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I was doing some thinking lately about what we could do with redistricting if we won back the governor's mansions in Alabama, South Carolina, and the legislature in Virginia in 2010.  It looks like we could create at least two more Democratic leaning seats in South Carolina and Virginia alone by reducing the African American percentage to a 49% plurality in the black majority SC-06 and VA-03.  We could also at least make AL-06 somewhat more competitive by reducing the black percentage to a 49% plurality in the black majority AL-07.  

As for Arizona, AZ-02 could be made much more competitve by bringing the Hispanic majority in AZ-04 down to 50%.  

There is no reason why we should have districts that are more than 62% Democratic when these voters could be used to make other more competitve.

Im pretty sure all of these changes would satisfy the Voting Rights Act.  

Alabama changes:

AL-07:  Reduce black percentage to 49% plurality to comply with VRA.  This drops Kerry percentage to 53% from 64%, leaving it a Democratic district.  New PVI:  D+6
Old PVI:  D+17

AL-06:  Raise black percentage to 20%.  Raises Kerry percentage from 22% to 35% and drops Bush percentage from 78% to 65% leaving the district solidly Republican but somewhat more competitive.  New PVI:  R+11.  Old PVI:  R+25

South Carolina changes:

SC-06:  Reduce black percentage to 49% plurality.  Drops Kerry percentage from 61% to 55%, leaving it a safe Democratic district.  New PVI:  D+8.  Old PVI:  D+11

SC-02:  Raises black percentage from 26% to 33%.  Drops Bush percentage from 60% to 54%, making it a competitive district.   New PVI:  R+3.  Old PVI:  R+9

Virginia changes:

VA-03:  Reduces black percentage from 56% to 48%.  Reduces Kerry percentage from 66% to 59%.  New PVI:  D+11.  Old PVI:  D+18.

VA-04:  Raises black percentage from 33% to 41%.  Raises Kerry percentage from 43% to 50%, giving him a narrow win in the district.  New PVI:  D+3.  Old PVI:  R+5.

Arizona changes:

AZ-04:  Drops Hispanic percentage from 58% to 50%.  Drops Kerry’s percentage from 62% to 56%.  New PVI:  D+8.  Old PVI:  D+14.

AZ-02:  Increases Hispanic percentage from 14% to 22%.  Drops Bush percentage to 54% from 61%.  New PVI:  R+2.  Old PVI:  R+9.  

What do you think?

Originally posted to UpstateDem on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 04:00 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Watch the Republicans (0+ / 0-)

    use the Voting Rights Act against us...they've already done that in Georgia to attack attempts to spread out black folks into more districts.

    Je suis Marxiste, tendence Groucho.

    by gracchus on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 04:08:57 PM PST

  •  Good Idea in Theory (0+ / 0-)

    But I suspect, however, that drawing down the minority shares to mere pluralities (or bare majorites, even) would likely run afoul of the standards just articulated this past June by the Supreme Court in League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry in rejecting the redistricting of TX-23.  The Court found that diluting the Latino proportion of the district's citizen voting-age population from 57.5% to slightly over 46% (though the Latino share of total voting-age population remained above 50%) was an impermissible violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  Any redrawing of the districts would require a showing that there is no diminution in the total number of minority opportunity districts in the state, and also that the redrawn districts are "reasonably compact".

    Stating that the new district lines would keep the seat in Democratic hands does not factor into the analysis under the VRA -- only the likelihood of successfully electing minority representatives does.

    And what's not clear from your figures above is what the changed district lines would look like, since it probably isn't the case that the right number of minorities and non-minorities live directly along the districts' boundaries.  Keep in mind that the populations of each district must, under law, have essentially no variation whatsoever among them (i.e., population differences of as few as ten would be problematic).  If you have run computer models for specific boundaries and population combinations that you believe would work, then I'm quite certain that there are plenty of folks who would be interested in seeing your data.

    •  New Court (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not sure the Roberts court would hold to the same standards. I think a 49% district, or a 51% one, would meet the VRA under the Roberts court. And if it didn't, then we have other appeals to maketo the Supreme Court. Sounds like a win-win to me.

      Ecellent Analysis!

      •  Courts (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        trashablanca

        I don't see how the court could make a stink about the lines unless civil rights groups complained about them.  I think that if we were able to get the minority groups on our side with this, we could probably turn this around.  

        A big part of the reason we lost our majority in 1994 was this district segregation that gave the Republicans a monopoly on the Southern House delegation.  We need to change this.

      •  Same Court (0+ / 0-)

        Chief Justice Roberts wrote an opinion in LULAC v. Perry, concurring in part and dissenting in part.  Roberts had been on the court for over five months before the cases were argued on March 1, 2006 (the decision came down on June 28).  Justice Alito had also been on the bench for more than a month at that point.

        Since there's been no change in the composition of the Supreme Court, there's a decent chance that the Court could well refuse to accept a new appeal if the lower courts (district and circuit) apply the reasoning from the LULAC decision.  Since the states at issue here are in the fairly reliably Fourth and Eleventh Circuits, there's a good chance that those rulings would go against us (remember the challenges to redistricting in North Carolina and Georgia), and the Supremes would then decline to get involved.

        Worst case scenario?  The courts strike down the redistricting and impose their own plan (which is what happened after the remand from LULAC with regard to TX-23), and then we end up losing a seat (again, as with TX-23).  Not necessarily a likely outcome, but one that can't entirely be ruled out.

  •  Voting Rights Act requires all those heavily (0+ / 0-)

    minority districts. I'm just psyched that the VRA finally helped us electorally this year in Texas.

    Join the College Kossacks on Facebook, or the Republicans win.

    by DemocraticLuntz on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 04:33:29 PM PST

  •  Arizona (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paradox13

    Realistically, we are on defense in AZ, not offense.  Each house of the legislature is heavily Rep.  I cannot imagine taking them back.  We need to win the Gov race in 2010 or face being badly screwed.  That race should be on everybody's list of key 2010 races.  

    BTW, how close is the VA legislature?

  •  Of course, Arizona will be gaining at least one (0+ / 0-)

    seat, Virginia may gain a seat, and Alabama may lose a seat, so that will have to be taken into account.

    I think the VRA requires a supermajority because black and Hispanic turnout is lower on average.

    Join the College Kossacks on Facebook, or the Republicans win.

    by DemocraticLuntz on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 04:48:39 PM PST

  •  This is a problem for Democrats (3+ / 0-)

    I used the 2006 Almanac Of American Politics to compile a rough estimate of the data.  I was able to play around with the percentages and estimate how many whites would be voting Democratic at the Presidential level.  

    I know in North Carolina, in NC-01 and NC-12, the legislature got away with reducing the black majorities down to pluralities in order to elect Democrats in nearby districts.  

    We really have to do something about that provision in the VRA.  This is really hurting Democrats in the South.  It is estimated that we lost at least 15 House seats in the early 90's alone because of racial gerrymandering.  IKeeping those seats would have left us with a 220-215 House majority after the 1994 elections.  Is there anything that we can do about this problem?

  •  One problem (0+ / 0-)

    Those suggestions for Virginia were so good, they exactly reflect what Republicans did in reverse in 2001.

  •  Virginia (0+ / 0-)

    If we can get back the Virginia legislature and hold onto the governor's mansion in 2009, do you think we could reverse what the GOP did with VA-03 and VA-04?

    •  VA ideas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Skaje

      Northern Virginia:

      All the Democratic areas in the DC suburbs are crammed into VA-8. So what I would do is probably this:

      VA-8 gives up Alexandria and Falls Church, which move into Tom Davis's district. VA-8 stays safely Democratic and perhaps picks up 30,000-50,000 of the most conservative voters in Fairfax County. It keeps 2/3rds of Arlington County, but gives the northern 1/3rd to Frank Wolf.

      VA-10 gives up perhaps parts of Chantilly and Herndon to VA-8, while moving into northern Arlington County. It gives up Winchester and some of the rural Shendendoah counties to the 6th.

      This makes it more friendly to the Democrats.

      VA-11 picks up Alexandria and Falls Church, while giving up the more conservative parts to the 6th and/or 1st district to the south. It gives up the most conservative parts of exurban Prince William County to the 6th or the 7th district. If possible, to make it further amenable to the Democrats, it might make sense to create a short tip that picks up Fredricksburg.

      This way VA-10 and VA-11 become more amenable to the Democrats. The key is to bring these districts closer into the inner suburbs and giving away parts of Arlington County, Alexandria, and Falls Church.

      Tidewater VA:

      Concede the 1st district to Jo An Emerson. Thrown in the most conservative rural Tidewater/Northern Neck towns into this district. Give it Poquousn. But cram in the most rural Tidewater counties into this district. Take Fredricksburg out of it and give it to either VA-8 or VA-11. Also take out Williamsburg and James City.

      VA-3 should give up some of its black precincts in Newport News and Norfolk to VA-2. It should then pick up perhaps the most conservative parts of VA Beach. Isle of Wight of County also leans to the GOP so it should pick that up. It should also have Williamsburg and James City returned to the district, which offsets the addition of Isle of Wight County and VA Beach. VA-3 also picks up the entire city of Richmond.

      VA-4 can become more Democratic by giving up Powhatan and Chestefield counties. It also gives up Colonial Heights, which skews Republican. Those counties turn to the 7th.  Having lost Isle of Wight County to the 3rd it picks up parts of VA Beach. It also extends to the West to perhaps get a few rural counties. It might make sense to extend it to Danville, which has shown some willingness to support Kaine and Webb.

      I would turn VA-7 into a super-Republican district centered on the Richmond suburbs. I would put all of Hanover, Chesterfield, Louisa, and Powhatan county in this district. I would also put Colonial Heights into the district. I would thrown in any and all Republicans in the Richmond area into this district.

      VA-9 is strengthened by giving it Ronoaka City and Charlottesville. That would keep the 9th somewhat more friendly to the Democrats.

      I would then extend VA-5 to include the rest of southside VA and have it run all the way from Lynchburg to the western exurban Loudoun and Prince William County. I might also have it swing and pick up areas that the 7th would lose. I would make this district super-Republican.

      The 6th picks up the Shenendoah areas that Frank Wolf would lose, probably stopping in the western parts of Loudoun County.

      Thus I would concede the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 7th to the Republicans. The 2nd and 4th become more competetive. The 10th and the 11th probably become Democratic-leaning districts, while the 3rd and the 8th remain Democratic friendly. Ideally such a map would be able to provide for 7 Democrats and 4 Republicans.

      What do you all think?

      http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

      by jiacinto on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 08:35:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  OH-14 and OH-11 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hilltopper

    If Stephanie Tubbs Jones would be willing to have her districts black percentage dropped to a 48% plurality, that would drop Kerry's percentage in OH-11 down to 70%, which is still more Democratic than it needs to be and African Americans would remain the majority voting bloc.  The displaced African American voters could be placed in GOPer LaTourette's OH-14, increasing the percentage from 3% to 10%.  This would give Kerry a 51-48 win in OH-14 giving the district a PVI of D+3 rather than R+2.  Im sure there are other examples.  

    This is why we need to get control of more state legislatures and governorships for the next round of redistricting.  If we are not aggressive on redistricting, we will be right back in the minority.  

    •  We need a decent candidate (0+ / 0-)

      in that district.  laTourette can be beaten under the current lines with a good candidate in 2008.

      •  Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        IhateBush, Skaje

        We could pick up as many as 18 seats in these three states alone under the current lines if we ran the kind of populist candidate.  MI-04, MI-06, MI-07, MI-08, MI-09, MI-10, MI-11, OH-01, OH-02, OH-03, OH-12, OH-14, OH-15, OH-16, PA-03, PA-06, PA-15, and PA-18 are all winnable under their current lines.  None of them, with the exception of OH-02 gave Bush more than 54% of the vote in 2004.  

  •  My responses (0+ / 0-)

    Alabama changes:

    AL-07:  Reduce black percentage to 49% plurality to comply with VRA.  This drops Kerry percentage to 53% from 64%, leaving it a Democratic district.  New PVI:  D+6
    Old PVI:  D+17

    That is too low of a PVI. 53% isn't enough. You would probably need to keep the black precntage above 50%. Perhaps having at 55% black and a Democratic Performance of 55-57% would be enough to keep it safely Democratic. A 53% Democratic district gives the GOP too much opportunity to win it.

    AL-06:  Raise black percentage to 20%.  Raises Kerry percentage from 22% to 35% and drops Bush percentage from 78% to 65% leaving the district solidly Republican but somewhat more competitive.  New PVI:  R+11.  Old PVI:  R+25

    This district is best left heavily Republican. If the Democrats do control redistricting in the 2010 census this district should be made as white and pro-Republican s possible. This is perhaps the most Republican congressional district in the United States. It should be made more so.

    South Carolina changes:

    SC-06:  Reduce black percentage to 49% plurality.  Drops Kerry percentage from 61% to 55%, leaving it a safe Democratic district.  New PVI:  D+8.  Old PVI:  D+11

    Again this district should have at leasa 51% black population. Otherwise it won't satisfy the VRA most likely, given SC's historical problems with race. A 55% Kerry district probably makes this safe enough for a Democrat to win.

    SC-02:  Raises black percentage from 26% to 33%.  Drops Bush percentage from 60% to 54%, making it a competitive district.   New PVI:  R+3.  Old PVI:  
    R+9

    This sounds realistic.

    Virginia changes:

    VA-03:  Reduces black percentage from 56% to 48%.  Reduces Kerry percentage from 66% to 59%.  New PVI:  D+11.  Old PVI:  D+18.

    This one might be allowed, but it might be good to keep the black percentage above 50% just to comply with the VRA.

    VA-04:  Raises black percentage from 33% to 41%.  Raises Kerry percentage from 43% to 50%, giving him a narrow win in the district.  New PVI:  D+3.  Old PVI:  R+5.

    This is realistic. One way to make the Hampton Roads/Tidewater VA districts is to divide Virigina Beach. That is, give the most conservative parts of VA Beach to Bobby Scott in VA-3 and maybe give another chunk to VA-4.

    Arizona changes:

    AZ-04:  Drops Hispanic percentage from 58% to 50%.  Drops Kerry’s percentage from 62% to 56%.  New PVI:  D+8.  Old PVI:  D+14.

    AZ has a nonpartisan board. So it will be hard to get a new map.

    AZ-02:  Increases Hispanic percentage from 14% to 22%.  Drops Bush percentage to 54% from 61%.  New PVI:  R+2.  Old PVI:  R+9.  

    See what I said above.

    What do you think?

    http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

    by jiacinto on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 08:14:04 PM PST

    •  Percentages (0+ / 0-)

      I sort of agree with you on AL-06, but I keep remembering that as recently as 1992, populist Democrat Ben Erdreich used to win here when it was the Birmingham swing district, which would have barely gone for Bush in 2004 if the lines were the same.  I guess there is really no way to make that a swing district again without drastically sucking the black majority out of AL-07.  Maybe its possible to make AL-04 more competitive?  I know that even Michael Dukakis came within single digits of Bush there back in 1988.

      I forgot that Arizona has a non-partisan board.  It should have been obvious to me as none of the districts voted for either Kerry or Bush by more than a 20 point margin.  Voters look like they are spread out fairly enough here.

      In regards to SC, as long as there are more blacks in the district than whites, no matter how small the margin, I believe it satisfies the VRA.  The Dem legislature did a terrific job with this is NC, where NC-01 and NC-12 were supposed to be black majority but they were able to make them as close as possible(48%-46% black and 46%-45% black respectively) in order to elect more Democrats in other districts.  This is part of the reason why Kissel almost beat Hayes in NC-08.  This needs to be done in South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama if we can ever get full control their again with a populist economic message mixed with social conservativism.

      •  Well (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not sure what the VRA requires out of SC. AL-6 is hopeless. Honestly, unless the AL-7 were to be completely dismantled, AL-6 is safely Republican no matter what. For AL-6 to become a swing district it would have to include all of black Birmingham. AL-6 is best left as a very heavily Republican district.

        http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

        by jiacinto on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 09:17:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  AL-06 and AL-07 (0+ / 0-)

          You are probably right about AL-06.  I am just trying to think of what could possibly be done with all of those extra Democratic voters in AL-07.  I mean the district gave 64% of the vote to John Kerry.  That is a lot of "wasted" votes that could be used elseware.  

          •  Yeah I know (0+ / 0-)

            I am sure that they probably could be given to other districts.

            http://www.keen.com/jiacinto For DC related travel advice, please visit that link.

            by jiacinto on Mon Dec 25, 2006 at 09:55:25 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  AL-03 (0+ / 0-)

            is the only competitive district in Alabama.  Mike Rogers (R) barely won it in 2002, then won 60-40% in 2004 and 2006 against no-name opponents who barely spent any money.  The Alabama legislature, still controlled by Democrats, meant for it to be winnable by a conservative Democrat, but can't seem to find anyone to build upon the 40% floor that Rogers' opponents seem to have.

            I'm not sure if any of the AL-07 voters could be squeezed into AL-03 short of drastically overhauling the entire congressional map.

            •  AL-03 (0+ / 0-)

              If we seriously contest that race in 2008 with a Brad Ellsworth or Joe Donnelly style pro-gun and pro-life, but economically populist Democrat, that seat would go Democratic in a heartbeat.

              •  AL-04 (0+ / 0-)

                What the hell happened to AL-04?  Under its current lines, Bush 41 only beat Dukakis by a 57%-43% margin, yet Bush 43 clobbered Kerry with a 71%-29% margin.

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