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View Diary: Did Gerrymandering Cost Dems the House? A 34-State Look at Alternative Nonpartisan Maps Suggests Yes (161 comments)

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  •  Wow (4+ / 0-)

    This is quite a diary.

    I'm curious: When you were drawing your nonpartisan maps, did you take communities of interest into account? I ask this because there are many instances where communities of interest are clearly violated in your maps. If you didn't take CoIs into account, then this isn't a big deal, but if you did, then you should probably look again at some of the maps you drew.

    But still, this must have taken a lot of work, and I really enjoyed reading it.

    (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

    by ProudNewEnglander on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:05:08 PM PDT

    •  I did and tried to do my best. I should note that (5+ / 0-)

      when given the number of districts, some CoIs are going to have to be violated. I will say though that I'm not an expert on everywhere, so if there were some glaring issues, particularly in New England I'd love to hear your input. Which maps in particular did you have issue with?

      •  Here are some examples (5+ / 0-)

        that in my opinion are CoI violations.

        CO: Las Animas should be with Huerfano and Pueblo, but that's only one small county so it's not that big a deal.

        GA: Rockdale and Newton should be in the same district, since both are outer suburbs of Atlanta. Maybe, if you don't want to change that map dramatically, you could drop a few of the mostly-white precincts in Rockdale and add some of the mostly-black precincts in Newton to the 13th.

        KY: Pulaski and Laurel Counties seem to me to be a community of interest, as they are the political base of Hal Rogers' district, so I think they should be together.

        MA: Both your map and the actual map make the same mistake (in my opinion). I did not like how Olver's old district was eliminated, because now there is no district that is dominated by rural areas. I think there should be a district that contains Berkshire, most of Hampshire, Franklin, western Hampden, and northern Worcester Counties, and whose largest city it Pittsfield. It is as if the Democrats in Boston are trying to stifle the voices of rural MA Dems by putting them with urban Springfield.

        MI: Putting Genesee and Livingston together is a clear CoI violation. One is a working-class, heavily-Democratic county, and the other is upper-middle-class, exurban, and strongly Republican. If you can't put Saginaw with Genesee, then even putting the Thumb with Genesee is better than pairing Genesee and Livingston.

        NJ: It seems to me that Burlington and Ocean are very different, seeing as one faces the Atlantic Ocean while the other faces the Delaware River. I think that Ocean should be kept whole, and some of southern Monmouth should be added to it to make a district.

        NC: It seems kind of strange to pair Johnston County with Fayetteville, but since that's your state I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on that one.

        PA: Mostly good, but I'm not sure why you paired Chester County with Reading, since they seem to be very different places with regard to race and socioeconomic status.

        TX: For a state this big, you (or wwmiv) did an excellent job; my only quibble is that I think it would make sense for Jefferson and Galveston Counties to be in the same district. Putting Jefferson with all the dark-red counties to its north just says to me 'Republican gerrymander'.

        VA: I'd just like to say that I think this is your best map of the bunch. It's clean, it's nonpartisan, it satisfies the VRA, and districts 6 and 9 are drawn perfectly.

        WA: In a nonpartisan, CoI-based map, I don't think that Chelan and Kittitas would be connected to Bellevue and Renton. You only need to cross the Cascades once, and I think that WA-3 should take some of Yakima County instead.

        Please don't misconstrue these comments as criticism of your work. I am very impressed by these maps, and by your reasoning behind them. You must have spent a lot of time drawing these maps, and you clearly think they're good since you published the diary. What I'm trying to do is help you make the maps even better than they already are. Maybe, if I have some free time, I'll draw up some alternative maps and post them.

        By the way, is there a specific reason why you didn't post any maps of Connecticut?

        (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

        by ProudNewEnglander on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:07:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh no I definitely welcome the critiques (5+ / 0-)

          As for Washington I thought the same thing as well, but the more I thought about it, Yakima really needs to be in the 4th and Chelan and Kittitas have the only major transportation link to the west of the Cascades. Anyway it's fairly inconsequential though as if anything that makes Reichert even more screwed if you drop those counties, but paradoxically that seemed like the best place to have the major crossing. The 3rd district doesn't really cross the Cascades though as Klickitat County is along the Columbia River Gorge and should really just be though of as being the end of the Cascades in the state, which is to say that only really the 8th 'crosses' the range.

          In Virginia thanks I love this map too. This was the only state I found that when I googled "cultural regions of virginia" something awesomely useful popped up which was a national Smithsonian map on the cultural regions of the state.

          For Connecticut I just assumed the court-drawn map was fine since the state doesn't have a history of partisan gerrymanders anyway.

          For Texas it doesn't matter since Lampson lost big, but thanks for the info.

          In Pennsylvania Reading was the odd man out as it needed to go somewhere, but when I paired it with the 17th it made the 6th take Lancaster which also didn't seem a good fit so... Try mapping it yourself, if you can come up with something better I'd love to see it. This one definitely violated CoI no doubt.

          In NC Johnston County has to go with Fayetteville because Fayetteville sadly doesn't fit into the 7th, otherwise it'd go there. The alternative to putting it in the 2nd or 7th is the 8th which then destroys the 2nd and the populations don't match. I tried it so many ways I lost count and this was the only one that made sense. When you draw the state with the 14 districts it should have been awarded in 2011, this problem is fixed.

          New Jersey yes I'm aware that Burlington and Ocean are two different CoIs but one of the districts had to do it unfortunately as the shore isn't enough for two whole districts. The alternative was Burlington plus Camden and then the rest of that county plus the southwest of the state and I really didn't like that configuration either. Unfortunately it also makes the difference between Runyan winning reelection or not. Suffice to say I wasn't entirely satisfied with how I mapped south Jersey, but this seemed like the least worst alternative when I tried it 4 different ways.

          Michigan I'll definitely try to remap, but when I did it everything seemed to click except for Livingston and Genesee. I'll definitely have to tinker with it more as those two clearly don't go together, yes.

          In Massachusetts I'll have to try mapping it out. New England was a bit tricky since there are so many towns and counties are basically useless.

          In Kentucky I'll have to disagree as this was almost the entirety of Appalachian Kentucky in one district. I actually really love this map as there was basically 1 Appalachian, one eastern, one southern, two Bluegrass, and one Louisville district. Pulaski County is really more southern Kentucky than eastern. Anyway though it makes no partisan impact as Rogers easily holds the 5th as I drew it for as long as he wants.

          In Georgia I unfortunately tried to do this but it screwed up the rest of the map since the 13th had to drop other things and I basically made a judgement call. Whether or not that was correct, it's irrelevant partisan-wise which was really my main concern but your point is definitely well taken. I don't think that change would in any way affect the 7th though so it doesn't really matter.

          And finally in Colorado yes that change is minor but taken under consideration. My main concern was with the 6th though where I feel like I still did a good job, but again as the partisan concerns were my main focus and CO-03 was strongly R last cycle I didn't put a huge emphasis on it. This was one part of the state where I just went with what the court-map did, but the impact is negligible since it's so small.

          Anyway, sorry these are in reverse order but really, thank you for the input as it is hard to come by.

          •  Responses (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stephen Wolf, Englishlefty

            I tried to redraw PA, and I've come to the conclusion that 1) Berks County will be chopped into several pieces and 2) Reading will have to go with either Chester or Lancaster County. Neither seems a good match, but those seem to be the only options. I drew a map that kept York, Lancaster, Dauphin, Lebanon, Schuylkill, Delaware, Bucks, Lehigh, and Northampton all whole, and the splits in Chester and Berks are clean. The map puts Reading with Lancaster, which I think looks better than Chester.

            On Washington, I see what you're saying, but could you explain why you believe that "Yakima needs to be in the 4th"?

            I drew a nonpartisan, CoI map of Massachusetts. The end result combined Springfield and Worcester (which I don't think is a bad thing), put the whole Merrimack Valley in the same district, split Boston (on logical lines), and followed CoI lines in the Boston suburbs. I can post it in a diary if you want and if I have time.

            In Connecticut, the court-drawn map was basically a least-change map from the old one, which was a compromise done in 2001 after CT lost a seat. A truly nonpartisan map would have different borders between the 1st and 5th, while the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th would be largely the same.

            DRA wouldn't load my maps of NJ for some reason, so I'll have to get back to you on that one.

            (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

            by ProudNewEnglander on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:07:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Schuylkill with Berks (0+ / 0-)

              My Holden district is similar to the one in the 1990s, consisting of Schuylkill, Berks and Lebanon counties. Lancaster is paired with exurban Chester, while York and Adams county is with portions of Cumberland counties, all high population suburban areas.

              If you are naughty you can always pair Harrisburg with State College.

              •  There are too many people (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Stephen Wolf

                in Chester County for that.

                If you keep Delaware whole and put parts of Chester with it, and then put some of exurban Chester with Lancaster, there will still be some of Chester remaining. There will also be some of Montgomery still remaining after the district entirely in Montco is drawn. Even if some of Montco is picked up to complete the Lehigh/Northampton district, there will still be some left over, and the leftovers of Montco and Chester plus Berks, Lebanon, and Schuylkill would create an overpopulated district.

                Also, your plan strands Dauphin with a bunch of areas that are nothing like it (such as Mifflin, Juniata, Perry, and Centre). Dauphin is much better off with Lebanon and Schuylkill.

                Additionally, Lancaster County is nothing like exurban Chester; they are distinct CoIs. At least the cities of Lancaster and Reading have some similarities. I think it makes sense to put exurban Chester with exurban and rural Berks and outer Montco, since those areas are much more similar to each other.

                That being said, I agree with your York/Adams/Cumberland idea, and have incorporated that into my map.

                (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

                by ProudNewEnglander on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 08:26:46 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I drew a map of NJ (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stephen Wolf

            that in my opinion is a nonpartisan, CoI map.

            District 1 was all of Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland, and Salem, and part of Gloucester (Monroe, Glassboro, Paulsboro).

            District 2 was the remainder of Gloucester, all of Camden, and Evesham, Maple Shade, and Palmyra in Burlington.

            District 3 was the remainder of Burlington (with the exception of a few small Pine Barrens townships), and all of Mercer.

            District 4 was all of Ocean, those few small Pine Barrens townships from Burlington, and Howell, Wall, and Freehold in Monmouth.

            District 5 was the rest of Monmouth, and Old Bridge, Monroe, Sayreville, and East Brunswick in Middlesex.

            District 6 was the remainder of Middlesex and the southern half of Somerset.

            District 7 was the black district: AA parts of Newark, the Oranges, Union Twp, Linden, Rahway, and parts of Jersey City.

            District 8 was the Hispanic district: North Newark, the remainder of Hudson, and Elizabeth.

            District 9 is probably the least cohesive district in my map. It includes the remainder of Union, the remainder of Essex, Clifton, Passaic, and South Bergen. I had to draw it because I wanted districts 10 and 11 to be mostly working-class and mostly middle-to-upper class respectively (which they are), and I wanted district 12 to be outer suburban and rural (which it is).

            District 10 is central Bergen plus Paterson. It's basically the areas of Bergen that swung toward Obama last year, since that swing is a good measure of socioeconomic status in North Jersey.

            District 11 includes North Bergen, the rest of Passaic, and East Morris. These areas are largely middle-to-upper class areas, and so swung away from Obama last year.

            District 12 is Hunterdon, Warren, Sussex, North Somerset, and West Morris. I believe that this district is a distinct community of interest (unfortunately, it's a strongly Republican one).

            I think my splits of Bergen and Union Counties make more sense than yours, and I'm wondering why you didn't split Passaic when Paterson is nothing like the NW part of the county.

            What do you think of my idea?

            (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

            by ProudNewEnglander on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 02:34:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Can you post a map of it? (0+ / 0-)

              Don't bother with the Obama numbers as they aren't accurate. I actually had to deal with precinct data to produce a usable data set for the state. I think roguemapper was eventually going to correct it, but there are tons of votes missing left and right in the state and it is not at all evenly distributed.

              •  Yeah I know (0+ / 0-)

                just how messed up the election data is in NJ, and it's not just one area. Lakewood, Trenton, Newark, Jersey City, Elizabeth, Salem, and others are all messed up.

                Unfortunately, I don't know how to post a map in a comment. In my diaries, I've always used the handy picture tool that DK has, but I can't do that in a comment.

                If I have time, I'll post a diary with my proposals for nonpartisan, CoI-based maps. It won't be as big as yours because many of your maps I agree with completely. However, this is a very busy week for me, and I'm not sure I'll have time until next week.

                (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

                by ProudNewEnglander on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:33:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  TX: My response (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Englishlefty

          There is no reason why both Galveston and Beaumont and their respective surroundings, both large cities in their own right, should not have the luxury of anchoring their own districts.

          Once you consider that Republicans are near locks to hold even a district that combines Beaumont and Galveston, there is no way to realistically describe splitting them as a "Republican gerrymander".

          If anything, combining them could constitute a Democratic gerrymander if you believe that Democrats have a good chance at picking it up (they don't) AND if you think that it is trending Democratic (it isn't).

          :)

          23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

          by wwmiv on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:33:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Your points are taken (0+ / 0-)

            however I see it as an urban vs. rural thing. I think that both the urban areas and the rural areas should have a chance to elect their own Congresspeople. And I'm aware that the area is trending Republican and that the only Democrat who even has a chance of winning it is Nick Lampson. The fact that even if Jefferson and Galveston were combined, the district would still be pretty Republican, shows that combining them would not constitute a Democratic gerrymander.

            (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

            by ProudNewEnglander on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:40:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Here's what I did with Michigan (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ProudNewEnglander

          and I think it is better than my original map:
           photo MIFairMapAlternateSoutheast_zpsa6521292.png

          I switched the numbers on 7 and 8 as it's clear that Rogers would run there now if he wouldn't have before. It's safely R and easily went for McCain. I'd imagine Sandy Levin would have just retired as he's drawn in with Peters more or less and the 11th gets a little better for us. The 5th is still safe D.

          •  Ahhh yes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stephen Wolf

            This map is much better. Livingston and outer Oakland are definitely a CoI and I'm glad you put them together. After all, Livingston is surrounded on three sides by heavily Democratic counties, none of which it goes well with, and it and outer Oakland are perfect. I'm not sure that Pontiac and Troy are the best match, but it doesn't look like there are any other options. I also like how you put the less affluent parts of Wayne in the AA-majority districts and the more middle-class areas with Farmington Hills and West Bloomfield. Another good CoI.

            (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

            by ProudNewEnglander on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 03:39:05 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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