Welcome to the workin’ week!
Some very exciting news for the Swing State Project: Longtime diarist and community member jeffmd will be joining us as our newest Contributing Editor. SSPers know Jeff from his excellent data analysis, in-depth number crunching, and of course, his awesome maps. Jeff will be contributing the same sort of stuff he’s always written, except now he’ll be posting directly to the front page. And with redistricting heating up, he’s a perfect addition to the team.
So please extend a warm welcome to Jeff!
Did you know? You can sign up to get SSP delivered to your email inbox once a day, for free. You get all the prior day’s posts in a single email – perfect for scanning on your Blackberry or iPhone. You can either sign up using the form in our right-hand sidebar (under “About the Site”), or just follow this link.
Again, it’s only one email a day (sent in the morning, Eastern time) – nothing spammy. And we promise we won’t share your email address with anyone. So go ahead and sign up!
Believe it or not, the world continues to turn today, even outside Massachusetts…
• Site News: A minor site change: We’ve had to disable HTML on user bio pages (like this one). We apologize if this winds up killing your links or spewing ugly HTML characters in your bio, so you may want to edit yours if so. You can still post links – they just won’t be HTML-ized. The reason we did this is because spammers have been exploiting the bio pages to post links to their own sites. It’s easy for us to catch them when they post comments or diaries, but harder to stop them from creating new accounts. This takes away their incentive. Suck on it, spammer scum! (D)
• NV-Sen: I don’t know what you envision when you see “probe” and “John Ensign” in the same sentence, but this is rich: the FBI is getting involved in the investigation, indicating this may go beyond the Senate Ethics Committee, headed in the direction of a criminal inquiry. The Feds have been contacting former aides about the Hampton affair.
• NY-Sen-B: Ex-Rep. Harold Ford Jr. just seems to be digging his self-inflicted hole deeper, as he runs damage control from the NYT profile that portrayed him as a helicopter-riding, pedicure-getting richie-rich. For his new interview with the Daily News, he insisted that it be limited to his rationale for running, not “issues” (issues, of course, are for the little people). Still, that contrasts with his defense of the pedicure thing, about which he said: “This race isn’t about feet, it’s about issues.” Meanwhile, observers are wondering if Al Sharpton (who has endorsed Kirsten Gillibrand) is telegraphing a potential switch in sides.
• IA-Gov: Ex-Gov. Terry Branstad is out with an internal poll showing him in commanding position in the Republican primary as he seeks to regain his old job, despite the discomfort some social conservatives have with him. Branstad polls at 62%, followed by Bob Vander Plaats lagging at 18%, with Christopher Rants at 4 and Rod Roberts at 2.
• IL-Gov: Next door in Illinois, though, where things don’t seem quite as settled in the Republican primary, three different candidates are citing polls that claim to have them in the lead. State Sen. Kirk Dillard has an internal that has him leading at 22, with state party chair Andy McKenna at 14 and ex-AG Jim Ryan at 10 – which is odd, since the Chicago Tribune’s poll several weeks ago gave Ryan a substantial lead and saw Dillard in fourth place. McKenna also claims to have a poll with him in the lead, although he didn’t even bother giving any details. Dillard seems to be the “moderate” horse in the GOP race, with endorsements from ex-Gov. Jim Edgar, Rep. Judy Biggert, and even the Illinois Education Association (hopefully only as far as the primary goes).
• TX-Gov: Rasmussen is out with fresh polls of the Texas governor’s race, and this time, they’re even doing the general, now that it got competitive, with the entry of Democratic Houston mayor Bill White. As one might expect, both incumbent Rick Perry and GOP primary rival Kay Bailey Hutchison lead White, and KBH overperforms Perry. Hutchison leads White 52-37, while Perry leads 50-40. (In the unlikely event White faces off against Paulist activist Debra Medina, he wins 44-38.) More interestingly, Medina seems to be getting a serious foothold in the GOP primary, which seems like it has the potential to push the Perry/Hutchison battle to a runoff, keeping Perry below 50%. Perry leads Hutchison and Medina 43-33-12.
• MI-Gov, MI-13: The amazingly brief gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Hansen Clarke ended yesterday, after about one week in existence. It seems like party insiders steered him in a different direction, saying that he’s been offered big financial support if he takes on vulnerable (in a primary) Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick instead, and he says he’s strongly considering that race now. Kilpatrick (mother of embattled former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick) nearly lost a 3-way primary in 2008.
• AZ-03: One aspiring House Republican didn’t wait long to announce her run to fill the recently-vacated seat of Rep. John Shadegg. State Sen. Pamela Gorman announced her campaign.
• MI-07: One more race that hasn’t drawn much scrutiny yet but where it looks like Dems will have to play hard defense is in the 7th. Freshman Rep. Mark Schauer faces a rematch with ex-Rep. Tim Walberg, who is now promoting his own internal poll showing him with 46-37 edge over Schauer. There’s been some establishment skepticism over whether the polarizing Walberg is “electable” enough, which may really be the point of the poll: it also shows attorney Brian Rooney, the supposedly more palatable (but currently less-known) GOPer, trailing Schauer 39-31.
• PA-04: Republicans are banking on former US Attorneys to get them back a few House seats in the Keystone State, and they got one of their desired recruits. Mary Beth Buchanan, one of the chief enforcers among the “loyal Bushies,” has apparently decided that she’ll take on Rep. Jason Altmire in the GOP-leaning 4th in Pittsburgh’s suburbs, and may announce her candidacy later this week.
• WV-01: The NRCC had hoped to put a scare into longtime Democratic incumbent Alan Mollohan, frequently drum-beating his name as a potential retirement. Unfortunately for them, Mollohan has filed his paperwork to seek a 15th term in Congress. (J)
• OH-Lt. Gov: Ted Strickland announced today that he’s tapping ex-Franklin Co. Judge Yvette McGee Brown to be his running mate. Brown is the president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy, a Columbus organization based at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (J)
• Mayors: Another election to keep an eye on is a runoff for Birmingahm’s next mayor. The seat became vacant in October upon the conviction of Larry Langford on corruption charges. Langford and other insiders have endorsed William Bell (who currently holds Langford’s former seat on the county conmission). Naturally, Patrick Cooper is running against Bell on a change platform. The campaign has been full of nasty accusations and innuendo with many glad it’s coming to an end. (T)
• Polltopia: Mark Blumenthal looks at the rapidly reducing cost of polling, and only sees even more of a proliferation of it in the near future as robo-calling gets within the reaches of the masses, even the crazy bloggers. Even Rasmussen is getting into the act, with plans to spin off a new service that will allow anyone to poll on anything for a fee of $600. That leaves Blumenthal wondering how to screen in the future for proper quality and against abuse of time-honored standards.
I’m pretty sad and disappointed that I once again have to perform my least favorite activity. After the derail in this thread, I’ve suspended several users for a week. Those accounts will have access restored next Saturday. Also, one user who had received repeated warnings not to engage in derails (and promised me several times that he would stop doing so) has been permanently banned for his participation in this latest derail.
I will at some point put together an FAQ of some sort outlining my vision for the site. But everyone involved in that thread was a longtime user who knew exactly what was and wasn’t okay here. There weren’t many political sites you could go to during the 2007-2008 presidential primaries and avoid the ceaseless wars between competing factions. SSP was one of those few. And this site will remain a haven for all its days, whether it’s healthcare or some other contentious, emotional issue that crops up.
Now that we’ve finally been able to name a winner in our 2009 predictions contest, we’re ready to open up some new frontiers. Check it out:
The Short Version: Redistrict New York state so that your map would likely elect at least 26 Democrats and no more than two Republicans. Post your plan as a diary. Win babka.
The Long Version: Dave (of Dave’s Redistricting App) and Jeffmd have been hard at work implementing partisan political data for New York, and the results have recently gone live. So you have from now until Sunday night, January 10th, at midnight Eastern in which to post a diary containing your maps & descriptions. Jeff, who has graciously agreed to judge this contest, will then decide which plan he deems “best.” There are a few criteria which I’ll detail below, and those have to be met in order for your plan to be eligible. But as far as what constitutes the “best” plan, well… this is going to be something like an art contest, and the judge’s sense of aesthetics will rule the day. After all, redistricting is as much art as it is science!
Here are the criteria to follow:
0) Not that we would expect anyone to do otherwise, but you have to use Dave’s Redistricting App.
1) You must have 28 districts of equal population size, within ~±1% of the ideal district size of 700,334 (i.e., any district between 693,331 and 707,337 will work).
2) You must draw seats for at least 26 Democrats – 26-2, 27-1, and 28-0 plans are all acceptable.
3) Assume that all current incumbents are re-elected in 2010. You will therefore have to eliminate at least one incumbent’s district.
4) Your over-arching goal should be to shore up all Democratic seats which are potentially vulnerable. If you choose to eliminate an incumbent Democrat’s district, the trade-off should mean bluer districts for remaining incumbents.
5) Not a requirement, but bonus points for screwing Peter King in some fashion
6) Water contiguity is permitted (bonus points for connecting along bridges).
7) Touch-point contiguity is not permitted. (Touch-point contiguity occurs when two geographical units only meet each other at a single point. Think of the famous “Four Corners” in the American southwest: Arizona and Colorado share touch-point contiguity, as do New Mexico and Utah.)
8) VRA compliance is required. VRA-compliant districts should be centered around the geographic areas covered by the the present-day districts listed below. These districts may be re-numbered and re-shaped however you see fit, so long as your final plan includes districts which meet the criteria below. They may also be combined & re-fashioned, especially in the case of NY-10 and NY-11.
We won’t require strict adherence to any particular set of numbers, but these are probably pretty decent guidelines:
• NY-06 area (Jamaica, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway): 50%+ African-American
• NY-10 area (Bed-Stuy, Canarsie, East New York, Downtown Brooklyn): 50%+ African-American
• NY-11 area (Crown Heights, Brownsville, Park Slope, Flatbush): 50%+ African-American
• NY-12 area (Greenpoint, Bushwick, Glendale, Lower East Side): 48%+ Hispanic
• NY-15 area (Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Upper West Side, Washington Heights): Majority-minority
• NY-16 area (South Bronx, Morrisania, High Bridge, Port Morris): 60%+ Hispanic
9) All 28 districts must be described in your writeup. Each district writeup must include:
• A list of any current incumbents whose homes are in that district. If more than one incumbent lives in a district, you must describe whom you think the district “belongs” to.
• A brief narrative summary of major counties, cities, towns, and/or neighborhoods encompassed by the district. This list need not – and should not – be exhaustive. It should just hit the high points.
• Demographic information about racial breakdowns by percentage.
• 2008 presidential election results, both for the new district and the old district (to the extent there is a corresponding old district).
• Total population.
10) Your writeup must include maps sufficient to show all 28 districts with reasonable detail. Use zoomed-in maps for densely populated areas. Please make maps no more than 590 pixels wide – any larger and they break the site’s formatting on many monitors. But by all means link to full-size images.
11) Your map can be as gerrymandered or as compact as you wish. Bonus points for creativity.
12) Only one entry per user – but you can post your diary at any time during the contest period (again, until midnight Eastern time on Sunday, Jan. 10th).
13) Please email your saved .DRF.XML to Jeff (jeffmd [at] swingstateproject [dot] com). Dave has instructions for locating your file in his help file (scroll down to the section “Saved Files”), for Mac OS, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Do not post this file online.
If you have any questions or need any clarifications, please feel free to ask in comments. To the winner goes the babka!
P.S. To assist you, a list of each represenative’s area of residence is below the fold. If you have more detailed information about any of them, please let us know in comments.
UPDATE: Please put the phrase “Contest Entry:” at the start of your diary title, and please also put the tag “redistricting contest” in your tags.
Also, here’s a helpful map of NYC neighborhoods (warning: large PDF).
UPDATE 2: There are special instructions for turning on the political (Obama vs. McCain) data:
To access this new data, you need to check the “Use Test Data” checkbox in the upper right corner of the app before selecting New York State. (Because the data format is different than I have been using, I’ve separated it into a separate directory on the server.)
|NY-01||Bishop||Southampton village||NY-16||Serrano||South Bronx|
|NY-03||King||Seaford (Oyster Bay)||NY-18||Lowey||Harrison|
|NY-04||McCarthy||Mineola (North Hempstead)||NY-19||Hall||Dover Plains (Dover)|
|NY-05||Ackerman||Roslyn Heights (North Hempstead)||NY-20||Murphy||Glens Falls|
|NY-08||Nadler||Upper West Side||NY-23||Owens||Plattsburgh|
|NY-10||Towns||East New York||NY-25||Maffei||DeWitt|
|NY-12||Velazquez||Williamsburg||NY-27||Higgins||Buffalo South District|
|NY-13||McMahon||Staten Island||NY-28||Slaughter||Fairport (Perinton)|
|NY-14||Maloney||Upper East Side||NY-29||Massa||Corning|
We’ve been patiently waiting for the New York State Board of Elections to certify the results of the NY-23 special election so that we could name the winners of our 2009 predictions contest. Well, the numbers are finally in, so here we are! But first, thanks as always to everyone who participated. We received 110 valid entries, which is about as many as we had in 2008. Not bad for an off-year election!
If you are listed as a winner, send me an email and I will send you a super-delicious Green’s babka posthaste. Without further ado:
Congratulations to all the winners! If you’d like to find out how you did, please click here. The average score was 29. KainIIIC, Tiger in Blue Denver, and overall winner Zeitgeist9000 nailed NY-23 exactly (average error: 7). No one got NJ-Gov on the nose, though GoodWellOK and third-place finisher pinhickwv were off by just one point (average error: 9). Six folks got VA-Gov (second-place finisher andyroo312, brownsox, gabjoh, GOPVOTER, PropJoe & Zeitgeist9000, once again), while seven got ME-Init (bennytoothpick, David Kowalski, DGM
GoodWellOK, Lois, Mark & stevenaxelrod). (Average errors were 5 and 7, respectively.) Also, only one person correctly picked the victors of all four races. NJCentrist rightly named Owens, Christie, McDonnell and “Yes” as the winners of the four big 2009 races. Nice going!
In any event, props once again to our winners, and thanks once more to all who participated. If you didn’t win this time, have no fear – one thing I can predict is that there will be more babka in the very near future!
Exciting news, folks: Thanks to the hard work of Dave and Jeffmd, Dave’s Redistricting App now has political data for the state of New York. Just like with Maryland, when you create your new New York maps, you’ll be able to see the Obama-McCain percentage for each district.
With this new feature launched, SSP plans to hold a redistricting contest in the near future. Dave has asked, though, that everyone kick the tires a bit before we officially begin the contest. So head on over to the app and test out the new NY data – and then stay tuned for a more detailed announcement from us soon!
The very off-topic derailment in this week’s open thread forced me to do something I’d never done before on this site – close comments on a post. I really, really did not enjoy doing that. It also made me wary of posting the summary chart of how the healthcare vote went. People did manage to stay on topic and remain civil for the first couple hundred comments. But I was very disappointed that in the end, a few people wound up derailing the thread yet again.
So we’re giving one-week suspensions to certain users. I’m not going to name names, but I’m posting this as a diary since we do not maintain contact information for our users. If, starting today, you logged in and found you can’t comment or post diaries, you’ve been affected. You’ll be able to participate again in a week. Consider this a serious warning.
I’m also going to say this once more: It’s a big Internets. If you want to gripe about policy or simply act uncivilly, there are tons of places you can do that. But not here.
Click here (and bookmark) this incredibly valuable tool. It’s the Swing State Project’s sortable calendar of filing deadlines, primary dates, and, where applicable, runoff dates in all fifty states. Very useful – try it! (We’ll also permalink it in the right-hand sidebar under “SSP Resources.”)
I also wanted to take this opportunity to ask: which states have party conventions instead of or in addition to primaries, and how do they each work? I know, for instance, that Minnesota, Connecticut and Utah all have conventions, but their effects on ballot access differ somewhat from one another. Convention experts, please enlighten us.