In my last diary, I attempted to draw a third Congressional seat Democrats can win in Kentucky without bothering any incumbents. I decided to make the Dem seat the 1st district, which is based in Western Kentucky, a bastion of rural Democrats. Then I was informed by Steve Singiser that, under the current map, Democrats came quite close to beating Brett Guthrie in the 2nd once. Now, in this revisitation, I shall attempt to redistrict Kentucky with a shored up 6th for Democrat Ben Chandler and a 2nd more Democratic so as to make it more possible for a Democrat to win. I will still use the 2008 Senate race results between Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Bruce Lunsford to gauge Democratic strength. Once again, I will avoid a hideous gerrymander and try to be realistic considering that Democrats hold the State House and Governorship in Kentucky while the Republicans control the State Senate (same as last decade). According to Ballotpedia, redistricting is usually the last major thing the legislature does before its year-end sine die. Therefore, we probably cannot expect any action here until after the November state government elections. The committees are already named and are listed on Ballotpedia here. Also, in Kentucky, the governor can veto a redistricting bill, so he probably also has a seat at the table.
My Kentucky map now splits fewer counties (in response to a suggestion in the comments section on my last diary) and the deviation of every district from ideal population ranges from 8 to 99.
Furthermore, in this diary, I shall revisit West Virginia redistricting. With the news that Majority Leader and Redistricting Chairman John Unger may be open to drawing Republicans Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley together. Senator Unger also spoke of the possibility of finally waiving the tradition of whole counties in every Congressional district. Although the State Constitution established that tradition, its wording on redistricting and maintaining whole counties is up to interpretation. In this revisitation, I will maintain whole counties, stay under 0.22% deviation from ideal district population (which appears to be the maximum allowed deviation). I will still use the two-party vote from the 2010 Senate special election to gauge Democratic strength in each district.
More below the fold.
Part 1: Revisiting Kentucky
User James Allen drew his own map, inspired by my last diary. This is it:
In the map he drew, his KY-02 (the green district) stretches from westernmost Kentucky, across Kentucky's north side, to Marion County. Lunsford got 48% of the vote here. His KY-01 (the blue district) has its population center in Bowling Green in Warren County and is much more Republican. I think what he really ended up doing here is taking my attempted Democratic gerrymander of KY-01 in my last diary and making it more effective. In my opinion, KY-02 should exclude westernmost Kentucky or else it's essentially a swap of numbers. He also stretched out KY-06 even further than I did and made it quite safely Democratic by making it so Lunsford got 54% of the vote here. Altogether, it's an effective (but non-egregious) gerrymander and will make Kentucky 3-2-1 (R-D-Swing), ratio-wise. He inspired me to reach the same outcome.
My KY-01 (blue) starts in westernmost Kentucky and stretches along Kentucky's southern border to its Republican-heavy south-central region. No chance of a Democrat winning here in any circumstance outside of the miraculous.
My KY-02 starts in Bowling Green's Warren County, traverses up to take Kentucky's Democratic northern border that borders southern Indiana and stretches eastwards to take in Marion and Washington counties. This district is almost as Democratic as the one that James Allen made and could be considered pretty swingy by Kentucky standards.
Statistics: 47.5% Lunsford, 52.5% McConnell
Democrat John Yarmuth's district sees negligible difference and remains the only district in Kentucky that can elect and re-elect a liberal Democrat.
Statistics: 55.8% Lunsford, 44.2% McConnell
Democrat Ben Chandler loses Republican Jessamine County (in addition to the Republican counties I shed from him in my last Kentucky map) and picks up even more Democratic counties in eastern Kentucky. KY-06, once held by the infamous Republican Ernie Fletcher, is now safe for Ben Chandler (his Republican opponent, Andy Barr, will be crushed here) and will favor any Democrat who runs there should Chandler retire this decade. This district is now almost as Democratic as KY-03. The only risk I see for Chandler here is the possibility of a primary challenge from one of the many Dems in East Kentucky. Chandler lives in Woodford County in the western reaches of this district.
Statistics: 55.1% Lunsford, 44.9% McConnell
Unfortunately, as a result of these new district configurations, KY-04 and KY-05 are most certainly out of reach for Democrats, but that's the sacrifice to be made to achieve what I achieved, a 3-2-1 (R-D-Swing) Congressional map.
Deviations from ideal population:
Part 2: Revisiting West Virginia
My new West Virginia map is something of a hybrid of the two separate maps I drew up in my diary on redistricting West Virginia. This map both draws together Republican Congressmen David McKinley (who lives in Wheeling) and Shelley Moore Capito (who lives in Charleston) into WV-01 (red) and makes the new WV-02 (white) something of a vote sink. It also makes minimal changes to WV-03 (blue), adding Mason County and swapping Webster County for Clay County.
Not only is Shelley Moore Capito drawn out of WV-02, but every county surrounding her home of Kanawha County is drawn out. This will make it even harder for her to carpetbag into the new WV-02, leaving her to either try to defeat McKinley in a primary in WV-01 or run for Governor or Senator (and likely lose). WV-01 is also more Democratic than it is under the current map.
The Eastern Panhandle now has greater clout in WV-02.
Democrat Nick Rahall should be absolutely satisfied with this WV-03. Joe Manchin won every county in this district. Four counties went for Manchin by a greater than 2:1 margin.
WV-01: 55.6% Manchin, 44.4% Raese; deviation from ideal of -85
WV-02: 50.7% Manchin, 49.3% Raese; deviation from ideal of +1376
WV-03: 59.6% Manchin, 40.4% Raese; deviation from ideal of -1292
I really hope WV Democrats give serious consideration to the proposal to draw together McKinley and Capito. They should, at the very least, make McKinley's district more Democratic. If they play their cards just right, they could sweep all three districts in 2012.
The WV legislature will hold a Special Session starting August 1st to consider proposals and approve one. Democrats have firm control of the redistricting trifecta (State Senate, State House, Governorship) and hold 4 of the 5 WV Supreme Court seats, so they should seize the opportunity. The WV GOP will not like it one bit, but they could not stop it even if they went all in on challenging the Dems on this. There is no possible application of the VRA in 93.5% Caucasian West Virginia. Also, challenging a Congressional map on the basis of “discrimination against a political party” is a legal non-starter, as shown by the precedent set in 2002 by the SCOTUS.
That's all for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this diary as much as I enjoyed making it.