Google+

Tags: Redistricting

Beneficiaries of Partisan Redistricting Lament Partisan Redistricting



Text  



This morning:

Here’s how Axelrod’s most famous client approached the issue of drawing district lines back in 2001:

One day in the spring of 2001, about a year after the loss to Rush, Obama walked into the Stratton Office Building, in Springfield, a shabby nineteen-fifties government workspace for state officials next to the regal state capitol. He went upstairs to a room that Democrats in Springfield called “the inner sanctum.” Only about ten Democratic staffers had access; entry required an elaborate ritual—fingerprint scanners and codes punched into a keypad. The room was large, and unremarkable except for an enormous printer and an array of computers with big double monitors. On the screens that spring day were detailed maps of Chicago, and Obama and a Democratic consultant named John Corrigan sat in front of a terminal to draw Obama a new district. Corrigan was the Democrat in charge of drawing all Chicago districts, and he also happened to have volunteered for Obama in the campaign against Rush.

Like every other Democratic legislator who entered the inner sanctum, Obama began working on his “ideal map.” Corrigan remembers two things about the district that he and Obama drew. First, it retained Obama’s Hyde Park base—he had managed to beat Rush in Hyde Park—then swooped upward along the lakefront and toward downtown. By the end of the final redistricting process, his new district bore little resemblance to his old one. Rather than jutting far to the west, like a long thin dagger, into a swath of poor black neighborhoods of bungalow homes, Obama’s map now shot north, encompassing about half of the Loop, whose southern portion was beginning to be transformed by developers like Tony Rezko, and stretched far up Michigan Avenue and into the Gold Coast, covering much of the city’s economic heart, its main retail thoroughfares, and its finest museums, parks, skyscrapers, and lakefront apartment buildings. African-Americans still were a majority, and the map contained some of the poorest sections of Chicago, but Obama’s new district was wealthier, whiter, more Jewish, less blue-collar, and better educated. It also included one of the highest concentrations of Republicans in Chicago.

“It was a radical change,” Corrigan said. The new district was a natural fit for the candidate that Obama was in the process of becoming. “He saw that when we were doing fund-raisers in the Rush campaign his appeal to, quite frankly, young white professionals was dramatic.”

In the end, Obama’s North Side fund-raising base and his South Side political base were united in one district. He now represented Hyde Park operators like Lois Friedberg-Dobry as well as Gold Coast doyennes like Bettylu Saltzman, and his old South Side street operative Al Kindle as well as his future consultant David Axelrod. In an article in the Hyde Park Herald about how “partisan” and “undemocratic” Illinois redistricting had become, Obama was asked for his views. As usual, he was candid. “There is a conflict of interest built into the process,” he said. “Incumbents drawing their own maps will inevitably try to advantage themselves.”

That Ryan Lizza article concludes, “The partisan redistricting of Illinois may have been the most important event in Obama’s early political life. It immediately gave him the two things he needed to run for the Senate in 2004: money and power.”

I guess what Axelrod means is that drawing district lines to maximize political advantage is wrong and harmful to democracy when the other guys do it.

Tags: David Axelrod , Barack Obama , Redistricting

Redistricting, Not the Cause of the Continued GOP House Majority



Text  



Below, I mentioned:

The media is speaking increasingly loudly about the president’s mandate; what they fail to realize is that every member of the House GOP thinks he was reelected (or in the case of the new members being seated in January, elected) with a mandate to oppose all tax increases because they’re economically destructive.

This has caused some lefties on Twitter to argue that the GOP only held its House majority because of gerrymandering.

But that’s not true, or at least there’s quite a bit of evidence against it. For starters, there were states where Democrats controlled redistricting and benefited, like Illinois, and places like California that redrew old incumbent-friendly lines and where the Democrats picked up additional seats. Heading into the election, most analysts felt the most recent round of redistricting added up to a wash between the two parties. Also, there were states where Republicans controlled redistricting and still lost seats, like New Hampshire and Utah; clearly redistricting isn’t a magic wand that can protect any House GOP incumbent or rising star like Mia Love.

But don’t take my word for it; take the assessments from left-of-center guys like Jonathan Bernstein, Eric McGhee, and Kevin Drum; one of the calculations they examine concludes that redistricting can be credited with seven of the Republicans’ 234 seats. If we had just used the old lines, John Boehner would still be speaker, just with a smaller majority.

McGhee concludes that

even under the most generous assumptions, redistricting explains less than half the gap between vote share and seat share this election cycle. . . . We have argued that incumbency is a likely culprit, but as Dan Hopkins recently pointed out, Democrats also do worse because they are more concentrated in urban areas. They “waste” votes on huge margins there, when the party could put many of those votes to better use in marginal seats.

What happens is that a lot of House Democrats in urban districts win by wide margins, sometimes 90–10, while House Republicans won their suburban and rural districts by much closer margins.

The current popular vote in the House races adds up to about 50.29 percent for the Democratic candidates and 49.7 percent for the Republican candidates. You could redraw the district lines to give Democrats a winning percentage in 218 districts with those figures . . . but the new lines would be as jagged, awkward, and bizarre as the ones we have now.

Tags: House of Representatives , House Republicans , Redistricting

After NY-9, 50 Democrat-Held House Seats Could Be Competitive



Text  



This is not to say Republicans will pick up 50 House seats in 2012. But if, indeed, we are in a national political environment where a D+5 district like New York’s 9th congressional district is “in play,” then it means we will see a whole lot of vulnerable House Democrats in the coming cycle, even after a year in which one might think that the Republicans had picked all of the “low-hanging fruit” in the nation’s House races.

Courtesy the good folks at the NRCC, a list of the districts comparable to or more favorable than NY-9:

NY-9 PVI = D+5

 

DISTRICT PVI OLD PVI DEMOCRAT
AR-3 (10) R+8 R+7 OPEN (ROSS)
CA-9 (11) D+1 D+11 JOHN GARAMENDI
CA-16 (18) D+2 D+4 DENNIS CARDOZA
CA-21 (20) R+4 D+5 OPEN (COSTA)
CA-24 (23) D+3 D+12 LOIS CAPPS
CA-46 (47) D+3 D+4 LORETTA SANCHEZ
CO-7 D+4   ED PERLMUTTER
CT-4 D+5   JIM HIMES
CT-5 D+2   OPEN (MURPHY)
GA-2 D+5 D+1 SANFORD BISHOP
GA-12 R+9 D+1 JOHN BARROW
IA-1 D+5 D+5 BRUCE BRALEY
IA-2 D+3 D+7 DAVE LOEBSACK
IL-3 D+5 D+11 DAN LIPINSKY
IL-12 D+3 D+2 JERRY COSTELLO
IN-2 R+7 R+2 OPEN (DONNELLY)
KY-3 D+2   JOHN YARMUTH
KY-6 R+9   BEN CHANDLER
MA-10 D+5   BILL KEATING
ME-2 D+3   MIKE MICHAUD
MN-1 R+1   TIM WALZ
MN-7 R+5   COLLIN PETERSON
NC-7 R+11 R+5 MIKE MCINTYRE
NC-8 R+12 R+2 LARRY KISSELL
NC-11 R+13 R+6 HEATH SHULER
NC-13 R+10 D+5 BRAD MILLER
NJ-12 D+5   RUSH HOLT
NM-1 D+5   OPEN (HEINRICH)
NY-1 EVEN   TIM BISHOP
NY-2 D+4   STEVE ISRAEL
NY-23 R+1   BILL OWENS
NY-26 R+6   KATHY HOCHUL
NY-27 D+4   BRIAN HIGGINS
OK-2 R+14 R+14 OPEN (BOREN)
OR-4 D+3 D+2 PETER DEFAZIO
OR-5 D+1 D+1 KURT SCHRADER
PA-4 R+6   JASON ALTMIRE
PA-12 R+1   MARK CRITZ
PA-17 R+6   TIM HOLDEN
TN-5 D+3   JIM COOPER
TX-15 D+1 D+3 RUBEN HINOJOSA
TX-20 D+4 D+8 CHARLIE GONZALEZ
TX-28 D+3 EVEN HENRY CUELLAR
UT-2 R+15   JIM MATHESON
VA-11 D+2   GERRY CONNOLLY
WA-2 D+3   RICK LARSEN
WA-9 D+5   ADAM SMITH
WV-3 R+6 R+6 NICK RAHALL
WA-6 D+5   NORM DICKS
       
OPEN Seats      
IL-8 D+5   OPEN
CA-41 D+3   OPEN
CA-47 D+5   OPEN
TX-34 D+3   OPEN

Think about it, if Republicans win just 10 percent of these seats, they’ve offset the worst-case scenario of the new district lines in Illinois.

Tags: House Races , NRCC , Redistricting

Redistricting Headaches for Carnahan and Four Iowa Incumbents



Text  



Several bits of redistricting news out today. First the good news for the GOP in Missouri, where incumbent Democrat Russ Carnahan appears to member left standing during the district-line version of musical chairs:

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan’s congressional district would be carved up, with parts going to four colleagues’ districts under a preliminary redistricting plan unveiled Wednesday evening.

The map, drafted by Rep. John Diehl, R-Town and Country, represents the Legislature’s first attempt to redraw the boundaries to eliminate one of the state’s nine congressional districts to reflect the 2010 census.

Iowa’s redistricting is making life difficult for several incumbents in each party; these guys may decide the simpler solution is to just move:

So it turns out moving to Ames wasn’t quite far enough away for Republican Rep. Tom Latham to escape from being paired with fellow Republican Steve King.

The new, proposed map also tosses Democrats Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack together. That’s a more predictable outcome, because with growing eastern-Iowa populations it seemed likely that Johnson and Linn counties would be split up. Should this map be approved, Loebsack could move just a few miles away from his Mount Vernon home to get into Johnson or Cedar counties in the 2nd District.

I wonder if the National Association of Realtors lobbies for complicated redistricting maps, just to stir up the housing market by making lawmakers move a few miles to stay within their new district lines.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, they have to carve out a new seat out of a state that is already heavily Republican:

Over the next several months, one of the busiest spots in the capital will be the map room, where much of the work is done. Speculation has already begun as to which area of the state will get the new congressional district. Early discussion has centered on the Grand Strand because of its rapid growth, but the Rock Hill area, south of Charlotte, has been part of the conversation, too, along with the upstate cities of Spartanburg and Greenville.

Although McConnell told the Associated Press he worked hard to put together a balanced subcommittee, it’s widely expected that the new congressional district will be yet another Republican-controlled district. Five of the state’s current congressmen are Republicans.

Tags: Bruce Braley , Dave Loebsack , Redistricting , Russ Carnahan , Steve King , Tom Latham

Arkansas Democrats’ ‘Pig Trail’ Redistricting Plan



Text  



Jason Tolbert examines the Democrats’ proposal for redistricting in Arkansas, nicknamed the “pig trail”:

The Third Congressional District, ripe with predominately Republican voters, has about 110,000 too many people, while the fourth district and the first district each need to pick up several thousand new residents.

Thus, the Democrats playing with the new Congressional maps have come up with the solution of trying to pull out a Democratic area of the third instead of the Republican areas which line the borders.  The only concentration of reliably Democrat voters are in the Fayetteville area. Of course, the problem is Fayetteville is roughly 60 miles away from the fourth district with their Democrat voters tucked behind several hundred thousand voters in the Fort Smith area…

[The Fourth District lines proposed by Democrats go] around any population centers and take in roughly sixty miles of national forest to get to the Democratic voters in the Fayetteville area.

In their defense, most of the trees in that national forest have traditionally voted for Democrats.

If there’s a matching extension on the other side of the district, would that make this the “Pig Tail Restricting”?

Tags: Arkansas , Redistricting

Florida State Lawmakers Begin Thinking About District Lines



Text  



Florida gains two congressional seats this coming election cycle, which means the state’s district lines will be redrawn. One GOP lawmaker who could have had a hand in the process, state senator Mike Fasano, is taking the high road:

Here’s something you don’t see every day in Tallahassee. State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, might like to run for Congress next year. Fasano just happened to be a member of the Senate redistricting committee, which will draw the lines for the new districts that will be in place for the 2012 elections. Yet Fasano resigned from the redistricting committee on Monday to avoid the perception that he would help draw a new district to his liking.

The St. Petersburg Times is pleasantly surprised:

If more legislators were as sensitive about appearing to act in their self-interest instead of the public’s, the state capital would be a better place . . .

Fasano could have felt entitled to a little home cooking. Retiring U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and her chosen successor, former Hernando Sheriff Richard Nugent, conspired to ensure Fasano and others would have no chance to run for her open seat last year. While the redistricting amendments should prevent the most obvious attempts to benefit particular politicians and political parties, Fasano still could have helped himself by serving on the committee that will draw the new lines.

Instead, he chose to do the right thing and resigned. That could strengthen his hand when he pushes ethics reform legislation this spring — and might even win him more votes in a future campaign.

Right now, Fasano represents portions of Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, and Pinellas counties. On the current map of Florida’s congressional districts, that overlaps with the state’s 5th, 9th, and 11th districts.

Tags: Mike Fasano , Redistricting

A Christmas Present to the GOP: Tuesday’s Census Report



Text  



This is the most campaign and election-related item in today’s Morning Jolt, the first of Christmas week…

Demography Is Destiny, Which Can Be a Pain for a Democrat

The AP notices something we had mentioned a while ago, and that most political junkies had been buzzing about: “The 2010 census report coming out Tuesday will include a boatload of good political news for Republicans and grim data for Democrats hoping to re-elect President Barack Obama and rebound from last month’s devastating elections. The population continues to shift from Democratic-leaning Rust Belt states to Republican-leaning Sun Belt states, a trend the Census Bureau will detail in its once-a-decade report to the president. Political clout shifts, too, because the nation must reapportion the 435 House districts to make them roughly equal in population, based on the latest census figures. The biggest gainer will be Texas, a GOP-dominated state expected to gain up to four new House seats, for a total of 36. The chief losers — New York and Ohio, each projected by nongovernment analysts to lose two seats — were carried by Obama in 2008 and are typical of states in the Northeast and Midwest that are declining in political influence. Democrats’ problems don’t end there. November’s elections put Republicans in control of dozens of state legislatures and governorships, just as states prepare to redraw their congressional and legislative district maps. It’s often a brutally partisan process, and Republicans’ control in those states will enable them to create new districts to their liking.”

Writing at Michelle Malkin’s site, Doug Powers responds, “In the big picture, there are two ways Democrats can deal with this: Admit that their tax-happy, regulation-loving, fiscally incompetent, union favoring, public sector nurturing, debt ridden, sharp edges rounded off, politically correct, smoke free, salt free, fat free, common sense-free social and economic experiments have been colossal disasters — or they can continue to try to nationalize every aspect of America and pursue the extinction of greener pastures as fast as possible so people have nowhere which to escape. Which will it be?** **The Rhetorical Question of the Day was brought to you by 3M Disposable Ear Plugs — when you don’t want to hear the question, let alone the answer, make it 3M Disposable Ear Plugs!”

Ed Driscoll looks at the phenomenon on a more local level, and observes that Seattle and San Francisco have low numbers of children per capita. “And it seems rather difficult to build an emerging Democratic majority when two of the most prominent “liberal” cities in America (very much in name only, given the mammoth regulatory mazes and bureaucratic armies these cities come equipped with) have such poor future demographics. Or as Mark Steyn, who inspired our headline above with this classic 2006 article, wrote about Europe’s similar (and not at all coincidental) demographic woes, ‘what’s the point of creating a secular utopia if it’s only for one generation?’

I close the Jolt by observing, “Apparently Hyundai is trying a new strategy of browbeating potential car buyers into submission with one of the most relentless and ubiquitous advertising campaigns of the season.  If I see that aren’t-we-cool duo singing Christmas songs on those Hyundai commercials – apparently named Pomplamoose  – I’m going to end up setting places for them for Christmas dinner. ‘What? Cutesy Girl and Way Too Excited Guy aren’t part of the family? Then why am I seeing them every day?’”

Tags: Redistricting

What November Could Bring



Text  



Over on the home page, I take a look at what America’s political landscape will look like if the GOP takes care of business and wins as many races as the polls indicate these days. Redistricting could make good numbers for the GOP in the House even better. The Senate Democrats who won in 2006 would face, most likely, a much tougher environment in their reelection bids. And the White House would have to figure out how to govern without the trump card of massive legislative majorities.

Working on campaigns can be fun, but often isn’t. There’s always more work to do. There are rarely enough people around to do it. If you’re a volunteer, it’s easy to say you’ve done enough.

I hope campaigns put this article up on the wall in the offices, and I hope it reminds everyone in the grassroots what they can do if each person pulls out all the stops between now and when the polls close November 2.

Tags: 2010 , Redistricting

Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review