Packing Native Americans

This is the last part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack AsiansblacksHispanics, and whites.

Packing Native Americans

Alone out of all the ethnicities examined, there are not enough Native Americans in the United States to form a majority Native American congressional district. Indeed, Native Americans compose a mere 0.9% of America’s total population.

Native American living patterns tend to be extremely segregated. Native American reservations tend to be 90-100% Native American; outside the reservation their numbers drop to nearly zero. There are not enough reservations in any state to make a congressional district merely by joining together all the reservations.

The five states with the highest percentage of Native Americans are Alaska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and finally Montana. Unfortunately, all these states - with the exception of Oklahoma - have extremely small population sizes. This makes it very difficult to pack Native Americans. Oklahoma is the exception, but its Native American population is too integrated to effectively pack.

As it turns out, the most Native American district possible is found in Arizona. Take a look at Arizona’s racial demographics. Native Americans are black in this picture (so the darker-colored precincts tend to be more Native American).

From this, it is possible to draw this district:

This is a 26.9% Native American district. There are in fact more Native Americans in this district than Hispanics.

The district goes into several cities which have respectable Native American populations. Here is Flagstaff:

This city, located in northern Arizona, has enough Native Americans that the entire city was put into the district.

Here is Phoenix:

Phoenix is the key to this district. Surprisingly, it has a decent Native American population. It also composes more than half of Arizona’s population. Phoenix thus provides the population padding necessary to create this district.

Finally, here is Tucson:

Overall, this district is quite liberal; it gave President Barack Obama 58.9% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election. Given the fact that Arizona is both a fairly conservative state and Senator John McCain’s home state at the same time, this is quite a good performance for the Democrats. It is all the more impressive considering that the district is barely one-fourth Hispanic.

It does appear that Native Americans voted Democratic, in Arizona at least. But there may be another factor at work here. In many of the Phoenix precincts Native Americans were less than 10% of the population; their voting power was not very great. Nor was the Hispanic population especially great, and Hispanics were certainly not a majority of the electorate. Yet these precincts still voted fairly Democratic. It may be – and this is just a hypothesis – that Native Americans tend to live in areas in which white voters are more liberal.



The Whitest District of Them All, Part 2

This is the part of a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Districts

The previous post stated that

I drew a lot of districts in the quest for the whitest district of them all. It wouldn’t do the difficulty of this task justice to just show one district. Rather, I will show the five whitest districts of all the ones that I drew. Numbers five and four will be in this post. The top three will be in the next one.

The fifth-whitest district was in the state of Indiana, the fourth whitest was in the state of Kentucky.

Now for the third-whitest district.

#3: West Virginia

Population – 98.2% white, 0.3% black, 0.5% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% other

West Virginia is home to the third whitest district. This district is the most compact of all the districts presented here, essentially taking in all of rural West Virginia. Interestingly, despite being almost exactly one-third of the state’s population, it covers the vast majority of West Virginia’s land area. West Virginia is not commonly thought of as an urban state – but even this part of America is urbanized to a striking degree.

Politically, this district used to constitute the core of white working-class, pro-union Democratic strength. It probably voted Democratic in 1988, 1980, and 1968 – all years in which the Republican presidential candidate pummeled the Democrat. During the 21st century, however, it shifted strongly Republican. President Barack Obama lost the district in 2008, and it would be extremely surprising if he wins it in 2012.

#2: Ohio

Population – 98.2% white, 0.3% black, 0.6% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% other

The second whitest district of them all belongs to the ultimate swing state, Ohio.

The key to this district is the size of Ohio. Because Ohio is such a populous state, the district is free to sprawl throughout the state in search of only the whitest precincts. This is something that wasn’t possible in Kentucky or West Virginia, and it’s why the district is slightly whiter – despite Ohio overall having a much lower white population.

Rural whites in Ohio are also quite conservative. Politically this district gave President Barack Obama 36.1% of the vote in 2008; Senator John McCain took 61.7% of the vote. The “average” Democrat from the years 2006 to 2008 won 45.6% of the vote; the “average” Republican won 54.4% of the vote. Both numbers overstate Democratic strength here, since 2006 to 2008 were very good years for Democrats.

#1: Pennsylvania

Population – 98.6% white, 0.2% black, 0.4% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.5% other

Surprise! The whitest district of them all is in Pennsylvania, a state which you probably weren’t guessing.

Like Ohio, Pennsylvania benefits from being a very populous state; the district can freely reach into only the whitest areas. And apparently central and eastern Pennsylvania are extremely white regions.

Geographically, this district covers a lot of ground. Remember that the people living here compose only 1/18th of Pennsylvania’s total population. And yet the district is certainly a lot bigger than 1/18th of Pennsylvania’s total land area.

Politically, this district has a lot in common with the Indiana and Ohio districts. It gave President Barack Obama 37.2% of the vote and Senator John McCain 61.3% of the vote in 2008. Pennsylvania may be a Democratic-leaning state, but rural Pennsylvania whites are not anymore liberal than rural Indiana and Ohio whites. Moreover, this district has probably always been Republican-leaning. Parts of it, especially in the southwest, once were quite Democratic. But the eastern part of the district outnumbers the southwest. Located in Pennsylvania’s “T”, those eastern reaches have been a Republican stronghold for a very long time.


Most people say that the whitest part of the United States is in New England. That’s technically true, if one includes New England’s snow-white non-rural areas. But, as this post shows, the part of the United States with the highest percentage of whites is actually located elsewhere.

There are several ways to describe the region. It’s entirely rural; the cities and suburbs in the region are not included. Parts (or all) of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, New York, Virginia, and West Virginia cover it. One way to describe it would be as the basin of the Ohio River. Another way would be as the Appalachian Mountains and the forested areas to their north.

Whatever the description, minorities have never settled in this part of the United States. African-Americans generally live in the South and, outside of the South, in cities. Hispanics generally live in the Southwest and, outside the Southwest, in cities and economically growing regions. Asians generally live in California and Hawaii and, outside those two states, in suburbs. This region is thus the whitest part of the America, and will probably continue to be so for many, many years to come.



The Whitest District of Them All, Part 1

This is the part of a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. “The Whitest District of Them All, Part 2″ can be found here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The Challenge

The other posts in this series pack Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans. All of these groups are minorities in the United States.

Whites, on the other hand, compose a majority of America’s population, numbering more than three out of every five Americans.

This makes creating the whitest district possible an extremely difficult task. It is usually quite obvious where to look when attempting to create a district composed entirely of one minority. For Asians, one goes to the San Francisco Bay Area; for blacks, one goes to the South Side of Chicago, for Hispanics one goes to Miami and South Texas; for Native Americans one goes to Oklahoma.

Whites, however, are different. There are so many extremely white areas in the United States that it is impossible to determine, at first glance, which area is the whitest of all. One needs to go through tedious trial-and-error to find out.


There are several guidelines to follow in trying to draw the whitest congressional district possible. Firstly, there are already some very white congressional districts out there. The state of Vermont is 95.3% white. Then there is Maine’s 1st congressional district, which is 96.8% white. That’s a good lower-bound number.

In drawing these districts, I tried to find all the precincts which were more than 98% white. I then linked the precincts together into one continguous district using the whitest precincts between them. This process led to some very strange-looking districts.

The whitest parts of America have several characteristics in common:

Geography -  Anyplace within 1,500 miles of the Pacific Ocean is not white enough. Nor is any part of the former Confederacy.

There are several reasons for this. The states in the former Confederacy do have a lot of 98% white precincts. However, one quickly runs out of them and must then start taking in precincts with significant black populations. The problem is different in the Plains; these places are very white, but population is just too small altogether. One eventually is forced to take in minorities, because nobody lives in the 98% white areas of Nebraska or Idaho. Finally, in the Rocky Mountains and West Coast there are no 98% white areas at all; they are too integrated (Oregon, Utah) and/or the minority population is too high (California, Texas).

Rural America – The whitest parts of America are almost all rural. America’s cities and suburbs are always less white than its rural areas; I have not seen one exception to this rule so far. Indeed, it is extremely rare to find a 98% white precinct in any suburb or city at all. Perhaps only Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dayton, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis have 98% white precincts.

Stagnant/Hard-to-Reach – In addition, they tend to be out-of-the-way. These places are generally a fairly long drive from major cities or highways. Economically, the whitest parts of the United States tend to be fairly stagnant (or in decline); there is not much going on. Indeed, one of the surest ways to tell that a place is undergoing rapid economic growth is an exploding Hispanic population.

Republican – Whites lean Republican, and it’s not surprising that extremely white congressional districts vote Republican. There are some exceptions (e.g. New England), but most of these districts voted for Senator John McCain.

The Districts

I drew a lot of districts in the quest for the whitest district of them all. It wouldn’t do the difficulty of this task justice to just show one district. Rather, I will show the five whitest districts of all the ones that I drew. Numbers five and four will be in this post. The top three will be in the next one.

And…here they are:

#5: Indiana

Population – 97.8% white, 0.2% black, 1.0% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 0.7% other.

Indiana takes fifth place, with a 97.8% white district. This district weaves through rural Indiana to take in the whitest parts possible. It avoids the northwestern part of the state, which is slightly less white. Notice how the district forms enormous loops around the major cities and towns of Indiana where the minority population is greater.

Politically, this district would favor the Republican Party by a large margin. It gave Senator John McCain a healthy 60.0% of the vote; President Barack Obama took a mere 38.5%. Given that Mr. Obama overperformed tremendously in Indiana, a normal Democratic candidate would probably do even worse.

#4: Kentucky

Population – 98.0% white, 0.3% black, 0.7% Hispanic, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 0.7% other

Kentucky, the heart of the Applachians, takes fourth place. It’s interesting how the “other” population is so relatively high in the district.

This district actually looks somewhat compact. The core of its population is in the mountainous area bordering West Virginia. Indeed, that part of the country is the whitest part of the United States; unfortunately for redistricters, it’s divided into three states. The district then reaches several arms out to take some other very white parts of Kentucky to the west.

Politically, parts of this district were ancestrally Democratic; President Bill Clinton might have won it. Since then Appalachia’s white working class has shifted strongly Republican. I’ll take a wild guess and say that it went Republican in 2008.

#3, #2, and #1

The next post will deal with the three whitest districts in the United States. Try to guess which states they’re located in!



Packing Asians

This is the third part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and whites.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

Packing Asians

The previous post created two extremely Hispanic districts: a 93.2% Hispanic district in the heart of Miami, and a 96.5% Hispanic district in South Texas.

It is nowhere near possible to do anything similar regarding Asians. Asians compose only 4.8% of America’s population, while Hispanics are 16.3%.

The vast majority of Asians live in communities that are majority non-Asian. There do exist areas with high Asian populations; New York City is one example, as is Middlesex County in New Jersey.

Hawaii is the state with the highest percentage of Asians. However, Hawaii only holds enough population for two congressional districts, and the state’s population is too integrated to effectively pack Asians.

The real action is in California. Millions of Asians live in Southern California, especially the San Gabriel Valley.

But the density of Asians is greatest in the San Francisco Bay Area. Indeed, one’s strategy for packing Asians is somewhat similar to one’s strategy for packing blacks. There is only one place in America you look at when trying to create the blackest district possible, and that place is Chicago. The same holds true for Asians. One unquestionably must go to the Bay Area to create the most Asian district possible; there is no alternative.

Here is the district.

This is a 64.6% Asian district. It reaches throughout the San Francisco Bay Area to take in the most Asian areas, disregarding all manner of compactness and communities of interest.

The trick to this district is the way it utilizes the water in the middle of the bay. This effectively enables the district to unite the Asian parts of San Francisco with the Asian parts of the South Bay. These areas are very far apart, but by crossing water one can put them together without taking in any non-Asians.

Obviously, it’s hard to get a clear look at the district from the above image alone. Below are some detailed views.

Here is San Francisco.

The left part is Chinatown. The right part is an Asian region of Oakland.

Here is South San Francisco.

Here is Fremont.

The outer reaches of Fremont are the most Asian; the inner parts of much less so.

Finally, here is San Jose.

Politically speaking, this district is quite liberal, located as it is in the Bay Area. It gave President Barack Obama around 73% of the vote in 2008, and Governor Jerry Brown 66 to 67% of the vote in 2010.

The northern parts – in San Francisco – are most Democratic, voting around 80% for Mr. Obama. Then as the district moves south, it gets steadily less so; the San Jose parts vote around 60 to 75% for Mr. Obama. There might have been five or so precincts in total that actually voted for Senator John McCain.

Packing Whites

The previous post, about packing Hispanics, actually stated that the next post would be about packing whites. As you may have noticed, this post was not about that subject. There are so many extremely white areas in the United States that creating the whitest district possible is a very time-consuming endeavor. Nevertheless, the next post will – hopefully – create the whitest district of them all.



A Proposal to Redistrict California: San Diego

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

This post will concentrate on the San Diego region, part of Southern California.


San Diego

The population of San Diego is enough to support a bit more than four congressional districts.

CA-50 (Powder Blue):

Population – 57.1% white, 1.8% black, 27.5% Hispanic, 10.2% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.1% other

The communities north of the city San Diego proper are placed in CA-50. Both the beachside cities and inland areas are relatively wealthy, the inland a bit less so. Perhaps the greatest weakness with this district is that it doesn’t include Oceanside, which has enormous commonality with the coastal cities in the district.

CA-51 (Saddle Brown):

Population – 16.5% white, 8.5% black, 57.4% Hispanic, 14.6% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.7% other

Over-18 Population – 19.8% white, 52.9% Hispanic

CA-51 is the VRA district in San Diego, drawn to be Hispanic controlled. The city Chula Vista anchors the district, which is located on the Mexican border – next to the much larger Mexican city Tijuana.

CA-52 (Olive Drab):

Population – 64.6% white, 4.3% black, 19.8% Hispanic, 6.9% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 3.7% other

This district looks big, covering much more space than the other three districts combined. Don’t be fooled, however – most of that area is empty mountains and desert. The inland suburbs of San Diego are where the people actually live .

CA-52 (Gainsboro/White):

Population – 53.8% white, 4.8% black, 22.8% Hispanic, 14.5% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.6% other

This is basically San Diego city itself.


Final Thoughts

As with Orange County, San Diego is easy to redistrict. The only flaw in this map is that Oceanside isn’t in CD-50, which it should be.

In general, the San Diego area has a strong division between coastal communities and more inland communities. Here there are two coastal-based districts (CA-51 and 53), one inland-based district (CA-52), and one coastal/inland hybrid (CA-50). It would be interesting to see a map with two purely inland congressional districts, although perhaps the population just isn’t there to do that.

And that’s all of California, folks.




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