A Proposal to Redistrict California: the Inland Empire

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

This post will concentrate on the Inland Empire.

The Inland Empire is a complex region and fairly difficult to redistrict. In one way it can considered described as the “exurbs” of Los Angeles. Yet the Inland Empire is also it’s own independent region, with populous cities that have exurbs of their own. The main cities are, respectively San Bernardino and Riverside.

San Bernardino and Riverside

CA-26 (Gray):

Population – 30.1% white, 5.7% black, 52.6% Hispanic, 9.3% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.1% other

Over-18 Population – 34.2% White, 47.7% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Hispanic

This district, taking in part of Los Angeles County, is composed of suburbs that flow seamlessly from the Los Angeles area into the Inland Empire. Some of these, such as Pomona, are quite poor; others, such as Upland, are fairly well-off. The district also happens to be Hispanic-majority (somewhat unintentionally), although the white population is still high enough for whites to compose a majority of the actual electorate.

CA-42 (Lawn Green):

Population – 26.3% white, 9.4% black, 55.5% Hispanic, 6.2% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 31.0% White, 49.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Hispanic

Unlike the previous district, this district is intentionally as Hispanic as reasonably possible. It centers around the city of Riverside and Moreno Valley. In general, a 2:1 ratio of Hispanics to whites or blacks is necessary for Hispanic control. This district barely meets the cut, although with better data it can be drawn to be more Hispanic.

CA-43 (Magenta):

Population – 16.9% white, 10.6% black, 63.9% Hispanic, 6.4% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 1.8% other

Over-18 Population – 20.4% White, 59.4% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

Strongly Hispanic, this district is basically the city of San Bernardino, with a few suburbs to its west.

CA-44 (Medium Violet Red):

Population – 46.4% white, 5.1% black, 37.8% Hispanic, 7.6% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 2.6% other

Over-18 Population – 51.2% white, 33.2% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

CA-44 picks up the inner suburban communities around Riverside and parts of San Bernardino. Its odd shape is due to CA-42, which avoids the whiter areas of Riverside to become as Hispanic as possible. Those areas have to go somewhere, however; they end up forming the basis of this congressional district.


Other Inland Empire Districts

There are three other districts in the Inland Empire, which take up the most “exurban” parts of the region.

CA-41 (Light Steel Blue):

Population – 35.5% white, 12.1% black, 45.9% Hispanic, 3.3% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 2.7% other

Over-18 Population – 41.1% white, 40.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

Palmdale and the northern exurbs of San Bernardino belong to this congressional district. The communities do not have much in common, however. The reason why they are forced together is because of decisions made far-away in Central Valley and the Central Coast. The district is also, surprisingly, plurality-Hispanic – a surprise to at least this blogger, who thought it was majority-white all the way until said blogger started writing these words.

CA-45 (Turquoise):

Population – 35.5% white, 3.0% black, 57.0% Hispanic, 2.5% Asian, 0.7% Native American, 1.3% other

Over-18 Population – 42.3% white, 50.0% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Hispanic-Majority

CA-45 takes in the most exurban reaches of Riverside County, separated by the San Jacinto Mountains from the rest of the county’s population. It also takes in Imperial Valley, whose connections to the Salton Sea and agriculture link it most closely with Coachella and Palm Desert in Riverside County, rather than San Diego County. Credit to the Imperial Valley idea goes to the users of swingstateproject.

Interestingly, and entirely accidentally, the addition of Imperial County creates a strong Hispanic majority in CA-45. While probably not enough to form a Hispanic majority in the electorate, Hispanics definitely will have a strong voice in this district.

CA-49 (Indian Red):

Population – 53.4% white, 4.3% black, 31.7% Hispanic, 6.5% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 3.3% other

There are two communities joined together by CA-49, the only white-majority district in the Inland Empire. These are the southernmost exurbs of Riverside and the northernmost suburbs of the San Diego area. While these are not communities of interest, in terms of economics, demographics, growth rates, and political beliefs they have a lot in common.


Final Thoughts

The ugliest district here, by far, is the sickle-shaped CA-44. This is yet another example of VRA districts conflicting with compactness; CA-44′s odd shape is mostly due to the creation of a strongly Hispanic-district which it surrounds. In addition, CA-41 would drop Palmdale and add more San Bernardino exurbs in a perfect world.

Another surprise is the extent of minority – especially Hispanic – growth in this region. In the 2000 gerrymander all but one of these districts were majority-white. In this proposal four districts are majority-Hispanic, one is plurality-Hispanic, one is plurality-white, and only one is majority-white. It’s quite a change.

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



A Proposal to Redistrict California: Orange County

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

This post will concentrate on Orange County.

Orange County

The population of Orange County is enough to support a bit more than four congressional districts.

CA-40 (Firebrick):

Population – 30.1% white, 2.1% black, 35.5% Hispanic, 29.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 33.9% White, 31.0% Hispanic, 31.0% Asian

Majority-Minority District

This district takes in the Orange County suburbs closest to Los Angeles. These suburbs can be characterized as quite diverse, moderately conservative, and well-off but not quite rich.

CA-46 (Tomato, located along the shore):

Population – 63.7% white, 1.1% black, 17.1% Hispanic, 14.7% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.3% other

This district unites the coastal communities of Orange County. Demographically and politically, the district fits well with the stereotype of Orange County as a place full of wealthy white conservative suburban warriors.

CA-47 (Thistle):

Population – 19.2% white, 1.3% black, 65.8% Hispanic, 12.2% Asian, 1.3% Native American, 1.3% other

Over-18 Population – 23.2% White, 60.1% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

If CA-46 fits the Orange County stereotype to a glove, then CA-47 runs counter to it in almost every way. Anchored by Anaheim and Santa Ana, the district is (drawn to be) strongly Hispanic, poorer than the rest of Orange County (although certainly richer than downtown Los Angeles), and not very conservative.

CA-48 (Sandy Brown, located in the center-right of the map):

Population – 56.8% white, 1.5% black, 21.0% Hispanic, 17.2% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.3% other

CA-48 takes in the inland suburbs of Orange County. Most of the people actually live in the northeastern part; west of Irvine the population density is much less.


Orange County is quite simple to draw; there are no conflicts between the VRA and communities of interest that one encounters elsewhere. The next post will take a look at the Inland Empire, part of the overall Southern California area.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



A Proposal to Redistrict California: Central Coast

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

This post will concentrate on the Central Coast region. There are four congressional districts covered here.

CA-17 (Dark Slate Blue):

Population – 45.5% white, 1.7% black, 43.4% Hispanic, 6.2% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 2.8% other

Majority-Minority District

This district is centered around Santa Cruz and Monterey – affluent, liberal coastal communities. It also includes some more Latino inland communities, such as Salinas and Gilroy. Gilroy specifically has little in common with Santa Cruz or Monterey; given the shape of the other districts, however, there is nowhere else but CA-17 for it to go.

CA-23 (Aquamarine):

Population – 50.7% white, 2.1% black, 40.5% Hispanic, 3.9% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 2.3% other

New White-Majority

CA-23 is one of the more easy districts to draw; it starts at the end of CA-17 and then simply adds population until the end of Santa Barbara County. Unlike its previous incarnation, CA-23 is majority-white. However, the proposed CA-24 is majority-minority (unlike the previous CA-24) – so there’s no regression.

CA-24 (Indigo):

Population – 48.3% white, 1.7% black, 41.1% Hispanic, 6.3% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 53.1% white, 36.3% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

CA-24 starts where CA-23 ends. It then stretches along the coast of Ventura County; the three centers of population are in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, and Thousand Oaks. To the best of my knowledge, nobody else has mapped Ventura County in this elegant, cleverly compact way. The only weakness is that Thousand Oaks is put in a different district from Simi Valley and Moorpark, both of which have a lot in common with it.

CA-25 (Pale Violet Red, located in the center-right of the map):

Population – 53.0% white, 5.1% black, 30.7% Hispanic, 7.9% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 2.9% other

CA-25 takes in the less urban parts of Ventura and Los Angeles County. Most of its population is located in Simi Valley and the Antelope Valley. Unfortunately, Lancaster is split from its sister city Palmdale – the two really ought to be in one district, but I couldn’t find a way to do it given the constraints I put on this map.

Final Thoughts

Most of the Central Coast keeps communities of interest together extremely well, certainly more effectively than the previous gerrymander. Nevertheless, there are some bad community splits. These splits are ultimately a function of three decisions: the decision not to split San Francisco, the decision to create an Asian-majority district in the South Bay, and the decision not to cross county lines into Central Valley.

The next post will take a look at Los Angeles County.



A Proposal to Redistrict California: Central Valley

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

This post will concentrate on the Central Valley region.


Northern Central Valley

The Northern Central Valley is home to two congressional districts, along with the parts of several others. It is quite easy to redistrict; both congressional districts fit very neatly within the county boundaries:

CA-11 (Chartreuse/Green):

Population – 35.8% white, 7.0% black, 39.6% Hispanic, 13.8% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 3.4% other

Over-18 Population – 40.8% white, 34.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

Since 2000, this district has had the most interesting history in all California. It’s the only district which changed party control since the incumbent-protection 2000 gerrymander; Democrat Jerry McNerney defeated Republican Richard Pombo in 2006. In 2010 Mr. McNerney nearly lost his seat, in an extremely tight race.

The old seat took in parts of the Bay Area and Central Valley. Since the Bay Area’s population growth has lagged behind, this seat now shifts to be entirely Central Valley-based. It also, quite unintentionally, turns from a white-majority district into a Hispanic-plurality one. The main population base is in San Joaquin Valley, centered around the city Stockton. Stockton is both a Bay Area exurb (many people commute there), an independent region of its own, and some of the most productive farmland in America.

CA-18 (Yellow):

Population – 40.2% white, 3.0% black, 47.3% Hispanic, 6.4% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 2.6% other

Over-18 Population – 46.0% white, 41.5% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

This district takes in all of Merced County and most of Stanislaus County. It’s famous for the rich agriculture grown in it. This primarily agricultural district is home, California-style, to several cities – Modesto and Merced – where most of the population resides.

CA-19 (Yellow-Green):

Population – 54.3% white, 2.1% black, 36.9% Hispanic, 2.8% Asian, 1.5% Native American, 2.4% other

This district is the enormous yellow-green district at the far-right of the first map, stretching from the Lake Tahoe to San Bernardino County. Part of the district is home to national parks amid sparsely populated desert and mountains: Yosemite, Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, and the Mojave Desert. The majority of the people, however, actually live in agricultural Tulare County.


Southern Central Valley

CA-20 (Pink):

Population – 22.8% white, 3.7% black, 68.1% Hispanic, 3.4% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 1.5% other

Over-18 Population – 26.9% white, 62.7% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

Here is the first majority-Hispanic district in the proposal, with many more to come. This district is drawn to have as many Hispanics as possible, while at the same time deliberately not entering the cities Fresno or Bakersfield. This rural district is home to some of the richest agriculture in America – yet also some of the poorest communities in California.

Ironically, despite being two-thirds Hispanic, this district may still not represent the Latino population adequately. This is because the Hispanics here are disproportionately young, poor, and undocumented (the undocumented ones often work as fruit-pickers). Indeed, the electorate might actually be majority-white. The ratio of Hispanics living in CA-20 to Hispanics actually voting in CA-20 might be the most skewed in the entire nation, with the exception of South Texas. It is therefore quite possible that a VRA challenge might be attempted here, with the argument that this district ought to take in areas with higher rates of Hispanic voting (i.e. the cities). Such a hypothetical district would be highly gerrymandered, which is why it is not done here.

CA-22 (Sienna/Dark Brown):

Population – 42.8% white, 5.5% black, 44.9% Hispanic, 3.7% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 48.3% white, 39.6% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

CA-22 takes in the whole of the city Bakersfield (which previously was split into two pieces by the 2000 gerrymander). It then includes all of Kern County. While the district is plurality-Hispanic, whites almost certainly compose a large majority of the actual electorate.

CA-21 (Maroon):

Population – 34.7% white, 6.0% black, 44.9% Hispanic, 11.5% Asian, 0.6% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 40.3% White, 40.1% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

In the 2000 gerrymander the city of Fresno was chopped up into multiple congressional districts. This proposal remedies that by placing the entirety of Fresno into one congressional district. Credit for this idea goes to the users of swingstateproject.


Final Thoughts

It is possible that this entire region might be subject to a VRA challenge. Hispanics compose strong plurality of this entire region, and one would therefore expect that the plurality or majority of congressmen elected in the Central Valley to be Hispanic. However, it is quite possible – given low Hispanic participation and ability to participate – that every single elected congressman would be white. Even the 2/3 Hispanic district could quite conceivably elect a white congressman who would act contrary to the interests of the Hispanic population (e.g. by announcing strong opposition against the numerous undocumented Hispanic immigrants living in the district, constituents whom said congressman would speak for rather than attack in an ideal world).

This is the trouble with redistricting; drawing congressional districts according to communities of interest and compactness usually hurts minority representation dramatically. A less pretty map could probably send 2 to 3 Hispanics to Congress. On the other hand, it would probably result in spaghetti-style districts that rip apart communities of interest. Thus the conundrum.

The next post will take a look at California’s Central Coast.




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