My take on Texas


I was reading the comments on this post regarding the possibility that Texas may need to redistrict again by 2020. I decided to have a little bit of fun and create what might have passed muster. I did increase the number of Hispanic majority seats while making them as favorable to Republicans as possible. I also decided to focus on the compact aspect of VRA as much as possible, so I tried to make them and all the districts meet what I thought would be compact. I used C235 as the basis, and then I changed as felt like. I also tried to prevent many county splits. So, without further ado, here we go. Maps are below the statistics.

  1. 30.9% Obama, 69.1% McCain (See whole state)
  2. 40.5%, 59.5%; 41.6% White, 19.6% Black, 29.6% Hispanic (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  3. 38.1%, 61.9% (See Metroplex)
  4. 29.3%, 70.7% (See whole state)
  5. 36.1%, 63.9% (See whole state and Metroplex)
  6. 38.9%, 61.1% (See Metroplex)
  7. 43.6%, 56.4%; 48.4%, 8.9%, 32.1% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  8. 26.3%, 73.7% (See whole state)
  9. 80.7%, 19.3%; 10.5%, 41.5%, 36.6% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  10. 34.1%, 65.9% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  11. 24.6%, 75.4% (See whole state)
  12. 45.2%, 54.8% (See Metroplex)
  13. 22.6%, 77.4% (See whole state)
  14. 42.0%, 58.0% (See whole state and Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  15. 51.0%, 49.0%; 23.3%, 3.2%, 72.1% (See whole state and Hidalgo County)
  16. 65.2%, 34.8%; 14.7%, 2.9%, 80.2% (See whole state)
  17. 34.8%, 65.2% (See whole state)
  18. 71.9%, 28.1%; 13.9%, 23.8%, 58.8% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  19. 28.4%, 71.6% (See whole state)
  20. 50.9%, 49.1%; 31.2%, 4.2%, 59.8% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  21. 58.0%, 42.0%; 26.6%, 9.5%, 60.9% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  22. 41.1%, 58.9%; 42.2% White, 14.6% Black, 24.3% Hispanic, 16.7% Asian [Only district in which this group seemed noticeable] (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  23. 36.1%, 59.5%; 35.5%, 3.1%, 59.5% (See whole state)
  24. 37.2%, 62.8% (See Metroplex)
  25. 46.0%, 54.0% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  26. 36.9%, 63.1% (See whole map and Metroplex)
  27. 50.8%, 49.2%; 26.8%, 2.4%, 68.7% (See whole state and Hidalgo County)
  28. 50.6%, 49.4%; 25.5%, 2.3%, 70.0% (See whole state and Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  29. 52.6%, 47.4%; 25.6%, 10.6%, 59.2% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  30. 80.1%, 19.9%; 15.5%, 44.7%, 36.9% (See Metroplex)
  31. 43.2%, 56.8% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  32. 45.2%, 54.8% (See Metroplex)
  33. 62.8%, 37.2%; 18.8%, 11.5%, 65.8% (See Metroplex)
  34. 65.7%, 34.3%; 10.1%, .3%, 88.3% (See Hidalgo County)
  35. 73.9%, 26.1%; 39.2%, 11.0%, 42.7% (See Bexar, Harris, and Travis County)
  36. 30.1%, 69.9%

So, if I do my math right, this is 8 strong D seats (>55%), 1 lean D (51-55%), 4 swing seats (between 49-51% for either party), 3 lean R seats, and 20 strong R seats. I also count 2 Black plurality seats (9 and 30), 3 White plurality seats (2, 7, 22), 1 Hispanic plurality seat (35), and 11 Hispanic majority seats (15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 27, 28, 29, 33, 34). I am willing to send my file to anyone who wants to amend it.

Whole state


Bexar, Harris, and Travis County


The Metroplex


Hidalgo County

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  • krazen1211 April 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    This is a nice Democratic gerrymander, I guess. Nice drawing of TX-07 and TX-25.

    • shamlet April 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Yeah, unfortunately this is pretty much a dummymander. That said, I do like the West Texas configuration. Reconstructing Conaway’s seat as Hispanic-majority is a no-brainer.

      R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

      • FreedomJim April 8, 2017 at 5:09 pm

        His 23 would not have a Hispanic majority of voters. It would probably need to drop San Angelo and add more of the border in order to be Hispanic VRA.

        • Greyhound April 8, 2017 at 5:53 pm

          It’s 45% SSVR by DRA already (by my crude redraw) It might be over 50% by 2020 though. Odessa, Midland, and that whole stretch of West Texas is like 40-50% Hispanic already, and the 23rd is going to have to take in more of Barrio-burb El Paso by then. Its not like the San Antonio part of the current 23rd is particularly Hispanic anyway.

          R, 27, CA-18. Anti-Anti-Trump

          • FreedomJim April 9, 2017 at 11:42 am

            Greyhound, thanks for your redraw and input. I am not sure the 23rd will need more of El Paso county. I think El Paso has been growing slightly more slowly than the rest of the state. In a post-2020 map, Texas will have more seats, and this map’s 23rd might drop San Angelo while adding nothing. That might get the SSVR over 50%.
            Also, I do not think a serious proposal would change Bexar and Harris counties as much as Akosmowski did. I like the two all-Bexar districts, but one would be a vote sink and the other would not try to be Hispanic VRA. There would be two black pluralities and one Hispanic majority in Houston.

            • akosmowski April 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm

              Dear FreedomJim,

              I don’t know what SSVR means, so I’ll admit that I didn’t pay attention to it. Perhaps a later refinement….

              When I rearranged the seats in Houston, I did so because I felt the Hispanic district might be a pack. I was able to create those two seats. Now, of course, one might not have enough Hispanic voters. That is a limitation of Dave’s Redistricting App, though. I used the 60% threshold that I use in redistricting New York. Perhaps that is not high enough.

              I felt we needed a starting point for conversation, and this certainly is doing so.

              • FreedomJim April 10, 2017 at 6:26 pm

                Akosmowski, SSVR is Spanish-surname voter registration. Jon mentioned it in another comment, but did not use the acronym and I should have explained it. Sorry.
                Urban Texas Hispanics are probably less likely to vote than rural ones. VRA interpretation is not real clear, but a Harris County district probably needs about 65% Hispanic VAP for a Hispanic majority of voters. Also, some Black Democratic legislators might vote for a plan with two Black-plurality districts in Houston.
                Thanks again for your efforts and I agree this is a good starting point.

                • akosmowski April 10, 2017 at 8:07 pm

                  Dear FreedomJim,

                  As I went to an earlier iteration of this in which I kept Harris County more or less alone, one district has a Hispanic majority at 71.2% and the other is a plurality with 49.6% and 29.7% black. Hence my thought about packing. Both however will elect Democrats, that’s for sure.

                  • FreedomJim April 10, 2017 at 10:59 pm

                    That iteration is probably more realistic and I doubt anyone will call 71.2% Hispanic a pack. That would be a narrow majority for Hispanic voters. I think it makes sense to keep conceding three districts in Houston if it makes the rest of the map more likely to become law and avoids dummymander risk in the suburban seats. There are still a lot of unknowns (timing of redistricting, attitudes of specific legislators, etc) but I think we are on the right track.

                    • akosmowski April 14, 2017 at 4:00 pm

                      Dear FreedomJim,

                      Following this advice with Harris, I applied it to Bexar (San Antonio). District 20 is now 44.4% white, 44.1% Hispanic, 44.4-55.6% Obama-McCain, 28.6% SSVR. District 21 is 76.6% Hispanic, 70.4% Obama, and 64.3% SSVR.

                    • FreedomJim April 14, 2017 at 9:04 pm

                      Akosmowski, that looks good, but you might want to reverse the numbers. Historically, District 20 is Dem and 21 is GOP. In a 36-seat map, the northern Bexar seat might need a suburban county or two in order to make 23, 28, 15 and 27 VRA compliant. Two all-Bexar districts will probably be more feasible in a 38 or 39 seat Texas after the next census.

        • shamlet April 9, 2017 at 12:05 pm

          You can make a 23 along these lines that is SSVR majority; it’s very simple: The northeast border is: Winkler-Ector-Midland-Reagan-Crockett-Schleicher-Sutton-Edwards-Uvalde-Medina-Frio-LaSalle. Then take the remainder of El Paso to bring it up to population. You get an R+12, 51% SSVR seat.

          R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

          • FreedomJim April 10, 2017 at 6:16 pm

            Shamlet, I hope something like that happens in the next round of redistricting.

  • Jon April 2, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    The thing is for any realistic forced mid-decade redraw, the Texas legislature is not going redraw everything from scratch; but will confine the redraw to the specific districts struck down and ones nearby. (North Carolina’s did change every single district but they had to abolish the interstate district)

    (Things like #13, 19, 4, etc look nice but wouldn’t be touched.)

    As to South Texas which probably would be impacted; the first change I’d make from this one would be to have the county in which McAllen is located split by only two districts instead of three.

    45, M, MO-02

    • FreedomJim April 8, 2017 at 10:53 am

      15 Probably needs a lot of Hidalgo in order to be Hispanic VRA. Perhaps 34 could take the rest of Hidalgo county and give eastern Cameron county to 27.

      • akosmowski April 10, 2017 at 9:45 pm

        Dear FreedomJim,

        I tweaked my map to split Hidalgo between 34 and 15, and split Cameron between 34 and 27.

        27: 65.3% Hispanic, 51.8% McCain (From swing to lean R by my definitions)
        34: 91.6% Hispanic, 71.3% Obama (Still strong D)

        • FreedomJim April 10, 2017 at 10:51 pm

          Akosmowski, I actually drew a map similar to your tweak several years ago. Your original South Texas is probably more likely to survive a VRA challenge because it packs fewer Hispanics in 34. Still, Jon’s idea was worth pursuing and I am glad you tried it.

          • akosmowski April 11, 2017 at 7:47 pm

            Dear FreedomJim,

            Did you ever finish the map linked?

            • FreedomJim April 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm

              No, I did not finish the map. I would have basically let the Dems draw three Houston seats and two DFW seats however they want, and made the rest likely or safe Republican.

              • Jon April 13, 2017 at 6:34 pm

                If offered that deal, Democrats would probably refuse.
                Or alternatively draw theirs in such a matter that it doesn’t include any VRA ones.

                45, M, MO-02

                • FreedomJim April 13, 2017 at 6:40 pm

                  Jon, thanks for the input. Of course, there would be conditions that prevent them from intentionally provoking a VRA challenge that invalidates the entire map. If the Dems refuse, the GOP will probably have the votes to approve a map without the Dems.

                  • Jon April 14, 2017 at 6:57 pm

                    On the sabotage front; I was thinking more that for a metro hey’d do something like choose to draw “their” districts that left a hole identical to the size a congressional district that would be even more D than the ones they had “chosen” /
                    or that there would obviously be VRA districts still possible to draw in the Metro after they had chosen “their” districts not using any of their territory that would obviously be even more D than the ones they had “chosen”

                    When in the past TN state legislature makes deals regarding parts of Shelby for state seats what they did was draw a super district for planning purposes that evenly splits into the correct number of districts and then let the Democrats subdivide that.

                    45, M, MO-02

          • akosmowski April 11, 2017 at 10:00 pm

            A second reply…

            In that first tweak, I connected McAllen/eastern Hidalgo County to Brownsville, and also Harlingen to Corpus Christi. I tried to connect Corpus Christi to Brownsville and Harlingen to McAllen just now. Here are those stats:

            27: 67.4% Hispanic (population), 54.6% SSVR, 50.5% Obama
            34: 89.8%, 77.8%, 67.5%

            This might look like a pack, but I think the biggest argument that brought the case to trial is that TX could easily have created another Hispanic-majority seat in the south and chose not to do so. Even in a least change, which I think was their goal, this could have been done.

            • FreedomJim April 13, 2017 at 6:34 pm

              I would have liked to put Harlingen in my 27, but I figured leaving that many non-Hispanics out of a nearby 80+% Hispanic district would provoke a VRA challenge.
              I think the goal last time was to make all of the non-VRA districts safe GOP and the 23rd light red. With Farenthold in a red district, they needed some gerrymandering in order to get seven Hispanic seats outside of DFW and Houston. I do not think a map with an all-Valley district has passed the legislature, so I am not sure if the VRA enforcers would allow one.

              • akosmowski April 13, 2017 at 10:06 pm

                I wonder if an all-Valley district has ever been proposed. Texas gained 4 seats to get to its current 36. Drawing one there might have been a reasonable bone. No one talks about cracking El Paso, so perhaps that logic could be used in creating one all-Valley seat and the spreading out the remainder.

                One all-Valley district was proposed here:

                • FreedomJim April 14, 2017 at 9:14 pm

                  I have actually seen a couple of maps that split El Paso, but none was seriously considered. An all-Valley district would be more Hispanic than the El Paso one, and splitting El Paso would require also splitting a rural county. That might explain the different treatment.

                  • Jon April 14, 2017 at 9:44 pm

                    One of the strongest arguments against splitting El Paso in half between two districts is this map; it would look like a mini-baconator West of Odesia

                    45, M, MO-02

                • krazen1211 April 16, 2017 at 9:05 am

                  Great resource here.

                  An all Valley district existed in 1972.



                  Since then, the state has had to redistrict under VRA5 preclearance standards, including in 2011. There is no more VRA5 preclearance. The 1982 redistricting added TX-27 there and split the valley up for the first time. I was reading a bit about it in Seamon v Upham which is I believe where the idea of ‘equalizing’ VAP between the South Texas districts came into play.

                  Still, I suspect Hidalgo County will eventually be put into its own district again.

                  • Jon April 16, 2017 at 9:47 am

                    The idea of equalizing made much more sense by 1980 census numbers than it does today; back then it was thought that McAllen in a single district would automatically result in neighboring districts being less than 50% HVAP.

                    By 2010 census numbers, that doesn’t appear to still be the case. (While the McAllen district would be above 90%; it was trivial to draw neighboring ones 78%+ HVAP)

                    45, M, MO-02

                    • krazen1211 April 17, 2017 at 8:24 am


                      Yep I agree. At the time, the concern was that TX-15/TX-27 (in a north/south configuration) would have an 80% district adjacent to a 55% district. Split east to west you end up with a 72% and 65% district.

                      As the number of districts grows, its inevitable that the top ends of those districts get chopped off. The valley is already overrepresented as it is.

                  • FreedomJim April 16, 2017 at 3:09 pm

                    Krazen, that is an excellent link. I had been curious about many of the past districts.

                    Hidalgo has enough people for one district, but it would be over 90% Hispanic and if Cameron stays whole, that district would also pack a lot of Hispanics. I hope there is an all-Valley district next time, bot something like one of Akosmowski’s versions is probably more likely.

                    • Jon April 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm

                      There’s a big difference though between having a 90% Hispanic district if the neighboring ones would be less than 50% vs at least 78%.

                      45, M, MO-02

                    • FreedomJim April 18, 2017 at 9:40 pm

                      Jon, if only two districts (e.g., AKosmowski’s 15 and 27) border the all-Valley seat, they would both be VRA-compliant. However, the impact on other districts would be a factor. For example, if part of Laredo were in his 15th, the “neighboring districts” would be more Hispanic, but it would be very hard to maintain the current number of Hispanic districts in the whole state.

    • akosmowski April 10, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      Dear Jon,

      I know I went radical by going “What if this is what TX started with?” instead of starting with current districts. Funnily, some of the districts in question were in concerns last time, and what is on the current map came from those efforts in the previous decade.

  • FreedomJim April 8, 2017 at 10:42 am

    Akosmowski, thanks for your efforts with this map. One concern is that some of your “Hispanic majority” districts will not have a Hispanic majority of voters and thus probably not help with VRA compliance.

    • Jon April 8, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      One metric the courts often use for Texas is percentage of Spanish surnames registered to vote.

      That is when they aren’t simply declaring Lean R districts not Hispanic enough.

      45, M, MO-02

  • FreedomJim April 14, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    Akosmowski, a few other minor quibbles with your map, even though I do not have time to make my own:
    I do not see the point of sending 26 into Dallas county and I think 13 extends too far east, although the current map also has that flaw. Some minor changes to 6, 11, 12, 13, 24 and 26 would probably improve things.
    District 10 is in three big media markets, which could be frustrating. If adjustments to the Hispanic districts do not get it out of the San Antonio market, it could swap some territory with 8 and 17 and get out of the Houston one.

    • krazen1211 April 15, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Seems to me like we need to go the other way, and add Rockwall County to District 32.

      • shamlet April 15, 2017 at 12:01 pm

        Ratcliffe lives there though.

        R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

        • krazen1211 April 16, 2017 at 9:08 am

          True, but it seems like the most obvious option to me. I suppose they could shove TX-32 further into Collin County R areas and put University Park in TX-05.

          Beyond that, one of the many reasons this map utterly fails R political interests is that it actually slightly weakens TX-07 and TX-32 compared to the benchmark plan. I think they will draw another district like TX-02 and crack inner Houston areas with the Woodlands.

        • FreedomJim April 16, 2017 at 3:36 pm

          Krazen, that is a good point about 7 and 32. The weakening of 7 might result from the attempt to make 29 competitive. 32 can be shored up, but the method will depend on the incumbents at the time of the next redraw.
          The Trump realignment is making clean, GOP-friendly maps a little more difficult by packing rural districts and weakening suburbs currently used to overcome nearby Democrats.

  • akosmowski April 15, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Dear FreedomJim,

    District 26’s portions of Dallas County is insignificant and is there only to balance the populations. When I mean insignificant, I mean maybe 500 people total.

    District 13 already extends out that far east, at least on the current in-use map.

    The others are major changes that I’m unwilling to do anything with right now.

    • FreedomJim April 16, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      Akosmowski, I do not expect you to make a whole new map, but I hope the next map-drawer considers these points, as well as Krazen’s point about 7 and 32.
      I doubt those five hundred people justify adding to the workload of district 26 campaigns and Dallas county election staff. I would prefer to get the population from Cooke county or accept a slight deviation from the average.
      You improved on the current map by pushing 11 eastward, and I thought getting 13 out of the metroplex media market would be a worthy goal.

  • akosmowski April 30, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    I have revised the above maps. Pictures here and data here.

    • FreedomJim May 1, 2017 at 11:00 pm

      Thanks. I will take a look at those.

      • akosmowski May 2, 2017 at 9:06 pm

        To alert you, I have since changed districts 5 and 32 on the linked maps. I swapped Rockwall from 5 with some of 32’s Dallas portions. Significant stat changes are:
        5) 39.9% O/ 60.1% M
        32) 41.9% O/58.1% M

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