Voting Anecdote: Que Partia? La Hillary!

Went to vote this morning, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. And got a runaround. Finally found the right spot at a public elementary school. Even had a flag picture posted on the door. Plus a sign in English, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Spanish and a couple of languages I did not recognize. More after the break.

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Hillary Clinton in Los Angeles

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Between her rally in San Diego yesterday and then the one here in Los Angeles today, Clinton seems to be sending one very distinct message: Southern California is Clinton country. Gotta tell you, it sure felt like it today. As I drove onto the campus of Cal State Los Angeles in East LA, I was followed by what looked like a neverending stream of cars. Once on campus, as I approached the gym where the rally was being held I found a ridiculously long line, again, seemingly neverending (see video below.) I've not seen anything like this at any Clinton event I've been to, these are the kinds of crowds Barack Obama gets, not Hillary Clinton.

The event was pretty long, spanning a few hours and featuring an impressive string of speakers including actors Christine Lahti, Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera and Bradley Whitford in addition to many elected officials including several members of California's congressional delegation (Maxine Waters, Hilda Solis, Brad Sherman, Diane Watson...) as well as CA Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, State Comptroller John Chung, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums.

Just as I was in Nevada, I was really struck today by the diversity of the crowd both age but especially gender-wise. I suspect the crowd was more female than male but not by much. And the excitement in that room was, as cliche as it sounds, electric. People like to chalk Clinton's popularity in the polls up to her name recognition and her status as the "establishment" candidate but, as I've said before, her opponents underestimate the passion people have for her at their peril. Here's another video that will give you a sense of the crowd's excitement inside the gym today.

Unions were out in force for Hillary today, AFSCME members in their trademark green shirts and signs and United Farm Workers in red, chanting Si Se Puede at various times before and during the event. In fact, all throughout the event the crowd, which was largely hispanic but my no means predominantly so, would continue the chant, alternating between "Si Se Puede,""Yes We Can" and then, and this seemed to spring up spontaneously from the crowd, "Yes She Can!"

Message-wise, the most intriguing thing from my perspective was the concerted effort to distinguish Hillary from Barack. One common thread throughout many of the speeches was that this election "isn't a choice between experience and change, you need the experience to make change happen." Another repeated refrain was "Hillary doesn't just talk about change..." implying, of course, that that's all Obama does.

Another point of distinction was Maxine Waters's repetition of her line in the spin room the other night: "My constituents have trouble keeping their homes and feeding their kids. They wake up every morning with all the hope in the world that things will get better; they don't need anymore hope, what they need is help!" That got a big response and of course used another one of Obama's signature rhetorical flourishes to distinguish between their two models of the presidency: inspirer in chief vs. helper in chief.

On a more substantive level, we now see why it was that the Clinton campaign, as I've heard reported often, wanted Edwards to drop out so it could become a two-person race: so she could be the candidate of universal healthcare. The mere fact that Barack's plan is not a mandate that requires everyone to buy-in allows Clinton to state, as she did today: "My opponent will not commit to universal healthcare." She went on: "I don't think we should elect a Democrat who does not stand up proudly for universal healthcare." She's not only branding herself as the candidate of universal healthcare, she wants to go into the November election branding the Democratic Party as the party of universal healthcare. Her rhetoric on the topic at times also echoed Edwards, such as when she said "health care is not just an issue to me, it's a cause; it's the central passion of my public life."

But Clinton's final argument to California, and I expect she'll be making the same case in all February 5th states and beyond, was encapsulated in the following lines:

We need a doer, we need a fighter and we need a champion once again. [...]

I'm not asking you to take a leap of faith, I'm asking you to hire me to do the hardest job in the world.

It was no accident that the song that played over the loudspeaker as Clinton left the stage to shake hands was "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Update [2008-2-2 19:11:31 by Todd Beeton]:Just wanted to add that LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who was one of today's speakers, estimated the crowd at 10,000 people, not sure if that's been corroborated by an independent source.

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My Evening With The Chairman

I had the pleasure of seeing Howard Dean speak at a fundraiser in Los Angeles Wednesday night. He addressed us, a crowd of 100 or so who'd paid $50 each both for the privelege of hearing him and to support the 50-state strategy. That was $50 well spent indeed.

My overall reaction to seeing Dr. Dean this time was to marvel at how deftly he walks the line between the establishment and the activist base. He spoke to us firmly, with optimism, cheerleading as one would expect the head of a party to do, but he wasn't evasive...he addressed head on the hard question, namely WTF with that last vote on the war supplemental? Only Howard Dean could bring up that vote to the party faithful (including a good number of activists by the sound of it), defend Pelosi and Reid and get out of there alive. He didn't pander, he didn't condescend, he spoke to us like the idealist who got a job that requires pragmatism that he is. And the crowd loved him.

Dean got the room going with a solid dose of old fashioned partisan Democratic pride, speaking about the success of the 06 elections, Nancy Pelosi's being the first woman (and first Californian) Speaker of the House, and hitting on three succinct  points that really seem to sum up the message he'd like us all to spread to other Democrats far and wide:

1. There's no such thing as a red district anymore

2. We will win when we talk about values

3. Change takes time

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Financial Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Police Shooting of 13-Year-Old Black Kid

The Los Angeles Times reported in Thursday's California section that the City of Los Angeles has reached a tentative million-dollar settlement of the civil lawsuit filed by the mother of a 13-year old African American boy shot to death by a latino LAPD officer in February 2005.

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A Proposal to Redistrict California: Los Angeles

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on Los Angeles.

There are several parts to Los Angeles: the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, downtown Los Angeles, and the Long Beach area.

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Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley

The San Fernando Valley has enough population for two congressional districts, while the Hollywood area provides an additional district.

CA-27 (Spring Green):

Population – 45.0% white, 4.6% black, 34.3% Hispanic, 12.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.1% other

Majority-Minority District

This district takes in the western half of the San Fernando Valley. It stretches an awkward arm eastwards, mainly to take in some very white areas. This boosts the Hispanic percentage of the next congressional district:

CA-28 (Plum):

Population – 22.9% white, 3.0% black, 64.4% Hispanic, 7.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.7% other

Over-18 Population – 26.5% white, 59.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

In one of the more shameful episodes of the 2000 gerrymander, the San Fernando Valley split the Hispanic population in two in order to re-elect the two white congressmen representing the region. This district bumps the Hispanic population to 64%, taking in the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley. Redistricting with more detailed data could further strengthen the Hispanic percentage.

CA-30 (Light Coral):

Population – 73.7% white, 3.0% black, 9.2% Hispanic, 10.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 3.8% other

CA-30 is the Hollywood district, taking in such landmarks as Santa Monica, University City, and Beverly Hills. Demographically, the district is extremely white and mostly wealthy (one of the whitest and wealthiest districts, in fact, in all Southern California). The Hispanic population doesn’t break double-digits, which is quite shocking when one looks at the rest of the districts in this post. Despite the association of Los Angeles with Hollywood, the district is actually quite unrepresentative in terms of the people who live there.

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San Gabriel Valley

The San Gabriel Valley is home to three districts and parts of several others.

CA-29 (Dark Sea Green/Grayish, located at the top left corner of the map):

Population – 42.0% white, 4.8% black, 35.1% Hispanic, 15.1% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.9% other

Majority-Minority District

This district is essentially composed of relatively wealthy suburbs – Glendale and Pasadena – in the less built-up areas of Los Angeles. If Los Angeles can be compared to a giant toilet, than CA-29 would be the somewhat dirty but still relatively clean toilet seat.

CA-32 (Orange Red):

Population – 17.6% white, 2.0% black, 28.4% Hispanic, 50.0% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 1.9% other

Over-18 Population – 25.9% Hispanic, 51.3% Asian

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Asian

CA-32 is a district drawn to be the only Asian-majority district in Los Angeles. It does this by connecting the communities around Monterey Park to those around Diamond Valley, both of which have little in common with each other. The connecting region between the two areas is geographically large but actually has very little population.

CA-38 (Medium Aquamarine, located at the center right of the map):

Population – 19.0% white, 2.3% black, 63.0% Hispanic, 14.1% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.4% other

Over-18 Population – 22.1% white, 58.2% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

The eastern suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley, which tend to be more Hispanic, are grouped together in this district. This is an easy district to draw, as the communities of interest are both obvious and create a VRA district in a very compact manner.

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Downtown Los Angeles

Downtown Los Angeles covers five congressional districts, four of which will be discussed here (the other will be discussed  in the Long Beach section). Another district is located along the west shore.

CA-31 (Khaki):

Population – 1.6% white, 9.5% black, 87.9% Hispanic, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 1.5% other

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

This district composes part of South-Central Los Angeles, which used to be primarily black but now has become mostly Hispanic. It is incredibly Hispanic, enough so as to make one uncomfortable; it is quite conceivable that somebody will accuse this of packing Hispanics. A discussion about this problem will be discussed further at the end of this post.

CA-33 (Royal Blue):

Population – 7.3% white, 6.7% black, 67.8% Hispanic, 16.8% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.3% other

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Hispanic

Downtown Los Angeles is a good description of CA-33. Its one weakness is that it splits East Los Angeles with the previous district. This happens only because it was impossible to draw the district within the required population deviation without splitting the city, given the application’s gigantic 20,000 person population blocks. With more detailed data, East Los Angeles would certainly stay within one district.

CA-34 (Lime Green):

Population – 16.5% white, 2.3% black, 68.4% Hispanic, 11.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% other

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

CA-34 takes in poor, primarily Hispanic communities in downtown Los Angeles. Seeing a pattern here?

CA-35 (Dark Orchid/Purple):

Population – 5.2% white, 40.9% black, 45.6% Hispanic, 5.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.2% other

Over-18 Population – 43.2% black, 41.4% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

Don’t be fooled by the Hispanic plurality; this district is drawn to elect a black representative. It takes advantage of low Hispanic turn-out and high black turn-out to ensure that even a Hispanic-plurality district will probably elect a black representative.

Right now there are in fact three black congresswomen representing this area, an relic of the time when South-Central Los Angeles was far less Hispanic and far more black. Given that the black population has absolutely plummeted in the past twenty years, this situation is not sustainable. A black-plurality over-18 district would probably elect a black congressman for the next ten years, even as the black population continues to fall.

CA-36 (Orange):

Population – 47.6% white, 5.2% black, 26.8% Hispanic, 16.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.8% other

Majority-Minority District

The wealthier western coastline of Los Angeles is home to CA-36. This district divides the Rancho Palos Verdes area in two; it’s impossible to get within the correct population deviation without doing so. This would not happen with more detailed data. More concerning is the fact that it takes in several poor downtown cities that have little in common with the wealthy coastline communities; this happens because those areas are too Hispanic to be incorporated into the previous district and thus have no place to go but here.

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Long Beach

There are two congressional districts located in Long Beach.

CA-39 (Moccasin):

Population – 13.1% white, 14.5% black, 57.7% Hispanic, 12.5% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.0% other

Over-18 Population – 15.9% white, 15.2% black, 52.9% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

This district covers several more poor, primarily Hispanic communities north of Long Beach.

CA-37 (Dodger Blue):

Population – 46.1% white, 6.5% black, 31.4% Hispanic, 12.6% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.1% other

Majority-Minority District

While this district looks compact, it does relatively poorly in communities of interest. Long Beach is a primarily Hispanic, industrial, and relatively poor community. On the other hand, Rancho Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach are primarily white, suburban, and wealthy communities. The trouble is that Long Beach is a large city, but doesn’t have enough population to support its own district. Unfortunately, given the design of this map, there is nowhere else for Long Beach to find more population than Rancho Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach.

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Final Thoughts

There were three decisions which formed the basis of the Los Angeles area – the decision to make a majority-Asian district, the decision to make a black-controlled district, and the decision that no district would cross-over the mountains from the Los Angeles metropolis into the Antelope Valley.

These three rational decisions, however, are ultimately responsible for the weaknesses that do occur in the map. The reason Long Beach has to be combined with unlike communities is due to this, for instance.

More troubling is the way in which CA-31 packs Hispanics. CA-31 is located in one of the most Hispanic parts of the entire country, and any district in this area will have a very high Hispanic percentage. Still, the 88% number is quite high. The problem is that there is nowhere for the district to go. The areas to its north, south and east are just as Hispanic, so moving there won’t fix the problem. West of CA-31 is the black-controlled CA-35. However, taking in some less Hispanic territory there would end up destroying the only district designed to elect a black representative in all of California. The only other options would be to run thing, long strips from downtown Los Angeles to the Asian areas of the San Gabriel Valley (destroying a district designed to elect an Asian representative), or alternatively the white areas of Glendale and Pasadena (horrendous in terms of compactness and communities of interest). Once again one runs into the constant trade-offs present with redistricting.

The next post will take a look at Orange County, part of the overall Southern California area:

--Inoljt 

 

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