Skip to main content


The 2013 New Jersey elections were an interesting anomaly.  Governor Chris Christie won 61.2% of the two-party vote and yet Democrats in the state legislature came out of it with the same 24-16 State Senate majority and 48-32 General Assembly majority they went in with.  Only one incumbent Democrat went down, Assemblyman Nelson Albano of LD-01, but Democrats compensated by defeating an incumbent Republican in LD-02, Assemblyman John Amodeo, in an upset.  Democrats even gained a bit of ground in county government elections and Christie being on the ballot had little effect on the Republicans.

Contrast that to Gov. Tom Kean, Sr.'s mega landslide victory in 1985 when he beat Democrat Peter Shapiro 69.6%-29.3%(!) and flipped the Assembly from a 44-36 Democratic majority to an astounding 50-30 Republican majority (the Senate was unchanged as it was not up for election that year).  Even in 2009, when Christie won narrowly over Gov. Jon Corzine, Republicans only netted 1 Assembly seat (which Democrats promptly netted back in 2011) and gained significant ground in county elections.  The dearth of coattails in 2013 were made even more surprising by these comparisons.  Although during the campaign itself, most insiders predicted Democrats would probably decline to narrower majorities.  Polls showed Democrats leading the generic ballot, but Christie's strong leads was thought too powerful for a few Democrats.

All throughout the campaign was the controversy over Christie having any downballot coattails.  Republicans constantly played up the possibility of Christie having strong coattails, despite polling showing that was not the case.  Polling all throughout showed Democrats leading the generic ballot by at least mid-single digits.  Democrats, not to be complacent, concentrated a lot of campaign finance on keeping the majority and minimizing coattails as much as possible.  The biggest players in this effort were a D.C. super PAC called the "Fund for Jobs, Growth and Security" and a super PAC funded by the powerful NJEA (teachers' union).

Two leading players for the Republicans were Senate Minority Leader (and 2006 U.S. Senate candidate) Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Brammick (R-21).  Tom Kean and his lieutenant Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13), along with Assemblyman Brammick, raised good sums of money for the GOP legislative campaign committees.  Being in safe Republican districts, they were also able to make ample monetary and in-kind donations from their large campaign coffers to candidates that needed a shot in the arm to be competitive.

Leading the Democratic side was Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3), Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37), and Senator (and ex-Senate President and ex-Acting Governor) Dick Codey (D-27).  All three being fundraising magnets, they were also able to lend monetary and in-kind assistance to their fellow Democrats.  Sweeney, however, was in a competitive district (Obama won it 55%-44% in 2012).  Tom Kean tried to run a strong campaign against him, but in the end, it was all for naught.

After the election and the Democrats in the Senate were confirmed to go back with the same 24-16 seat majority they went out with, Sweeney took time to rub Kean's failure in his face.  He trolled and teased the Minority Leader, even buying this cheap web ad of himself below on the Politicker NJ website.

 photo 0704ec8f-1ad1-4965-a2db-e0214820bdf4_zps8d1e0f2c.jpg

Shortly after the elections, there was a power struggle behind the scenes about whether or not Tom Kean should be kept on as Minority Leader.  Having failed to pick up any Senate seats for Republicans under his watch since taking the position in January 2008, some Republicans felt it was time to switch to Senator O'Toole (R-40), a trusted Christie confidant.  Although Christie claimed to not take a side, he did meet with the GOP caucus in private and everyone can tell he put his thumb on the scale for O'Toole, not liking Kean's go-it-alone approach for running elections.  In the end, Kean held on in a caucus vote by 10-6.  Ex-Gov. Tom Kean, Sr., a longtime friend of Christie, struck back at Christie for daring to dethrone his boy.

Now, without further ado, let's analyze the 2013 NJ legislative elections.  It should be disclosed off the bat that I am registered to vote in LD-08 and did canvassing for the Democratic candidates in LD-18 (near my university).  In this diary I will cover the "Big 6" (LD-1,2,3,14,18,38), the most competitive legislative districts this year.  I will also occasionally discuss a few local elections (e.g. some county Boards of Chosen Freeholders elections) in certain counties.  Let's begin.

 photo 200px-Seal_of_New_Jerseysvg_zps72b9d5a7.png
Continue Reading

Perhaps one of the more surprising 2012 results was Rep. John Barrow (D-Augusta) not just winning, but winning by a margin of 53.7%-46.3% over State Rep. Lee Anderson in a district where Obama only won 43.64% of the vote in 2012.  Despite getting his district changed to lose Savannah and gaining some federally red southern Georgia counties, Barrow called upon only weak competition.  Lee Anderson ran a notoriously bad campaign.  Despite ducking out of debates and candidate forums, he managed to win the GOP primary and runoff over businessman Rick Allen (who is so far the consensus GOP candidate against Barrow in 2014).  He ran a series of bad ads that scream low production values(!) which overused the color yellow and showed off Anderson's permanent squint and hayseed manner of speaking.  Barrow, on the other hand, had some damn fine ads despite what you may think of them policy-wise.  I daresay, and despite Barrow being written off so early, that if it wasn't for the major outside spending in favor of Lee Anderson's campaign, Barrow would have probably gotten above 55% of the vote.

For this diary, I decided to see where and by how much John Barrow outperformed Obama's 2012 performance on the county level.  Since only two counties are split (Effingham and Columbia), it was easy to draw on DRA.  Furthermore, since Barrow outperformed Obama in every county, I used a spectrum of blue.  Results below the fold.

Poll

Knowing this, do you think Barrow wins in 2014?

69%100 votes
8%12 votes
22%32 votes

| 144 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

In a period of boredom, I decided to see if I could redistrict Georgia fairly.  At the time, I had relatively simple objectives: obey communities-of-interest, prevent ridiculous sprawling of districts, maintain three VAP majority-black districts (which are all centered around Atlanta) and making Sanford Bishop's southwest rural Georgia district majority-black without doing a racial gerrymander (as in avoiding cutting counties viciously and numerous tendrils).

I put my draft map up on the Daily Kos Elections Live Blogs on May 7th and 8th to get feedback in order to make adjustments and fine tune my map before publication.  I received helpful pointers from users Stephen Wolf, jncca, and sacman701 and applied their suggestions to get the final draft.

First, some background.  A big part of the reason for the fall of the old coalitions of the Georgia Democratic Party had been the astronomical rise of suburbanization in the state around Atlanta from the 70's to the 90's, with large growth flanking that time range.  Fueled by migration and white flight, those suburbs were largely and increasingly Republican (especially the exurbs).  Democrats tried to mitigate this in 1991 and 2001 redistricting, but were foiled in the first attempt due to underestimating the new Republican areas and were foiled in the next attempt due to a Republican landslide in Georgia in 2002 and was iced in 2004 with Larios v. Cox, which invalidated the new state legislature maps.  Republicans won the State House in 2004 (after winning the State Senate in 2002) and were able to redraw everything.

I found out while redistricting that there is a growing Democratic power in the suburbs of Atlanta over the past decade (namely Cobb, Henry, Rockdale, Douglas, Newton and Gwinnett Counties).  Most of this has been because of massive African-American growth (either from gentrification or the recent reverse of the Great Migration that seems to be happening on a small scale).  To give you an idea of this, let's compare Henry County's (suburban county directly south of DeKalb County) demographics and Presidential vote in 2000 and 2012 (using the 2000 and 2010 Census, respectively):

2000
Pop.: 119,341
81% White, 15% Black, 2% Hispanic, 2% Asian
66% Bush/31% Gore

2012
Pop.: 203,922
53% White, 36% Black, 6% Hispanic, 3% Asian
51% Romney/48% Obama

Gwinett County also is an interesting case as all non-white races (black, Hispanic, Asian) jumped very suddenly from 2000 to 2010 while the white population actually contracted.  It was also a county Obama did better in, percentage-wise, in 2012 versus 2008, as was Henry County.  In 2011 redistricting, Republicans had to protect their suburban districts by drawing them into dark red areas.  With a fair map, Democrats get far more opportunities and could potentially win a majority of Georgia's 14 Congressional districts.

More below the fold.

Poll

Under this map, how many districts would Democrats have won in 2012?

17%7 votes
5%2 votes
20%8 votes
37%15 votes
15%6 votes
2%1 votes
2%1 votes

| 40 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 05:22 PM PST

MD-Redistricting: It Gets Better

by KingofSpades

Last November, there was a referendum in Maryland on whether or not to repeal the brand new Congressional map created in the office of Gov. O'Malley and passed by the legislature.  The opponents of the map (primarily Republicans and good government groups) pointed to how Winchester in deep red Carroll County was put into the same district as Silver Spring (a dark blue city in very blue Montgomery County) and Taneytown in northwest Carroll County was put into the same district as Ocean City WAY over on the southeast corner of the Eastern Shore.  Despite the profound arguments for repeal, the map was affirmed 64.1%-33.9%.  Even if the citizens' veto had passed, redoing redistricting would not have gone to a court or a commission, it would have just gone right back to the Governor and he could theoretically make it worse for Republicans.  In anticipation of this possibility, I redrew Maryland to create seven Dem districts and a swing district.  I followed the prerequisite conditions such as not giving any of Baltimore City to an Eastern Shore district, Steny Hoyer gets College Park, and not giving any of Prince George's County to an Eastern Shore district.  However, as good as my map was, it would not satisfy the incumbents nearly enough.  For instance, Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger does a lot for the Aberdeen Proving Ground and apparently insists it be in his district, Rep. John Sarbanes doesn't want to relinquish Annapolis, and Rep. Donna Edwards wants to hold on to a sizable chunk of Montgomery County (in redistricting, she rose hell over her district losing all of its share of Montgomery County, but in the end her objections were in vain).  I played around in DRA and was able to satisfy all incumbents to a decent extent while obeying the prerequisites about Baltimore and Prince George's County and making a map with seven Democratic districts and one swing district.  I know this map likely won't happen now, but I like it so much, I'm going to post it anyway.

 photo mdflagb_zpsbcbb665a.gif

More below the fold.

Poll

If my map were in place what would MD's post-2012 delegation be?

60%35 votes
37%22 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes

| 58 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

For this diary, we take you to Massachusetts, the birthplace of the gerrymander.  For those that don't know, the word "gerrymander" was named after a redrawn State Senate map approved by Gov. Elbridge Gerry (Democratic-Republican) in 1812 that produced a district in Massachusetts' North Shore that resembled a wyrm or a salamander in order to bolster the Democratic-Republican Party.  Here's the famous political cartoon of this district from a pro-Federalist newspaper:

 photo The_Gerry-Mander_Edit.png

Needless to say, it worked.  Despite narrowly losing the Presidential Election of 1812, the Federalist Party ticket (led by DeWitt Clinton) won Massachusetts in a landslide (and they picked up the Governor's office and the MA State House), but the State Senate remained fully in Democratic-Republican control.

In 2011, Massachusetts Democrats redrew the state in a Democratic gerrymander.  However, for the most part, their aim was more towards patronage than partisan intent.  Although they drew 9 districts with a definite Dem lean, a few are more wobbly than I'd like.  One district (MA-06) was made a bit less Dem to the peril of embattled Democrat John Tierney (who has a bunch of crooks as in-laws that were eager to drag him down with them).  Another district (MA-04) was drawn a little less Dem and encouraged Barney Frank to retire earlier than he was hoping to.  However, they did shore up Bill Keating in his Cape Cod and Plymouth-based district and Niki Tsongas in her Middlesex County-based district.  Of course, since Massachusetts had to lose a seat, John Olver and Richard Neal were drawn together in the western part of the state (Olver was retiring, though).  Here's the map:

 photo c75048cf-3fb0-4bf3-adf3-ae36d0023ec2_zps9d92f1da.jpg

Backstory aside, what I wanted to do in this diary is to show three purely hypothetical maps under three different scenarios: A. A Republican gerrymander.  B. A (more effective) Democratic gerrymander.  C. A court or commission-drawn map.

Maps and analysis below the fold.

Continue Reading

In 2011, Texas Republicans tried to redistrict the state while denying a second Democratic district in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro and manipulating TX-23 (then held by Republican Rep. Francisco Canseco) so that a majority of the electorate would be non-Hispanic white.  Knowing that this map would never get Section 5 Preclearance from the DOJ, they went to the U.S. Circuit Court of DC to get a declaratory judgement made on the legality of all their maps.  However, the maps as they re-drew them were unable to be put into effect in the interim according to a ruling handed down by the US Circuit Court for the district of San Antonio.  The court set about redrawing all maps themselves with loose basis on how the TX Republicans did it.  They submitted an interim map that would have made TX-23 a Dem-tilting district again, put a second DFW district in Tarrant County, compacted Lloyd Doggett's district to the Austin metropolitan area, and made two GOP-held districts winnable.  However, TX's Attorney-General asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review this decision.  The court agreed and heard both sides before deciding unanimously that the District Court should redraw the interim maps to be more like the maps the Republicans drew, but should have two Dem districts in the DFW and make TX-23 more Hispanic than what the Republicans drew.  The court drew a relatively cautious map that did just that, but had the second DFW district spread out a bit into Dallas County and made TX-23 a 50/50 district.  The 2012 elections were performed under this new interim map and it was pretty good.  State Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) beat Rep. Canseco for TX-23, Rep. Lloyd Doggett won the primary handily in a Hispanic district that spans from Austin to Bexar County, and State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) won re-election.

Last year, the U.S. Circuit Court of DC ruled to deny preclearance of the TX GOP's maps, officially nixing them.  Now there's the other issue of the SCOTUS possibly ruling Section 5 of the VRA to be unconstitutional this year, which would end or curtail preclearance.  However, Section 2 would most likely remain untouched, meaning that a group or the DOJ can sue a state for violating the VRA.  Section 5 just makes it much easier to nip VRA violations in the bud.  Regardless of how the SCOTUS rules, Texas will need new maps with big changes to the State House and Congressional maps.  The likely result is that TX-23 is nudged a few points more Democratic, Nueces County has its Hispanic population cut out into a district that runs south to Brownsville, and Lloyd Doggett might see his district compact some.

For this diary, I decided to map out what would be possible for Democrats in a remap, but more optimistic than reality.  This diary also seeks to prove that four, relatively clean so-called "fajita strip" districts are possible and easy.

 photo Texas-quarter_zpsb11d8da5.jpg

More below the fold.

Continue Reading

I wanted to try out a few hypothetical maps on DRA and one that came out that pleased me was a hypothetical gerrymander of Washington.  In the 2011-2012 redistricting process, Democrats had (and still have) control over the Governorship and the state legislature, but Washington has a redistricting commission that has partisans and non-partisans on board.  Leading the Republicans was ex-Senator Slade Gorton.  Since Washington was gaining a tenth Congressional district, they couldn't do a least change map.  What they ended up doing in their final map was making the 10th district a Democratic Thurston-Pearce County based district with a little of Mason County.  Democrat Denny Heck won easily this year.  The other major change was a reconfiguration of Governor-Elect Jay Inslee's WA-01 from a Sound-side district composed of upper Kitsap County, upper King County, and lower Snohomish County to a less Democrat district that is made up of a large chunk of upper King County and the eastern portions of Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom County.  The side effects of these changes were that Rick Larsen's WA-02 was made more Democratic, Jaime Herrera Beutler's WA-03 was made more Republican, and David Reichert's WA-08 was made more Republican.  Democrat Suzan DelBene defeated Snohomish County Councilor John Koster (who made a last minute f***-up by saying that "the rape thing" doesn't justify abortion) with almost 54% of the vote, even beating Koster in his home county.

Now that elections are over and done with and Washington is going to have a delegation of 6 Democrats and four Republicans, I decided to play around with the map and get a solid Democratic gerrymander.  I found that I only really needed one GOP vote sink and King County has a treasure trove of Democrats to spread around.  I chose Washington in part because I lived in Seattle once way back when I was only a toddler.  My memories are pretty simple...

...flying a seagull kite at Gas Works Park...
Photobucket

...the Fremont Troll (which scared me silly)...
Photobucket

...and the plethora of Starbucks, to name just a few memories.  But enough about me, let's get to the maps!

Photobucket

The original Starbucks logo, before they went national.
Poll

How many districts would have swung Dem in 2012?

11%5 votes
9%4 votes
45%19 votes
23%10 votes
9%4 votes

| 42 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

I just did two attempted gerrymanders of Arizona in a previous diary, but a few commenters said I didn't go far enough to be an full-on gerrymander of the state and that it's a much easier just to shore up the 5 incoming Democratic incumbents than try to also draw a 6th district which Democrats could win in a really good year.  So I decided to follow those pieces of advice in this follow-up diary, even to the point of using touch-point contiguity of Congressional districts, a very difficult thing to do when you can't split precincts.

More below the fold.

Continue Reading

Now that Congressman Ron Barber (D-AZ) is assured of victory in the new 2nd Congressional District, I decided to play around some with Arizona's map.  I have already mapped out and discussed the Congressional districts for the 2010's in an earlier diary (read it if you to know how redistricting went down and the partisan and racial statistics of the new districts), where I was hopeful that Democrats would take a 5-4 lead in the next Arizona delegation to the House of Representatives.  Now, with Democrats picking up the AZ-09 and winning back AZ-01, that will come to pass.  For the second time since the 1960's, Democrats will hold a majority of Arizona's delegation to the House.  Here's the map of what the partisan split of Arizona's new districts now look like after the elections:

AZ2012generalelectionresults-effects

It was a hard-fought battle, but Democrats ended up lucky in Congressional redistricting in Arizona.  It involved the Governor and legislature impeaching the tiebreaker on the redistricting commission only for the tiebreaker to be reinstated by order of the state Supreme Court.  Long story short, it was a massive victory for justice and ethics.  Now that redistricting and the elections are well behind us, I wanted to see how far you could stretch Arizona's Congressional districts in an alternate universe where there was no commission on redistricting and Democrats controlled the process.  I am not a master of the art of gerrymandering, but I gave it a shot with two separate maps.  All Obama performance percentages are from the 2008 election and the partisan numbers for each district will be followed by the partisan numbers of the actual districts that are now in place.

arizona_seal_retouched

More below the fold.

Poll

Which of the two presented maps do you prefer?

31%13 votes
68%28 votes

| 41 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

...It's a long way to go.
It's a long way to Parkville
To the sweetest girl I know!
Goodbye, Salisbury,
Farewell, Bel Air!
It's a long long way to Parkville,
But my heart's right there!

*

In Maryland, Republicans managed to get a referendum on the ballot to undo the new Congressional map.  However, it sounds like a fool's errand.  Even if it passes, it doesn't throw re-redistricting to a court or independent body, it just lets Governor O'Malley and the state legislature have another crack at it.  O'Malley will still be governor in 2013 and he said that if it passes, he will make minimum changes to the map he masterminded last year.  Also, the state legislature will be just as Dem then (if not more) due to the fact that they gerrymandered the state legislature as well.  All in all, it seems like a supremely pointless effort on the part of the MD GOP as it will merely give O'Malley a mulligan in redistricting and he could theoretically make it even worse for them.

Therefore, I decided to do a theoretical re-redistricting even more effective than the new one.  As easy as it would be to do whatever I wanted, I wanted to make a more realistic map that would irk as few Dem constituencies as possible.  Here are the criteria I followed:

1. The city of Baltimore must have representation in three Congressional districts.
2. There must be two Congressional districts that are majority African-American by voting age population.
3. All Democratic districts must have the incumbent's hometown in it.
4. Small chunks of ultra-blue Baltimore and/or Prince George's County cannot be put into a district dominated by the Eastern Shore.
5. Water contiguity over the Chesapeake is allowed.
6.  Cutting up parts of the Eastern Shore is alright so long as it doesn't conflict with the other criteria.

More below the fold.

Poll

What will be the likely result of this map?

18%7 votes
50%19 votes
21%8 votes
2%1 votes
0%0 votes
7%3 votes

| 38 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

...you have to do it yourself.  That's the lesson from the redistricting snafu that went on this year in the Kansas State legislature (which has been Republican-controlled for a long time).  There was an ongoing battle between the very conservative wing of the Kansas Republican Party and the moderate wing.  The moderate wing (which, along with Democratic support, control the State Senate) wanted to maintain districts that kept communities of interest together as well as helping to stave off right-wing primary challenges to their incumbents (GOP Senator Owens spearheaded this effort) while the conservative wing (which controls the State House) wanted to gerrymander all of the maps to promote right-wing challenges and ensure that it's nearly impossible for Democrats to win any Congressional districts for the decade (even going to the length of breaking the tradition that each chamber of the legislature draws its own map and not the other's).  One major proposal involved drawing a Congressional district that drew Kansas City in the same district as Dodge City!  The result was redistricting plans flying right and left and getting voted down, neither side willing to budge.  They finally hit the deadline for action when May ended and it was tossed up to the court system to work out.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas heard all testimony, but disposed of all proposed maps and instead opted to draw all districts from scratch.  It was a big undertaking (especially consider that the filing deadline was June 11), but on June 8th, the court released new maps for the State House, State Senate, the Congress, and the State Board of Education.  The court issued their opinion along with the maps where they admonished the legislature for political brinksmanship.  The maps they released were done with little to no considerations for political and incumbent advantage.  As a result, many districts were incumbent-less or had more than one incumbent drawn into the same district together.

What I was eager to know is how the new districts affect legislative races and where Democrats are competitive as well as key primaries that could topple or secure the moderate majority.  I decided to focus on the State Senate as there are much less districts to analyze than the State House and it's also where the future of Kansas hinges the most on.  I drew up the new Kansas State Senate map in Dave's Redistricting App and will take on the task of analyzing any race of significant interest in this diary.

Photobucket

More below the fold.

Poll

Will the Kansas Senate moderate majority survive this year?

35%25 votes
45%32 votes
18%13 votes

| 70 votes | Vote | Results

Continue Reading

This comes rather late, but on Tuesday, June 26, I attended the first post-primary town hall forum of Jack Uppal, Democratic candidate for the red 4th Congressional District of California.  At roughly R+10, this district is out of reach for Democrats aside from a perfect storm.  Only Charlie Brown (that's his real name, no joke) could make it competitive and he almost won it in 2008 against the carpetbagger Tom McClintock and may have won it if he hadn't attended an anti-war protest that featured an effigy burning (he did not know it would be there, but the GOP trackers quickly lambasted him with it anyway).

This year, we have a retired contract administrator from Intel running against McClintock.  Although I don't live in California, I am spending much of the summer in Roseville, CA to visit family.  I was curious when I read a flier at the Democratic Party booth at the Placer County Fair that the Dem candidate here was going to hold a town hall in the lodge of a Roseville retirement community.  I decided to attend.  I thought he wouldn't be very politically astute, but I was wrong.  He was surprisingly knowledgeable and well-spoken on a wide range of issues.  Although he staked out a moderate position on some issues (regulation and whatnot), he took a lot of strong opinions in favor of things like marriage equality and healthcare reform.  I decided to write down notes on the town hall and then write a diary on it.

Photobucket

More below the fold.

Continue Reading
You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.

RSS

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site