The coming redistricting in California will see two significant forces working to give the new lines. The first is population, how it has grown and shifted since the last maps were drawn. The second is the commission process that will follow set rules around keeping cities and counties together, compactness, communities of interest, and drawing lines without considering where candidates live.
To survey the political landscape I put together this chart showing population growth in each congressional district. While the commission does not need to start from the existing lines, this does show the disparity in population growth among current districts.
Swing State readers should quickly realize that districts with the greatest overages are Republican. This is seen statewide where Republican congressional seats are on average 42,000 over target population, and Democrat-held seats are 28,000 under.
Tightly packed Democratic seats like those in Los Angeles will have to geographically expand, stealing population from other neighboring Democrats to gain the requisite number of residents. Conversely, Republican districts will be contracting as they give up voters, and could provide more opportunity to other Republicans.
Current Congressional Districts and Variation from 2010 Projected Targets
Member Residence Variation
1 Mike Thompson D St Helena Under By 19,552
2 Wally Herger R Chico Over By 23,927
3 Dan Lungren R Gold River Over By 52,873
4 Tom McClintock R Elk Grove Over By 78,971
5 Doris Matsui D Sacramento Over By 21,151
6 Lynn Woolsey D Petaluma Under By 82,302
7 George Miller D Martinez Under By 47,071
8 Nancy Pelosi D San Francisco Under By 28,457
9 Barbara Lee D Oakland Under By 47,004
10 John Garamendi D Walnut Grove Under By 4,079
11 Jerry McNerney D Pleasanton Over By 68,602
12 Jackie Speier D Hillsborough Under By 73,416
13 Pete Stark D Fremont Under By 59,603
14 Anna Eshoo D Atherton Under By 47,104
15 Mike Honda D San Jose Under By 17,541
16 Zoe Lofgren D San Jose Under By 7,756
17 Sam Farr D Carmel Under By 63,360
18 Dennis Cardoza D Merced Over By 27,745
19 George Radanovich R Mariposa Over By 49,586
20 Jim Costa D Fresno Over By 18,060
21 Devin Nunes R Tulare Over By 75,114
22 Kevin McCarthy R Bakersfield Over By 71,524
23 Lois Capps D Santa Barbara Under By 54,321
24 Elton Gallegly R Simi Valley Under By 29,472
25 Howard McKeon R Santa Clarita Over By 4,084
26 David Dreier R San Dimas Over By 10,372
27 Brad Sherman D Sherman Oaks Under By 41,458
28 Howard Berman D Los Angeles Under By 37,913
29 Adam Schiff D Burbank Under By 39,041
30 Henry Waxman D Los Angeles Under By 31,871
31 Xavier Becerra D Los Angeles Under By 55,157
32 Judy Chu D Monterey Park Under By 54,149
33 Diane Watson D Los Angeles Under By 36,444
34 Lucille Roybal-Allard D Los Angeles Under By 47,705
35 Maxine Waters D Los Angeles Under By 39,585
36 Jane Harman D Los Angeles Under By 34,005
37 Laura Richardson D Long Beach Under By 36,943
38 Grace Napolitano D Norwalk Under By 51,103
39 Linda Sanchez D Lakewood Under By 44,407
40 Ed Royce R Fullerton Under By 37,637
41 Jerry Lewis R Redlands Over By 100,829
42 Gary Miller R Diamond Bar Under By 10,593
43 Joe Baca D Rialto Over By 57,355
44 Ken Calvert R Corona Over By 191,982
45 Mary Bono Mack R Palm Springs Over By 200,712
46 Dana Rohrabacher R Huntington Beach Under By 40,074
47 Loretta Sanchez D Anaheim Under By 43,323
48 John Campbell R Irvine Over By 437
49 Darrell Issa R Vista Over By 65,129
50 Brian Bilbray R Carlsbad Over By 13,076
51 Bob Filner D San Diego Over By 7,693
52 Duncan Hunter R Lakeside Under By 25,845
53 Susan Davis D San Diego Under By 25,626
The following shows variations for congressional districts by region, however they do not match county growth perfectly as several Congressional districts overlap counties and skew the numbers.
Variation from Ideal 2010 Population, by Congressional Districts in Regions
.: Northern California +4.5% 4 districts over by 175,000, 1 under
.: San Francisco Bay -5.8% 11 districts are under by 415.000
.: Central Valley +6.9% 5 districts over by 240,000
.: Los Angeles -5.5% 13 districts under by 550,000
.: Orange County +1.4% 1 district is over, 4 are under
.: San Diego +1% 2 districts are under, 3 over
.: Inland Empire +11.4% 8 districts are over by 640,000
San Francisco Bay Area
Bay Area congressional districts have largely not kept up with statewide growth, putting them under the required population by about 4.5%. The only exception is the Jerry McNerney district, but the growth in this district is primarily within the San Joaquin portion. Excluding McNerney, the remaining ten districts need to expand to capture another 415,000 residents.
Excluding the McNerney district the remaining Bay Area seats have to grow 6% on average. This does not seem significant when looked at for an individual district where it is like adding the city of Pacifica. However, as each district takes from the next, the impact is added up. In the end the last district is going to shift by the equivalent of gaining or losing a city the size of Oakland.
Central Valley and Norcal
Tightly packed urban Democratic seats like those in the Bay Area will have to geographically expand, stealing population from other neighboring Democrats to gain the requisite number of residents. Conversely, Republican districts like these in the Central Valley and Northern California will be contracting as they give up voters, and could provide more opportunity to other Republicans as these regions add a district.
Aside from population, the requirements for geographic compactness and keeping cities and counties together will wreak havoc on the current districts.
As can be seen above, the cumulative impact of shrinking population is that LA districts have to go searching for an additional 540,000 residents. In a redraw that follows the new commission rules this should cause the loss of one congressional seat for the region.
The greatest volatility could come in the San Gabriel Valley where population growth has been slowest. The districts of Grace Napolitano (CD 38), Judy Chu (CD 32) and Xavier Becerra (CD 31) have only had growth of 2-2.5% – putting them under the state average by approximately 8%. Furthermore, South and West facing beaches limit the ability for districts in the City of LA to move in either of those directions, meaning that expanding districts must shift North and East – likely toward the Inland Empire that has seen the highest growth rate in the state.
The only district in Los Angles with an overage is also the only district held by a Republican.
Orange County congressional districts have largely not kept up with statewide growth putting them under the required population by about 5%. The only exception is the Ken Calvert district, but the growth in this seat is primarily within the Riverside portion of the district. Excluding Calvert, the remaining five districts need to expand to capture another 130,000 residents.
While Orange County currently has six congressional members, it only has four who live within the county. The districts held by Miller and Calvert extend from Orange County into Riverside and San Bernardino where those members live. Given Orange County population estimates, the county should have 4.25 members of congress.
Overall growth in San Diego is just 1% above the state average. Yet that shifts to about 1% under the state average after accounting for the Issa District that overlaps with Riverside and the Filner district that takes in the Inland Empire. As can be expected, it is the southern, more densely populated portion of San Diego that has had the least growth.
Past redistricting efforts have not done a good job of keeping the Inland Empire intact or creating lines that benefit this growing portion of the State. The area has eight congressional seats with only three districts entirely within its boundaries and five that overlap from Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange Counties. Half of the Inland Empire’s congressional representatives live outside of the three-county area.
In a redraw that respects city and county lines and pays no regard to where current members live, it can be expected that the three Congressional districts entirely within the Inland Empire would increase to five, and the districts that only dip into the Inland Empire would be stopped at the county lines. This would be an increase in the region’s true representation, but a decrease in the number of representatives that have any part of the Inland Empire.