SSP Daily Digest: 2/4

CT-Sen: Ex-Rep. Rob Simmons has previously sounded unlikely to run (and rather sulky about it), but now he’s saying he’s “considering” the race and will make a decision by March. He’s also seeking to replace state GOP party chair Chris Healy, who he thinks favored Linda McMahon during the nomination process. Simmons also had some kind words for state Sen. Scott Frantz as an option in case he himself doesn’t run.

FL-Sen: Already having the backing of the man he replaced as state Senate president (John Thrasher), now Mike Haridopolos got the endorsement of the Republican leader of the other chamber, state House speaker Dean Cannon. (Not that those kinds of endorsements move a lot of actual votes, but this could be harmful in the behind-the-scenes game to former state House majority leader Adam Hasner if he runs, as he’d probably have expected Cannon’s help.)

MA-Sen, MA-06: Rep. John Tierney didn’t sound much like a candidate in the Senate race when asked about it at an appearance with area high schoolers, saying he’s focused on his current job and plans to run again. That, on top of Barney Frank’s announcement yesterday that he’s running again (and the months-ago announcement from John Olver that he’s running again) point to an increasing likelihood that two of the state’s 10 Dem Congresspeople will have to face off in a primary (unless either Mike Capuano or Stephen Lynch roll the dice on a Senate bid). One other total wild card here that came into sharper relief today: John Kerry seems to be amping up his lobbying to become Secretary of State. While there’s no indication that Hillary Clinton is in any hurry to leave, that does raise the specter of another special election if there’s a changing of the guard at SoS after the 2012 election. That possibility, and the chance at an open seat run instead of going up against Scott Brown’s millions, might induce Capuano and Lynch to keep their House jobs for now.

NE-Sen: PPP gives AG Jon Bruning a substantial lead in the GOP Senate primary, for the right to take on Ben Nelson. He leads state Treasurer Don Stenberg 47-19, with throw-ins Pat Flynn and Deb Fischer at 7 and 6 apiece. Bruning’s faves among Republicans are 57/12.

VA-Sen: Jamie Radtke, the principal tea party opponent to George Allen in the GOP Senate primary so far, has shown she can compete, at least on the financial front. She raised $100K in the fourth quarter; Allen didn’t report anything since his candidacy didn’t launch until the new year.

WA-Gov, WA-AG: Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee is launching some rhetorical salvos in Republican AG Rob McKenna’s direction over health care reform in what’s very likely the beginnings of the 2012 gubernatorial general election; McKenna is one of the few blue-state AGs who signed on to the multi-state suit against HCR implementation, a possible foot-shooting move that seems more oriented toward fending off primary opposition from the right than enhancing his electability in November. By the way, if you’re wondering about who’s planning to replace McKenna in the AG slot, there’s word that ambitious King County Councilor Bob Ferguson is about to announce his candidacy next week. His likeliest GOP opponent is fellow King County Councilor (and progeny of WA-08’s Jennifer Dunn) Reagan Dunn.

WV-Gov: It looks like we finally have some consensus on when that pesky special election for Governor is going to be. The state House and Senate ironed out a compromise that will hold the primary on May 14 and the general election on Oct. 4. Acting Gov. (and candidate) Earl Ray Tomblin has agreed to sign off on the deal, even though it contains a different primary date than he wanted.

IA-03: Here’s some more evidence that 77-year-old Leonard Boswell is seriously gearing up for a 2012 battle to stay in the House, despite possibly facing two major opponents (first Christine Vilsack in a Dem primary, then Tom Latham in a redistricting-forced general). He named his former campaign manager Julie Stauch as his new chief of staff. (His fundraising may say otherwise, though; see below.)

LA-03, LA-AG: Jeff Landry, who’s been in the House all of one month, is the likeliest Rep. to get squeezed in a 6-district map of Louisiana, by virtue of his lack of seniority and depopulation in his district (and the need to keep next-door LA-02 a VRA district). So, it seems sensible that he’s already contemplating some alternate plans. Rumors are flying now that the reason that AG Buddy Caldwell is planning switch over to the Republican party is because Landry is looking at challenging Caldwell in this year’s AG race (although Caldwell’s switch would just move that challenge to the primary, if it goes through). David Rivera might not even have the shortest stay among this year’s freshman class, if Landry wins the AG race and leaves the House after one year.

Fundraising: This Politico piece on fundraising among House members has some interesting red flags from Q4 that may portend retirement. On the GOP side, CA-41’s Jerry Lewis raised $1,700, while MD-06’s Roscoe Bartlett raised all of $0. For the Dems, NY-05’s Gary Ackerman raised $924, NY-28’s Louise Slaughter raised $320, and MI-05’s Dale Kildee raised the strangely specific sum of $1.42. They also point to how fundraising may have dried up for several likely casualties of redistricting, including MI-09’s Gary Peters (down to $88K CoH), IA-03’s Leonard Boswell ($66K CoH), PA-12’s Mark Critz (net negative-$36K), and LA-03’s Jeff Landry (net negative-$24K).

Redistricting: As expected, the battle over Florida’s Fair Districts initiative is moving into the courts, starting with a new suit filed by the amendments’ backers (including the League of Women Voters and NAACP) demanding that Rick Scott re-engage the process of seeking VRA preclearance for the chances to Florida’s system. (Scott has apparently been dragging his feet on preclearance in hopes that the initiative’s requirements won’t be in place by the time of 2012 redistricting, which could let the GOP legislature gerrymander to their hearts’ content.) Meanwhile, the GOP legislature in Georgia is already consolidating their power to take advantage of their control of the trifecta there: they removed primary responsibility for map-drawing from the nonpartisan Carl Vinson Institute at UGA, and instead are creating a new Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office more directly under their control.

Census: If you tried to open the ftp version of the new Census data yesterday and found yourself looking at incomprehensible txt files (that, if you scroll through them quickly enough, look like you’re able to see through The Matrix), fear not. They’re available via American FactFinder now, and even through interactive widget form.

FEC: I’m not sure how many max-out donors we have among our readership, but the FEC has raised contribution limits for this cycle, meaning you can give a little more to your favorite candidate or committee before hitting the ceiling. You can now give up to $2,500 per candidate and $30,800 per committee.

Trivia: I had absolutely no idea this number was so low: there have been only four open seat Senate races in Texas since the 1920s. (Not only do Senators there tend to have long tenures, but vacancies tend to manifest themselves in special elections.) The races were in 1948, 1952, 1984, and 2002.

Redistricting Maryland, Plan A

I’m finally publishing this; what follows is Answer Guy’s first attempt at redistricting Maryland.

The objectives:

Preserve the two majority-African-American districts, one based in Baltimore, the other in Prince George’s County, per Voting Rights Act requirements. Easy enough.

Give all seven current Democratic incumbents a similar or better chance to win re-election than the current districts allow, especially in the case of MD-01. That means preserving the existing base of each incumbent as much as possible.

Keep communities of interest together as much as possible, if not too inconsistent with the above.

Create districts that avoid the ungainly shapes that many of the current Maryland districts have.  

More below the fold…

Map Overview

State Map

Note: Areas outside this map are in the districts you’d think they’d be in from the context.

First District


Description: All of the Eastern Shore counties – Worcester, Somerset, Wicomico, Dorchester, Talbot, Caroline, Queen Anne’s, Kent, Cecil; portions of Anne Arundel County (Annapolis, Fort Meade, portions of Odenton, East Laurel)  and northern portions (Laurel, Beltsville, College Park, Greenbelt, and New Carrollton) of Prince George’s County. Colored dark blue here.

Incumbent: Frank Kratovil (D-Stevensville)

(Note: Likely Republican MD-01 nominee Andrew Harris, who has at least a 50-50 chance of winning this November, doesn’t live anywhere near here, and the areas which supported him the most last time and will again this time aren’t either.)

Map Change: This new MD-01 still includes the entire Eastern Shore of Maryland. But while the current MD-01 includes two chunks of land (one in Baltimore and Harford Counties, the other in Anne Arundel County) very heavy on Republicans; this MD-01 replaces those areas almost entirely (there are a few precincts in Anne Arundel in common) with territory very heavy on Democrats.  The Republican areas west of the bridges – which supported McCain in even higher numbers than the Eastern Shore did – got carved up. The Anne Arundel County portion got split, with most of it going to MD-07, but some portions going to MD-05. The Harford and Baltimore County portion got divided three ways, mostly into the new MD-06 but with small portions being picked up by MD-02 and MD-03.

1st District Pop Pct Wh Bl Hisp Asn Oth Oba McC

Shore 437958 62% 79 16 3 1 1 43 55

Anne Arundel 132950 19% 57 29 4 8 2 62 37

Prince George’s 133292 19% 33 43 13 9 2 82 17

Total 704928 66 24 6 3 1 55 44

Old District 662062 86 11 2 1 1 40 58

Projected PVI: D+2

The Good News:

This is the most altered district, and by design, turning a strong Republican district into a Democratic-leaning swing district.

This district is in a sense designed for a guy like Kratovil, who would attempt to simultaneously appeal to swing voters on the Shore to support one of their own and to the Democrats in the rest of the district. The western portion of the current 1st gave John McCain 65% of their votes; the western portion of the new 1st gave Barack Obama 68% of their votes. The Anne Arundel portion is relatively thin, mostly avoiding Republican-heavy areas in the county to reach a highly diverse and heavily Democratic chunk of northern Prince George’s County. Due to VRA compliance requirements for MD-04, this MD-01 contains only a handful of black-majority precincts (in the Landover and New Carrollton areas.) The changes would still more than double the black population of MD-01, and the Hispanic and Asian shares of the electorate also increase dramatically with the inclusion of many diverse Washington suburbs like College Park, Beltsville, Greenbelt, Laurel, and Odenton.  . Obama’s 55% showing may overstate the Democratic leanings of this district a bit – though Kratovil was able to run 10 points ahead of the national ticket at the same time, and now most of the areas that backed Harris in that contest have been removed from the district.

It’s not guaranteed not to ever elect a Republican, but it would be very difficult for an arch-conservative of the Club For Growth variety to get elected here.

The Less-Than-Good News:

On the surface, the changes are pretty much all positive for Dems. However…the potential electoral dynamics change dramatically on several levels. Because I also placed a priority on not significantly endangering any of the current Democratic seats, this isn’t a strong enough Democratic electorate to get rid of a Republican who exhibits some measure of cross-party and independent appeal, particularly during a Republican-leaning election cycle. The Eastern Shore, who represent 62% of the new district’s population, still prefers Republicans more often than not, and so do parts of the Anne Arundel County portion of the district. As I said above, the 55% showing for Obama is probably not a new normal and the partisan lean would lose a few points if non-white turnout regresses to levels more commonly seen prior to 2008.  

It’s not hard to imagine competitive Democratic primaries that pit moderates against progressives that could produce candidates that either swing voters or base voters might find unappealing. The Democrats of the current MD-01 generally lean conservative, but Democratic candidates in this MD-01 would have contend with a much more varied electorate. Kratovil, especially if he were no longer an incumbent, would almost certainly face a primary challenge from his left of some sort if he were to run here, given his voting record.  

The Shore would dominate Republican primaries, due to the lack of registered Republicans in the rest of the new district, to a point the dynamics that produce a candidate like Andy Harris (someone with trouble appealing to Shore residents or to swing voters in general) would be unlikely to materialize. GOP candidates would mostly come from the Shore and might be able to use that to their advantage.  

Ironically enough, Wayne Gilchrest almost certainly still be in Congress if he had this map two years ago; there’s no way a wingnut primary challenge would have succeeded, and he’d be tough to dislodge in a general election even in a good year for Democrats across the board like 2008. In a Republican year, it’s not hard to imagine some types of Republican winning here, though a guy like Harris would have no shot, and not just because it doesn’t go anywhere near where he lives.    

Fundraising might become a higher priority, as the new district lines cut well into the very expensive Washington media market. To reach the whole district would involve using both Baltimore-based and DC-based media. The current district, by contrast, doesn’t really include much of anything that one might describe as a proper DC suburb.  

The Bottom Line:

In a 2012 election with Obama on the ballot, with these lines, though it’s not a slam dunk by any means, I like Team Blue’s chances, whether with Kratovil or with someone else.

Second District


Description: Contains southern portions (Edgewood, Aberdeen, and Havre de Grace) of Harford County; eastern, northeastern, and north-central portions (Dundalk, Essex, Middle River, Parkville, Timonium, and Cockeysville) of Baltimore County;  and northeast, east, central, and southern portions of Baltimore City. Colored dark green here.  

Incumbent: C.A. Ruppersburger (D-Cockeysville)

(Note: Likely Republican MD-01 nominee Andrew Harris lives here, though most of his State Senate constituents don’t.)

Map Changes:

This new MD-02 has been made much more compact. It no longer contains any portion of Anne Arundel County and doesn’t go west of Cockeysville anymore, saying goodbye to the portions of Owings Mills and Reisterstown currently within its borders.  Containing much more of Baltimore City than previous versions of the district did, it’s now the district that includes most of the areas of Baltimore of interest to tourists – Federal Hill, the Inner Harbor/Downtown, Mount Vernon, Bolton Hill, Fells Point, Canton, Greektown, and Highlandtown. It also includes a bigger chunk of Northeast Baltimore than the current version does. The whole of southeastern Baltimore County is still here, and the Harford County portion is very similar (slightly smaller) to what is in the current district.

2nd District Pop Pct Wh Bl Hisp Asn Oth Oba McC

Baltimore City 277202 39% 45 47 4 2 1 82 17

Baltimore County 339213 48% 76 15 4 3 1 48 50

Harford 88267 13% 65 26 4 2 2 55 43

Total 704682 62 29 4 3 1 62 36

Old District 662060 66 27 2 2 1 60 38

Projected PVI: D+9

The Good News:

The addition of central Baltimore is the main reason that the new electorate moves two points to the Democrats, more than making up for the loss of some heavily Democratic northwest suburbs given to MD-03 and MD-07. This district does contain several city neighborhoods in outlying parts in northeast and far eastern Baltimore that are neither particularly liberal nor particularly Democratic, but also contains several mostly black precincts where the Republican share of the vote is in the low single digits.

The Baltimore County portion, about half the district, was carried by McCain, but many state and local Democrats, most notably incumbent Ruppersburger, have outperformed Obama significantly in these areas, particularly the East Side, in a development widely discussed in other SSP diaries about Maryland. And while Harford County as a whole may tilt Republican, the table above shows that the section of it included in MD-02 does not.

The Not-So-Good News:

This district may have been carried by Bob Ehrlich in his gubernatorial race in 2002 and looks more like the district he used to represent in the 1995-2003 period than the current MD-02 does; of the six districts designed to be relatively safe for Democrats, the Republicans have a deeper bench of officeholders at the state and local level than in any of the others.  There are signs that the east side of Baltimore County might be trending away from its traditional Democratic lean. Still, it is very hard to imagine even Ehrlich or a Republican who can duplicate his appeal winning in a district where nearly 40% of the constituents are Baltimore City residents.

As a secondary concern, this portion of Baltimore County is home to a lot of conserva-Dems who might be able to install a not-particularly-loyal Democrat into the seat in an open-seat situation if the city vote is either low or split.  

The Bottom Line:

Dutch Ruppersburger doesn’t really need the help, but this map gives him some anyway. You never know when a seat is going to become open. From a redrawing point of view, keeping this district out of northwest Baltimore County helped make it and MD-03 much more compact with more appealing shapes without affecting their respective partisan makeups much. It’s a set of communities that hang together pretty well. Should remain in the Democratic column.

Third District


Descriptions: Contains northern and northwest portions of Baltimore City, northern and western portions (Towson, Pikesville, Owings Mills, Reisterstown, Randallstown) of Baltimore County, all of Howard County, northwestern portions (Jessup, Hanover) of Anne Arundel County, and northeastern portions (Damascus, Laytonsville, Olney, Burtonsville) of Montgomery County. Colored purple here.

Incumbent: John Sarbanes (D-Towson)

Map Changes:

These are dramatic changes as well, as the new MD-03 is mostly pushed out of Baltimore (and pushed out of downtown entirely) and Annapolis yet is still made more Democratic, mostly by adding new territory in the west via moving more into Washington suburbs.

The seemingly arbitrary pockets of East Baltimore are gone; what remains is more cohesive and more easily definable set of northern and northwestern city neighborhoods. Roughly from east to west, they are Waverly, Charles Village, Guilford, Homeland, Roland Park, Hampden, Mt. Washington, and upper portions of Park Heights; most are predominantly white (Park Heights and Waverly are mostly black while Charles Village is one of the most integrated parts of Baltimore) and relatively liberal.

The Baltimore County portion does contain some conservative exurban areas in northern Baltimore County (Sparks and Pheonix areas) but is concentrated mostly in more urban Towson and Pikesville. Some precincts to the west and northwest of Baltimore are instead in the black-majority MD-07, but this portion of MD-03 does contain some majority-black precincts. The Arbutus/Halethorpe/Landsdowne area in southern Baltimore County has been removed.

Howard County, previously split with MD-07, is now included in its entirety.

A small portion of Anne Arundel County does remain, but it now goes nowhere near Annapolis, instead staying close to the B-W Parkway.

The addition that sticks out most is the new territory in Montgomery County, about 130K residents, mostly outer suburbanites. There are a few precincts that carry Silver Spring, Rockville or Gaithersburg addresses, but this MD-03 contains none of either of the cities of Rockville or Gaithersburg, and nothing particularly close to the core of Silver Spring, as everything here is well outside the Beltway.

Things had to change for several reasons. One is that the population distribution in the state is shifting away from Greater Baltimore in general and Baltimore City in particular and some district based in or around Baltimore was inevitably going to end up with more Washington suburbanites. Another is that to fix the hideous shapes of some of the current districts required cutting off some of the more ungainly-looking appendages.  The current MD-03 is a group of pockets joined together by a series of thin strands and cleaning that up required shedding some of the pockets and filling out others; the threads running to the east were incompatible with the rest of the plan for the state, so the only direction to go was to the west.  

3rd District Pop Pct Wh Bl Hisp Asn Oth Oba McC

Baltimore City 92372 13% 61 29 3 5 1 81 17

Baltimore County 193424 27% 66 24 3 5 1 59 39

Howard/Arundel (Balt. Area) 167389 24% 63 18 5 12 2 59 39

Howard West (DC Area) 120254 17% 64 17 5 11 2 63 35

Montgomery 131144 19% 64 15 9 10 2 62 37

Total 704583 64 20 5 9 2 63 36

Old District 662062 77 16 3 3 1 59 39

Projected PVI: D+10

The Not-So-Good News:

It’s often awkward when redistricting changes a constituency this much, even if in the abstract the changes are favorable to an incumbent seeking re-election, as they are here. At some level, this would be like an open-seat race as far as about half the electorate is concerned. It might even be more awkward than usual in this case. The table lists the different components of the district; I divided Howard County into areas likely have some connection to Baltimore (roughly anything north of Route 32 and east of Route 29) and those areas unlikely to know much about Baltimore and its politics. Throw the latter in with MoCo and that’s about 36% of the district that has no Baltimore connection. Reaching them would require investing in an expensive new media market. (Though there are already probably some residents of the current MD-03 who are better reached via Washington media than Baltimore media because Washington casts a much bigger shadow.) Incumbent John Sarbanes lives in Towson in Baltimore County and his family is based in Baltimore; though his name is well-known in the western portions of the new MD-03, he himself is not.

The Good News:

From Democrats’ point of view, simply put, what could have become a potential swing district in a year with low Baltimore City turnout is made four points more Democratic. These new constituents aren’t likely to vote Republican, especially compared with what else could have been placed in this district. The Republican bench here is almost entirely confined to two areas, one in western Howard County, the other in northern Baltimore County, that have little in common with the rest of the district. The main bases of the district since the ’90s have been north Baltimore, Towson, Pikesville, and Columbia, and they’re all still here.

From Baltimore’s point of view, this is a district that even in an open-seat Democratic primary or general election is still more likely to choose a Baltimore-area representative than one from closer to DC; not only do most residents of the district live closer to Baltimore, but the DC-focused areas contain large numbers of new, less-established residents with no ties to existing political cliques. (Obviously, this isn’t good news for Montgomery County’s clout, but they’d they have no less than now.)

From Sarbanes’ own point of view, these new areas, in addition to not being of much help to future Republican opponents, aren’t especially likely to form the base for any successful region-based (notenough of them) or ideology-based (not different enough from the rest of the district to matter) primary challenges. And any Baltimore-area politician, looking at a future statewide run is going to need to be known in MoCo.

Bottom Line:

This district should be safe for John Sarbanes and is unlikely to be in danger of flipping to the Republicans should he decide to move on.

Fourth District


Description: Portions of Prince George’s County (Ft. Washington, Oxon Hill, District Heights, Capitol Heights, Glenarden, Cheverly, Hyattsville, Langley Park) close to Washington, DC, and eastern and central portions (Takoma Park, East Silver Spring, Wheaton, White Oak, Burtonsville) of Montgomery County. Colored red here.

Incumbent: Donna Edwards (D-Fort Washington)

Map Change: This MD-04 sheds some Upper Montgomery territory to the expansion of MD-03, and cedes some of central and southern Prince George’s to MD-05. It picks up more of close-in eastern Montgomery County from MD-08 for the sake of compactness.

4th District Pop Pct Wh Bl Hisp Asn Oth Oba McC

Prince George’s 435116 62% 8 70 18 3 1 93 6

Montgomery 268281 38% 38 25 21 14 2 77 21

Total 703397 20 53 19 7 2 87 12

Old District 662062 27 57 8 6 0 85 14

Projected PVI: D+32

The Good News: This version of MD-04 is even more strongly Democratic (despite reducing the African-American share of the residents from 57% to 53%) which ranks it among the most Democratic and most liberal districts in the nation.  I did not set out to strengthen the Democratic lean here, it’s a natural consequence of removing less Democratic far-flung areas like Clarksburg and making things more compact and leaving room for the MD-03 shift chronicled above. It’s interesting from a political-demography perspective; it’s not every day you can change a district’s borders to include fewer African-Americans and yet increase the Democratic share of the vote. From Edwards; perspective, the increase in the Democratic vote in Montgomery also has the effect of making a Prince George’s County-based primary challenge tougher.

The Not-So-Good News: There are no Republican-leaning areas anywhere near here to neutralize, unless one wants push these borders way south to break up Southern Maryland or way north to get some less Democratic parts of Montgomery or Howard Counties, and I had good reasons not to do either.

Fifth District


Description: Southern and central portions (Crofton, Millersville, Davidsonville, Edgewater, Deale) of Anne Arundel County; central, western and southern portions (Bowie, Seabrook, Largo, Mitchellville, Forestville, Upper Marlboro, Brandywine, Acokeek) of Prince George’s County; all of Charles County; all of Calvert County; all of St. Mary’s County. Colored yellow here.

Incumbent: Steny Hoyer (D-Mechanicsville)

Projected PVI: D+12

Map Change: Less than many districts. The new MD-05 is changed mostly to help MD-01, shedding areas in northern Prince George’s County (such as Laurel, Greenbelt, and College Park) and western and central Anne Arundel County.  It doesn’t weaken as a strong Democratic district due its new areas in central Prince George’s County left behind by MD-04, a change reflected in the demographics numbers as the proportion of African-Americans increases from 30% to 36%.

5th District

Anne Arundel 120226 17% 84 9 3 2 1 45 54

Prince George’s 252444 36% 25 65 5 3 2 87 12

Charles 140764 20% 52 39 4 2 2 64 35

St. Mary’s/Calvert 190276 27% 79 15 3 2 2 45 54

Total 703710 55 36 4 3 2 66 33

Old District 662060 60 30 4 4 0 65 33

The Good News:

A reasonably safe Democratic district (at least by 2008 metrics) moves one more point in that direction. Southern Maryland is kept together as a unit. From a pro-diversity point of view, an African-American would have a decent shot in an open seat Democratic primary here, more so than the currently existing MD-05. Though there is a reasonable Republican farm team in this district, it would be very hard to overcome the Democratic bloc vote in Prince George’s, especially as Charles County heads in a similar direction.

The Not-So-Good News:

Hoyer and the Democrats, though they still doesn’t have much reason to worry, are now slightly more dependent on the African-American vote in MD-05, meaning that a lower turnout model would move this district closer to the new MD-02 or MD-03 in partisan breakdown rather than a truly safe-in-all-circumstances seat.  This would be one of the best places in the nation for a black Republican to launch a political career.  

Our Majority Leader should be fine here, and whenever the day comes, his Democratic successor here should be as well.

Sixth District


Description: All of Garrett, Allegany, and Washington Counties; western, northern, and eastern portions (Middletown, Thurmont, Walkersville) of Frederick County; all of Carroll County; far northern (Upperco, Parkton) and northeastern (Perry Hall, Baldwin) portions of Baltimore County; central and northern portions (Joppa, Bel Air, Jarrettsville, Pylesville) of Harford County. Colored teal blue here.

The Incumbent: Roscoe Bartlett (R-Frederick)

(Note: Republican MD-01 nominee Andrew Harris doesn’t live here, but most of his current State Senate district is in here, and so are the areas of MD-01 who supported him the most last time and will again this time.)

Map Changes:

It’s pretty obvious what happens here. The small portion of Montgomery County (mostly Damascus) is handed off to MD-03. The City of Frederick and its immediate environs, plus the area around Brunswick, are given to MD-08. The Reistertown area is now in MD-03. In exchange, the new MD-06 picks up a bunch of areas from the former MD-01, in northeastern Baltimore County and central Harford County. In partisan terms, most of the few areas left in MD-06 that were favorable, or even neutral, to Democrats are gone; all but one of the precincts in this district carried by Obama are in Hagerstown, the sole exception being a precinct in Cumberland that Obama carried by five votes.  

6th District Pop Pct Wh Bl Hisp Asn Oth Oba McC

Western Maryland 320515 89 6 2 1 1 38 60

Baltimore Exurban 383311 91 4 2 2 1 33 65

Total 703826 90 5 2 2 1 35 63

Old District 662060 92 5 1 1 0 40 58

Projected PVI: R+18

The Good News:

There are seven Democrats in an eight-member delegation. None of them have to run in this district or any portion of it. (It was not a goal of mine to make Bartlett move.)

On the upside, there could be some entertainment value the next time this seat opens up (Bartlett is no spring chicken) as the various GOP aspirants each try to out-wingnut each other. The only other real subject of potential interest is seeing if a Western Marylander can gain traction in a district where denizens of Baltimore exurbs are more numerous.

The Not-So-Good News:

There are still enough Republicans, and areas full of them, in Maryland to command one district. Here it is.  

More seriously, one consequence of generating a district like this is that Democrats, independents, and liberal-to-moderate voters in general have very little say in who gets elected to represent this district. While that’s good for the Democrats, both nationwide and in Maryland, in some sense – anyone who can survive a GOP primary in this electorate has slim chances of developing the sort of cross-party appeal a Republican would need to win statewide, and we’re talking about a state GOP that’s already skilled at cutting off its nose to spite its own face here – it’s bad from a good-government perspective. Competitive races are good for many governmental functions, and I know that exercises like this one that go on in state capitals coast-to-coast tend to make such contests less likely.

But there’s no way I’m going to unilaterally disarm.  

Bottom Line: Safe Republican; not much else to say.

Seventh District


Description: Portions of east-central and western Baltimore City; western and southwestern portions (Lochearn, Woodlawn, Catonsville, Arbutus, Halethorpe) of Baltimore County; north-central and northeastern (Brooklyn Park, Linthicum, Severn, Glen Burnie, Pasadena, Arnold, Severna Park) portions of Anne Arundel County. Colored medium gray here.

Incumbent: Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore)

Map Changes:

There’s a little less of Baltimore here now, MD-02 in particular grabbing a larger share; what remains is two clusters of heavily black neighborhoods (the East Baltimore is section centered just north of Johns Hopkins Hospital; the larger West Baltimore section expands westward from Druid Hill Park, and follows Reisterstown Road, Liberty Heights Avenue, Route 40, and Frederick Avenue outwards) joined by a narrow neck around where North Avenue meets Interstate 83. 95% of its votes went to Obama. Though there are some pockets of stable middle-class neighborhoods to be found here, the majority of these neighborhoods are beset by longstanding issues of poverty, crime, and urban blight.

The Baltimore County portion includes most of the majority-black suburbs to the west of Baltimore proper. The new version contracts slightly in the Interstate 70 area but expands towards Randallstown out Liberty Road. It now includes all of Catonsville and inherits the southwest corner of Baltimore County from MD-03. All in all, the Baltimore County portion of MD-07 is about evenly split between blacks and whites.

The Anne Arundel portion is inherited from MD-01, MD-02, and MD-03, and is designed to sop out Republican areas formerly assigned to those districts. Collectively, it gave 55% of its votes to John McCain.

7th District Pop Pct Wh Bl Hisp Asn Oth Oba McC

Baltimore City 267345 38% 6 91 1 1 1 95 5

Baltimore County 191107 27% 42 49 3 4 2 73 25

Anne Arundel 246238 35% 82 10 3 3 2 43 55

Total 704690 42 51 2 3 1 69 30

Old 662060 35 59 2 4 1 79 20

Projected PVI: D+15

The Good News:

Fewer wasted Democratic votes. Of the seven Democrats in the delegation, only Donna Edwards in MD-04 needed less help. It’s still VRA compliant.

As I explain below, Cummings isn’t going to be pleased. However, if he harbors statewide ambitions, introducing himself to Democrats in northern Anne Arundel County might help him emerge from what could be a crowded primary field.  

The Not-So-Good News:

Democrats are 10 points weaker here now, for three reasons – the new MD-07 has a smaller share of Baltimore City (mostly shedding racially mixed or mostly white areas with liberals more needed elsewhere), a lower percentage of African-Americans (from 59% to 51%), and a shift in suburban population from [relatively] Democrat-family portions of Howard County to more Republican-leaning portions of Anne Arundel County. There’s a bit of a polarized electorate here; you can draw a line through Baltimore County on Route 40 and then follow the southern border of Baltimore City and you’ll discover mostly black Democratic voters on the north side of the line and mostly white Republican voters on the south side. What keeps the district out of the swing category despite this is that the few exceptions to the rule – Brooklyn Park and Severn have sizable African-American populations, and Democrats do fairly well in Catonsville –  are all on the southern side of the divide.

Incumbent Eli Cummings will likely not be a happy camper, though he probably doesn’t have much to worry about. He’d have to introduce himself to a whole new set (about 40% of this district is brand new) of constituents, many of whom are strongly inclined to support his Republican opponents.  It’ll be easier to recruit Republican challengers from Anne Arundel than from any area he now represents. If an African-American could somehow emerge from a Republican congressional primary, he’d have a better chance here than in most places.

But this district still gave Obama 69% of its votes; even if that’s a vote ceiling, any GOP candidate would need to run double-digits ahead of the national ticket to even have a shot, and rare is the candidate that can accomplish such a feat, even in an open seat situation.  

Bottom Line:

This seat’s been weakened (by necessity) quite a bit but still isn’t going to show up on any GOP potential pickup lists anytime soon, with or without Cummings.

Eighth District


Description: Southern, central, and western portions (Silver Spring, Kensington, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Clarksburg, Poolesville) of Montgomery County; southern and central portions (Frederick City, Urbana, Brunswick) of Frederick County. Colored lavender here.

Incumbent: Chris Van Hollen (D-Kensington)

Map Changes:

MD-08 moves out of Prince George’s County and cedes a large chunk of eastern Montgomery County (Takoma Park, parts of Sliver Spring, Wheaton, White Oak) to MD-04. In exchange MD-08 moves up into Frederick County, taking the City of Frederick and its environs from MD-06. The result is a less Democratic but still safe district.

8th District

Montgomery 551255 78% 59 11 13 14 2 71 27

Frederick 152526 22% 74 12 8 5 2 53 45

Total 703781 63 12 12 12 2 68 30

Old District 662060 63 17 14 11 6 74 25

Projected PVI: D+15

The Good News:

Fewer wasted Democratic votes. As a district with Republican-leaning border areas not subject to any VRA compliance mandates, it’s a pretty obvious candidate for dilution to everyone. And even the more conservative Frederick County portion of the district was carried by Barack Obama in 2008.

The Not-So-Good News:

The Democratic bottom line shifts downward six points, which is about what one would expect when shifting 25% of a district from one of the most heavily Democratic-voting areas in the country to a 50-50 area. The Frederick area, though it’s becoming friendlier to Democrats with every cycle, has long been a source of Republican candidates for every conceivable office.

Not that I think it matters much now, but this new version of MD-08 looks a lot more like it did when Republican Connie Morella held it down in the 1990s. Had this been the playing field over the last decade worth of House elections, I imagine that there’s at least a chance she’d still be on Capitol Hill now as an increasingly lonely voice for the old Eastern-style Republican in the GOP caucus. Morella is almost certainly too old to make a comeback now, and her party has spent the intervening decade making itself extremely unappealing to voters in districts like this one anyway.  

The Bottom Line:

Van Hollen or whatever Democrat succeeds him shouldn’t have a problem getting re-elected in this district.

Extra Maps:



North of DC

DC North

East of DC

DC East

SSP Daily Digest: 6/2

UT-Sen: Democrats nailed down a candidate in dark-red Utah, not a likely place for a pickup but somewhere we want to be standing by to clean up in case the Republican primary turns into an insane bloodbath: Sam Granato, the head of the state Liquor Control Board.

Speaking of which, a third challenger just got into the GOP primary against long-time incumbent Bob Bennett: businesswoman and activist Cherilyn Eagar, who’s never run for office before but seems connected to some of the fringier members of Utah’s legislature, such as state Senator Margaret Dayton, who praised Eagar in that: “She’s a very impressive woman in her looks, intelligence and presentation.” Eagar’s rationale is that, in her words, “Utah’s conservative principles are no longer being represented in the U.S. Senate and no conservative has entered this race,” which seems bizarre considering that AG Mark Shurtleff and former Utah County GOP chair Tim Bridgewater are already challenging the very conservative Bennett from the right. Eagar also offered up this very strange mix of literary allusions: “Gulliver has been tied down by socialist gnomes for many years, but he’s starting to wake up.”

AZ-Gov: Arizona’s AG Terry Goddard is probably the Dems’ best chance to take back this seat, which just went to Republican ex-SoS Jan Brewer when Janet Napolitano vacated it (Brewer has not announced whether she’ll run for a full term). He recently stated that he “intends” to run for governor. (Arizona Republicans then tried to invoke Arizona’s resign-to-run law, which would require him to give up his AG job to become a governor’s candidate; so this weekend Goddard issued a lengthy explanation of why “intent” doesn’t make him a candidate.)

NM-Gov: Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has been considered Bill Richardson’s heir apparent in 2010, but it seems like she may not get a free ride on the way to the nomination. Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, according to his Facebook page, has formed an exploratory committee. Denish has a $1.7 million headstart on fundraising, though.

MD-04: Rep. Donna Edwards, who won a surprise primary in 2008 against out-of-touch incumbent Al Wynn, but is facing some within-the-district misgivings from local Jewish leaders (apparently up to 15% of the active electorate in her district is Jewish). This turns mostly on her decision to vote ‘present’ on January’s resolution recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself and condemning Hamas. State Delegate Herman Taylor has been gauging support within the Jewish community for a primary challenge to Edwards. While this wouldn’t seem to be a dominant issue in this African-American-majority district, two successful primary challenges from the right in 2002 (Artur Davis over Earl Hilliard in AL-07 and Denise Majette over Cynthia McKinney in GA-04) focused largely on Israel policy.

MD-06: Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who turns 83 tomorrow, is often the source of open seat speculation. However, today he announced that he’ll be back for another term in his R+13 district in Maryland’s rural west.

SC-04: As an occasionally sane Republican (who voted for the bailout and against the Surge) in an R+15 district that’s an evangelical hotbed, Rep. Bob Inglis seems vulnerable this year, as the revved-up base seems less and less tolerant of apostasy. State Sen. David Thomas announced he’s seriously thinking of challenging Inglis and will make his announcement within days; Solicitor (equivalent to DA) Trey Gowdy also just announced that he’s entering the race. They’ll join an already crowded field including businessmen Andrew Smart and Jim Lee and professor Christina Jeffrey. While Inglis looks poised to win against this fractured field, if he does it with less than 50%, he’s facing a one-on-one runoff.

Gay marriage: The New York Senate is the only remaining obstacle to gay marriage in New York, and now state Senator Thomas Duane, prime mover of the legislation, says he now has the votes to get it passed (without naming names). Meanwhile, it’s not full marriage, but Nevada is poised to adopt domestic partnership. Over the weekend, both chambers of the legislature just overrode Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto of previously passed domestic partnership legislation (there was doubt whether it could clear the Assembly, where it passed by a bare 28-14 margin).

Meta: Wow, that year went fast: it’s my one-year blogiversary on SSP’s front page. Thanks to David and James for taking an interest in my writing, and to all the readers and commenters as well.

We’ve Got Crabs! (or, Redistricting Maryland)

(From the diaries – promoted by DavidNYC)

None of you asked for Maryland, but I wanted to redraw a state in which I couldn’t use townships and incorporated municipalities as a crutch. Four of Maryland’s five largest communities are unincorporated – Columbia, Silver Spring, Ellicott City and Germantown.

Plus, having lived in Maryland for quite awhile, I wanted to do a state that I actually had a local feel for. Lastly, Democrats control both the General Assembly and the Governorship, so no quips about this map being “unrealistic”!

I apologize for the title ahead of time – I’ve seen tourist gear with that slogan one too many times flying out of BWI….

My goals:

  • Strengthen Kratovil (1st)

  • Pack Republicans into Bartlett (6th)

  • Keep all other Democrats at their previous levels or 65%, whichever is lower.

(When you have this many Democrats to protect….)

Anyways, here’s the map (click for full-size version):

Update: I realized I mis-merged some shapes in my GIS and this lead to a misrepresentation of the 1st and 5th in Anne Arundel County. Fixed.

So normally, there’d be a nice map of the state broken up by municipalities and colored in based on McCain/Obama performance. In Maryland, this was harder: I consolidated precincts to match up with Census 2000’s voting tabulation districts (VTDs). Sometimes, in cases where precincts changed significantly, I consolidated some VTDs, too. I’ve creatively named these consolidated VTDs “CVTDs”.

Also, tabulating data by CVTD is a pain in the ass. Seriously. So I only created CVTDs for counties that had a chance of being split. So here’s the map, colored by CVTD for some counties (I wasn’t going to split Calvert, St. Mary’s, the Eastern Shore, or the Panhandle).

District-by-district, here goes (numbers are: Population, Voters, %African American, Obama%, McCain%):

1 662,203 357,190 26.89% 56.48% 42.11%
Anne Arundel 117,748 65,392 20.21% 56.33% 41.93%
Caroline 29,772 13,218 14.77% 37.61% 60.64%
Cecil 85,951 42,494 3.91% 41.57% 56.14%
Dorchester 30,674 15,274 28.39% 45.25% 53.48%
Kent 19,197 10,020 17.41% 49.43% 48.95%
Prince George’s 148,552 87,295 59.27% 88.42% 10.86%
Queen Anne’s 40,563 24,045 8.78% 35.66% 62.74%
Somerset 24,747 9,924 41.10% 48.16% 50.76%
Talbot 33,812 20,328 15.36% 44.45% 54.09%
Wicomico 84,644 41,854 23.29% 46.44% 52.20%
Worcester 46,543 27,346 16.66% 41.59% 57.07%

This is the district we were all wondering about, Frank Kratovil’s 1st. Before, the 1st took in all of the Eastern Shore, a chunk each of Anne Arundel, Harford, and Baltimore counties. Those parts were absolutely brutal, so I removed the the BaltCo (35% Obama)/Harford (33% Obama) parts completely. Additionally, instead of taking in the Republican pats along the North Shore, the district runs through the city of Annapolis proper and into PG County. Yes, the district reaches across the bay, but the old district did this too. Plus now, I can use the Bay Bridge as an excuse, as both ascents to the bridge are in this district now. Obama lost the AA part of the district 39-59, but he won the reconfigured part of Anne Arundel 56-42. We weren’t going to more artfully draw Baltimore, so for Democratic strength, the new 1st looks to Prince George’s County – Obama’s 88-11 performance there anchors this district. Overall, Obama scored 56% here – up a whopping 16%.

2 662,315 309,805 25.58% 60.34% 37.71%
Baltimore 419,630 204,167 21.76% 57.30% 40.74%
Baltimore City 143,321 56,010 42.46% 79.02% 19.26%
Harford 99,364 49,628 17.36% 51.75% 46.08%

Dutch Ruppersberger’s district doesn’t change much – still the southern half of Harford, an arm across Northern BaltCo, and a section of the city. However, there’s no awkward arm across the Patapsco into Anne Arundel this time. The Harford section is a tad less Democratic, the BaltCo section a bit more, and Baltimore City a bit less. However, the removal of Anne Arundel bumps this district to 60%, up about 0.5%.

3 662,016 356,350 18.53% 60.69% 37.37%
Anne Arundel 108,683 57,529 17.90% 50.80% 47.30%
Baltimore 239,472 126,645 22.89% 61.92% 35.97%
Baltimore City 74,391 32,258 17.57% 72.34% 25.89%
Howard 239,470 139,918 14.76% 60.95% 37.20%

Surprisingly, I think this incarnation of the 3rd is less gerrymandered than before – there’s no one-block wide sliver connecting to distinct sections. The major change from before is the placement of almost all of Howard County into this district, which had been located mostly in the 7th. Instead of making a westward facing loop through Baltimore as before to hit Towson, this district makes an eastward facing U. Obama got 61%, up 2% from before.

4 661,820 293,331 51.60% 82.43% 16.65%
Montgomery 309,396 153,066 22.75% 71.41% 27.28%
Prince George’s 352,424 140,265 76.92% 94.46% 5.06%

Donna Edwards’ district also isn’t changed much. A large section of upcounty MontCo and Prince George’s along the DC line. With the 8th shifted northward, the 4th is a bit more Montgomery-heavy, but stays majority African-American. This shift drops Obama’s performance by about 3%, but this is still the most Democratic district in Maryland at 82%.

5 661,222 352,347 30.44% 64.23% 34.51%
Anne Arundel 79,363 47,288 5.90% 43.67% 54.55%
Calvert 74,563 44,057 13.11% 46.07% 52.42%
Charles 120,546 70,127 26.06% 62.22% 36.69%
Prince George’s 300,539 146,466 47.72% 83.78% 15.20%
St. Mary’s 86,211 44,409 13.92% 42.84% 55.63%

Steny Hoyer’s district, again, experiences some minor shifts. It still contains all of the Southern Maryland trifecta of Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s. I had thought about cracking Charles to tap its population growth and Democratic trend, but ultimately decided against it. A large chunk of PG is taken by the 1st, so this district expands farther into Anne Arundel. At 64%, this is about a 1% drop.

6 663,091 354,947 3.61% 35.44% 62.22%
Allegany 74,930 29,742 5.35% 35.95% 61.88%
Baltimore 50,784 32,008 1.36% 32.03% 65.08%
Carroll 150,897 84,760 2.28% 33.11% 64.30%
Frederick 97,113 54,983 2.06% 40.21% 57.86%
Garrett 29,846 12,872 0.43% 29.02% 69.17%
Harford 119,226 73,667 2.53% 31.04% 66.35%
Howard 8,372 5,315 4.60% 34.51% 63.03%
Washington 131,923 61,600 7.77% 42.61% 55.47%

We took some Republicans out of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd districts, and this is where they go. I cut out Democratic-trending and sububanizing southern Frederick County and just packed as many deep-red VTDs in here as possible from Harford and northern Baltimore County. The Panhandle and Carroll County remain in their entirety. This drops Dem performance to 35%, down 5%.

7 661,710 265,229 55.65% 72.99% 25.62%
Anne Arundel 183,862 89,411 10.02% 42.84% 55.09%
Baltimore 44,406 18,118 10.72% 46.90% 50.51%
Baltimore City 433,442 157,700 79.60% 93.08% 6.05%

Before, this district took in a large chunk of Howard County, before reaching into Western BaltCo and West Baltimore. We took the extremely Republican parts of Anne Arundel County out of the 1st, and this was the safest place to deposit them. The anchor of the district stays Baltimore City, which also maintains the 56% African-American composition of the district. At 73% Obama, this is a drop-off of 6%, but again, no cause for concern.

8 662,109 342,398 10.92% 69.23% 29.27%
Frederick 98,164 56,203 10.62% 56.77% 41.56%
Montgomery 563,945 286,195 10.97% 71.68% 26.85%

It was tempting to make this district solely Montgomery County, but that’d well, be too clean. (It’d also abandon some strong Democratic votes in Frederick City.) Thus, this takes a bite out of Southern Frederick along 270, and then takes in the western half of Montgomery County and ventures east into Silver Spring. Frederick is nowhere as Democratic as downcounty Montgomery County, resulting in a 5% drop in Obama’s performance to 69%. Even if Frederick’s shift was a one-time thing for Obama, the vast majority of the district is still in Montgomery County.

So I’m pretty sure my map of Maryland is not only better – resulting an improvement for the three most marginal Democratic districts and negligible drops in the other 4 Democratic districts – but less gerrymandered, I dare say. Questions, comments, witty descriptors for what the districts look like, and suggestions always welcome.