The result of Washington's bipartisan redistricting commission was an embarrassment for Democrats. The Democratic negotiators fairly clearly sacrificed the interests of the party to give our incumbents safer districts than they needed and make Denny Heck a very happy man. To do so, they unnecessarily sacrificed the Dem-leaning swing district in eastern King County and even turned the seat of Jay Inslee, who was running for Governor, into a swing seat.
But what if we had done slightly better in 2010, and Denny Heck and Suzan DelBene had won their races? This diary is my attempt to draw a map that the commission might have produced while trying to protect 7 Democratic incumbents. I used the following criteria while drawing the map:
1. Give all incumbents safe districts (52% Murray or greater for Democrats, 51% McCain or greater for Republicans)
2. Wherever possible, maintain the geographic bases of the incumbents in their districts.
3. Give Republicans a substantially safer 3rd district than they'd get under a court map to get them to play along.
4. Draw a map that isn't too messy for the commissioners to pass it with straight faces.
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WA-1 (blue, "Jay Inslee")
59.4% Obama, 38.8% McCain
52.6% Murray, 47.4% Rossi
Inslee might not like this district, but it was necessary to give the other incumbents districts as safe as I gave them. The district gets 3 or 4 less points Democratic, and drops his Bainbridge Island home, becoming a mostly Snohomish County district by geography (although a good chunk of the population is still in King County). Still, the district is D+6 or 7, so it should be safe, and Inslee can still run for Governor as long as he holds off on telling the negotiators until the map is drawn.
WA-2 (green, Jay Rick Larsen)
57.5% Obama, 40.5% McCain
52.7% Murray, 47.3% Rossi
Rick Larsen gets a safer district that takes in most of the cross-sound stuff that used to be in Inslee's district while dropping the conservativish stuff in western Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties. After surviving 2010, he should be safe.
WA-3 (purple, "open")
47.4% Obama, 50,5% McCain
42.1% Murray, 57.9% Rossi
This seat, is, as they say, the price of doing business. Dropping all of Thurston and Cowlitz Counties (Olympia and Longview, respectively), it maintains most of conservative Lewis County and heads across the Cascades for more conservative turf, avoidnig both Yamika city and the Indian reservation. The resulting district is probably R+5ish, and would be great for Jamie Herrera Beutler.
WA-4 (Red, Doc Hastings)
40.7% Obama, 57.3% McCain
35.1% Murray, 64.9% Rossi
Not much to see here, Doc Hasting's district is still punishingly red.
WA-5 (Gold, Cathy McMorris Rogers)
46.1% Obama, 51.4% McCain
41.7% Murray, 58.3% Rossi
McMorris Roger's district gets a smidgen bluer, but it's next to impossible not to unless you split Spokane, which I figure she wouldn't want, and it's still safe.
WA-6 (teal, "Norm Dicks" )
57.3% Obama, 40.6% McCain
52.6% Murray, 47.4% Rossi
This district drops the southern end of Tacoma into the new 10th, however, it makes up for it by picking up Bainbridge Island from the 1st and Pacific and Cowlitz Counties from the 3rd. The partisanship stays about the same, and should be relatively safe.
WA-7 (grey, Jim McDermontt)
83.3% Obama, 15.2% McCain
80.6% Murray, 19.2% Rossi
This district remains a Seattle-based district, containing all of the city and consisting mostly of the city. However, it drops some of the southern suburbs for northern ones. A Green is more likely to win here than a Republican.
WA-8 (slate blue, "Suzan DelBene")
60.4% Obama, 38.2% McCain
52.6% Murray, 47.4% Rossi
This district drops its Pierce County component, become an entirely King County suburban district. In so doing, it gets a few points bluer and becomes completely safe for Suzan DelBene.
WA-9 (cyan, Adam Smith)
58.5% Obama, 39.8% McCain
52.9% Murray, 47.1% Rossi
Adam Smith's district picks up the southern Seattle suburbs from the 7th as well eastern Pierce County from the 8th, while dumping it's stuff in Western Pierce and Eastern Thurston County into the new 10th. The result is a district that's maybe half a point more Democratic than the old district. Unlike the ridiculous map the commission produced, however, it does not take in a large chunk of Seattle and the eastern suburbs and become needlessly ridiculously Democratic. If Dave Reichert were to attempt a comeback, this would probably be the place to do it, as it contains his Pierce County Base, however, it would be an uphill battle, especially against an established moderate incumbent like Adam Smith.
WA-10 (Pink, "Denny Heck")
56.6% Obama, 41.5% McCain
52.3% Murray, 47.7% Rossi
This new district is made up of parts of the old 3rd, 9th, and 6th, and is more or less taylor made for Denny Heck. It consists of Thurston County (Olympia), Western Pierce County (including the south end of Tacoma), and some of the least Republican parts of Lewis County. It's the least Democratic district held by a Democratic incumbent, but it's still probably D+4ish and someone like Heck could keep it locked down easily.
So there you have it. What could have happened if a pair of races had went slightly differently in 2010. As you can see, 2010 hurt us even in places with "bipartisan" redistricting processes.