably unchanged at R+9.  Even with Ben Quayle, this district would be hard to win.

4th District- Ed Pastor (D)

New District VAPs

White:      25.0%

Black:      09.2%

Hispanic:   60.0%

Asian:      02.9%

Nat. Am.:   01.7%

Old District VAPs

White:     27.3%

Black:     08.9%

Hispanic:  57.6%

Asian:     02.6%

Nat. Am.:  2.2%

The district takes in central Phoenix and southern Glendale.  It is not much changed and should be a safe Democratic district.

5th District- David Schweikert (R)

New District VAPs

White:      75.7%

Black:      02.8%

Hispanic:   15.4%

Asian:      03.0%

Nat. Am.:   01.8%

Old District VAPs

White:      73.8%

Black:      03.7%

Hispanic:   14.0%

Asian:      04.7%

Nat. Am.:   02.2%

The district loses Tempe and a portion of Phoenix to the south, becoming a Scottsdale-centric district.  I’d guess it also becomes a bit more Republican with a PVI of R+7.  This district would be hard for a Democrat to pick up.

6th District- Open

New District VAPs

White:      76.9%

Black:      02.7%

Hispanic:   14.7%

Asian:      03.0%

Nat. Am.:   01.4%

Old District VAPs

White:      73.7%

Black:      03.0%

Hispanic:   17.2%

Asian:      03.9%

Nat. Am.:   00.9%

The district loses a portion of western Mesa and all of Chandler and picks up more of eastern Pinal County.  This monstrously Republican district probably becomes even more so.  It has no incumbent due to Jeff Flake’s Senate run.

7th District- Raul Grijalva (D)

New District VAPs

White:      38.3%

Black:      03.2%

Hispanic:   51.2%

Asian:      01.7%

Nat. Am.:   04.6%

Old District VAPs

White:      38.7%

Black:      03.6%

Hispanic:   50.1%

Asian:      02.2%

Nat. Am.:   04.1%

This district loses La Paz County and a bit of Tucson while adding western Pinal County.  On balance, it becomes slightly more Hispanic.  The PVI is probably similar to the current D+6.  Since he won in 2010 after urging a boycott of the state, I have to assume he’ll be safe in this district.

8th District- Gabriele Giffords (D)

New District VAPs

White:      71.6%

Black:      03.1%

Hispanic:   19.1%

Asian:      03.3%

Nat. Am.:   00.9%

Old District VAPs

White:      72.7%

Black:      03.2%

Hispanic:   18.9%

Asian:      02.9%

Nat. Am.:   00.8%

This district drops conservative Cochise County and picks up more of the city of Tucson.  It is now contained entirely in Pima County.  I’d guess that the PVI shifts from R+4 to about even.  If Giffords runs again, she’ll probably win, though I’d consider this a toss-up district.

9th District- New District

New District VAPs

White:      64.8%

Black:      04.4%

Hispanic:   21.5%

Asian:      05.6%

Nat. Am.:   02.0%

This new district contains Chandler, Tempe, western Mesa, and the southern portion of Phoenix.  Because no incumbent lives in this district and because its PVI is probably about even, I’d expect a competitive election in 2012.

Overall, the map has 5 Republican districts, 2 Democratic districts, and 2 pure toss-up districts.  In my view, this will better than the current map, which really had two Democratic districts and six Republican ones.

Arkansas Redistricting: Can It Be Done?

There has evidently been some discussion of drawing a minority-majority district in Arkansas to give the Democrats a buffer against an 0-4 Republican sweep.

My criteria for making this map was:

1. There must be a minority-majority district, no matter how hideous.

2. Rep. Ross must have a district he could potentially retain.

3. Rep. Griffin cannot be allowed to have a safe district to himself.

I’m not going to go district-by-district, mostly because I’m already up past my bedtime. But we have an open seat here, and it’s something new and blue. It’s also 49% white, 44% black, and although it goes up to majority-white when you VAP it, most Democratic primary voters will probably be black, and it’s diverse enough to be a solid Democratic district.

As for Ross and Griffin, they get to square off over my hideous reincarnation of AR-04, which includes a hefty portion of Pulaski County and has a PVI probably not too far off the current R+7 version. But I’m just eyeballing it, and I’ve never even been to Arkansas, so someone should correct me if I’m wrong.

Rep. Womack gets to sit pretty in AR-03, and Rep. Crawford should be quite comfortable in AR-02, a.k.a. the Jolly Green Giant.

North Carolina (Updated!): The Map That Gets Uglier Each Time You Draw It

The lack of political data is a bit of a drawback in coming up with these North Carolina maps, but I’ve drawn North Carolina a few times now. In my experience, it’s hard to draw a pretty map, and in fact, I think it keeps getting grosser and grosser the more I try.

The idea here was to draw a rather unfriendly 4-9 gerrymander for the Republicans. I think it came out largely successfully, though at least two of those GOP districts (and perhaps one Democratic district) may be prone to a bit of wobble. I’d call it a 4-8-1 overall.

NC-01 (blue)

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, the Democrat who represents this VRA district, has little to complain about. It’s not pretty, but it is 44.4% white, 46.7% black, and no Republicans will be interested in seriously challenging Butterfield out here. Safe Democratic.

NC-02 (green)

Hey, it’s an open seat. Well, maybe. This district gobbles up a lot of ruby-red central North Carolina, much of which is currently held by Republican Rep. Howard Coble in modern-day NC-06, one of the most Republican districts in the country. I’m not exactly sure where Coble resides in Greensboro, but most of Greensboro is in another district, so I think this is open. Rep. Renee Ellmers, the freshman Republican who claims this district today, is certainly drawn out. No matter who runs here, the Republican will win unless he or she is caught with a live boy or a dead girl, as the saying goes. Safe Republican.

NC-03 (purple)

Republican Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr., gets more respect here than most Republican congressmen. He’s an ally of Rep. Ron Paul, the iconoclastic Texas Republican who kick-started the nascent libertarian uprising within the Republican Party back in 2007 and 2008 when he ran for president, then flatly refused to endorse the party’s nominee, Sen. John McCain, in favor of holding a rival event to the Republican National Convention across town. The quirky Jones should be happy with this district, which looks rather similar to his current turf. He benefits heavily from water continuity here, of course. Safe Republican.

NC-04 (red)

Yes. Here is where things get a bit twisted. Democratic Rep. David Price gets thrown into the blender together with current NC-13 Rep. Brad Miller, another Democrat, in this urban vote sink. A primary fight between Price and Miller, both of whom claim a very Democratic voting record and both of whom are members of the extremely endangered club of white Democratic congressmen from the South, could be the source of some yucky schadenfreude for delighted Republican spectators. Whoever is the Democratic nominee will hold this seat, guaranteed. Safe Democratic.

NC-05 (yellow)

This is where Coble goes out of his NC-06. It’s a combination of the northern parts of that district and the current NC-05. Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, otherwise known as the Mean Granny, has been redistricted elsewhere, paying the price of living at the absolute extremity of her district. If the district absorbed swingy Winston-Salem, it might be more competitive, but in this configuration, Republicans won’t sweat it. Safe Republican.

NC-06 (teal)

Mean Granny actually ends up here, in the district that soaks up Winston-Salem. She has little reason to complain, though, as outside of some parts of the city, the district is eye-blisteringly red. Foxx is such a piece of work that it’d be nice to think a strong Democrat could take her out, but in this configuration, she or any other Republican who runs is basically secure starts out with a solid edge. Safe Likely Republican.

NC-07 (grey)

Somehow, Ellmers lands in this district, while current Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre goes elsewhere. With all the grace of a drunken giraffe, this district lurches from Ellmers’s home of Dunn down to the South Carolina border, scooping up lots of ancestrally Democratic territory. McIntyre likely would have gotten the boot last year were he not matched up against accused murderer and former Goldman Sachs stooge Ilario Pantano, as demographic trends in this area have not smiled on the Democratic Party. I’d rate Ellmers the favorite, but she’s not exactly Albert Einstein herself, and a good Democratic recruit could give the party a chance at keeping this seat blue post-McIntyre. Lean Likely Republican.

NC-08 (slate blue)

McIntyre, of course, wound up here, in the district now represented in Congress by his fellow Blue Dog Democrat, Rep. Larry Kissell. There’s been some talk of McIntyre running against near-toxic Gov. Perdue for the Democratic nomination in next year’s gubernatorial election, and if he gets deathmatched against his buddy Kissell (as appears likely), the odds probably go up. This district is probably going to stay in the Democratic column thanks to Fayetteville and the potent incumbency of Kissell, but the PVI is going to be pretty close to EVEN and Republicans will probably still want to take a crack at flipping it. Likely Democratic.

NC-09 (cyan)

Rep. Sue Myrick, the longtime Republican congresswoman here, has kept a low profile on the national stage, but she’s well-connected and well-loved in suburban Charlotte. Her district has not changed too much at all, and she’s a lock for reelection if she runs. Safe Likely Republican.

NC-10 (magenta)

This district is the unlucky one charged with cracking the Democratic stronghold of Asheville, credited by some with keeping Rep. Heath Shuler, the Blue Dog Democrat representing NC-11, in Congress last year. Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry should be able to handle it, seeing as that most of the rest of his district remains the same (though it no longer stretches to the Tennessee border) and the modern-day incarnation is a dramatic R+17. Safe Republican.

NC-11 (chartreuse)

The man with the biggest target on his back in North Carolina redistricting this year, Shuler has been an irritant to the North Carolina Republican Party (as well as the national Democratic Party, but that’s another story) due to his apparent inability to lose despite occupying an intensely Republican district. But with about two-thirds of Asheville locked away in NC-10, this could be the end for Shuler. The thing is, I wouldn’t count the man out. Tossup/Tilt Republican.

NC-12 (cornflower blue)

I haven’t exactly made my loathing of Democratic Rep. Mel Watt, the congressman for Bank of America NC-12, a secret on this site. But he’s got a VRA district, albeit perhaps the most atrocious one in the country, and he’s not going anywhere. Republicans said they’d like to kill this grotesque district, which snakes from Charlotte up to Greensboro, but they also don’t want to get nerfed with a retrogression suit, because a court-drawn map of North Carolina would look a hell of a lot different than a Republican gerrymander. This district is 31.4% white, 47.6% black, and 14.2% Latino, which is about as strong a minority-majority district as can be drawn here. Safe Democratic.

NC-13 (salmon)

Despite its color, this district is not intended for every SSPer’s favorite authentic self-utilizing power along the lines of excellence, last seen launching a committee to explore just how many points he would lose by to independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. With two pairs of Democratic congressmen deathmatched, this district must be North Carolina’s second open seat, and it’s a doozy. It’s basically an incomplete ring around the Research Triangle, joining together a bunch of white-collar suburbs and exurbs. It doesn’t exactly scream “recipe for Democratic strength”, but it’s an open seat, so it could be surprising. I’d bet strongly on a competent Republican candidate, though. Likely Republican Tossup.

UPDATE: roguemapper kindly calculated some political data (based on the 2008 election results) for the above map. This inspired me to get slightly more diabolical. If Republicans wanted to get very, very aggressive (and maybe a little bit spiteful), they could try a map like this:

I’d call this a 4-9, but I haven’t crunched the numbers yet. One of those Republican districts will belong to Rep. Heath “Captain Jack Harkness” Shuler, cursed with apparent political invulnerability, but there’s only so much you can do in redistricting.

NC-01 (blue)

No change from previous map. Safe Democratic.

NC-02 (green)

This district takes up a lot of swingy territory (helping to push a few marginal Republican seats deeper into the red) and tries to smother it with rural territory. It’s still an open seat, I believe. Democrats’ biggest foe here is its lack of geographic compactness; I don’t see a Durham-area Democrat running strongly in northern Cumberland County, for example, which would find a Blue Dog more palatable than Democrats from the Research Triangle would. Likely Republican.

NC-03 (purple)

No change here. Safe Republican.

NC-04 (red)

No change here. Safe Democratic.

NC-05 (yellow)

Scooping up more of Greensboro in exchange for some rural counties on the Virginia border will push the PVI of this district a point or two more Democratic, but it should remain a solid Republican district, especially with veteran Coble entrenched in the Greensboro area. Safe Republican.

NC-06 (teal)

No change here. Likely Republican.

NC-07 (grey)

No change here. Likely Republican.

NC-08 (slate blue)

One of the cruelest districts I’ve ever drawn, this minority-majority district basically screws both Kissell and McIntyre (who are both drawn into it) in the primary. That’s probably no benefit to Republicans, as Kissell and McIntyre are among the least loyal members of the Democratic caucus, but it fulfills the vendettas of the North Carolina Republican Party. Plus, if a black Democrat from Greensboro sneaks through in a primary, the consternation of ancestral Democrats happy enough to vote for Kissell and willing to begrudgingly pull the lever for President Obama in 2008 could give a moderate “good ol’ boy” Republican (including Kissell, if he switched parties) an opening. 45% white, 34.1% black, 8.2% Latino, 8.1% American Indian. Likely Democratic.

NC-09 (cyan)

Myrick gets a safer seat, with a lot of blueing Charlotte gobbled up by Watt and a lot of reddish territory incorporated into this district. Safe Republican.

NC-10 (magenta)

No change here. Safe Republican.

NC-11 (chartreuse)

No change here. Note that as before, the rating is only because Shuler is Shuler; in an unlikely open-seat scenario, it’s almost certain to flip. Tossup/Tilt Republican.

NC-12 (orange)

Yes, I changed the color. And the shape. Watt’s ugly snake-shaped district has been made more compact, and in turn, it has become much whiter. It remains minority-majority, but by a smaller margin, and it is white-plurality. 44.4% white, 35.6% black, 13.8% Latino. Safe Democratic.

NC-13 (salmon)

This district loses suburban Durham and Orange counties in exchange for exurban Chatham and Lee counties. This should be the district I meant to draw last time. Still an open seat. Likely Republican.

Nevada Redistricting: Silver State, It’s Your Time to Shine

Fast-growing Nevada is adding a fourth congressional district in this round of redistricting. The C.W. says Republicans, who control the governor’s mansion, and Democrats, who control both houses of the State Legislature, will work toward a 2-2 compromise, although the solidity of one Republican seat may be dubious. I tend to think a 2-1-1 map is likelier, with the swing district favoring the incumbent.

Forth Eorlingas:

Now, uh, before getting deep into this, I should note that unlike some of our Nevadan SSPers, I haven’t memorized the home addresses of every sitting congressperson in Nevada or every prospective candidate for the new NV-04 or a (likely) vacancy in NV-01 or NV-02. So, this map may need some tweaking. Just let me know, help me out.

I’ll start out of order, because the way districts are numbered in Nevada is weird.

NV-02 (green)

Rep. Dean Heller, the Republican congressman for this district, is widely expected to launch a primary challenge to sleazy Sen. Ensign, but he seems to be crossing his fingers for a retirement in the meantime. The trend for Republicans in Northern Nevada is…not great. Washoe County is quickly becoming another Democratic stronghold in the state, and the surrounding counties appear to be on a blue trend. Elko, in northeastern Nevada, is a Republican stronghold, and the minor population center there combined with the still-reddish sprawl around Reno and Carson City should keep this district on the Republican side of the PVI line, but it’s uncomfortably close to EVEN PVI and there doesn’t seem to be a lot Republicans can do about it. If Heller runs, he’ll probably retain it, but if he goes for Senate, it’s going to be very close in a presidential year. Tossup/Tilt Republican.

NV-01 (blue)

I think the expectation is that Democratic Rep. Shelly Berkley will run for Senate, potentially setting up a marquee battle with Heller, her colleague in the Nevada congressional delegation. I’m pretty sure her house is included in this district either way – but the person I had in mind while drawing this district is Steven Horsford, the term-limited Nevada Senate Majority Leader. Horsford, if elected, would become the first African American congressman from the Mountain West in…a while. The racial breakdown, for the curious, is 52.3% white, 13.4% black, 20.2% Latino, and 10% Asian. Safe Democratic.

NV-03 (yellow)

This district is represented by freshman Rep. Joe Heck, the Republican who put Southern-talkin’ Democrat Dina Titus on ice last year even as Sen. Reid stomped nutty Tea Party conservative Sharron Angle by a five-point spread. Interestingly enough, Heck would see his district balloon out substantially to eclipse NV-02 in size under this map. While the vast majority of this district’s population is in Clark County, the little fraction that comes out of the rest of the state has a huge geographic footprint, because the cow counties are so underpopulated (this may have something to do with them being a jumble of arid desert, craggy mountain ranges, and current and former nuclear test sites). Heck, who lives in Henderson, gets the lion’s share of exurban Clark County, as well as bedroom communities in Nye County, and the more conservative Las Vegas suburbs. Titus has been redistricted out, but she could always move back, I suppose. Likely Republican.

NV-04 (red)

Nevada is getting a brand-new district, and that means at least one open-seat contest next year. Potential Democratic candidates for this VRA seat (31% white, 10.1% black, 49.2% Latino, 6.7% Asian) include Ruben Kihuen, a Mexican American state senator with an independent streak; John Oceguera, the term-limited Speaker of the State Assembly, who would become the country’s only Native American congressman if elected; Richard Carrillo, also a member of the State Assembly; and Dina Titus, the former NV-03 representative. This district should be solid ground for the Democrats, whoever runs, although I think a Latino Democrat would be favored in the primary. Safe Democratic.

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?

CA CD36 – Open Seat, two big candidates

Potentially the hottest California Congressional race in a decade, a matchup between Secretary of State Debra Bowen and Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn provides a great opportunity to show how mapping can inform each campaign.

Hahn is in. Activists on Twitter are saying that Bowen will decide by Tuesday. Marcy Winograd, who ran unsuccessfully in 2010 is mulling a run, and Republicans Mattie Fein and Nathan Mintz could still be in the mix. The following uses Maptitude to explore what the candidates are going to face.


CD36 Registration [PDF]

This coastal area has elected Republicans in the past, and it can be seen how in this map. Many of the higher income portions are either Republican leaning or narrowly Democratic. However the northern part of the district, including the city of LA portions makes this a safe Democratic seat.


CD36 Latino Density [PDF]

The Latino density is greatest inland and in the southern area where Hahn is most well known. Latinos could be a Hahn strength provided that these communities show up in a low-turnout election.



CD36 African American Density [PDF]

African American residents are more inland than CD 36, with only a small representation, mostly in the West Carson and LA portions of the district. Normally the African American vote would be a strong factor for Hahn as she and her father have strong support within that community. There has been some discussion that the district would have a larger African American base if the Commission made the coastal lines East/West rather than North/South. This would create two South Bay seats in which African Americans could be influential, however do so potentially at the expense of coastal communities of interest.


Asian Density [PDF]

Asian Voters could be a key voting bloc in this contest with the densest concentrations inside Torrance. Clearly this is a race where Ted Lieu would have been formidable, if he weren't in the middle of his own race for State Senate.


Hahn v. Newsom in CD36 [PDF]

Janice Hahn ran for Lieutenant Governor in June 2010, and this map shows where she won and lost, by precinct. A sitting councilmember with massive Name ID losing to a mayor from San Francisco in her LA backyard shows a major point of vulnerability.


Harman v. Winograd in June 2010 [PDF]

Marcy Winograd ran against Congresswoman Jane Harman in the June 2010 primary. Her campaign was primarily fueled by a progressive backlash to Harman who has been hawkish on middle east issues. As this map shows, a number of the most progressive precincts, particularly those up in the Venice area preferred her over Harman.


Bowen v. Ortiz 2006 Primary [PDF]

The 2006 primary election for Secretary of State was a low-interest down ballot race with Ortiz performing strongly among Latinos. This can be seen in this map where the West Carson portion of the district is strongly supportive of Ortiz. However, Bowen wins the vast majority of the district, ultimately winning by a large margin.



Hahn Results in Districts 31 – 39 [PDF]

We know from the maps below that in the 2010 Democratic Primary for Lieutenant Governor Janice Hahn lost a chunk of precincts to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. But how does this relate to her performance in other parts of LA? As this map shows, Hahn won Congressional Districts 31-39. But of those CD 36 was her worst performance. In the districts mapped, Hahn beat Newsom by an average of 31 points, but in CD 36 she only beat him by 9 points. The heavy lift for the Hahn campaign will be confronting the fact that she is extremely popular in the city core, but had her worst election night performances along the coast. 


Hahn and Bowen Races – side by side [PDF]

This compares the 2006 Bowen v. Ortiz race to the 2010 Hahn v. Newsom race, showing something local activists may already understand: Bowen is strongest in the most liberal and white portions of the district, while Hahn is strongest in the more urban LA and West Carson portions. This should be very concerning to Hahn as her base of support is also the lower registration and turnout part of the district.

Random Antics: Hypothetical Connecticut Redistricting

Well, I started thinking about ways the Connecticut Democratic Party can get Ted Kennedy, Jr., into politics without potentially screwing over Rep. Chris Murphy of CT-05, the bold young soul in a bid for the Senate seat held by retiring independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman. And I thought, “Well, what about starting him off with a nice House seat?” And that evolved into wondering about exactly how to negate the fact that CT-05 represents a pickup opportunity for the Republicans, provided they field a good candidate, now that Murphy is moving on to (hopefully) bigger and better things.

I came up with this map.

What I’ve done here is I’ve basically cracked the existing CT-05, giving pieces of it to CT-01 (pink), CT-04 (red), and the new south-central-based incarnation of CT-05 (blue). I can’t guarantee Rep. Jim Himes in CT-04 is going to be thrilled, considering he had a closer-than-expected reelection campaign against Dan Debicella (drawn into Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s CT-03 [purple] on this map); Rep. John Larson in CT-01 should be fine, considering the sizable Democratic tilt of Hartford. I think Democrats will have to concede one district as “fair fight” and hope the state’s strong Democratic proclivities and a mediocre Republican bench are enough to keep it in friendly hands, and I think they’d rather trust an incumbent member of Congress to hold it down rather than the likes of First Selectman Mary Glassman, whose ticket didn’t even come close to prevailing in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last year. Having two close districts, as they did last year, is a bit uncomfortable when the Republicans remain capable of winning statewide at least on the state government level.

I’m not too knowledgeable about Connecticut politics in particular. My idea here is that by drawing CT-03 a bit west, CT-04 a bit north, CT-01 over into the northwestern corner of the state (making it much more compact in the process), and CT-02 more into the north-central than the south-central part of the state, I could create a new, open-seat CT-05 without jeopardizing the Democrats’ control of the congressional delegation. This CT-05 is specifically drawn for Kennedy, who lives in Branford (just east of the new boundary with CT-03, in the vicinity of New Haven). With a seat tailor-made for his political debut, Kennedy might be less tempted to upset the apple cart by making a damn-the-torpedoes run at the Democratic nomination-a scenario the Democratic establishment in Connecticut and the DSCC would surely like to avoid.