So since the PA Supremes look like they might overturn the congressional map, I decided to draw what I think a truly nonpartisan Pennsylvania map might look like. This map tries to keep in mind county splits, compactness, and COI to the point where I think this is a reasonable map the Court could implement if they’re not trying to be totally Dem hacks. There are no municipality splits other than Philly and just 11 counties are split (Allegheny, Butler, Chester, Cumberland, Delaware, Luzerne, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Synder). This map is overall 9R-4D-5S, though I would bet the final result if implemented for 2018 is closer to 9-9 than 14-4. Thanks to RRR and Ryan_in_SEPA for their help, particularly on the SEPA portion.
1. Brady (D-Overbrook, Philadelphia) and Meehan (R-Upper Darby) D+30 in 2008, D+34 in 2012/16, 44/41/5 W/B/H VAP, Safe D
Dividing Philly North-South is actually a bit more logical from a compactness point of view than the current East/West split. Brady’s district gives up the Hispanic areas of eastern North Philly for Black West Philly, making this seat likely to have a Black-majority Dem electorate. It also includes the heavily black-middle-class eastern towns of Delaware County to equalize population, meaning Meehan technically now lives in this seat. This seat is actually one of the few that is getting much more white as many neighborhoods south and west of Center City are gentrifying rapidly, so there’s a real possibility a white liberal and Black coalition could dislodge Brady if his ethics issues become more salient.
2. Evans (D-Oak Lane, Philadelphia) D+37 in 2008, D+40 in 2012/16, 27/50/17 W/B/H VAP, Safe D
This seat is a pretty good illustration of just how massive North Philly’s ghettoes are, as this becomes an entirely North Philly district, getting some Hispanic-heavy neighborhoods and some lower-middle-class areas of the lower Northeast, plus a few Roxborough wealthy white liberals. This seat is is probably one of the 10 poorest districts in the country and still Black-majority by a hair (though the D primary electorate will be easily majority-Black). It is totally safe for Evans in both the primary and general.
3. Kelly (R-Butler) R+2 in 2008, R+7 in 2012/16, Safe R
I tried to make this seat a purely small-town NWPA seat, without any rural mountain areas or Pittsburgh suburbs. The result is reuniting Erie and dropping some Pittsburgh suburbs to make a very clean, very blue collar district. This probably would have been very competitive or even flipped as late as 2012, but it is very Trump-friendly and should be totally Safe for Kelly nowadays.
4. Perry (R-Carroll Twp.) R+13 in 2008, R+17 in 2012/16, Safe R
Not much changes with this district, except it loses Harrisburg and gets more Republicans from Franklin County. Totally Safe for Perry in the primary and general.
5. Thompson (R-Howard Twp.) R+9 in 2008, R+17 in 2012/16, Safe R
This seat is State College plus a big swath of some of the Northeast’s most rural territory. Loses its arm into Erie and is still totally Safe for Thompson in the primary and general.
6. OPEN D+1 in 2008, R+3 in 2012/16, Tossup
Berks County has been epically sliced and diced since 2002, but this map reunites it in one district. Berks is actually a right-trending area, but the cleanest thing to do was attach it to some upscale outer Montgomery suburbs that are trending hard-left. The net result is a beautifully clean, very diverse district socioeconomically that’s a pure Tossup politically and likely to remain so. Costello represents a plurality of this seat, but Meehan also represents a sizeable chunk of it, and neither one has a real base here. Given the tradeoff of moving to a new base vs. running in the tougher 7th (see below) this seat could be open, have one incumbent, or even see a Costello-Meehan primary mashup in which neither would have an obvious edge.
7. Costello (R-West Chester) D+3 in 2008, D+4 in 2012/16, Lean D pickup
Now to the part that Democrats will really like about this map. The current 7th is a ridiculous gerrymander spreading across a huge area of suburban SEPA. This seat becomes a clean, very COI-friendly, pairing of the middle-ring suburban parts of Chester and Delaware counties, which is almost entirely upscale (except for the city of Chester) and trending left hard. Both Meehan and Costello’s bases are here, meaning that they could wind up facing off in a primary that wouldn’t do the winner any favors in the general. Alternatively, either or both could move to the 6th or take on Smucker in the 16th, meaning this seat could even wind up open. This is a seat with strong GOP heritage that has a decent chance to be held by a strong incumbent like Meehan or Costello IL-10 style, even in a tough environment. But all in all this seat is more likely than not to wind up in Dem hands.
8. Fitzpatrick (R-Middletown Twp.) D+1 in 2008, R+1 in 2012/16, Lean R
Bucks County is almost the perfect size for a district and has to stay whole, which means this district doesn’t change much at all. Getting a little bit of the Northeast tip of Philadelphia makes it cleaner than taking some of Montgomery, so that’s the only change. Still a very typical swing district with a broad cross-section of upscale and downscale suburbs that will give Fitzpatrick a tough fight in 2018, though with his incumbency I’d mark him a very slight favorite.
9. Shuster (R-Holidaysburg) R+11 in 2008, ~R+20 in 2012/16, Safe R
This seat covers almost all of rural SWPA outside of the Pittsburgh metro area, including Altoona and Johnstown. This is a historically-R seat, and the historically-D parts of the district are trending right hard. Shuster gets a significant amount of new territory, but should still be a primary favorite.
10. Marino (R-Williamsport) R+9 in 2008, R+16 in 2012/16, Safe R
This seat covers a bunch of small towns in NEPA that have been sliced and diced on the current map. This seat is trending right strongly, and basically a clean and compact COI; while Marino gets a big chunk of new territory he should still be Safe in the primary and general.
11. OPEN R+8 in 2008, R+10 in 2012/16, Safe R
The Harrisburg area is a mess on the current map and this seat makes a compact COI of basically the entire metro and little else. Most of the candidates who are running for the current 11th are from that side of the district, so I would expect them all to run here. This seat is red enough for the primary winner to likely have little trouble in the general barring something unexpected.
12. Rothfus (R-Edgeworth) R+9 in 2008, R+8 in 2012/16, Safe R
This seat basically unites almost all of Pittsburgh’s white-collar suburbs. Beaver County doesn’t belong from a socioeconomic point of view, but it makes the seat much more compact and isn’t a horrible COI. This seat has some tension between SWPA’s downscale heritage and Pittsburgh’s development as a white-collar center, but overall the seat is Republican up and down ballot. It’s a fair amount of new territory for Rothfus, but he should be Safe in the primary and general barring something unexpected or a truly mammoth wave.
13. Boyle (D-Bustleton, Philadelphia) D+9 in 2008, D+12 in 2012/16, Safe D
This seat combines the white-liberal heavy southern half of Montgomery County with the lower-middle-class central part of Northeast Philly. Boyle may actually live just over the line in the 8th, though he could easily move back here. With less of the Northeast and more white liberals in the district, Boyle could potentially be vulnerable to a primary challenge, though I would guess that his incumbency is enough to carry him through.
14. Doyle (D-Forest Hills) D+13 in 2008, D+16 in 2012/16, Safe D
This seat becomes significantly cleaner and gets unpacked a bit by following municipal lines. Still includes the entire city of Pittsburgh and its inner, generally blue collar, southern and eastern suburbs. This seat is actually trending left with the influx of white liberals. Should be totally safe for Doyle both primary and general.
15. OPEN D+3 in 2008, EVEN in 2012/16, Tossup
This seat reunites the Lehigh Valley into one district, which is almost the perfect size for a seat. It has a tiny bit of the Poconos to equalize population. This is a purely swing seat, with a diverse mix of urban and suburban, white and blue collar areas, that should be very competitive in 2018 almost regardless of who the parties nominate.
16. Smucker (R-West Lampeter Twp.) R+7 in 2008, R+9 in 2012/16, Safe R
This is a beautifully clean pairing of all of Lancaster and the exurban western parts of Chester County; basically the Amish Paradise seat. This seat is very historically-Republican, and though the Chester part of the district is trending left, Lancaster is pretty static to even trending right. Smucker should probably be safe here barring a massive wave. Though there is a chance Costello would challenge him in a primary, Smucker would still be a fairly strong favorite.
17. Cartwright (D-Moosic) D+4 in 2008, R+1 in 2012/16, Tossup
This seat takes in the rural areas of NEPA and part of the Poconos to pair with essentially the entire Scranton-Wilkes Barre metro. The net result is that Cartwright’s purple to light-blue seat becomes light red by adding some very historically-R areas. This is a decent pickup opportunity for the GOP even in 2018 with a decent candidate, though Cartwright’s incumbency and the national mood probably keep it in the Tossup category.
18. VACANT (probably Saccone, R-Elizabeth Twp.) R+9 in 2008, R+13 in 2012/16, Safe R
This seat doesn’t change a whole lot, but now includes all of Washington, Greene, and Westmoreland Counties, along with some small chunks of southern Allegheny to equalize population. This seat is even more blue-collar than the previous version and very Trump-friendly. Assuming the GOP doesn’t blow it in the special Saccone should be safe in this seat for the 2018 primary and general.
UPDATE: Alternate SEPA Version
This is an alternate version that makes some different (but essentially equally valid) choices in SEPA. I like this slightly less than the above version (mostly because I feel the Berks split is a bit awkward and PA-1 is something of a COI mashup) but some people have liked it better. Only the 7 SEPA seats (1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 13, 16) are affected.
1. Brady (D-Overbrook, Philadelphia) and Meehan (R-Upper Darby) D+23 in 2008, D+26 in 2012/16, 53/36/3 W/B/H VAP, Safe D
This seat is something of an awkward COI mashup of urban south and west Philly and most of DelCo, though for parochial interests it’s probably not a terrible fit. The population split is almost a perfect 50-50, but Philly casts a majority of the D primary vote. Brady could have some real trouble from a coalition of blacks and white liberals here. The seat is white-majority by VAP but white-plurality by total population.
2. Evans (D-Oak Lane, Philadelphia) D+39 in 2008, D+42 in 2012/16, 26/52/14 W/B/H VAP, Safe D
North Philly’s ghettoes, without the white liberals in Roxborough/Manayunk but some White Liberals in Center City as well. Majority-black but has some Hispanic-heavy neighborhoods and some lower-middle-class areas of the lower Northeast. This seat is is probably in contention for the title of the nation’s poorest. It is totally safe for Evans in both the primary and general.
6. OPEN D+4 in 2008, D+2 in 2012/16, Tossup
This seat has most (but not all) of the Reading metro area, along with some rural areas of Eastern Berks, plus the suburban northern 2/3 or so of Montgomery. In spite of the huge portion of upscale left-trending MontCo suburbs in this seat, it’s actually moving right as the blue-collar Reading area has been stampeding rightward enough to offset it. Neither Costello nor Meehan lives here, but both represent sizeable chunks of the seat and either could easily carpetbag. If one of them runs here, I would say their incumbency probably leaves them a very slight favorite as long as the year isn’t too horrible, but Democrats are probably more likely than not to pick this one up if it were an open seat. However, the Dem primary electorate here is very liable to nominate a bold progressive (hello, Manan) that could underperform in the Berks part of the seat.
7. Costello (R-West Chester) D+1 in 2008, D+1 in 2012/16, Tossup/Tilt R
All of Chester plus the northwestern third or so of Delaware. Unlike the equivalent Delaware/Chester mashup, this is not a seat that Democrats would get without one heck of a fight. Costello lives here and Meehan’s base is here, and this is a seat that either could easily hold, even in a bad year. Trump underperformed here, but not by as much as you might guess. This seat would probably be a pure Tossup, even in a less than ideal environment, with either Meehan or Costello so long as they don’t both run here and bang each other up in a primary.
8. Fitzpatrick (R-Middletown Twp.) D+1 in 2008, R+1 in 2012/16, Lean R
Bucks County is almost the perfect size for a district and has to stay whole, which means this district doesn’t change much at all. With this configuration it’s a bit cleaner to have the seat take some border townships of MontCo rather than NE Philly, but that doesn’t really make any difference politically. Due to incumbency I’d put Fitzpatrick as a slight favorite.
13. Boyle (D-Bustleton, Philadelphia) D+13 in 2008, D+16 in 2012/16, Safe D
This seat combines the white-liberal heavy southern half of Montgomery County and Roxborough/Manayunk with all of lower-middle-class, blue collar Northeast Philly. Unlike the map above, Boyle will have no trouble here primary or general as Northeast Philly makes up nearly 2/3 of the seat.
16. Smucker (R-West Lampeter Twp.) R+8 in 2008, R+11 in 2012/16, Safe R
This seat now becomes something close to a GOP vote sink by pairing Lancaster with most of the deeply Republican rural parts of Berks and some Reading suburbs. Totally safe for Smucker both primary and general.