2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan... This is a great project, one that I'm sure we'll be keeping an eye on here at MyDD in the coming year.

The next census is coming up in just 17 months, and 2009 ushers in the last round of state legislative elections before congressional districts have to be redrawn.  Tom DeLay and his crazy 2003 Texas remap showed us how important this can be; without the Lone Star State's mid-decade redistricting, Democrats actually would've gained House seats in 2004 (kudos to John Barrow, Melissa Bean, Brian Higgins, Charlie Melancon and John Salazar).  Granted, the House is not as close anymore, looking like about 256 Dems to 179 Republicans after this year's elections.  But even that is partly a result of GOP-controlled redistricting in 2001 (MI and PA for example).  And Republicans are already plotting to retake the House by gerrymandering 30 House districts.  While I welcome any discussion about whether maximizing the number of Democratic seats would conflict with the goal of maximizing the number of liberal/progressive House members, I suggest that our first goal should be to maintain Democratic control of the House.  Not every election will be as kind to us as 2006 and 2008.  The 1996 through 2004 House elections were like trench warfare.

This is actually a two-part process: in 2010, the Census tells each state how many House seats it gets (reapportionment), then in 2011, each state draws new boundaries for its House districts (redistricting).  Redistricting is especially important in states gaining or losing House seats.  We can't be sure which ones those are until the Census tells us in 2010, but this nifty map (PDF) offers projections based on 2007 population estimates.

EXCLUSIONS: Seven states (AK, DE, MT, ND, SD, VT, WY--plus DC if our new President and Congress give it a vote!) have only 1 House seat.  None are projected to gain a 2nd seat, nor is any state with 2 seats expected to lose one.  So these states don't concern us.  Another 7 states--AZ, HI, IA, ID, ME, NJ, and WA--use nonpartisan or bipartisan redistricting processes (though the state legislature has the final ability to approve or reject maps in Iowa and Maine).  So we're really looking at 36 states.

And what do we need to do in those 36 states?  In short, everything we can in 2009 and 2010 to make sure redistricting is controlled by Democrats, then in 2011 pressure governors, state legislators, and whoever else makes redistricting decisions to draw maps with the highest possible number of Democratic districts (no more lame incumbent protection that costs us 10 seats in CA!).  This means looking at governorships and state legislatures, and at how the redistricting process works in these 36 states.  It could also mean some tough debates with state Democratic parties and incumbent House members who'd prefer their district to be more Democratic at the expense of putting others in play--for us, incumbent protection must generally take a back seat to getting more seats in Democratic hands.

GOVERNORS: Luckily, we're in relatively good shape these days in the Statehouses.  We have 21 Governors to the Rs' 15 in the 36 states in question.  Two states have governor's races in 2009: NJ doesn't concern us, but Tim Kaine is term-limited in VA, so that should be a key priority.  The Republicans seem to have picked their candidate while we have a primary between Terry McAuliffe, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, and Del. Brian Moran.  There are 36 governors' seats up for election in 2010.  AK, AZ, HI, IA, ID, ME, SD, VT, and WY don't concern us here.  So that leaves 27 governors' races we need to watch; 16 that are now Democratic vs. 11 that are now Republican.  Since a lot of new governors were elected in 2002, 12 of these are term-limited in 2010: Sebelius, Granholm, Richardson, Henry, Kulongowski, Rendell, Bredesen, Riley, Schwarzenegger, Perdue, Carceri, and Sanford (7Ds, 5Rs).  We could see close gubernatorial races in 2010 in CA, IL if Blago runs, MI, MN, NV, OR, PA, SC, and WI.

STATE LEGISLATURES: We start 2009 controlling 60 of 98 partisan legislative bodies (Nebraska has a nonpartisan unicameral legislature).  The National Conference of State Legislatures has this map showing which party controls each state's legislature and this table showing the party composition of each.  Those that look close enough to warrant our attention and participation include the KY Senate, LA House, VA Senate, and VA House in 2009; and the AL Senate, CO Senate, IN House, MI Senate, MO House, NV Senate, NH Senate, NY Senate, OH House, OK Senate, OR Senate, PA Senate & House, SC Senate & House, TN Senate & House, TX Senate & House, and WI Senate & House in 2010.

What I'd really like to see is for this to become a big, ongoing project of online progressives, like the Road to 60 in the US Senate or the Oil Accountability Project.  If we pay attention to and get involved in the right state-level elections, we can put control of the next round of redistricting in more Democratic hands.  If we follow that up with strong persuasion and accountability, we can preserve and grow the Democratic House majority in Congress.

So here are my questions for you: What do you think of this idea?  How does the redistricting process work in your state?  What is the current (2009-10) partisan makeup of your state's US House delegation?  How many more Democratic seats or fewer Republican ones could we get through better redistricting?  I await your comments.

Tags: census, House of Representatives, reapportionment, Redistricting, state legislatures (all tags)

Comments

55 Comments

Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

..."draw maps with the highest possible number of Democratic districts"...

How about instead of perpetuating dirty tricks, we encourage bi/nonpartisan processes that draw districts that are, as much as possible, accurate representations of communities and not gerrymandered bullshit? Two wrongs don't make a right; more importantly it also encourages the perception that both parties are really the same, just partisan selfish bickering groups that are equally untrustworthy.

If we're going to make redistricting a project, let's make it an effort to get more states to use fair, nonpartisan mappings, and not just employ the same kind of dirty tricks that we'd like people to associate with Republicans only.

by Tomorrowful 2008-11-10 07:43PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

  When SCOTUS decides that mid-decade gerrymandering is A-OK, we can only fight back with our own gerrymandering.  

by cilerder86 2008-11-10 07:49PM | 0 recs
In other words...

...Republicans need to win only once, and then you'll roll over and let them force Republican legislators and House delegations on us for a generation or more.  Nice try, Mr. DeLay, but we're not pussies any more.

If you think gerrymandering should be stopped, the solution is to gerrymander the living shit out of Illinois, California, New York, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, and if we can get Pennsylvania and Ohio, then those states too.  Because that is the ONLY way we will cause the Republicans to come boo-hooing to the table, crying and puking over fairness concerns and agreeing that gerrymanders might be wrong.

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-10 07:58PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

I absolutely agree that legislative district boundaries shouldn't be drawn in a partisan way.  I'd kind of like to see the Supreme Court ban party as a criterion for drawing district lines.  I'm glad to live in WA, one of the 7 states with good-government redistricting processes that are nonpartisan or bipartisan.  It works well here; the people voted it in by initiative, and the district lines changed little in 2001.  The result has been a disproportionate number of competitive House races in a state with just 9 seats (Iowa is similar).  I supported the CA and OH ballot initiatives in 2005 to make redistricting nonpartisan in those states (I may even have given money to Reform Ohio Now), but unfortunately they failed.  Once the people have had the chance and said no, it makes it hard to do something they've rejected anytime soon.  I certainly think good government redistricting is the ideal, and I hope we protect it in the states that have it and spread it to more that don't.  I don't know what efforts there might be now to that end.

But in the meantime, as a practical matter, I think we need to take charge of partisan redistricting wherever it still exists.  Politics is a rough and tumble game, and it's kind of "eat or be eaten".  I'd be happy to tie Democratic gerrymanders to efforts for good government redistricting; i.e. draw the map and then ask voters if they prefer it or a new process.  Typically whatever party is in power is unwilling to give up their control of the process; I'd be thrilled to use ours to improve redistricting in several states.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 08:04PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

In general yes, we should have fair and impartial redistricting, but we must have it everywhere and I think that means an amendment to the US Constitution. Until then, every state we can get should grab as many seats as it can. Maybe someday the absurdity and futility of the system will drive people away from the war of redistricting to the peace agreement of an impartial process.

by bolson 2008-11-11 03:28AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Until the Republicans agree to do the same, no fucking way.  Otherwise, we are unilaterally disarming in states we control (ie. Illinois, New York, New Jersey) while the Republicans gerrymander the hell out of us in Florida, Georgia, Texas, etc.

by TheUnknown285 2008-11-11 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project
   Pennsylvania has 12 Democrats and 7 Republicans.  We will lose one seat after the 2010 census.  That seat will probably come from the western part of the state.  We might be able to get rid of Tim Murphy, but that would be dangerous.  Murtha and Altmire would not be able to hang on forever.  One intriguing idea would be to give Tim Murphy the conservative portions of PA-03, and give the Democrat Dahlkemper liberal Centre county.    
   In the east it will be a cinch to redistrict Republican Gerlach out of Congress.  Give the most conservative portions of rural western Chester county (keeping Phoenixville and Coatesville) to Joe Pitts in PA-16, leaving Gerlach with an unwinnable district.  Sestak and Murphy will be probably be OK with minor changes, but it might be necessary to open up the hyper-Democratic Philly districts for a little buffer.
   Carney in PA-10, and Kanjorski in PA-11 are on their own.  Their districts can't be made more Democratic.  Republican Charlie Dent in PA-15 just needs a decent challenger.  
by cilerder86 2008-11-10 08:00PM | 0 recs
Pennsylvania

What if, in the west, you broke up Doyle's district a little? That Pittsburgh one is ridiculously blue.

Seems to me, you could make four western districts using only the most liberal, westernmost parts of the existing 12th, 14th, 18th, 4th and 3rd, while some of the worst turf would be absorbed into the 5th and 9th.

See my 50-state diary on Daily Kos. Every state with interesting redistricting possibilities got an elaborate redistricting scheme. Here's what I said about Pennsylvania:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/7/3/1 0351/44562/251/545888

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-10 08:11PM | 0 recs
Oregon

Our legislature crafts the redistricting plan, subject to the governor's veto. If that system fails to deliver a plan within a deadline, then the Secretary of State submits her own plan, which prevails.

We did good in 2002 by this system. The legislature was controlled by Republicans, who submitted a ridiculous gerrymander and absolutely refused to compromise. The Governor vetoed it, and the Democratic SoS created the districts under which we now have solid Democratic legislative majorities.

Oregon is now poised to draw districts with our Democratic legislature and Governor. If for some reason the 2010 election denies us control (it's not likely, but surprises could happen), our new Democratic Secretary of State, who just wone her four year term, will draw the districts.  So we've already won, guaranteed.

Right away, you're down to 35 states to watch.

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-10 08:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Oregon

I know that OR has 4 Dems and 1 Republican in its delegation, obviously outperforming the aggregate Democratic percentage statewide.  OR, luckily, is likely to gain a 6th seat as well.  I assume that goes to the western part of the state somewhere around Portland.  Hopefully it's Democratic.

I'm not familiar with your new SecState down there, but what is the Gov. race looking like?  Kulongowski was unusually weak for a Dem in both 02 and 06.  I believe the Oregon legislature was split in 2001; right now it's all Democratic.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 08:27PM | 0 recs
OR-Gov: Discussion of this is about 4 days old as

we just finished electing a new Democratic and wholly progressive Senator (woohoo!) in Jeff Merkley, but it'll likely go Democratic too.

Right now, the Republican party in Oregon is moribund, with only one federal representative, and no statewide elected officials and significant minority status in both the House and Senate. So, they have a weak bench.

On the Democratic side, it's an embarrassment of riches, but from personal discussion with the former Democratic Governor, John Kitzhaber, he's angling to run again, in which case it's a blowout-- his approval ratings were in the 70% range!

As admiralnaismith said, you can focus on other states, Oregon is wrapped up.

by verasoie 2008-11-10 08:49PM | 0 recs
Oregon

Awesome!  Thanks for that.  I'm very happy about Merkley, was pretty sure he'd win.  :)

Kitzhaber is a total rock star in my book.  I'd hoped he'd challenge Smith in 02, but it sounded like he really didn't want to move to DC.  Which makes me wonder if he'd be willing to serve as Obama's HHS Sec.  I'd LOVE to have him back as your Governor.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

I saw this diary sinking on the side, minus a single comment. Great work by Jonathan to bump it. Governorships need to be a netroots priority in 2010. I've never really seen that. Even when we won big in 2002 it more or less happened due to strength of individual challengers in lousy economic conditions after 9/11, plus we lost some races that seemingly could have been salvaged.

For years I've been worried about losing those 2002 red state captures in 2010 when the incumbents can no longer defend them. Maybe posters in those states can run down the possible nominees on each side, and their relative strength.

Here in Nevada it may be a scramble on the Democratic side to oppose Jim Gibbons. Our bench is incredibly deep, such contrast to about a decade ago. Many of the newly elected young Democrats who won statewide in 2006 have considered a gov run in 2010, like Secretary of State Bob Miller and Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto. But most likely they will wait. Right now the frontrunner is Harry Reid's son Rory Reid, chairman of the powerful Clark County Commission. It's well understood in this state you don't want to get on Harry Reid's bad side. That prevented Dina Titus from opposing Rory Reid earlier this decade. Barbara Buckley, Speaker of the State Assembly, may run. It makes sense for her in 2010. But Rory seemingly tried to intimidate her by commissioning a poll in mid summer, which indicated he would thump her decisively in the primary. That poll also had Rory leading Gibbons by wide margin, 49-32.

The wild card is Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. If anyone could potentially defeat Rory Reid in a primary, and not really care if Harry Reid didn't like it, it's Oscar Goodman. He flirted with the gov race in 2006, and considered challenging Ensign in that year's senate race. But he still was eligible for another term as mayor, a job he truly loves. This time he is term limited as mayor, and his wife has reportedly given the okay to pursue the gov race. But it's still considered an underdog that Oscar will run. There's a big chance it will be Harry Reid and Rory Reid on the same ballot in 2010, our senate and gov nominees.

This cycle was a major boon to Democrats' redistricting opportunity in Nevada. We took control of the state senate by bumping two GOP incumbents, Bob Beers and Joe Heck. Both were thought to have statewide opportunity, including Beck possibly opposing Harry Reid in 2010, so it was a great investment to unusually spend about a half million dollars in TV advertising to knock them out of their seats in the state senate. Kind of a 2-for-1, taking over the state senate and thinning the GOP bench.

This state is expected to receive another House district in 2010. Right now NV-1 is lock Democratic in Las Vegas, NV-2 is lock GOP in the cow counties, and NV-3 is the swing district in Las Vegas/Henderson. Taking over both chambers of the legislature enables Democrats to draw the new district and perhaps tinker a bit with NV-3 to make it more friendly. I doubt we'll try to screw with NV-2, at least not blatantly. There are portions of that district in Clark County, and Washoe in Northern Nevada is turning slightly in our favor.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-11-10 08:29PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Ross Miller, not Bob Miller. Ross is the son of former two-term Democratic governor Bob Miller.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-11-10 08:32PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Thanks for that rundown from the Silver State.  It seems like you may have the likeliest Gov. takeover there in 2010.  I saw that we now have both houses in the NV legislature; do you think it will stay that way in the 2010 elections?  You're the fastest growing state in the nation, sure to gain a 4th seat in 2010 and 1-2 more in 2020.  So one with great potential that we need to keep an eye on long term.  Collectively, I think of NV, AZ, NM, and CO as our "fertile crescent".

I worry about those red state Govs. we won in 2002 too, though many of them (OK, KS, WY) either don't matter or are pretty much lost causes as far as redistricting.  I can't imagine getting another Dem out of Oklahoma (but I'd rather hear that from a Sooner); maybe KS-2 could gain a little blue turf from KS-3?  But we don't want to put Dennis Moore in too much danger, or that seat if he leaves it.  AZ & NM concern me more, but AZ has a good process and NM should be likely to stay Dem.  TN & AL could give us Harold Ford and Artur Davis.  2002 was actually disappointing in that we failed to gain some governorships we should have, like MN, but a few went Democratic in 06 (CO, MA, MD, NY, OH).  And we have chances to take some more in CA, HI, MN, RI, and elsewhere.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 08:59PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

I'm very confident both Nevada chambers will stay in Democratic hands. The senate is only a one vote advantage, so that's the one to prioritize. Our senate newcomers this cycle stayed out of the way, even avoiding debates, and allowed the negative attacks in a pro-blue terrain to carry them into office, swept by Obama. But they are skilled enough to be established in 2010. The seat we swiped from Heck is in Henderson, which is growing increasingly more blue. The other chamber is more than 2 to 1 edge so no worries at all.

Nevada's legislature only meets every other year. There figures to be a big battle with Gibbons over tax issues, since the state has fallen upon hard times. How that unfolds beginning in February will determine how vulnerable Gibbons is in 2010.

I agree, in 2010 we'll probably see a logical reshuffling of the gov mansions, red states returning to GOP govs while we reclaim top office in blue states. In 2002 there was a very distinct pattern, one that was never emphasized enough; a huge percentage of the states rejected the party in power if there was no incumbent to state his/her case. That's how oddities came about, like Democrats in Wyoming and Oklahoma and Kansas, and Republicans in Hawaii and Maryland. The economy was suddenly awful after cruise control in the Clinton '90s, and voters were determined to punish someone. A convenient target was the party that had been in charge. They basically couldn't win an open race. Romney in Massachusetts was one standout exception, defeating Shannon O'Brien. I was a bit worried about Romney's national potential when he overcame such a decisive situational disadvantage like that one in 2002.

Oklahoma was a bargain to begin with, like an 8 year donation of the gov office. Henry had little chance there to begin with, other than Largent's "bullshit" implosion late in the campaign, plus the third party candidate who siphoned disproportionately from Largent.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-11-11 01:50AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Actually, I neglected to mention a new variable, term limits within the legislature. The senators who won this cycle are safe for four years. But many senators are term limited out in 2010. That is newly significant here in Nevada, starting to have impact after being passed in '96. The limit is 3 terms of four years. This cycle several candidates were intending to run but the ruling came down late in the primary season that they were already term limited out. In 2010 we'll have to rely on new candidates to hold the narrow margin in the senate. Seven senators will be term limited out. I just remembered that. But at this hour I can't find the specifics, including the breakdown by party.

by Gary Kilbride 2008-11-11 02:04AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

As you can see from the comments, the major problem with your plan is that Democrats including those who actually do the re-districting, like to play fair.

by MNPundit 2008-11-10 09:36PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

That sure wasn't the case in MN last time!

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 10:16PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

In 2001, Minnesota had a Republican house, Democratic Senate and Jesse Ventura as Governor.

Redistricting was by 3 federal judges.

by Hughsterg 2008-11-11 02:22AM | 0 recs
California passed a new redistricting law

California just passed Proposition 11, which hands redistricting to a 14-member panel composed of 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 4 of neither party.  Boundaries have to be "geographically compact," and to pass, a redistricting proposal needs votes from 3 Dems, 3 Reps and 3 of neither party.

http://smartvoter.org/2008/11/04/ca/stat e/prop/11/

by PatriotActor 2008-11-10 10:33PM | 0 recs
Re: California passed a new redistricting law

Someone posted a diary on that.  It doesn't apply to congressional districts; just state legislative ones.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 10:47PM | 0 recs
California: PVI of D+15 is enough!

This Wikipedia page gives the (pre-election) PVIs of all the Congressional districts, so it's a useful tool, and should be even more so once it's updated.

California's an instructive example of what could be done.  Districts with a PVI of +10 or more are pretty safe, and once you get past +15, you're all but immune from challenges.

So let's define the 'excess PVI' of a district as (PVI-15) if it's got a PVI > 15, and zero otherwise.  That's a crude measure of how many votes of one side or the other are being wasted on ultra-safe districts.

We can break that into excess Dem PVI and excess GOP PVI in the manner you'd expect: if it's >D+15, it's excess Dem, and if it's >R+15, it's excess GOP.

In California, the sum of the excess Dem PVI is +170.  The sum of the excess GOP PVI is +1.  We're wasting a lot of PVI, and they're not.

What makes it even more crazy is that the sum of all the GOP PVI in California - excess or not! - is only +163.  In other words, there's enough excess Dem PVI in California to redistrict so that there are NO GOP-leaning districts in the state, without putting a single Dem at greater risk of losing.  

We could keep every Dem in a district with PVI < D+15 in a district with the same PVI, and turn every R-leaning district into a neutral district by reducing the PVI on ultra-safe Dem districts down to D+15.

by RT 2008-11-11 03:52AM | 0 recs
Re: California: PVI of D+15 is enough!

There's also geography. The problem with a "no Republican districts" plan in CA is that California Republicans are concentrated into specific areas, like Orange County and the outer LA suburbs, as well as the big thinly populated counties near Nevada and Oregon. The Central valley is swing, but does not have enough Democrats to make ALL its districts safe blue.

Come to think of it, the DEMOCRATS are concentrated too, in LA and the bay area. That's why California Republicans are yelling about the alleged "fairness" of compact districts that don't cross county lines. That way, they can get a whole lot of inner LA 80% Dem districts and an equal and opposite number of Ventura/San Berdoo/Riverside 52% GOP districts. (compare this to GOP gerrymanders in Ohio, where the cities are small and spread around the whole state. Compact districting THERE would result in several single-city blue districts in Dayton, Cincinatti, Columbus, etc., and so the GOP had drawn districts that divide those cities and add red suburbs to them).

We can get SOME new seats by adopting a wheel-and-spoke district model with many districts that go from places like Yorba Linda, Fullerton, and Rancho Cucamonga inward towards the deep blue center of LA County...but we can't get them all.

In New York, which now has three GOP districts, all far from each other and with low +R PVIs, we can easily get a 100% Dem delegation. In other states, we will need to concentrate Republicans into high +R districts and have districts that trail from deep in the cities out into the marginal suburbs.

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-11 06:59AM | 0 recs
How to Redistrict California

Read the lower section of this Kos diary, on how to limit California to 14-15 Republican Representatives, down from 19.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/6/12/ 103535/581/365/534595

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-11 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Pre-Census, is there any chance that the current legislature might be amenable to revisiting the question of using statistical methods to correct the undercount (also, to count felons as living where they lived when they were arrested, rather than where they are imprisoned)? Both of these moves would provide a substantial benefit to Dem districts, and are less sleazy than just fighting for maximal pro-Dem gerrymandering.

by letterc 2008-11-10 11:14PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Based on what happened in 2000, that's really up to the administration--which was Bush Sr. in 1990 and W. Bush in 2000.  But now it will be Obama.  :)  Part of the actual vs. statistical counting question went to the Supreme Court for the last census, and they ruled against statistics.  I don't see that changing.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-10 11:32PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Speaking as an insider (not that any of this is secret), the Census isn't doing anything this time that could be used to correct an undercount in this manner, and already has its hands full with problems such as those with the handheld devices it was going to use in the nonresponse followup part of the Census.

At this point, it's totally unrealistic to expect any significant operational changes or add-ons to the 2010 Census.  (Including that otherwise sensible idea about having the Census register voters.  Sorry.)  They'll have their hands full just doing what they're supposed to do as of now.

by RT 2008-11-11 04:00AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

That makes sense, thanks.

by letterc 2008-11-15 12:54AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

If the Obama White House and the Dem congress ORDERS the census to correct theundercounts, it will be done.

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-11 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Virginia elected its entire State Senate in 2007, and that is the body that will be involved in redistricting.  It is 21 D, 19 R, so barring a death/resignation, we're safe. The Assembly will be GOP, and who knows about the governor.  So there will be compromises in any event.

by feynman 2008-11-11 12:50AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Asembly is elected again in 2009, along with the Governor. We have a chance to gain a majority there, and with trends the way they are, we might do it.  In fact the Assembly is now the ONLY branch of VA government (Gov, both Senators, Presidential vote, House delegation, Senate, Assembly) still under majority Republican control.

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-11 07:03AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

In W.Va. the Democratic Party has firm control of the state house, state senate and just re-elected a Gov. for the next 4 years. I have an R Congresswoman, the other two districts are long-time Dems. All three have been winning re-election easily.

We keep trying to unseat the Republican; we'll almost certainly have an open seat when one or more of them decides to run for Senator (e.g., when Byrd or Rockefeller are no longer Senator).

Our biggest issue for redistricting is to get boundaries that make more geographic sense. The district I live in takes 5+ hours to drive from one side of to the other (outside of say, Maine, this unheard of here east of the Mississippi).

The geographic issues spill over into challenges like badly split media markets, resulting lack of accountability, all exasperating incumbency protection.

This is going to be a battle between regional factions--Dems. vs. Dems. Despite Presidential voting patterns, the Republican party has no power in the state (they are, literally, perpetually on the brink of bankruptcy).

by WVaBlue 2008-11-11 01:45AM | 0 recs
West Virginia

Cook's PVI in WV-2 was R+5 before this election.  I'd assume the other two WV districts have to have significant Dem advantages.  I'm sure the state government there is safely in Democratic hands through the next redistricting.  I don't know West Virginia's geography that well though.  What do you think would be the chances of making Capito's district bluer?  Would it compromise the other two when they come open?

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-16 05:00AM | 0 recs
Georgia

The Peach State's redistricting process is always a hyper-partisan process, which is not good news when one considers the extent of Rethug control here.  The new state Senate will be divided 34R-22D, no change from from the prior one.  The state House only gained 2 Democrats in the election just passed - it is still 105R-75D.  Democrats have virtually no chance of the making a signifigant dent in those numbers come the 2010 election because the legislative districts are too well gerrymandered.  It's something of a vicious cycle.

This means the only glimmer of hope is Sonny Perdue's term-limited status.  A crowded, and presumably nasty GOP primary is already shaping up between Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine (the above two are certain), Secretary of State Karen Handel (the candidate closest to Perdue), and state House Majority Leader Jerry Keen (House Speaker Glenn Richardson's choice, assuming he doesn't run himself).  

On the Democratic side, former SoS and Labor Commissioner David Poythress has already begun campaigning actively, while state House Minority Leader DuBose Porter is widely expected to run.  

If one assumes a gentlemanly race between Poythress and Porter, a GOP primary bloodbath, and a President Obama that hasn't tanked, then I would say Democrats could very well force a politically neutral redistricting plan by winning the governor's race.  It would take all three of the above conditions to be in effect.  

Oh, and a Jim Martin win on December 2nd would help too!

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-11 03:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Georgia

I agree.  Things don't look good for Georgia.  But if we were living in an alternate reality where we did control the process, I think we could try to create a Gwinnett to Clarke Congressional district.

Take a look here: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/s tories/2008/11/09/94481184_sub-graph.htm l

and here:

http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results county#GAP00map

Lop off the top part of Gwinnett, taking just the more Democratic areas and go east, taking up heavily Republican (but less so in 2008!) Barrow and then taking up Athens-Clarke County, where the University of Georgia is.

by TheUnknown285 2008-11-11 05:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Georgia

I like where you're going with that.  Right now, Clarke's Democratic lean is wasted in the otherwise solidly GOP 10th, and after this election, John Barrow (12th) looks much safer now.  Another idea is to take Douglas and Cobb minus Cobb's uber-red northeast corner and give Phil Gingrey some sleepless nights, though that plan would probably force David Scott to risk running against Lynn Westmoreland in a Clayton/Fayette/Coweta/Henry/Rockdale district.

by CLLGADEM 2008-11-11 05:33AM | 0 recs
Someday: Impartial Redistricting

What I really want is fair, impartial redistricting everywhere in the country. It has to apply fairly to everyone. We'll probably need an amendment to the US Constitution to do that. I would like to propose this as such a redistricting amendment. I've implemented an open source solver and you can see possible redistricting solutions.

But until we get that applied everywhere, especially Texas, no unilateral disarmament. And really, things like the Texas gerrymander distort the House and affect the whole country, so I think it's perfectly fair game for the rest of the country to distort back. Or maybe it just feels a little satisfying to be a little vindictive. [evil grin]

And maybe if dozens of states have nakedly partisan gerrymanders, the absurdity of the system will drive us to get the amendment through and fix the 2020 process.

by bolson 2008-11-11 03:37AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

This is a fantastic idea.  If we could have a way to help contribute easily to state legislative races it would help a lot.

by MDMan 2008-11-11 04:26AM | 0 recs
I agree with bi-partisan redistricting, as well.

by MDMan 2008-11-11 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Beyond governorships, a redistricting project would require the identification of plausibly winnable Republican-held seats in several states, so that progressives for change could give directly to the crucial races.  

For typically the political apparatus for Democrats in any given chamber is not suited to gaining seats, because in significant numbers whiny, pathetically self-centered incumbent officeholders end up with (1) control of the money and (2) insistence that their own reelections is the only  significant priority.  

There is also almost always an institutional pull towards spending money on apparatus costs, such as staff salaries.  

Given the self-interest of incumbent-protection-focussed party institutions, identification of plausibly winnable Republican-held seats in several states is a very significant challenge.

by Prairie 2008-11-11 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Do you mean congressional seats or state legislative ones?

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-16 05:16AM | 0 recs
Illinois: an Excess PVI Champ!

Once again (see comment about CA above), a party's excess PVI in a district is (PVI-15) where a party has a PVI of more than +15 in a district.

Illinois' Dem Congressional districts have excess PVI of +84, which is DOUBLE the total GOP PVI of +42.  Obviously a lot of the excess PVI is up around Chicago, and the GOP-leaning districts are downstate, but in theory, you could use the excess Dem PVI to turn all those GOP-leaning districts into D+4 districts, without putting any Dems at risk of losing their seats.

by RT 2008-11-11 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Illinois: an Excess PVI Champ!

Redistricting Illinois: the last part of this diary:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/4/21/ 104144/518/392/499982

by admiralnaismith 2008-11-11 07:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Illinois: an Excess PVI Champ!

That was a very informative diary - you've clearly looked at the IL map a good deal more than I have!

by RT 2008-11-11 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Illinois: an Excess PVI Champ!

We controlled the Gov. and state legislature in IL in 2004, and I asked a plugged in Chicago activist about our chances for redistricting the state.  She said the pols there were too dysfunctional to get such a plan through.  IL is forecast to lose 1 seat in 2010, and I'm not sure where it'd come from, but I assume GOP territory--downstate or outside Chicagoland.

Chicago is surely complicated with the Cook County machine and ward politics and all, and there are geographic limitations.  But I would think that some of the excess Dem. territory in districts we now have could be shifted to marginal ones like the 6th and 10th, or maybe those our grasp on could become tenuous like the 14th.

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-16 05:28AM | 0 recs
North Carolina

Democrats control both houses of the legislature and the Governor's mansion in NC.  The entire legislature will be up for re-election in 2010, but barring a GOP wave, Dems should retain control of redistricting.

Dems now hold a 8-5 advantage in the Congressional delegation. The only statewide race in 2010 is for Richard Burr's senate seat, so the incumbent House members will likely remain in place (unless Brad Miller (NC-13) opts to run for the Senate).  There is a possibility that NC could gain another seat after the census.  Population growth has been concentrated in the Charlotte and Raleigh/Durham metro areas, so those districts will need to lose population to surrounding ones.  

The GOP strategy for impacting redistricting has been to judge-shop for a GOP-friendly judge and file a lawsuit after redistricting is completed. This resulted in 3 rounds of redistricting in the 1990s and 2 in the 2000s.

Their basis for the lawsuits has been either that not enough minority districts were created, or too many counties were split.

They have mananged to use friendly judges and the US Justice Dept to overturn Democratic plans and pack more minorities into districts. Since those minorities also tend to vote for Democrats, this makes the surrounding districts whiter and more GOP-friendly.  

The result is shown vividly by the map of NC-12, a narrow district that follows I-85 from Charlotte to Greensboro, picking up minority precincts all over and making NC-5 safer for Virginia Foxx and NC-10 for Patrick McHenry.  NC-12 once stretched from Charlotte to Durham in the 1990s - Mel Watt was one of 3 Congressmen (3 districts) I had in the 1990s even though I never moved.

Hopefully, the Obama Justice Department will not assist them in packing Democratic voters into a few highly concentated districts.  Obama has personally proven that a minority candidate can win areas where the majority of voters are white - even in the South.

by Bear83 2008-11-11 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project
     The way the House works, everything requires only a majority vote, except for motions to suspend the rules, which take two-thirds. We're not going to get to two-thirds (290 seats), so all we really need is 218 good Democrats.
     I'd be cautious about maximizing the number of winnable seats through redistricting. The Republicans did so in Michigan and Pennsylvania last time, and it came back to bite them later in the decade. They drew a number of 55-45 districts, and when the electorate moved 6 points toward the Democrats, they lost their advantage.
     The effort should be directed toward states that will elect more and better Democrats. The Cotton South won't elect better Democrats, and New York, where we now enjoy a 26-3 advantage, is unlikely to elect more (since it will lose one or two seats in the 2010 reapportionment). The targets coincide almost perfectly with the states likely to have competitive governor's races in 2009 or 2010--Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and California. Work to elect Democratic governors and legislatures there, and don't waste your money on Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, where the Voting Rights Act will protect the Black Democrats; the six white Blue Dog Democrats aren't worth the effort, in states where Whites gave 23, 10, 11, and 14 percent of their votes to Obama last week.
by Ron Thompson 2008-11-11 07:15AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Technically, you're right; the only thresholds that matter in the House are 218 and 290.  But is having 256 seats no different than having 236?

You have a great point, and I'd like to see this discussion fleshed out further.  Overly aggressive redistricting DID come back to hurt the GOP in some states (though not TX really).  I certainly wouldn't throw money and effort into state legislative bodies we have no real chance of taking, but more vs. better Democrats is a big question.  How do we know where we'd get better vs. more?  There have been fairly bad House Dems in MN, PA, VA, and CA.  If we make some urban districts 60% Democratic instead of 80%, will that result in less solidly progressive representatives?  IL-9 is overwhelmingly Democratic, but having a Jan Schakowsky is worth a lot too.  Could we keep those good progressives in Chicago like her, Rush, Gutierrez, Davis...protect Foster, Bean, and Halvorsen, AND get a Dan Seals, maybe knock off Peter Roskam?  IL-5 has to be solidly Democratic, but how good a progressive has Rahm Emmanuel been?  Ideologically, it may be good that he's leaving that seat.

I think it's pretty reasonable for you to suggest that we ignore the South since the white Blue Dogs tend to frustrate us.  But at the same time, providing more House seats for such people to hold could help expand our bench for southern governors and senators.  GA sounds hopeless though, and I don't see how we'd get any more Dems out of AL or MS.  Maybe SC with their gaining a seat?

by Sandwich Repairman 2008-11-16 05:49AM | 0 recs
Ohio

Well things are very close in Ohio. We have a Dem gov (Strickland) who should be safe in 2010. The legislature is another story.

Dems took the house in 2008. Republicans have a strangle hold in the Senate and I doubt we can take it in 2010. We're down 21-12.

In Ohio, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate each select three members to be on the redistricting board. If things stay the same, this will mean 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans. My guess is that this will mean some sort of compromise. Since OH will lose two seats, I think the Republicans will give up Mean Jean's district (Cincinnati is losing population anyway) and Democrats will give up some blue district. The rest will unfortunately be incumbent protection. The legislature then votes on the plan the board creates.

I don't really know the Gov's role in this process. I've researched but can find nothing more specific than "he's important". My guess is that he must sign the new districts into law after the legislature votes for it.

Either way - I doubt we'll get much out of Ohio.

However, if we're interested in the long run we need to focus on the state wide races. Ohio's legislative districts are formed my an apportionment board consisting of the Gov, Sec of State, Auditor, 1 dem, and 1 republican. We control the Gov and Sec of State's office but the Republicans control the Auditor's office. The GOP is putting all their eggs in the Sec of State's basket. They are trying to oust Jennifer Brunner. If they win, they'll control redistricting for the Ohio legislature AND will probably put another Ken Blackwell in charge for the 2012 Presidential election. Remember 2004? If we win, we keep fair elections in Ohio AND will control federal redistricting (probably) in 2020.

So for Ohio I'd suggest forgetting the Senate for now. Focus on house races and the Sec of State's office - with most of the effort going to protecting Jennifer Brunner.

by belili 2008-11-11 07:47AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project


I'm not big on overly partisan gerrymandering.  My suggestion is to redistrict with some fair-minded concessions to Republicans.  Give the more partisan areas the kind of districts and House Reps they really want.  It's no good having a lot of constituents feel they have been badly treated by the partisans for small, temporary, partisan advantages.  The less partisan or marginal districts that remain...why not construct those with a bit of Democratic lean, if possible, and let people feel their turnout and their participation is relevant in the outcome.  We can afford to be magnanimous while there is a continuing trend in the national electorate in our favor.

The Republicans made or got House gerrymanders in their favor in almost every state in 2001-2003.  The biggest Blue states- California, New York, Illinois- made incumbent protection gerrymanders that have saved many of them.  Just about everywhere else got districting that led to maximal Republican numbers in the House in the 2002 and 2004 elections. But rather a lot of those gerrymanders failed quickly and there was quite the implosion in '06.

I'm also not in favor of constructing Blue Dog districts when there's little need for it.  We're basically a Party whose core is Left and liberal, overloading on crypto-Right and conservative House Reps is a problem.

by killjoy 2008-11-11 08:38AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

I'm worried about TN, we lost the House this time but we could prolly get it back with some effert and a successful Democratic congress/white house to say we told you so.  My biggest worry is that i believe bredesen is term limited.

by goodleh 2008-11-11 03:59PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

In Massachusetts, the redistricting will be handled by the Democratic-dominated legislature. Traditionally the Speaker and the Senate President appoint the joint committee where each house draws its own lines and they draw the congressional lines together. The governor has a veto but has historically stayed out of the process.

We're looking at losing one seat (hopefully not two) and will undoubtedly continue the tradition of incumbent protection. The odd thing is that we're not sure who those incumbents will be this time. Assuming he survives the cancer, Ted Kennedy's Senate term will be up in 2012 and I cannot imagine him staying on for another term at that point, and at least three of the House delegation would run for that seat. Of course, things could be changed if Kennedy leaves office early, or if Kerry goes to the cabinet; in either case, the junior member of Congress would likely get the short straw.

Massachusetts' current districts are odd-shaped, but are not partisan lines; after all, the state is pretty much blue all over with some small red pockets. It's hard to imagine any redistricting proposal that could increase the Republicans' chances of winning a seat in Massachusetts.

P.S. For those of you who don't know, Massachusetts' Essex County was the home of the original "gerrymander" when the Democratic party leaders drew state senate districts in an attempt to maximize their representation. The district that became the gerrymander image was a thin C-shaped district that was designed to collect as many Federalist voters together in one district, while the interior of the "C" would then vote Democratic. Today, that district inside the C is the most Republican district in the state (we haven't elected a Democrat to that spot since at least the 1920's).

by aard 2008-11-12 11:57AM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

I've already commented on Massachusetts, but their are some national issues as well.

Obama's election will have a major impact on how the Department of Justice will oversee the voting rights aspects of the redistricting.

For example, in 1991, the Bush(I) administration pushed a standard of exact population equality for Congressional districts, using that as a basis for requiring some really strange districting that favored Republicans (mostly because they invested the money in the technology to find the most favorable maps, and we Dems didn't).

Another aspect of the rules that DOJ has a major role in is deciding on how blacks and Hispanics will be fairly represented. Again in 1991, the DOJ pushed to maximize minority representation at all costs, recognizing that in order to create districts that minorities would win, states would have to put large numbers of Democrats together, yielding other districts that the Republicans could control.

This is the first time that the Democrats have controlled the White House in a redistricting year since the modern redistricting process started in 1971. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this.

by aard 2008-11-12 12:15PM | 0 recs
Re: 2010-2011 Redistricting Project

Terrific, strategic thinking.  I am game for this.  Would love to help out in some way.  Keep us/me posted.

by passionateprogressive 2008-11-12 05:03PM | 0 recs

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