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How Trump can save the 2020 census

Please let me know what you think of my latest article on the importance of a new and different appointment as census director.

Under the Obama administration, the Arab-American Institute and other Arab-American organizations supported the Census Bureau’s effort to add a separate Middle East and North African (MENA) racial category to the upcoming 2020 Census. Democrats quietly but effectively sowed the seeds of a politicized Census Bureau by creating new racial categories, while seeking to reduce the “White” percentage that would ultimately be counted in the 2020 Census. The implementation of which would be used to create ethnic Congressional districts favorable to the election of Democrats and increase the number of ballots required to be distributed in foreign languages, such as Arabic.

Will Trump Save the 2020 Census?

RRH Redistricting Series Part 15: Bishop or Barrow in Georgia?

Everyone seems to agree that Republicans in Georgia should draw a 10R-4D map, with three urban VRA seats in greater Atlanta and a 4th VRA seat in South Georgia. Most people–from the national pundits to RRH readers–seem to think that John Barrow’s 12th will become a Republican seat, while Sanford Bishop’s 2nd will add more African-Americans and function as a Democratic vote sink. I’m inclined to agree that this is the likely outcome, but I don’t necessarily agree that it’s the best.

Per the VRA, South Georgia needs one majority-minority seat. This is currently the 2nd, but the law doesn’t specify where the district must be, only that it must exist. Keeping the 2nd would mean keeping Sanford Bishop, who isn’t the most liberal of Democrats but is a fairly reliable partisan vote and has some serious ethical concerns relating to CBC-sponsored scholarships. Barrow, on the other hand, is ethically sound and more conservative, voting with the GOP on healthcare reform, Stupak, cap and trade, and (sometimes) immigration despite being from a district with the same PVI as Bishop’s (D+1.) His career ACU score is 33 to Bishop’s 29, and he has scored a 17 in each of the last two years while Bishop has been below 10.

So, I thought, why not try and dismantle Bishop while keeping Barrow around? The map is kind of ugly and requires Austin Scott to shift around a little, but otherwise works pretty well. It also places the new 14th in a place I haven’t seen it on any other map.

GA-01-blue: Jack Kingston (R-Savannah) R+14, old R+16

–Retains its base in the white sections of Savannah but slides north to pick up white counties from Barrow’s old 12th. Becomes two points more Democratic, but this is the part of Georgia that is trending Republican. Kingston explicitly demanded that his district did not pick up the black parts of Savannah, and this map fulfills that request.

GA-02-green: Sanford Bishop (D-Albany) R+8, old D+1

–Bishop almost lost in 2010, and these new lines should finish him off. His home base of Albany is split in two, and he loses the swingy territory in the southwestern corner of the state. In exchange, he picks up some deep red territory north of Macon and a few counties in the central part of the state that are trending heavily Republican. The new racial stats are 57% white, 36% black.

GA-03-purple: Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) R+17, old R+19

–A very similar district to the old 3rd for Westmoreland. Based in the southern exurbs of Atlanta, it can afford to pick up a few unfriendly precincts in Henry County to help its neighbors.

GA-04-red: Hank Johnson (D-Lithonia) D+27, old D+26

VRA: 51% black

–The first of the three uber-Democratic vote sinks in the Atlanta area, the 4th is almost completely suburban and gave 80% of the vote to Obama. It adds two legs into the hardest D-trending areas of Gwinnett County to help secure the neighboring 7th, but is still based in DeKalb county.

GA-05-yellow: John Lewis (D-Atlanta) D+29, old D+26

VRA: 53% black

–Civil Rights Era hero Lewis gets a clean vote sink in eastern Atlanta that now includes all of 80% Obama Clayton County. This is the most Democratic district in Georgia (82-17) and one of the most in the South.

GA-06-teal: Tom Price (R-Roswell) R+18, old R+17

–The good doctor sees his fast-growing seat condense to north Fulton and most of Cherokee, with a few select precincts from DeKalb. Perhaps the safest suburban seat outside of Texas for a Republican.

GA-07-gray: Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) R+17, old R+14

–This is the part of the state Republicans are worried about, as it trended sharply Democratic in 2008. But fears are slightly overstated, as it’s easy to put the worst parts of Gwinnett in the 4th and keep the rest of the county with Woodall. To prevent against future shifts, the new 7th goes up to solidly red Gainesville. 60% White.

GA-08-lilac: Austin Scott (R-Ashburn) R+12, old R+10

–Most of this is new territory for Scott, but he’s a rural South Georgia politician and is probably better suited for this slice of Dixie along the Florida border than for the Atlanta exurbs. The 8th is two points more Republican now. Scott agreeing to take a district like this would make the mapmakers’ job a lot easier.

GA-09-cyan: Tom Graves (R-Ranger) R+24, old R+29

–The 9th is no longer one of the 5 most Republican districts in America, but it’s still easily in the top 15. I wanted to unpack it even more but there wasn’t a clear way to do that. 70% McCain.

GA-10-pink: Paul Broun (R-Athens) R+23, old R+16

–Any district in northeast Georgia is going to be a vote sink, so I decided to use the territory Graves gave up to drown out Athens. Lots of new territory for Broun but he’s kind of controversial and is a good fit for an R+23.

GA-11-lime: Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) R+21, old R+20

–Goes south instead of north along the Alabama border but still based in northern Cobb County. More of the same for Gingrey.

GA-12-cornflower: John Barrow (D-Savannah) D+10, old D+1

VRA: 50% black

–Savannah, Augusta, and Macon combine with the most black rural counties in South Georgia to form a district that is just barely black-majority VAP. Yes, it’s ugly, but it gets the job done. The Macon arm is the only new section for Barrow, who could be vulnerable in the primary but has fended off tough challenges before in a district that is only 6% less black.

GA-13-tan: David Scott (D-Atlanta) D+21, old D+19

VRA: 57% black

–The final Atlanta vote sink, taking in the western part of the city and the blue parts of Cobb and Douglas counties. Surprisingly, this district has more black voters than the 4th or 5th but is less Democratic than either of those, as the whites in Cobb and Douglas are pretty darned conservative.

GA-14-fatigues: OPEN R+17

–Surprise! After the other 13 districts are drawn, the 14th ends up in eastern Georgia, combining the southeastern suburbs/exurbs of Atlanta with a long stretch of the South Carolina border, ending up in the white parts of Augusta (where all those Masters patrons hail from.) The district is shaped like an hourglass on its side as a result of the Athens to the northeast gerrymander, and is conservative enough that it can drown out some of the Democratic areas of metro Atlanta.

Missouri: How Carnahan Was Crunched

RRH readers know full well how contentious redistricting is, particularly in states with divided control of government, and even more so when the state is losing a district. Throw in ambitious legislators, the prospect of an open seat, some backstabbing and profanity, an ambivalent governor, and good old fashioned racial politics, and you’ve got the mess that was Missouri this spring. In the end, legislative Republicans overcame several internal differences, largely due to personal opportunism, to produce a map that was vetoed by the governor but overridden with help from a few “bandit” Democrats. And when the music stopped, Rep. Russ Carnahan was the man without a district:

Below the jump, visuals of all eight new districts, including where everyone’s old territory went, partisan numbers, and who, other than Carnahan, drew the short end of the stick.

Notes: The purple area of the map represents the old district, the green represents the new district, and the overlapping purple and green is the area that the district retained. PVI’s were calculated using Obama/McCain numbers. The numbers for MO-05 and MO-06 are only estimates because Jackson County does not make any detailed data available.

MO-01: Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) 47% White, 45% Black

D+28 (old: D+27)

Clay, for a variety of reasons, may be one of the least liked people in Washington, and his behind-the-scenes support for the Republican map was essential in overriding Nixon’s veto. He is a second-generation career politician who essentially inherited his seat from his father, CBC co-founder Bill Clay, and is known for putting racial interests ahead of partisan interests. In this case, Clay cedes swingy suburbs in western St. Louis County and gains the southern half of St. Louis City (which is predominantly white, working-class, and very Democratic), cutting Carnahan’s base out from under him. The new 1st is 70% Clay’s and 30% Carnahan’s, and the majority-black primary electorate would make this all but academic. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is also considering a primary run, in response to Clay’s role in redistricting, but a second white candidate in the race would only aid Lacy’s return to Congress.

MO-02: Todd Akin (R-Town and Country) or OPEN

R+6 (old: R+9)

This suburban seat was the main point of contention in the legislature, and the reason that a deal almost didn’t happen. The incumbent is Todd Akin, who has said he will decide on a Senate bid by the end of the month and is considered almost certain to be in. With the prospect of an open seat looming, a number of Republican legislators tried to draw their home bases into the seat, including St. Sen. Scott Rupp of St. Charles County and St. Rep. John Diehl of St. Louis County, and the entire process almost collapsed over the placement of a dozen precincts in St. Charles. In the end, Diehl got his way and Rupp did not, and the seat is more southern and less safe than its predecessor (although still not bad at R+6.) None of the legislators may go to Congress, however, as former Ambassador Ann Wagner and 2010 MO-03 candidate Ed Martin are both already in the race, and Wagner’s strong fundraising capacity makes her the nominal frontrunner. The totals show that Akin’s old seat is only 61% of the new seat, while 28% comes from Carnahan and the balance from Clay.

MO-03: Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth)

R+11 (old: R+9)

Luetkemeyer played a large role in holding up the redistricting process, as the sophomore seemed to be balking at adding a large amount of territory in metro St. Louis. After looking at the map, you can’t really blame him: only 38% of the new 3rd comes from his old 9th, which is supposedly the base for the district. Luetkemeyer loses all the friendly rural territory in the north, and adds a lot of unfamiliar population in the suburbs and exurbs of St. Louis. His district supplants the 2nd as the primary seat for wealthy St. Charles County, and also includes a large stretch of Jefferson County in the south that had been in Carnahan’s district. Luetkemeyer will be aided by the addition of Jefferson City, which is more in line with his current seat, and also got his way in dropping Columbia and avoiding St. Louis County. A full 33% of this district comes from the old 2nd (almost as much as from the old 9th), while 16% is from the 3rd and 13% is from the 4th. Unfamiliar to over 60% of the electorate, Luetkemeyer could be vulnerable in the primary to a suburban Republican like Rupp.

MO-04: Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville)

R+10 (old: R+14)

Hartzler’s district is still a slice of rural west-central Missouri, but it has shifted around quite a bit to accommodate her more senior colleagues. First, she needed to drop the northernmost counties in her old district to make room for the new 5th, and also loses Jefferson City (which is pretty red by state capital standards.) These areas are replaced with some territory to the northeast, which includes the annoying large, light-blue college town of Columbia. Hartzler is helped by the addition of the rest of Cass County (her home base), but she can’t be thrilled about only having represented 61% of this district before. A full 28%, all in the Columbia area, is from the 9th, and the other 13% comes from the Kansas City area districts. The district drops 4 points to R+10 (the worst shift of any GOP seat), but barring the second coming of Ike Skelton, this will be a safely red seat.

MO-05: Emanuel Cleaver (D-Kansas City)

estimated new: D+11 (old: D+10)

Like Clay, Cleaver played along with Republicans, directing black Democrats in his district to vote for the override and in exchange securing his own safety in both the primary and general. The logical step here would have been to place all of Jackson County (Kansas City and its suburbs) in one district, but that would have opened the door to a primary challenge from the suburbs, where there is a Democratic bench waiting for a shot at this seat. Thus, Cleaver bypasses much of outer Jackson County and instead adds some rural counties to the east, which do not provide any base sort of a base for a primary challenger. He also trades his portion of deep-red Cass County for Democratic precincts in Clay County. In total, Cleaver has represented 72% of this district before, and his new constituents come in equal parts from the 4th and 6th.

MO-06: Sam Graves (R-Tarkio)

estimated new: R+10 (old: R+7)

Previously a northwestern seat, the 6th expands to take in the entire northern third of the state of Missouri, running from Illinois to Kansas. But don’t let the map to you: the district’s population base remains in the Kansas City suburbs, and Graves has represented a full 75% of the district before. The new territory in the northeast is sufficiently red and sparsely populated that Graves’ biggest worry will be the mileage he will put on his car traversing this sprawling beast. It’s harder to see the changes in greater Kansas City, but Graves has added some of the most Republican parts of Jackson County in exchange for giving Democratic-leaning areas of Clay to Cleaver. This is responsible for the three point jump in PVI, the biggest positive change in any district.

MO-07: Billy Long (R-Springfield)

R+16 (old: R+17)

If you followed Missouri redistricting closely, you probably heard about 7 of the 8 new districts, and read comments or concerns from 8 of the 9 incumbents. Which makes it easy to forget that anonymous freshman Billy Long, a former auctioneer, probably got the best deal of anyone. He is the only Missouri Congressman to keep 100% of his old territory, adding bits and pieces in the north and east to get up to the population threshold. Southwestern Missouri is home to the Ozark Highlands, is considered part of the “Bible Belt” and is the most culturally Southern part of the state. Accordingly, the 7th is the most Republican seat in MO and completely safe for Long. I don’t know what to take from this: that it pays to keep your mouth shut during heated arguments, or that it’s a great thing to be crammed into a well-populated corner of a state. Probably the latter.

MO-08: Jo Ann Emerson (R-Cape Girardeau)

R+15 (old: R+15)

Emerson’s the dean of the delegation and an Appropriations cardinal of the majority party, so it was never in doubt that she would get the district she wanted. And indeed, she is at least as safe in the new 8th as Long is next door in the 7th, despite taking on some of Carnahan’s old territory. The areas Emerson adds in the northeast–Jefferson and Ste. Genevieve Counties–are blue collar and lean Democratic, but they are swamped by conservative territory to the south, including the Congresswoman’s strong base in Cape Girardeau. In total, Emerson’s old district accounts for 86% of the new 8th population. If you ever question the power of seniority, compare that to the less comfortable figures for Hartzler (61%) and Luetkemeter (38%.)

MO-“09”: Russ Carnahan (D-St. Louis)

formerly D+7

As you know, this is the one that disappeared, and this map shows exactly how gloomy the outlook is for Carnahan:

That’s the outline of his old district, which has been divided in four: blue for Clay (where 35% of Carnahan’s territory ends up), green for Akin (33%), cyan for Luetkemeyer (19%), and lilac for Emerson (13%.) The plurality of Carnahan’s constituents are in Clay’s district, which is also the only of the four likely to elect a Democrat, but he would face a difficult primary in a 45% black district against the king of racial politics. MO-02 may be the better option, as there is a good amount of Democratic leaning-territory in southeastern St. Louis County and could be a messy GOP primary, but at R+6 it’s right at the edge of what Democrats can win in a good year in the suburbs.

Redistricting: Missouri House and Senate Override Nixon’s Veto

The Missouri House of Representatives has overridden the veto of Gov. Jay Nixon (D) on the proposed Congressional map, bringing this dramatic process one step closer to a close. Here’s the statewide map:

The House vote was 109-44, with Republicans getting the exact number of votes they needed for a 2/3 majority and no more. To make this map law, the Senate must also override, although the GOP has a large enough majority there that it can lose three members and still pass the plan.

UPDATE: According to Greg Giroux on Twitter, the Senate has overridden Nixon, 28-6. This will be Missouri’s congressional map for the next ten years. Full RRH analysis to come later this week.

RRH Redistricting Series, Part 12: More Fun In Wisconsin

It’s been a while since the last map, but with 2010 data now available in 49 states (what if I want to draw Alaska too, though?), it’s full speed ahead. Wisconsin is the obvious place to stop next on the redistricting tour, given how we all acquainted ourselves with the political geography of the state last night (hands up if you had heard of Eau Claire County before.)

Republicans hold the trifecta here, pending recalls, and would be wise to draw an incumbent-protection map soon. This map aims to pack Democrats into three districts without making ridiculous-looking lines, as clean districts seem to be the historical norm in the Upper Midwest. Special attention was paid to Paul Ryan, the Most Valuable Republican from the Badger State.

Milwaukee area close-up:

WI-01-blue: Paul Ryan (R-Janesville)

Look at this one closely: Ryan keeps the core of his current district but loses the cities of Racine and Kenosha, which are the most Democratic areas he represents. I would have liked to pull him out of Rock County entirely as well, but he lives in Janesville so I had to keep half in the district. To replace the lost cities, Ryan adds significant portions of 62% McCain Waukesha County, which is the state’s Republican base, as well as light-red Jefferson County.

WI-02-green: Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison)

Packing Democrats means sending Baldwin west and creating this tidy-looking vote sink in lower Dairyland. The anchor of this district is the overwhelmingly liberal city of Leningrad Madison, which is the epicenter of the union protests. Baldwin will return to the House and continue to be one of the 10 most liberal members.

WI-03-purple: Ron Kind (D-La Crosse)

Ideally this map could have eliminated Kind, but that would have been a fool’s errand. This is another clean Democratic vote sink, combining upper Dairyland with the northern suburbs of Madison and the blue stronghold of Stevens Point, which was previously in WI-07. Stevens Point is the home of Julie Lassa and was one of the few areas where she beat Sean Duffy in 2010, so this map eliminates one potential opponent for him.

The other option for WI-03 was to send it up the Minnesota border to Superior, but I decided against it because: a. It looks much uglier. b. You can’t take much of the northwest without removing Duffy’s home from his district and c. The partisan numbers are the same as going to Stevens Point instead.

WI-04-red: Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee)

Here’s the only gerrymander and the linchpin of the map. Moore’s district lost people over the last decade, and the best bet for Republicans is to extend her down the lakeshore to Racine and Kenosha, taking those burdens off Ryan’s back. This also becomes a majority-minority district, at 48% White VAP. The PVI here could be even higher than the current D+22.

WI-05-yellow: Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls)

This R+13 district needed to be unpacked a little to help out its neighbors, but Sensenbrenner is still in good shape. He gains a little more of Milwaukee County from Moore (I only added precincts that Ron Johnson carried in 2010, though) and also adds 53% McCain Dodge County. In exchange, he drops parts of the blood-red Milwaukee exurbs to help Ryan and Petri, but retains more than enough of a base to remain in Congress.

WI-06-teal: Tom Petri (R-Fond du Lac)

Petri’s district went narrowly for Obama in 2008, but this configuration probably went for McCain by a point or two. It drops Adams County (the worst partisan numbers in the district), the northern Madison suburbs in Columbia County, and some moderately Republican counties along the lake. Then, to shore up Petri, it picks up some 60%+ McCain precincts in Washington and Ozaukee Counties. Finally, it take Appleton (and Steve Kagen) off of Ribble’s hands.

WI-07-grey: Sean Duffy (R-Ashland)

The trouble with Wisconsin outside of the southeast is that it’s incredibly even. The average county in this part of the state is extremely swingly, and this district is light-blue in nature because of the cities along Lake Superior in the northwest (you can’t quite see them on the map, but trust me, they’re there.) Thus, it’s hard to give a ton of help to Duffy, who sits in a 51% Kerry/56% Obama district. I was able to remove Stevens Point (63% Obama) and replace it with St. Croix County, which is 51% McCain and trending Republican as Minnesotan expats transform it into an exurb of the Twin Cities. Otherwise, Duffy is stuck with a bunch of small rural counties that voted for Bush and Obama, and supported him in 2010.

WI-08-light purple: Reid Ribble (R-DePere)

Ribble is stuck in the northeast corner to a degree, but I tried to help him by removing Appleton and replacing it with the more GOP-friendly Sheboygan. Obama still won this version of the 8th, but only by a small margin, and Bush cleaned up here in 2004. This is probably the worst place in America to be caught in a Chicago Bears jersey.


RRH Redistricting Series, Part 11: Sorting Through the Florida Puzzle

I had originally intended to save this map for later on, in part because the redistricting process here will be affected by the pending Brown vs. State of Florida lawsuit. Yet there has been a lot of discussion and speculation over Sunshine State this past week, and I decided to share my take on what is perhaps the most complex redistricting puzzle Republicans face this year. Consider:

1. Florida voters passed an amendment last November aimed at preventing gerrymandering. It requires districts to be compact and respect county lines wherever possible, and prohibits mapmakers from drawing districts to favor a party or an incumbent.

2. Reps. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) filed a lawsuit challenging the amendment, under the premise that racial minorities do not always live in compact areas, and a mandate for compact districts will reduce minority representation. Pending that lawsuit, Gov. Scott has temporarily blocked implementation of the new law.

3. Florida has several of the ugliest districts in the nation, including the VRA-protected 23rd, the minority-influence 3rd, and partisan gerrymanders such as the 4th, 6th, 8th, 11th, and 22nd. Most of these lines will need to change drastically.

4. The state is due to gain two new districts. At least one will need to be located in Central Florida, which has a fast-growing and Democratic-voting Hispanic population.

5. Republicans have several incumbents in marginal seats, including freshmen Dan Webster, Allen West, and Sandy Adams as well as veterans Bill Young and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

6. Contrary to some redistricting laws, the new amendment does not establish a bipartisan commission. The Republican legislature will still be in charge of drawing the maps, and while by the letter of the law they cannot draw districts that explicitly favor the GOP, they will look for every opportunity possible to aid their incumbents.

Thus the map:

And away we go:

North Florida

FL-01-blue: Jeff Miller (R-Chumuckla) SAFE R

McCain 68, Obama 32

You can barely see the first on the detail map, but it’s crammed into the westernmost portion of the conservative panhandle, taking up Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton, and part of Holmes County. This is the safest Republican seat in Florida.

FL-02-green: Steve Southerland (R-Panama City) LIKELY R

McCain 52, Obama 46

Southerland’s district condenses and pushes west, now taking in all of heavily Democratic Leon County (Tallahassee.) This knock his McCain percentage down by two points, but this area of Florida is trending rapidly Republican as conservative whites flee the Democratic party. Consider this: McCain performed exactly as well as Bush did in 2004, despite this district being nearly a quarter black.

FL-03-purple: Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) TOSSUP/TILT R TAKEOVER

Gee, I wonder why Brown is suing to block implementation of this law? The amendment more or less dictates that there will be one district entirely within Duval County (51-49 McCain, 58-42 Bush), and her current 3rd is not VRA protected. In addition, it is impossible to draw a compact majority-minority district anywhere in Northern Florida. Thus, we end up with this Republican-leaning swing seat that is 63% white, 23% black VAP. Democrats would be best served by nominating someone other than Brown, while Republicans have a strong bench here (I had erroneously suggested Jennifer Carroll, who is in fact from Clay County.)

FL-04-red: Ander Crenshaw (R-Jacksonville) SAFE R

Crenshaw actually lives just outside these line in the new 3rd (the law does not allow incumbent homes to be considered), but most of his old territory is here, along with a few more conservative counties in the north central. The second-safest Republican seat after Miller’s, and plenty of incentive for Crenshaw to move 5 miles west.

FL-06-teal: Cliff Stearns (R-Ocala) LEANS R

McCain 50.4, Obama 49.6 (margin of 3200 votes)

Stearns is a loser on this map, as he drops from a safe R+10 to a more tenuous R+4. This district is about as compact and fair as they get: Democratic stronghold Alachua County (Gainesville) is balanced by Putnam, Marion, and Levy, with a single Volusia precinct thrown on for population balance. This district will be more Republican in non-presidential years, as the older white population of the three red counties turns out at a high enough rate to drown out Gainesville unless Obama is on the ballot.

FL-07-grey: open (John Mica) SAFE R

McCain 54, Obama 46

Explosive growth in the Jacksonville exurbs and Daytona Beach in the 1990’s forced this district to be separated from Orlando in  2001, although the legislature included an arm into Orange County to include Mica’s home. They won’t be able to do so this time, so Mica will have to move if he wants to represent the people he does now. Somehow this manages to get a point safer, despite taking in more of swingy Volusia County.

Central Florida

FL-05-yellow: Richard Nugent (R-Spring Hill) SAFE R

McCain 54, Obama 44

This one was easy: Citrus, Hernando, Sumter, and almost all of Pasco. Heavy migration of retirees has transformed this region from swing territory to a Republican stronghold.

FL-08-indigo: Daniel Webster (R-Winter Park) LIKELY R

I don’t know the partisan figures here (because so much of the district is in politically variable Orange County), but this is a huge upgrade for Webster. The new district is 10 points whiter (70% VAP) and has shed the problematic areas of downtown Orlando that in 2008 gave us the gift of Alan Grayson while keeping the conservative areas around Disney World and 56% McCain Lake County. The finger sticking into central Orange is actually a product of the new law: this area needs to stay in an Orange County district, but is too high in population to go into the 24th or new 27th. This is good news for Webster, since it includes his home in Winter Park.

FL-24-purple: Sandy Adams (R-Orlando) LEAN R (?)

I’m less sure about this district than any other, as it contains parts of four counties and is the undoing of a Republican gerrymander. The good news for Adams is that she loses Democratic areas of Volusia County and gains a little more of Republican Broward. The bad news for her is that she is forced to give up her red precincts in northern Orange County. The wild card is Seminole County, which leans Republican and is now entirely within the 24th. I don’t know the partisan data for the new Seminole precincts, which came mostly from Mica’s 7th, but Adams did represent a good portion of them in the State House. Overall, I’ll guess that this is a wash, and gave McCain ~50% of the vote.

FL-27-sea green: NEW DISTRICT, SAFE D

VAP: 40% White, 31% Hispanic, 21% Black

Here’s the majority-minority district that everyone is expecting to see in urban Orlando. It could be even more compact than this, but I expect Republicans to test the law a little around the edges, in this case working the angle of maximizing minority representation in this district. With all the money Alan Grayson is able to raise from the netroots, this district is probably his if he wants it (imagine him and Dan Webster in Congress together!) Corrine Brown lives in Jacksonville but currently represents the black areas of the new district, and could conceivably also run here.

South-Central Florida

FL-09-sky blue: Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) SAFE R

Somewhat easier on the eyes than the old 9th but politically similar, if not slightly more Republican. The base remains northern Pinellas County, which has sent members of the Bilirakis family to Congress for nearly 30 years and should continue t
o re-elect the noncontroversial Gus.

FL-10-pink: Bill Young (R-Indian Shores) LIKELY R (with Young), TOSSUP/TILT D (open seat)

Bill Young has been around for a long time and is not in much danger if he chooses to seek re-election (although this district is now considerably more Democratic), but this will be a tough hold for Republicans when he retires. The new law forces the 10th to take in the black areas of St. Petersburg and cede some of the Republican towns in northern Pinellas. This new form probably gave Obama 55% of the vote.

FL-11-lime: Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) SAFE D

49% White

Has to meander a little bit to stay majority-minority but remains focused on the city of Tampa. I attempted to keep as much of the district west of I-75 as possible.

FL-12-medium blue: Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) LIKELY R

Southeastern Hillsborough and Northern Polk are combined in a district that traces I-4. This is one of many Florida districts that McCain only won by a small margin but that Democrats do not normally make a serious run at, although Ross didn’t exactly light the world on fire with his 7-point win in 2010. If history is a guide, his margins will improve as he builds seniority.

FL-13-tan: Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) LIKELY R (with Buchanan), LEAN R (open)

McCain 51, Obama 48

This was easy–Manatee and Sarasota Counties are just about the perfect size for a district. Both counties voted by a narrow margin for McCain, which means Buchanan is probably safe here. If he decides to run for Senate, Republicans would start with a slight edge in the race to replace him.

FL-14-grey: Connie Mack (R-Fort Myers) SAFE R

McCain 55, Obama 44

Senate non-candidate Connie Mack IV is safe in this sleepy corner of Florida, dominated by retirees. Lee County is the main player in this district, although it spills over into Charlotte and Collier to get up to population.

FL-15-orange: Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) LEAN R

The 15th presents the same dilemma that NV-02 did: it is a moderately Republican seat that is forced to shed its most Republican areas. The big problem here is Osceola County, which dramatically swung from a 5-point Bush win to a 20-point Obama win, due in large part to the growing Puerto Rican population in Kissimmee. I assume Republicans will leave it with Posey, rather than give it to the new 26th and risk a Democrat winning that. That forces the 15th to give up half of Indian River, and move closer to a 50% McCain district. I assume Posey can hold this, but this is one to watch.

FL-26-army fatgues: NEW SEAT, LIKELY R

The second new district is a product of two factors. First of all, Charlotte County has exploded in population over the past decade, and is the obvious starting point for a new seat. Secondly, the Florida Heartland is broken up and attached to several coastal seats under the current map. As the coastal districts grow, they are forced to pull out of the heartland, and it makes sense to combine all these rural counties into one district. Regrettably, I needed to go to the east coast to pick up the final 200k for the new 26th. St. Lucie County is the only source of Democratic votes here, and the real drama would likely be between the primary between a Port Charlotte and Fort Pierce Republican.

Palm Beach & Broward

FL-23-light blue: open SAFE D

50.1% black VAP

We start here because this is the centerpiece of the South Florida map. Unlike the 3rd, the 23rd is VRA-protected, and it is possible to draw a reasonably compact black-majority seat in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. This district connects Fort Lauderdale to Palm Beach Gardens by a narrow strip of land along I-95, isolating a coastal strip to its east. There are other ways of drawing a black-majority seat, but this is the cleanest, best for nearby Republicans, and also draws out Alcee Hastings. I’d say that’s 3 for 3.

FL-16-green: Tom Rooney (R-Tequesta) SAFE R

Remember that coastal strip of Palm Beach and Broward, isolated by the VRA 23rd? That also happens to be the only area of Republican strength in these two counties, and it has nowhere to go except in Rooney’s 16th, which is forced to give up its western leg. Anchored in R+10 Martin County, the 16th drops down like a fishing lure to grab all the coastal Republicans that strongly supported Allen West in 2010. It’s not exactly compact, but he VRA is a federal law, and this is a side effect of that.

FL-19-pea soup: Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) SAFE D

FL-20-pink: Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) SAFE D

After the 16th and 23rd are taken care of, it’s easy to draw a pair of Democratic districts in inland Palm Beach and Broward, as the leftovers of each county are each the ideal size for a congressional seat. Allen West lives in the Broward district (the 20th) and would probably run against Rooney in the 16th if he wants to stay in the House.


FL-17-purple: Frederica Wilson (D-Miami Gardens) vs. Alcee Hastings (D-Miramar) SAFE D

52% Black VAP

Florida’s other black majority seat is much easier to draw. Almost all of the territory is Wilson’s, so hopefully this is the end of Hastings’ career (he would probably run in the 23rd though.)

FL-18-yellow: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) LEAN R

64% Hispanic VAP

This is where the map got really difficult, as I had to keep things compact while also spreading the Hispanic population around enough to support three VRA districts and (covertly, of course) making sure that none of the districts slipped out from under their Republican incumbents. The 18th is the weakest of the three, as compactness rules force it to pull completely out of Miami (which, outside the black neighborhoods, is a GOP city) and eat some of the non-Cuban Hispanic areas of Dade. The Keys are also here, even though they fit culturally better in the 22nd. The good news is that Ros-Lehtinen is the strongest Republican in Dade County and will probably be able to hold this without issue. (Don’t worry about her Miami residence. The Diaz-Balart brothers lived in the 18th while representing the 21st and 25th, so residency isn’t a huge issue around here.)

FL-21-maroon: Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Miami) SAFE R

84% Hispanic VAP

This might violate the VRA for being too Hispanic due to compactness (the old 21st is 77% Hispanic.) Most of Miami and Hialeah make this the safest of the three Dade districts for Republicans and for Mario, who now lives within his district’s lines. If the Brown lawsuit succeeds, this district would become less Hispanic and Republican, remaining safe for MDB but making Ros-Lehtinen and Rivera safer as well.

FL-22-brown: open, SAFE D

47% White, 38% Hispanic

West’s seat is replaced by a coastal Dade and Broward majority-minority seat. If the Brown lawsuit succeeds, this may become a 4th Hispanic majority seat, and Republicans would happily stuff it with all the non-Cuban Hispanics in southern Dade. For now, it starts in Fort Lauderdale, takes in Miami Beach, and then wraps around the four VRA seats in Dade to pick up some very diverse neighborhoods south of Miami.

FL-25-pink: David Rivera (R-Miami) SAFE R

60% Hispanic VAP

This could be the coolest district I’ve drawn. It contains almost all of Collier County, which is R+15 and chock full of conservative retirees from the Midwest. Combined, Collier and rural Hendry make up over half of the 25th. Yet it is still 60% Hispanic because of the overwhelmingly homogenous Cuban neighborhoods of western Dade. Rivera needs to go, and we’ve assumed that he will be primaried by another Cuban-American Republican. But could his successor come from Collier instead? And would the Dade voters support a Collier nominee? Even if they didn’t, Collier is Republican enough that it might not matter.

RRH Redistricting Series, Part 8: A "Fair" Illinois

The title here is pretty self-explanatory. Currently, the Land of Lincoln, Reagan, and Obama has 19 districts that resulted from a fairly GOP-favorable 2002 incumbent protection plan. That plan was designed to send 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats to Congress, and that number moved all the way to 13D-6R before settling at 11R-8D after 2010, with Republicans controlling all their intended seats plus the failed Democratic vote sink that is IL-17. Now, the state loses a seat, so the math will change again.

After Governor Quinn held on by a few thousand votes in November, Democrats are poised to gerrymander the map this time around, and SSP has floated several options from 12-6 (serious) to 14-4 (probably a dummymander.) Now that we’ve seen a Republican map and are likely to see a Democratic map, I decided to try the third option: a commission style, fair districts map that aims to keep communities of interest intact and minimize county splitting. Here’s the result, details on the other side.


IL-01-blue: Bobby Rush (D-Chicago)

VRA: 51% Black (note: all VRA states are VAP, not total) SAFE D

I’m not certain Rush lives here, but this is an elongated version of his old district. Still based in the South Side, the 1st lost so many people over the past 10 years that it is forced to expand to the southwestern suburbs of Cook County and up into the Loop (that’s Downtown, for you non-Chicagonians.) President Obama lives here, when he’s not at the White House or catching some rays in Hawaii.

IL-02-green: Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago), Debbie Halvorson

VRA: 52% Black SAFE D

Jackson’s 2nd also suffered population loss, and there was no choice but to push it into eastern Will County. Fortunately, the Far South Side has enough African-Americans to keep this district compact and VRA compliant.

IL-03-purple: Danny Davis (D-Chicago)

VRA: 50% Black SAFE D

With all the population loss in Chicago, it was very difficult to maintain three majority-black seats, and this district now has to stretch from Davis’ base in the West Side all the way down to the South Side to find enough African-American voters. It just barely gets over the threshold, and this district may have to be eliminated in 2020.

IL-04-red: Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago)

VRA: 57% Hispanic SAFE D

Now this is much, much better looking than the old 4th. It is forced to take in even more of the Southwest Side than before, because of the large nook created by the new 3rd. Originally, it looked like there would be 2 Hispanic-majority seats in Chicago, but the city has lost too much population for that to be feasible. It might be possible in 2020, especially if Davis’ seat is eliminated then.

IL-05-yellow: Mike Quigley (D-Chicago)


The only district located completely within Chicago, this 61% white seat is made up mostly of the residential North Side. Also includes the big-bucks Gold Coast and the heavily Hispanic Northwest Side.

IL-06-teal: Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) vs. Randy Hulgren (R-Winfield)


A healthy blob of Republican suburbia for Roskam, who recently joined House leadership. This is essentially DuPage County, historically a GOP stronghold, minus Naperville, plus some outer suburbs of Cook. I call this Likely R because DuPage is less Republican on the presidential level now, and Obama ran up huge numbers everywhere in Chicagoland. But Roskam is on solid ground here. (Hultgren, for his part, lives here, but would run in my 14th.)

IL-09-sky: Jan Schkowsky (D-Chicago)


The 9th pushes further into Chicago and retains the college town of Evanston and a couple other suburbs like Des Plaines. Plenty safe for the very, very liberal Jan S.

IL-10-pink: Bob Dold (R-Kenilworth) Dan Seals (heh)


I know what you’re thinking: Dold’s district is entirely in Cook now, and he gets safer? Yes, because counterintuitively, Dold lost the Lake County portion in 2010 but won because of the big margin he ran up in this Republican-leaning part of Cook. Swingy areas are added from Walsh’s and Roskam’s current districts to create a compact, moderate, Obama-voting but otherwise GOP-leaning district that may even be Likely R if Dold can settle himself in.

IL-13-tan: Judy Biggert (R-Hinsdale) vs. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs)


Don’t worry about Lipinski, as there’s barely any of his old district in here (his seat is eliminated and re-emerges as IL-07 in Lake County.) This district is dominated by the mega-suburb of Naperville, which is not the fortress it once was but is still proudly Republican. Also included are several smaller suburbs in DuPage, Will, and Cook, most of which were in Biggert’s old district. This would be competitive when the Congresswoman retires.

IL-14-army fatigues: OPEN Bill Foster


This is where the fair districts begin to hurt the Republicans, as the new 14th combines the highly gerrymandered old 11th and 14th. Neither Randy Hultgren nor Adam Kinzinger lives in this district, and it would be a lot of new territory for either of them. Complicating matters is the presence of ex-Rep. Bill Foster, who does live here but is unknown to the southern part of the district (which is dominated by the other two mega-suburbs, Joliet and Aurora.) Hultgren is the likeliest candidate here, and starts as the favorite due to the general Republican lean of the area. Certainly a tough district though.

Northern Suburbs/Exurbs

IL-07-pink: OPEN Melissa Bean


This is perhaps the most evenly balanced district in Illinois, voting for Bush at his national margin in 2004 and giving 56% to Obama, which is pretty swingy given the home-state effect. Lake County has a long history of sending moderate Republicans to Congress, although I give the slight edge to Democrats here because of the presence of ex-Rep. Melissa Bean, who held down a tougher district for 6 years. Mark Kirk also lives here and would have cruised here if he hadn’t been elected to the Senate.

IL-08-indigo: Joe Walsh (R-McHenry)


Walsh loses the toughest portions of his district in Lake and Cook, and adds some rural areas as well as a few light-blue suburbs in Kane. Overall, this is a significant upgrade for Walsh, and if his impressive start to his term is any indication, he’ll be fine here. Then again, Walsh’s 2010 campaign was a bit of an adventure, so he has some work to do to prove he’s a legitimate fundraiser and campaigner.

Northwest Illinois

IL-16-lime green: Donald Manzullo (R-Egan)


Another district Obama won, but where Democrats have no presence at the local level, outside of the city of Rockford. This district went strongly for Bush and contains the only two McCain counties in northern Illinois. It loses its Chicago exurbs and picks up some rural counties from Hultgren’s district, becoming a true outstate seat. This is safe for Manzullo but would be at least a race when he retires.

IL-17-deep purple: Bobby Schilling (R-Rock Island) vs. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria) Phil Hare


Here’s the map’s only real battle royale, as neither Republican incumbent has another place to run. The district contains Peoria and the Illinois portion of the Quad Cities, and the smaller counties between them. The primary favorite might actually be Schilling, who represents more of the district and has Tea Party support, although Schock has deeper connection on the Hill. Either way, the district is a tough hold, as it’s hard to find a place McCain did well here. The PVI is probably close to the D+3 of Schilling’s current district, which would at least give him
a shot in 2012, especially if Hare is his opponent.


IL-11-yellow green: Adam Kinzinger (R-Kanakee) vs. Tim Johnson (R-Urbana)


There’s actually as much Johnson territory here as there is Kinzinger, but I think TJ would happily rid himself of Urbana-Champaign and move south, avoiding a primary fight. That would leave Kinzinger in a district balanced between medium cities and rural areas which appears pretty safe, although you can never be certain when a large college campus (the University of Illinois, in this case) is involved.

IL-12-light blue: Jerry Costello (D-Bellevile) vs. John Shimkus (R-Collinsville)


Shimkus would almost certainly move 15 miles east to friendlier turf, leaving Costello to run in this very clean-looking St. Louis area district in the southwest corner. However, this part of the state trended Republican in 2008 even with Obama atop the ballot, and the addition of the Republican areas of Madison County leaves this district at about D+2. If Shimkus was feeling lucky, he could run against Costello and might actually have a shot.

IL-15-orange: OPEN


IL-18-yellow: OPEN


Hate to rush this ending, but all that’s left are two giant chunks of rural Illinois goodness that are the safest districts for Republicans in the state. Because this is a fair districts map, and the Congressmen live in cities rather than farm counties, neither the 15th or the 18th has an incumbent. Shimkus’ territory is almost evenly split between the two, but he’s likely to take the 18th and leave the 15th for Johnson. Alternatively, there’s a lot of Aaron Schock territory in the 18th, so you could see him move out of Peoria and run there, avoiding a primary with Schilling.  

RRH Redistricting Series, Part 6: The Nevada Dilemma

I’ve been holding off on drawing new maps while the 2010 Census data is being released and incorporated into Dave’s Redistricting App (which is quite possibly the greatest political tool on the Internet.) This week, Dave debuted fresh population data for a number of states, including Nevada, the topic of today’s post. The Silver State will now have 4 districts as the result of rapid growth in suburban Las Vegas, and up to 3 of those could be open in 2012. With a Democratic legislature and a Republican governor, this will be one of the most intriguing redistricting processes in the nation, and Republicans have some tough decisions to make. Here’s my idea for a compromise map–lots more on Gov. Sandoval’s dilemma over the fold!


Nevada’s evolution over the past decade has not been kind to the GOP, and the traditional presidential bellwether now leans towards Democrats in a neutral year. In 2008, Obama won the state by 12 points, winning 64-34 in NV-01 and 55-43 in NV-03, while only losing by 500 votes in NV-02. Most troubling was his 12-point victory in Washoe County (Reno), which anchors the traditionally Republican northern part of the state. Nevada is also now only 54% white, and over a quarter Hispanic.  

Despite all this, Republicans control 2 of the 3 House seats, Dean Heller’s NV-02 (R+5) and Joe Heck’s NV-03 (D+2.) The obvious goal for redistricting is "protect Heck, leave Heller alone, worry about NV-04 later." But Nevada’s imbalanced population makes that impossible to do. As of 2010, about 72% of Nevadans live in Clark County–almost enough for 3 Congressional districts (75%.) Thus, two districts will be fully within Clark, while a third will be mostly Clark but require about 81,000 people from rural central Nevada to meet population requirements. The fourth district–Heller’s–will consist of what is left over in the north, anchored in Washoe County.

 The problem for Republicans is that Dean Heller’s current seat only voted for John McCain by 500 votes, and he now has to lose 81,000 of his constituents from central Nevada, the most Republican part of the state. In other words, there is no way to avoid putting Heller in an Obama district. (As mentioned above, losing Washoe by 12 in 2008 created a lot of problems for the NVGOP.) Gov. Sandoval can, however, guarantee safety for the other Republican Nevada sends to Congress, Dr. Joe Heck. Under this plan, Heck becomes much safer, while Heller is softened up and the Democrats are favored in both urban Clark seats. It's 1-2-1, but it’s probably the best we can ask for.

NV-04-red: Dean Heller (R-Carson City) LEAN R

Obama, 50-49 (formerly McCain 49-48.5) R+3  

Includes: Carson City; Washoe, Storey, Lyon, Douglas, Pershing, Churchill, Humboldt, and Elko Counties.

I renumbered the districts, so the Reno-based seat is now the 4th. Obama won it by 3200 votes, which could easily be reversed if Republicans can get the rural counties back to voting at Bush-era levels. I gave it a little help by running it all the way to Elko county, which usually provides the largest net haul for Republicans in statewide elections, and excluding swingy Mineral County.   With Heller, I'm not worried about this one, but he's likely to run for Senate in 2012, leaving this an open-seat contest. Republicans are probably slight favorites, unless they nominate Sharron Angle.

NV-03-purple: Joe Heck (R-Henderson) SAFE R  

Includes: Boulder City, most of Henderson and Enterprise, parts of West and NW Las Vegas, and rural Clark County. Also, Nye, Esmerelda, Mineral, Lincoln, White Pine, Eureka, and Lander Counties.  

Don't be misled by appearance: this is a Clark-dominated district, the rural counties make up only 10% of the population. I don't know the PVI's of the Clark districts, but I cherry-picked precincts for this district so heavily that I doubt there's more than a handful of wards that Dina Titus won here in 2010, when she over-performed but lost by 1 point. There's no bastion of Democratic strength here, as the Eastside and Spring Valley are both drawn out. Heck can breathe easier.


 NV-01-blue: Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas) SAFE D

Majority-Minority Distirct–41% H, 35% W, 15% B. (18+ 41% W, 36% H, 15% B)  

Includes: Part of Las Vegas, most of North Las Vegas and Sunrise Manor  

This is plenty safe for Berkley if she chooses to seek re-election to the House, but she's more likely to run for Senate, which would set off an open-seat feeding frenzy for Democrats. This seat is drawn for Steven Horsford, the President of the State Senate, who resides in North Las Vegas.  

NV-02-green: OPEN, SAFE D

Majority-Minority District–45% W, 31% H, 12% A, 9% B (18+ 49% W, 26% H, 13% A, 9% B.)

 Includes: Part of Las Vegas and the Strip, Paradise, Spring Valley, East Las Vegas, parts of Henderson  

All the precincts from Heck's district that voted for Dina Titus have to go somewhere, and indeed this new district is drawn for a Titus comeback. Paradise, which is generally considered part of Las Vegas and is the center of Nevada's tourism industry (it contains most of the resort casinos), is the centerpiece of this otherwise suburban district.

 Alternative Plan


NV-01-blue: Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas) SAFE D

Majority Hispanic District–50% H, 28% W, 13% B. (18+ 44% H, 34% W, 13% B)  

Includes: Sunrise Manor and the Eastside, part of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas  

Nevada may instead choose to draw a Latino-majority seat in urban Las Vegas, which would be safe for Shelley Berkley in the event she seeks re-election to the House.

NV-02-red: OPEN LIKELY D  

Includes: Most of Las Vegas and Paradise, Spring Valley, parts of Henderson and North Las Vegas  This is at the edge of possible in a GOP wave year, as it's whiter and less urban than the other NV-02. Still, this is a generally Democratic area, and Titus is probably the favorite in the primary here.

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