SSP Daily Digest: 4/5


AZ-Sen: Rep. Jeff Flake (R) will apparently announce a haul of more than $1 million in Q1.

OH-Sen: A spokesman for Treasurer Josh Mandel says he’ll file paperwork with the FEC “very shortly,” but it’s not clear from the writeup whether this means an exploratory committee (what I’m guessing) or if it’s the real thing. Also of note: Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), whose name first came up as a possible candidate less than a week ago, quashed any notion that he might run against Sherrod Brown last Friday.

VA-Sen: If you want to believe CNN’s sources, Tim Kaine will announce a Senate bid in the next two weeks.

WA-Sen, WA-10: Sue Rahr, the conservative King County Sheriff who inherited the job from now-Rep. Dave Reichert, said through a spokesman that she has no intention of running against Sen. Maria Cantwell – a rumor that seems to have gotten shot down before we’d ever heard of it here at SSP. However, a political consultant of Rahr’s thinks the sheriff (who supposedly has crossover appeal) could run in Washington’s new 10th CD, if a district emerges out of Reichert’s 8th centered in the area north of I-90.


ME-Gov: Will Paul LePage be the next Rick Scott? Like Florida’s governor, Republican members of LePage’s own legislature are starting to turn on him; eight state senators penned an op-ed declaring : “‘Government by disrespect’ should have no place in Augusta, and when it happens, we should all reject it.”

MO-Gov: I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better for Republican LG Peter Kinder. Trying to push back against revelations that he spend taxpayer money to spend two months a year in St. Louis luxury hotels to attend baseball games, society balls, and teabagger conclaves since 2006, Kinder claimed that his office had been reviewed by two different state auditors, both of them Democrats: Susan Montee and Claire McCaskill (yes, her). The problem? Montee’s audit faulted Kinder for “numerous mathematical errors and inconsistencies” regarding employee pay, and McCaskill’s found that Kinder used a state-owned care for personal use. I’m sensing a theme here.

WA-Gov: Could Christine Gregoire’s claim to be undecided about seeking a third term really just be a way to ward off lame-duck syndrome? That’s Jim Brunner’s guess. The Seattle Times reporter points out that campaign finance filings show the Democrat had just $44K on hand at the end of February. At the comparable reporting deadline during the prior election cycle, she had $1.2 million in the bank. Meanwhile, other likely candidates are flush: Republican AG Rob McKenna has raised $800K and has $400K on hand, while Rep. Jay Inslee (D) had $1.2 million in his congressional account at the end of last year. The piece also notes that another possible Dem candidate, state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, has recently discussed a potential run for Lt. Gov. instead. (She’d have to primary Brad Owen, who has been in office since 1997, or push him into retirement.)


FL-22: Whoa, I was definitely wrong to dismiss “no not that” Patrick Murphy as a Some Dude. One article described him as a 28-year-old accountant, but he’s got family money – and, evidently, good connections. Murphy says he raised a majorly impressive $350K in less than a month, and only $30K of that is his own money. Even fundraising machine Ron Klein raised “only” $153K in the comparable quarter in 2005 (before he was first elected).

NM-01: Terry Brunner, a former state director for the retiring Jeff Bingaman, had previously said he was thinking about running for his old boss’s seat, but now says he’s considering a run for the 1st CD instead.

NV-01: Jon Ralston thinks former 3rd CD Rep. Dina Titus will run for Shelley Berkley’s seat if the latter runs for Senate, but this is definitely a case of Schrödinger’s Seat.

OR-01: Former state Rep. Greg Macpherson is the first big-name Dem to say he’s considering a primary challenge to embattled Rep. David Wu. He wants to wait until the district lines become clear, saying he’ll only run if he lives in the district. (He doesn’t live there now, but I suppose he could move even if redistricting doesn’t help him, so I’m not sure how big an obstacle that is.) He also says he’s considering a primary challenge to state AG John Kroger, the man who beat him in the Dem primary for that office in 2008.

WI-07: Feeling the heat, Rep. Sean Duffy offered a half-assed non-apology, saying his “words were admittedly poorly chosen” when he whinged about getting paid only $174,000 a year as a member of Congress.

Other Races:

Wisconsin Sup. Ct.: Surprise, surprise: “Citizens for a Strong America,” the potemkin right-wing group responsible for several attack ads in the race (including one even PolitiFact rated “pants on fire”) turns out to be just a clone/offshoot of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ arch-evil front group.

Special Elections: After a few weeks without any state lege races, Johnny Longtorso is back:

While everyone will be focused on the Wisconsin Supreme Court election (which is a phrase I never thought I’d type), there is one special occurring on Tuesday in South Carolina’s HD-64, though it’s in a safe Democratic seat. Democrat Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Manning, will face off against Republican Walter Sanders.

Also, a quick shout-out to Republican Mike “Pete” Huval, the newest member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from HD-46. He defeated another Republican (no Democrat ran) on Saturday for the seat vacated by now-State Sen. Fred Mills.


Maps: The National Journal has an interesting set of maps which focus on a theme that DCCyclone has been hitting in comments: Namely, because of population growth among minorities, the share of the white vote that Obama needs in 2012 is lower than it was in 2008, assuming minority support for Obama stays the same. In a very pessimistic scenario where his minority support falls 10%, Obama would only lose three states he otherwise won in 2008 (FL, IN & NC), assuming he keeps the same share of the white vote. (But note that that latter assumption is unnecessary: Even under the reduced minority support scenario, Obama’s white support could also drop considerably in many states and he’d still win.)

Votes: A new study (full paper here) says that Dems who votes “yes” on healthcare reform saw their reelection margins reduced from 6 to 8 points. Something about this study seems incomplete to me, though, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’ll be really curious to read your thoughts in comments.

VRA: This is interesting: Black lawmakers in Georgia have filed a lawsuit challenging to dissolve the charters of five very white cities in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. The plaintiffs argue that these cities, all formed between 2005 and 2008, were created to dilute minority voting power, and hence violate the VRA. Apparently, this is a novel application of the Voting Rights Act, so we’ll see how it unfolds.

Passings: Very sad news: Former Rep. John Adler, a longtime state Senator who served one term in NJ-03 before losing last year, passed away at the age of 51. Last month, Adler contracted an infection which led to heart disease from which he never recovered. His father also died young of heart disease, something Adler would mention on the campaign trail when describing his family’s struggles after his father’s death. As a state legislator, one of his signature accomplishments was a smoke-free air bill which banned smoking in many public places. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

In other news, former TN Gov. Ned McWherter also passed away yesterday. McWherter, who was 80, served two terms as governor in the late 80s and early 90s. One of the things McWherter is probably best known for is the creation TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program. His son Mike ran an unsuccessful campaign for governor last year.

Redistricting Roundup:

Arkansas: Rob Moritz of the Arkansas News Bureau has a good rundown of what’s going on with Democrats’ controversial redistricting plan, dubbed the “Fayetteville Finger.” The plan has passed in the House but has stalled in the Senate, where a vote won’t come until Thursday at the earliest. At the end of the piece, Moritz details several different alternate proposals pending in the Senate.

Louisiana: A piece from Sunday’s Times-Picayune said that votes were possible on Monday in the House and Senate on congressional maps, but I’ve not yet seen any subsequent coverage.

Michigan: Aaron Blake’s redistricting series takes him to Michigan, where he has a good explanation of just how difficult it will be for the GOP to shore up its current situation.

Missouri: Check out this Google Maps version of the state House’s proposed new federal district lines.

New Jersey: Republicans started bitching and moaning about the state’s new map even before it was officially chosen, but so far, they haven’t said whether they’d challenge the map in court. Not really sure what grounds they’d have even if they wanted to give it a go.

Nevada: The LVRJ has a piece on the debate in Nevada over whether to create a majority-Hispanic district, or whether to keep Hispanic voters spread out to keep all districts more Dem or more competitive. Most Republicans obviously like the former idea, while Dems (including some Latino lawmakers) are understandably skeptical. Also, it looks like abgin must have trekked all the way from Basque Country to make a presentation at a public hearing in Vegas last weekend: The LVRJ says that “[s]everal interest groups presented proposed maps, including one that likely wouldn’t pass legal or political muster because it would create four new vertical congressional districts stretching from North to South.”

Texas: Ah, redistricting cat fud – it has a stench all its own. GOP Rep. Lamar Smith is apparently taking the non-insane view that Hispanic growth and the VRA require that two (well, at least two) of Texas’s four new districts be majority-minority, and he’s been working with Dem Rep. Henry Cuellar to create a compromise map. This has infuriated fellow Republican Rep. Joe Barton (aka Smokey Joe), who insists that at least three if not all four of the new seats be Republican-favored. And folks, the cat fud is real. Sayeth Politico:

Barton has harshly criticized Smith during Texas GOP delegation meetings, launching a profanity-laced tirade at Smith during one session early last month, and he’s privately tried to oust Smith as the lead Republican negotiator on redistricting.

Politico’s sources say that Smith is still favored among members of his own party, but that Gov. Rick Perry may be leaning toward Barton. Perry’s alleged plan is to skip DoJ pre-clearance and go directly to federal court, perhaps hoping for a friendly conservative panel (backstopped by an unquestionably conservative Supreme Court), so that could turn Barton’s dream into a reality… but I still think it’s a serious stretch. The piece also reports that proposed maps have been circulated among Republicans, but of course, no one’s sharing any copies.

3 VAP African-American Districts in Louisiana!

It seemed way too easy to make 2 VAP (Voting Age Population) black districts in Louisiana. I feel like even if there wasn’t 3 VAP districts, there could easily be two with another heavily leaning Dem district, making the new delegation a 3-3 split with LA losing one seat this year.

As I gerrymandered through New Orleans, Baton Rouge and LaFayette, I realized I didn’t even have to really go to Shreveport to Monroe for 2 districts, and it seemed there were quite a few black precincts left so I decided to try to make 3 VAP districts. It took a lot of maneuvering and one area of water contiguity over the lake, but I did it! It’s the most horrible map, though, and would never obviously be drawn.

My other goals were to not use touch-point contiguity, which I did not, and also not use water contiguity, which I failed to do, but oh well.

All racial numbers are VAP, if it was simply out of all population, the black percentage numbers are a few points higher in all districts. Also, the biggest deviation from target population is the blue district, which has 5,691 more than the target.


LA-01: The Green district here is the first VAP black district. It is centered on New Orleans, of course, and carefully zigzags around to avoid highly white voting districts and also to pick up extra black precincts outside of New Orleans. I have a feeling this district would have been much easier to create 7 years ago.

38.8% White, 50.1% Black, 6.5% Hispanic, 2.8% Asian

LA-02: The Blue district is where I used water contiguity. It takes in very, very white areas in Eastern Louisiana outside of Baton Rouge, and every white area imaginable inside New Orleans. Look at the big map I first posted for larger look of where the arms extend outside of the city.

79.0% White, 10.0% Black, 7.9% Hispanic, 2.3% Asian

LA-03: The purple district is the second VAP district, and this one is nasty. This district takes in virtually every black precinct imaginable without breaking contiguity, taking in parts of LaFayette, Baton Rouge, Lake Charles, New Iberia and Opelousas. I avoided every area I could that was extremely white (I would take places that were, say, 65% or 70% instead of 80% or 90%. This makes a HUGE difference.)

44.4% White, 50.1% Black, 2.8% Hispanic, 1.4% Asian

LA-04: The red district takes up everything in Southern Louisiana that isn’t black along the coast, and also LaFayette white areas. It also reaches some into Eastern Louisiana, but most of the district is along the coastal parishes. This is the whitest district.

81.9% White, 9.3% Black, 3.4% Hispanic, 1.4$ Asian

LA-05: The yellow district is almost as white as LA-04. It takes in everything that is white in Western and Central Louisiana. It was really annoying to make this contiguous with the last district, but I finally managed to do it without making the final VAP district go under 50.1%.

81.0% White, 12.8% Black, 3.0% Hispanic, 1.0% Asian

LA-06: Dark Green district. This was soooo hard to make VAP for awhile. I kept swapping territory to shed whiter areas to even just a few percentage points lower white areas, and also swapped territory with the purple district and I finally got it. It takes in black areas of Shreveport and Monroe, and also black areas further south in and around Alexandria in the central part of the state. This may be the ugliest district, along with LA-05.

45.7% White, 50.2% Black, 2.0% Hispanic, 0.7% Asian

Michigan Redistricting: An Unexpected Problem

Maintaining two VRA majority-African-American districts in the metro Detroit area is going to be much more of pain than I originally thought. In the relevant population by CD thread, I breezily commented:

And, on an even more important “not-to-mention” note, the Detroit metro area still has more than enough African Americans for two VRA districts, so consolidating MI-13 and MI-14 isn’t in the cards quite yet.

This is not untrue, but the measures required to get those two districts were a lot more dramatic than I expected. The most recent Census estimates painted a very different picture from the actual Census’s report of massive population loss in Wayne County. And so the new districts are likely to be quite different from what I (and others) had previously imagined.

After the jump, I present two different scenarios for the Detroit area districts. Please feel free to post your own — this is very much more about getting a discussion going than presenting anything close to a polished proposal.

Map 1: Skirting the Line

So far as I can tell, this is the best you can do in terms of maximizing the African American percentages of the two Detroit districts while staying in Wayne County. However, the two Detroit districts are majority African American by total population, but not by VAP. So to the best of my understanding of current case law, this solution is VRA-suspect.

Which is unfortunate for the GOP, because this is reasonably successful map for them. Basically, this is an attempt to cut out both Dingell and Peters, while replacing one of their districts with a new safe Ann Arbor plus Lansing district.

District-by-district, briefly:

Benishek’s MI-01 (Blue) is shored up for the Republicans with the addition of Grand Traverse County. Likewise, Upton’s MI-06 (teal) gains Allegan County. Amash’s MI-03 (purple) holds more or less steady, as does Miller’s MI-10 (pink).

Huizenga’s MI-02 (green) – currently the most Republican district – absorbs a couple of problematic counties from Camp’s MI-04 (red). MI-04 is a little shaky for the Republicans, but I’m not sure how to fix that.

Walberg’s MI-07 (grey) loses Eaton and outer Washtenaw County and picks up Monroe County and the southern tier of Wayne County – I could be wrong, but my instincts tells me that’s a wash. Kildee’s MI-05 (yellow) stretches north to take in more of the Thumb and all of Bay County, which marginally weakens it for the Democrats. MI-09 (cyan) is a new heavily Democratic open seat stretching from Ann Arbor to Lansing.

Then, we move into the Detroit Metro area. Massive population loss in Detroit causes Conyer’s MI-14 (brown) and Clarke’s MI-13 (salmon) to chew up most of the Wayne County portions of Dingell’s dismantled MI-15. They’re 50.6% African American total pop, 49.6% VAP and 50.3% African American total pop, 49.5% VAP respectively. Levin’s MI-12 (cornflower blue) stays more or less the same, picking up the rest of Royal Oak from Peter’s dismantled version of MI-09.

Speaking of which, that’s been bisected between McCotter’s MI-11 (lime) and Rogers’s MI-08 (slate blue). McCotter picks up Peters himself and some of the more Republican parts of the dismantled Ninth. Rogers gets some of the most Democratic parts of the old ninth in West Bloomfield, Pontiac, and Auburn Hills — but he no longer has to worry about Lansing, so he should still be fine.

Map 2: The Problem of Pontiac

Same thing, just zoomed in with locality lines

This one really just focuses on the two Detroit districts. In contrast to the first map, you’re looking at two true majority African-American districts. MI-13 (salmon) is 53.0% African American on both measures. MI-14 (brown) is 56.5% African American by total population, 54.6% African American by VAP.

So far as I can tell, stretching Conyers’s district over into Oakland County like this to pick up Southfield and Oak Park is the only way to get the two Detroit districts to combine into majority-African-American status. Having done that, stretching up to majority-African-American Pontiac seems to make a lot of sense.

Having Clarke’s district stretch through Dingell’s Dearborn to get to majority-African-American Inkster isn’t strictly necessary to get to 50% African American by VAP, but it does help.

Now, if I’m right in my understanding of case law and this basic configuration is necessary to comply with the requirements of the VRA, then state GOP has a problem on its hands. They can’t draw a district for McCotter that (1) he can win and (2) conforms with state redistricting standards.

Michigan state redistricting standards frown on county and locality splitting and are generally understood to prohibit what user rdelbov generally calls a “double-cross” — that is, having Districts X and Y share both Counties A and B. If you look over the current map, you’ll see that interpretation seems to have been followed under the last GOP gerrymander. McCotter’s district is the one allocated Oakland-Wayne split district. If Conyers’s district becomes one, then McCotter’s district, under state redistricting standards, can’t do that any more. But McCotter lives in Wayne County, and he needs those Oakland County Republicans to have a winnnable district.

Now, the potential out here is that, so far as I understand it, the state Supreme Court basically declared the state redistricting standards non-justiciable the last time a suit was filed based on them after the 2000 round of redistricting. So if the GOP wants to ignore them, they probably can.

I drew in sample districts around the two Detroit districts. The Detroit metro area ones more of less work, from a GOP perspective, although some of the non-pictured outstate ones were pretty ugly. But without knowing how to resolve the “double-cross” conundrum, I wasn’t really sure how to proceed.


So, which is the better way for the GOP to push the limits of redistricing law? Two only-borderline majority African American districts in Detroit? Or violate (potentially unenforceable) state law and have two districts cross the Oakland-Wayne border? Or do you have a better solution altogether?

Louisiana with 2 Black Majority VRA Districts, and a third “influence” district


I realize that this map is probably not politically feasible.  It would undoubtedly create two seats – perhaps even three – where Democratic candidates would stand a very good chance of winning.  But I drew it because I wanted to see a map made, using actual 2010 census data, that stayed as close as possible to the spirit of the VRA.  The VRA is not designed to ensure the election of particular minority candidates; it is to maximize the electoral chances of minority voters, where it is possible to create compact districts (part of the Gingles test), to choose candidates of their choice.  I believe this map does this with the 2nd and 4th districts.  I also wanted to see whether the already VRA-protected 2nd district needed to go to Baton Rouge as has been talked about a lot ever since it became apparent in the aftermath of Katrina that Louisiana would almost certainly lose a congressional seat.  It turns out that the answer is probably not – I say probably because I am not sure whether a VRA district needs to have just 50.0%+1 of total population be black or 50.0%+ of the voting age population.  If the latter is the standard, I am sure the districts can be tweaked somewhat to comply.  Follow me in the jump over to look at the six districts individually.

District 1 (blue)  SAFE GOP

W 81.9%, B 9.2%, H 5.7%, A 1.5%, NA 0.3%, Other 1.4% (W 83.9% of VAP)


Not many changes from current map. Extends all the way to Baton Rouge with the addition of Livingston County.


W 35.7%, B 51.8%, H 7.8%, A 2.9%, NA 0.4%, Other 1.4%

W 38.9%, B 48.8%, H 7.7%, A 2.9% VAP


I believe this would past judicial muster because the 48.8% Black voting age population (VAP), combined with Hispanics, “Other” (which undoubtedly is mixed or multiple races) and Asians, clearly is majority-minority.  If it needs another 1.2% African-Americans the map can probably be tweaked.  I wanted to see whether you needed to go to Baton Rouge, and the answer to me seems clearly not.  Thus, if a post-2010 map of Louisiana has the 2nd district going into downtown Baton Rouge, that is for GOP partisan purposes, not because it has to be drawn that way.

District 3 (purple) LIKELY GOP

W 72.6%, B 18.4%, H 4.1%, A 1.9%, NA 1.4%

W 75.1% VAP


I only hesitate to label this “Safe Republican” because until recently this third district elected a conservative Democrat to congress.  Probably with the addition of white areas of Baton Rouge and Lafayette, though, it is more Republican.


W 42.9%, B 51.7%, H 2.6%, A 1.3%, NA 0.3%, Other 1.2%

W 46.3%, B 48.7%, H 2.5%, A 1.3%, NA 0.3%, Other 0.9% VAP


Again the same caveat applies as in District 2: I am not sure whether, to pass VRA muster, a district merely needs to be above 50% population and meet the other Gingles criteria, or also has to have a VAP above 50%.  However, I believe this map would pass the retrogression test because it creates two Black-majority districts rather than just one (and comes close to the proportion of a state that is almost one-third black).  If it needs to be tweaked to get the VAP over 50%, it would probably involve a few more country splittings.

District 5 (light green) LIKELY GOP

W 75.9%, B 17.9%, H 2.7%, A 0.9%, NA 0.8%, Other 1.6%

W 77.7% VAP


I hesitate only in labeling this a safe GOP seat because it does contain the Cajun Country part of Louisiana, that until recently elected a Democrat to Congress.

District 6 (teal green) “Black influence” district LEAN DEMOCRATIC OR JUST TOSS-UP?

W 52.9%, B 41.9%, H 2.7%, A 0.9%, NA 0.4%, Others 1.3%

W 56.0%, B 39.4% VAP


Not sure whether this should be properly classified as a lean Democratic district or as a toss-up.  My caution comes from the stark degree of racial polarization in Deep South states like Louisiana, as witnessed in the 2008 election.  But it would give African-American voters the possibility to influence the choice of candidates in Louisiana’s jungle primary, thus meeting one of the Gingles tests.  And it does this with only one county being split.  A minority-majority district in this area of the state is probably possible, but might fail the compactness portion of the Gingles test (aka Cleo Field’s 1992 Z-shaped district).

Will this map likely be enacted?  Probably not.  But it should at least be considered given the VRA’s requirements, which it falls to the Obama Justice Department to insist on.  It seems clearly possible in my view to create two VRA-compliant districts in Louisiana that are relatively compact and adhere to communities of interest (in other words, recognizing that Baton Rouge residents have different concerns than those of New Orleans).

2010 Virginia & Majority-Minority Districts

This is just a quick diary playing around the new version of Dave’s App and the new 2010 Census data for Virginia.

My first interest in playing with the new Census data was to figure out if two African-American-majority districts are possible, as most recent estimates have indicated. They are:

Here are the stats for those districts:

As you can see, it was just possible to make those two districts majority African American.

Here are close-ups of those two districts:

I found NoVA interesting too. In my ACS version of this map, which I don’t think I ever posted, VA-08 and VA-11 both fit entirely within the confines of Fairfax County and the closer-in localities, with a small amount of population left over. This ended up being true in the Census data as well.

What was different was VA-10. The ACS version took up the remainder of Fairfax County, along with all of Prince William, Loudoun, Manassas, and Manassas Park, and then also needed to go into Fauquier. The Census version not only doesn’t go into Fauquier, it takes in only about half of Loudoun (geographically.)

I also thought it was interesting that of the three NoVa districts, it was actually the exurban Prince William-Loudoun hybrid that was closest to being majority-minority.

Here’s a map of a true majority-minority district in NoVa — which doesn’t go into either Arlington or Alexandria(!):

The lime green district has a VRA breakdown of

41 white/18 black/25 hispanic/12 asian/0 native/4 other

The other two districts are 60% white. Obama won all three districts, even with the Loudoun County bug.

Here’s a map with two majority-minority districts:

VA-08 (blue) is 46/10/21/18/0/3. VA-11 (green) is 48/18/19/11/0/4. Pink is 69% white, with Asians as the next largest group at 12%. Obama won all three of these districts as well — interestingly, this is actual a better configuration for him. He won the pink district by about three points more in the 2 majority-minority configuration than in the single. This is primarily because much of Arlington ended up in the pink district.

Other configurations are certainly possible. I suspect, although I haven’t been able to construct it yet, that a majority-minority district where Asians are the second largest group after whites is possible. So far, the best I’ve done puts Hispanics five points ahead of Asians.

South Carolina: 3 Minority-Majority Seats

This is a short diary for me – and one where I just wanted to “make a point.”

The diary is not really about South Carolina, although the state is used here as an example.  The VRA has been discussed in a number of diaries recently, but I think it’s important to revisit this issue again.  I previously did a post on South Carolina where two compact black-majority districts are created:


In this diary, three minority-majority districts are created.  Granted, they are not as compact (and would likely not pass a Supreme Court test as they are pretty clear racial gerrymanders), and the African-American percentage is only 49% in each district using the “new population estimate” in Dave’s Application.


Here’s a quick breakdown (pop. deviation is +/- 865 persons, btw).

Yellow – 49% black; 45% white (50%+ black; 46% white using “old” estimate)

Teal – 49% black; 46% white (51% black; 45% white using “old” estimate)

Gray – 49% black; 44% white (49% black; 47% white using “old” estimate)

Blue – 81% white; 10% black

Red – 78% white; 16% black

Green – 82% white; 10% black

Purple – 79% white; 14% black

Nevertheless, I am confident that, assuming the population figures under the Application are correct, it would be quite possible to make each district 50%+ African-American if precincts were split, lines were further refined, etc. — but that’s not really my point, as three black-majority districts will certainly not be drawn in South Carolina in 2012.

My point instead is that — if it’s basically possible to draw 3 black-majority seats in South Carolina — then it’s almost a “must” that just 2 are drawn, and furthermore, the Obama DOJ should not pre-clear any map of a state under the VRA where that map does not reflect the diversity of the state.

The above point should apply for states like South Carolina, which are gaining seats; states like Louisiana, which are losing seats; and states like Virginia, where the number of seats remains constant.  In a previous diary over a year ago, I drew 2 compact black-majority seats in Louisiana:


Just yesterday, roguemapper demonstrated how 6 compact minority-majority seats can be drawn in Georgia:


Here’s a map I did a while back (and posted only as an attachment to a diary comment) where Virginia gets 2 black-majority seats (and I have seen basically the same map done independently by several other posters on this site).  About 20% of Virginia’s population is African-American; yet there is currently only 1 black-majority district (out of 11) — where all the black population is “packed.”  Incidentally, using the “new population estimate”, the green district here (Hampton Roads area) is 51% black – 41% white, while the yellow district (Richmond and Southside area) is 52% black – 42% white.


Now, below is a really important map — that of geographic areas covered by the VRA:


I’m really not sure what the Obama DOJ will do regarding this issue, but I hope that they will take a strong stand in favor of drawing districts which reflect the diversity of the covered states, and will pre-clear only those maps which pass muster under that standard.

South Carolina 2-VRA Seats “This is Immoral”

This is a quick attempt at South Carolina with 7 seats and 2 Minority Majority districts.

SSPers speculated that there should be a second VRA seat in South Carolina, as there is a substantial black population. Personally I do not think South Carolina should have gotten another seat, the data on Daves App shows South Carolina at 4.5 Million or so, and 2010 Census showed it at 4.6 M or 663,710 per district. I however feel that as long as the US House stays with 435 seats and the size of each constituency rises with each census apportionment, the utility of VRA seats are going to collapse onto themselves.

We see instances like Mel Watt (NC), Corrine Brown (FL), and Sanford Bishop (GA) that getting 50% of their districts Black is a hard order when trying to make a district that has at best moderate gerrymandering.

South Carolina has a large African American population 30% in the 2000 Census; however the population is way too spread out to make a coherent congressional district within a state. As seen here


And my map seen here


It just is too agressive to get a 50% district and a 49% district. Also notice that the 4th district (yellow) is just barely contiguous. This gerrymander will only see Clyburn, Scott and Dowdy  keep their seats I believe. It does really put Joe Wilson into a very strange district.

All I Want for Christmas is a Nevada Redistricting

Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates it, whether on 25 December or otherwise. While waiting for the ham to be done, I drew up a map of Nevada with four shiny new districts, just what the U.S. Census Bureau ordered.

The way I drew it, we’re basically looking at a 2-2 map, with three if not all of those districts being somewhat “soft” (potentially competitive in the right cycle) due to the quirks of Nevada geography, politics, and geopolitics. Some people on other threads (the Missouri one, for example) have suggested that Gov.-elect Sandoval and the Republicans will probably be satisfied to shore up Rep.-elect Heck somewhat in exchange for letting the Democrats have their way, to an extent, with the new NV-04. I’m inclined to agree. Also, drawing a safe 1-3 map for a rapidly blueing state like Nevada is not terribly easy.

I don’t usually go out of order, but we should probably start at the top here (geographically rather than numerically) because Nevada is an oddly shaped state.

NV-02 (green, safe lean Republican)

Rep. Dean Heller, a Republican, is thought to be prepping a Senate bid against Sen. John Ensign, the scandal-tarnished Republican incumbent whose unreliability and moral flexibility has been a thorn in the side of Republican leadership in Nevada and in Washington for several years now. If he decides to forgo a bid for statewide office in favor of running for reelection, I doubt he’ll have a problem here. Washoe County may be swingy, but Heller is popular, and any Republican can run up crushing margins in the cow counties. If Heller runs for Senate in 2012, though, Republicans and Democrats alike will want to put a lot of effort into recruiting top-tier candidates here.

NV-01 (blue, safe Democratic)

Vegas, baby! This is Rep. Shelley Berkley’s district, and she’s considered the likeliest Democrat to run for Ensign’s seat in 2012. I figure she’ll vacate, and it’s just as well, because although Nevada isn’t a VRA preclearance state, the Department of Justice may lean on the incoming Sandoval administration to ensure a minority-majority seat. Latinos are actually about a quarter of Nevada’s population, they’re the fastest-growing demographic, and it’s pretty easy to draw a compact Latino-plurality district. This district is actually 28% white, 14% black, 6% Asian, and 49% Latino, going off 2008 population estimates, and I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts it’s outright Latino-majority in the new census data. Sandoval himself may do okay here, but it’s a safe Democratic district.

NV-03 (purple, likely Republican)

Rep.-elect Joe Heck edged Rep. Dina Titus, flipping the present “fair fight” incarnation of this district from blue to red, last month. One of Sandoval’s top priorities will be shoring him up. Adding a bunch of cow counties and consolidating the district’s hold on white-collar Clark County precincts is a decent way of accomplishing that. While Sharron Angle might lose this district, and Titus could conceivably take it back, it now tips pretty firmly in Heck’s favor.

NV-04 (red, likely Democratic)

One of the big reasons why the current NV-03 is a swing district is that it includes both Democratic and Republican areas along with some subdivisions that go both ways (no, not like that, most of those are pretty heavily Democratic). I gave most of those Republican areas to my NV-03, or at least I tried to, while NV-04 takes over most of the Democratic areas, centering around Spring Valley. It’s a mostly suburban district, though it includes just a bit of rural Clark County up Highway 95. Titus or another strong Democrat with a suburban base should be pretty solid here except in particularly gruesome cycles, although a socially moderate or libertarian Republican could potentially win it.

As a Christmas bonus, I’m also going to repost my revised and updated map for Missouri, which shrinks to eight districts in 2012’s redistricting, without much commentary:

This isn’t necessarily the most favorable map Democrats can possibly get, but it’s probably the most favorable map they’re likely to get in 2012. (There’s a whole discussion about this on the other diary.) It’s probably a 3-5 map, with Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan’s MO-03 (purple) likely playing host to a deathmatch between Carnahan and Republican Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Cape Girardeau in 2012.

A few quick notes: Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay’s MO-01 (blue) is 48% white, 47% black, remaining VRA-compliant. I was of the school of thought saying it couldn’t be done without throwing Carnahan overboard, but there you have it. Carnahan’s share of St. Louis County consists almost entirely of precincts that voted for then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, so I think Mr. Local Boy has a good base there. And Republican Rep. Todd Akin’s home in rich white Town and Country remains in his district of MO-02 (green).

Not much to add here. Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver in MO-08 (slate blue), renumbered from the current MO-05, still doesn’t get a VRA district, but he’s a good politician who is popular with both white and black Democrats in Kansas City. I resisted the urge to dismember Republican Rep.-elect Vicki Hartzler’s MO-05 (yellow), renumbered from the current MO-04, because I didn’t think the Republicans in the Missouri state legislature would let such a plan get to Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s desk.

Hope everyone is dividing their time as they see fit between family, friends, and politics. Thoughts on either map are welcome and appreciated.

3 VRA districts in AL, LA, and MD

I wanted to take a look at what redistricting might look like in three Southern states (Alabama, Louisiana, and Maryland) with large black populations if, within each state, three VRA districts were created. Right now, Alabama has one VRA district, Louisiana has one, and Maryland has two; this diary has maps that raise that number to three in each state. I also wanted to take a look at what the political implications of this would be on a state-by-state basis; would Democrats be hurt or helped by such plans? Please read on to find out more and leave your comments and feedback as well. Thanks!


Statewide Map

District 1 (Blue): South Alabama-Mobile, Dothan, Montgomery

Demographics: 83% white, 11% black

This is a strongly Republican district that picks up the white parts of South Alabama and then snakes up north past Montgomery. Incumbent 1st district GOP Rep. Jo Bonner would easily win in this district.

District 2 (Green): South/East Alabama-Dothan, Montgomery, Troy, Auburn

Demographics: 48% black, 48% white (black plurality)

This district picks up black areas in South Alabama and Montgomery, and then goes northward all the way to Anniston. This district should be Democratic due to a slight black plurality. While current 2nd district Democratic Rep. Bobby Bright would probably love to have a district like this, he might be vulnerable to a black challenger in a Democratic primary.

District 3 (Purple): East Alabama and Birmingham suburbs/exurbs-Birmingham

Demographics: 85% white, 10% black

This is a very Republican district that essentially combines the eastern half of the current 6th district (Birmingham suburbs and exurbs) with the mostly-white and rural northern areas of the current 3rd district. The homes of two incumbent GOP congressmen, 6th district Rep. Spencer Bacchus (from Vestavia Hills in Jefferson County) and 3rd district Rep. Mike Rogers (from Saks in Calhoun County) are both in this district so they would likely face off in a primary that I think Bacchus would be favored to win.

District 4 (Red): North Alabama-Florence, Madison, Huntsville, Albertville, Gadsden

Demographics: 87% white, 6% black

This is an extremely Republican district in North Alabama that has some of Obama’s worst areas and would be easily won by the probable congressman for the current 5th district after the 2010 elections, Republican Mo Brooks of Huntsville.

District 5 (Yellow): Southwest Alabama-Mobile, Selma, Greenville, Tuscaloosa

Demographics: 51% black, 46% white

This district takes in many of the non-Birmingham areas of the current 7th district in what is known as the Black Belt, and it now reaches down all the way into Mobile. This district has a black majority and would be an open seat almost certainly won by a black Democrat.

District 6 (Teal): Northwest Alabama, Birmingham suburbs/exurbs-Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Cullman

Demographics: 88% white, 6% black

This would be a safe GOP district that merges the western halves of the current 4th and 6th districts and would likely be won by Republican Congressman Robert Aderholt, who lives in Winston County.

District 7 (Gray): Urban Birmingham and North Alabama-Birmingham, Gadsden, Huntsville, Florence

Demographics: 53% black, 41% white

This black-majority district brings the number of VRA districts in Alabama to three by picking up urban Birmingham and then snaking through North Alabama into Gadsden, Huntsville, and Florence. It will be represented by a black Democrat, probably either Teri Sewell or Shelia Smoot.

So overall, Democrats will likely gain from this map. While it essentially closes the door on ever winning any of the 4 white majority districts (all of which are now at least 85% white), it creates 3 districts that should easily fall into Democratic control, unlike the current map, which really only has one safe district for Democrats (the 7th district). So we would see a likely change from either 5R-2D (Bright wins in 2010) or 6R-1D (Bright loses in 2010) to 4R-3D.


Statewide Map

District 1 (Blue): East Louisiana-Baton Rouge, Hammond, Kenner, New Orleans

Demographics: 80% white, 11% black, 6% Hispanic

This is a very conservative and Republican district that picks up white areas between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Incumbent GOP Reps. Bill Cassidy and Steve Scalise would face off in this district’s Republican primary, and it is about half and half of each of their old districts so neither would really have the advantage of incumbency.

District 2 (Green): South Louisiana and New Orleans-New Orleans, Hammond, Houma

Demographics: 52% black, 39% white

This is essentially a successor to the current black-majority 2nd district, although it must expand south and west to make up for severe population loss from Hurricane Katrina. It retains a black majority, and will easily elect a black Democrat, probably either Cedric Richmond or Juan LaFonta, to Congress.

District 3 (Purple): South Louisiana-New Orleans, Houma, Lafayette

Demographics: 80% white, 12% black

This district has many of the white Cajun areas in the current 3rd district, but now extends to the west to pick up much of Lafayette. This district would likely elect a Republican simply due to its overwhelming whiteness, although there would be a fight in the Republican primary between Hugh Downer of Houma, who will likely be the GOP Rep. for the 3rd district following the 2010 elections, and 7th district Rep. Charles Boustany, whose Lafayette base is now in the 3rd district.

District 4 (Red): West and North Louisiana-Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport, Monroe

Demographics: 82% white, 12% black

This district is intertwined with the new black-majority 5th district, taking up white areas in Western and Northern Louisiana and ending up with only 3 whole parishes, the rest of the parishes in the district being shared with neighboring districts. GOP congressmen Rodney Alexander of Alexandria and John Fleming of Minden (in Webster Parish near Shreveport) would have to battle it out in a Republican primary that Alexander would be favored to win, although either would easily hold the seat in a general election in this heavily white and Protestant district.

District 5 (Yellow): West and North Louisiana-Lake Charles, Alexandria, Nachitoches, Shreveport, Monroe

Demographics: 51% black, 45% white

This new black-majority district snakes around the Mississippi and Arkansas borders and then stretches down all the way to Lake Charles, picking up many black precincts along the way. Perhaps former Congressman Cleo Fields would give it a try in this district, although any black Democrat would be favored to win.

District 6 (Teal): East and South Louisiana-New Iberia, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Slidell

Demographics: 52% black, 44% white

This is the third black-majority district in the state, taking the black areas of Baton Rouge and Lafayette and the snaking along the border with Mississippi and then all the way down to St. Tammany Parish. It would probably be won by a black Democrat from Baton Rouge or Lafayette.

So Louisiana is another state where Democrats would benefit from having 3 black-majority districts. The balance of power would shift from 6R-1D to 3D-3R, a three seat loss for the Republicans and a two seat gain for the Democrats.


Statewide Map

Baltimore Area Map

D.C. Area Map

District 1 (Blue): Eastern Shore and Baltimore, Harford, and Anne Arundel Counties-Annapolis, Aberdeen, Eaton, Salisbury

Demographics: 74% white, 19% black

2008 pres. results: 50% McCain-48% Obama

By trading heavily Republican suburban areas in Baltimore and Harford Counties with the 2nd district for Democratic areas in Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties, this district becomes much more Democratic. While John McCain still narrowly won this district, Frank Kratovil would have no trouble winning this district as it is now mostly limited to Democratic areas and his base on the Eastern Shore.

District 2 (Green): Anne Arundel, Calvert, Harford, and Baltimore Counties-Annapolis, Bowie, Dundalk, Bel Air

Demographics: 86% white, 7% black

2008 pres. results: 59% McCain-39% Obama

This is now a heavily Republican district around Annapolis and Baltimore, a result of the creation of a third black-majority district. It was simply not possible to maintain a Democratic 2nd district and still have the three black-majority districts without threatening Democratic control of the 3rd district. As a result, this district was disproportionately packed with Republicans and gave John McCain a 20% margin of victory. We might finally say hello to Congressman Andy Harris, although he would likely be the only GOP member of Congress from Maryland.

District 3 (Purple): Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery, and Carroll Counties-Gaithersburg, Columbia, Westminster, Towson, Baltimore

Demographics: 69% white, 15% black, 8% Asian, 5% Hispanic

2008 pres. results: 56% Obama-42% McCain

This is a new district that stretches from Montgomery County all the way up to the Pennsylvania border. Both John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger would likely run in the Democratic primary in this district in order to stay in Congress, although they might split the Baltimore vote, allowing someone from Montgomery or Howard Counties to slip through. A Democrat should win here nonetheless.

District 4 (Red): Frederick, Carroll, and Montgomery Counties-Frederick, Westminster, Rockville, Gaithersburg

Demographics: 66% white, 12% Hispanic, 10% Asian, 10% black

2008 pres. results: 58% Obama-40% McCain

This map is not all bad news for Democrats, as GOP Rep. Roscoe Bartlett sees his Republican district split in half and replaced with two districts where Obama received 59% of the vote. The new 4th district combines most of the current 8th district’s portion of very Democratic Montgomery County with parts of Frederick and Carroll Counties. It has 8th district Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s home in Kensington and Van Hollen could easily defeat the very conservative Bartlett (who would also be 86 years old by Election Day 2012) in this Democratic district.

District 5 (Yellow): Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s Counties-La Plata, Waldorf, Clinton

Demographics: 55% black, 33% white, 7% Hispanic

2008 pres. results: 78% Obama-21% McCain

The first of Maryland’s black majority districts, half of this super-Democratic district is made up of areas from Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards’ current 4th district and Chris Van Hollen’s 8th district, while the other half of the district comes from Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer’s current 5th district. This new district is 56% black and contains Edwards’ base in Prince George’s County, although it also has Steny Hoyer’s base in Southern Maryland and the House Majority Leader would no doubt be difficult to topple in a primary. I think a primary would be very competitive between the two incumbents, so Edwards might decide to instead run in the new black-majority 8th district.

District 6 (Teal): Panhandle and Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties-Cumberland, Hagerstown, Frederick, College Park

Demographics: 65% white, 14% black, 12% Hispanic, 6% Asian

2008 pres. results: 59% Obama-39% McCain

This district is the second nail in the coffin for Roscoe Bartlett. The conservative rednecks living in the Panhandle are placed in the same district as liberal voters in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, and the University of Maryland’s campus in College Park is placed in the district as well. While Van Hollen’s home is in the 4th district, he could easily run here and win, even against Roscoe Bartlett. Former 8th liberal Republican Rep. Connie Morrella would have likely defeated Van Hollen here in 2002 though. I really don’t know which of these two districts Van Hollen and Bartlett would run in, but I think they would both elect Democrats.

District 7 (Gray): Baltimore City and Baltimore and Anne Arundel Counties-Baltimore

Demographics: 55% black, 38% white

2008 pres. results: 80% Obama-18%  McCain

This black-majority district takes up nearly all of Baltimore City and some surrounding areas. It is very Democratic and would retain Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings as its representative.

District 8 (Lavender): Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s, and Montgomery Counties-Baltimore, Columbia, Laurel, Bowie, Greenbelt

Demographics: 55% black, 29% white, 8% Hispanic, 6% Asian

2008 pres. results: 84% Obama-15% McCain

This is the third black-majority district in the state as well as Obama’s best district, picking up black areas in between Prince George’s County and Baltimore. While Democratic Rep. Donna Edwards might choose to run here rather than face Steny Hoyer in a primary, it would likely be an open seat won by a black Democrat.

So it is definitely possible to make three black-majority districts in Maryland. However, would this plan necessarily result in three black representatives being elected? Districts 7 and 8 would easily elect black congressmen, although Steny Hoyer might continue to win in the 5th district despite its new black-majority due to significant establishment support. The three black-majority districts are not an obstacle to toppling Roscoe Bartlett, although they must sacrifice either John Sarbanes or Dutch Ruppersberger. The change after redistricting would be minimal, going from a 7D-1R (Kratovil wins in 2010) or 6D-2R (Kratovil loses in 2010) split to a probable 7D-1R split (assuming Kratovil wins the 1st district seat). Despite the lack of a change in partisan balance under this map, Democrats would probably want to avoid forcing Hoyer into a tough primary and losing Sarbanes or Ruppersberger, so this is one state where three black-majority districts would be a bad thing for Democrats.

Thanks for reading and please leave your comments and feedback!

9-5 Non-VRA map of Georgia

An 9-5 Democratic map probably. I will quickly give a rundown of the districts followed by a few maps of the districts.

District 1 (blue): 46% black and 45% white, probably John Lewis territory more than anyone else but man would the folks in Paulding and Bartow counties be pissed to be in a district with the west side of ATL. Probably the most ridiculous district.

District 2 (green): 45 percent white and 44 percent black, amazing considering how all the black population is concentrated in a chunk of Fulton and a sliver of Clayton. David Scott would probably run here.

District 3 (purple): 48% white and 42% black, Clayton and east Dekalb make this a Democratic district probably. I have no idea what Democrat would run though.

District 4 (red): 49 percent white, 39 percent black. Probably my favorite district. White percentage doesn’t necessarily represent GOP percentage because of Clarke county which is 60% white yet 60% Democratic. I think Hank Johnson would want this one or…

District 5 (yellow): Very diverse district, 40 percent white, 34 percent black, 17 percent Hispanic, 8 percent Asian. Similar to the 4th, white percentage includes liberal whites in east Fulton/ west central Dekalb. Another possibility for Hank Johnson?

District 6 (teal): 49% white, 25 percent black, 19% Hispanic, 6% Asian. Getting desperate here but this would no doubt be a Democratic district due to once again liberal whites in ATL plus the majority-minority status of the district. Have no idea who would represent this but definitely not Tom Price.

District 7 (gray): Finally a GOP seat in Metro ATL (6-1 delegation for Dems so far)! Tom Price and Phil Gingrey battle it out here for a 76 percent white, safe GOP district.

District 8 (periwinkle): I’m pretty sure I helped Jim Marshall out with this one stretching across Middle GA. 56% white, 39% black probably pretty close to 50-50 for Obama/McCain (7-1 Dems).

District 9 (light blue): Screwed up a little here but Barrow should be safe. 54% white, 40% black so less black than now. I was attempting to get a Democratic south east GA district by diluting Barrow’s district but you’ll see that’s not happening… (but we have a 8-1 Dem advantage).

District 10 (neon pink): 65% white and 28% black. Not quite good enough to elect a Democrat considering the hostility of SE GA whites towards Democrats (8-2 Democrats).

District 11 (yellow-green): pretty much the same as Sanford Bishop’s pre 2006 district. 52 percent white and 41 percent black I think a Democrat would be fine here (9-2 Democrats).

Districts 12-14: well the Republicans had to go somewhere… All these districts are between 75 to 82% white. I think the 12th would be Westmoreland’s, the 13th is similar to the open 9th and the 14th get’s rid of Paul Broun so hurray for that!

With the three additional GOP seats that brings me to a 9-5 Democratic advantage. Pretty unrealistic but entirely possible if not for the VRA guidelines. Honestly though I think this might expand black representation because of the additional metro ATL seats but I worry in a bad cycle the 11th and the 9th could be in danger for Democrats. Still even if those fell we’d be tied 7-7, gaining a seat.

North GA:


South GA:


Middle GA:


Metro ATL: