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Update 1 - I have added Connecticut and changed the maps for Louisiana, Michigan,
                 New Jersey, and the national maps.
Update 2 - I have improved the Illinois map with significant changes.
Update 3 - I have improved the 1VRA seat Alabama map and added one for Louisiana
                 and South Carolina.

In the wake of the 2012 House of Representatives election, we were left with a situation where Democrats won the House popular vote yet failed to regain the House. While it is a documented phenomenon that electing the House by single member districts disadvantages Democrats given our relatively higher geographic concentration, there is debate within the political science community as to whether or not gerrymandering was the determinant cause or whether single-member districts are to blame. Some have attempted to use statistics and regression to approach the problem, but to me this approach is fundamentally flawed because at the end of the day, the only alternative is to draw another map. In this diary I have done just that, using Dave's Redistricting App and relying on my extensive knowledge from years of reading Daily Kos Elections, conversations with redistricting experts, and research into communities of interest that might constitute a non-partisan drawn map.

My hypothesis is simple, yet proving and refuting it is not; if every state in the nation had drawn maps using the criteria of the California citizens' redistricting commission of solely VRA compliance, communities of interest, and local jurisdictional integrity without sacrificing the other two, then Democrats would have retaken the House in 2012.

In attempting to show that this is so, below the fold I'll present my alternative maps drawn with those criteria for the 34 states where gerrymandering, partisan or otherwise, had an appreciable impact upon the line drawing. First though, let's look at both the current House districts and the net impact of what nationwide California-style maps might look like. I am using California's independent commission as the model because it was widely praised by non-partisan interest groups as a model of fairness in taking the power to choose their voters out of the congress members' hands.

First off let's look at the actual districts with redistricting control highlighted:
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(Click through most maps for larger image)
Dark Blue/Red Controlled by Democrats/Republicans
Light Blue/Light Red Bipartisan Commission favoring one party over the other
Yellow Truly Nonpartisan/Independent Commission
Green Court Drawn
Purple Partisan Compromise
Gray At Large State

As should be immediately obvious, Republicans had a huge advantage over Democrats to the extent that they controlled the redistricting process, even in normally blue states such as Michigan, Pennslvania, and Wisconsin. Democrats also compounded the problem by not drawing maximally effective gerrymanders in several of the states we controlled such as but by no means limited to Arkansas. In total Republicans drew outright 217, just one shy of the majority of the House districts. When you include states where they were able to push their own compromise maps in New Jersey and Washington, that number goes up to 234. Democrats by contrast just drew 44 districts or roughly 1/5th as many as Republicans. When you include the compromise map that was largely Democratic drawn in Oregon, that number is still just a measly 49.

Next let's look at the presidential election by district:
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And that same data presented as a histogram:
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Giving you an idea of how hard it will be to retake the house as drawn, the median district is WA-03 at R+2.8 meaning that Mitt Romney won it by 1.6% despite losing by 4% nationally. The overall skewness was approximately .470 to the right with many districts being clustered in the relatively safe R+6 to R+15 range while Democrats are packed into much fewer but bluer districts. Overall, there were 209 Obama districts and 226 Romney districts while just 195 were D+ and a whopping 240 were R+.

Nationally, Democrats won the House popular vote by 50.6% to 49.4% overall (two party only), however this is with many more districts being uncontested by Democrats than Republicans. If we extrapolate out for the uncontested seats the percentage of votes won by congressional candidates compared to the presidential election by district, we come to a popular vote of Dem 51.2% to Republicans 48.8% which I believe and others have shown statically that this should be sufficient for Democrats to retake the house, IF the lines weren't so biased.

Subsequently, Democrats only won 201 seats or just 46.4% overall with just 9 Romney district Dems and 15 Obama district Republicans:
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Light blue is Romney-Dem while pink is Obama-Republican

So what might the districts look like if they were redrawn nationally by an independent commission similar to that in California? Below is my best attempt for the 34 relevant states (with the detail below the fold):
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And colored by their estimated 2012 presidential results:
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And presented as a histogram:
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As you can see, the districts are much more evenly distributed though there is still a milder GOP skewness of .356. Overall the median district is now AZ-02 (and represented by a Democrat) at R+0.6 and went for Obama by 2.7%, a difference of a 4.3% margin. Now there are a total 237 Obama districts to just 198 that went for Romney, which is much more reflective of Obama's 4% national win. However there are still a majority of R+ districts but it is much reduced to just 223 compared to 212 D+ ones.

So how might the House of Representatives elections played out under the preceding map? Here are my (imperfect) race ratings for the districts which rely mainly on the underlying electoral data but also makes a few assumptions about candidate quality I'll explain later:
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All remaining districts are safe and total 177D-154R for a total of 216 at least Lean D and 193 at least Lean R.

Given these ratings and how I feel making calls, the range I'll project for the difference between the actual election and how it might have happened under these lines is as follows:
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Districts in vivid blue or red are those that I feel strongly confident would have changed hands, while those in light blue and pink are those where it's plausible the outcome might have changed but if forced to chose don't think would have flipped or not flipped, with light blue being possible yet not probable Dem wins and pink being vice-versa.

Overall, I believe that Democrats would have won 224-234 seats under lines resembling these, not only winning us a majority but a working one at that, yielding us a generic ballot in the D+2-3 range consistent with the accurate pollsters who nailed the presidential election. The net gain stands at 23-33 from the 201 that we currently hold.

So with the lines this stacked against us, what can we do about it? As I've written about previously and in much greater detail, we should be doing everything within our power to pursue independent redistricting commission constitutional amendment initiatives in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Nebraska, and Arkansas (in that order) which could have yielded us an additional 10-12 seats last year which is more than halfway to 17.

If you want to check any of my data, here is the spreadsheet with all 435 districts and here is the folder containing them by individual state with more detailed data as well as the individual DRA files. All of this was collected either from the relevant state board of elections equivalent or Daily Kos Elections itself. So now follow me over the fold to look at the maps and data in depth. If you have a well-reasoned critique of one of my maps and a detailed justification for why something should be changed, then I welcome your viewpoint. Keep in mind that I can't be an expert on cultural geography in every state and that I have tried my best to approximate Communities of Interest (CoI) the way the California map does.


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Alabama has a Republican gerrymander that sought to shore up the recently recaptured 2nd against Bobby Bright. This state though, more than the vast majority of states is where the VRA ought to be enforced to the hilt and it is my belief that the state, being a quarter black, should have two VRA mandated black majority districts. It is ridiculously easy to draw a 2nd one; I only split 6 counties in the entire map and nothing double crosses. The only 'ugly' thing about it is that it uses water contiguity but this could be alleviated with precinct splitting. Some might complain that we can't force a Mobile to Montgomery district, but then why are the current iterations of SC-06  and VA-03 required when they unnecessarily travels from Charleston to Columbus and Hampton Roads to Richmond, respecitvely? Under this map, any generic Democrat wins in a cakewalk in the 2nd district.

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However, if we're going to disagree that a 2nd VRA district is required, that still leaves us with a 2nd solidly Democratic district. As you can see, it was quite easy to create one VRA black majority district that is confined entirely to the Black Belt region of Alabama and is anchored by Montgomery. The district only splits 3 counties and would be safe for an additional Democrat as an open seat in 2012. This allows me to take Birmingham and nearly every single one of its suburbs and place them in the same district. Obama won it by almost exactly his national margin and it would have been perfectly safe for incumbent Teri Sewell in presidential years, but she would have to work for it in a midterm. You could alternatively draw it so that the 6th takes in all of Jefferson county and a tiny bit of Shelby, but since it had to have some of the latter anyway I figured I'd try to drop all of the rural areas and take in as many suburbs as possible. None of the other districts is really competitive, with the least red being the 5th which is about the same partisanship as the state. Current 6th district incumbent Spencer Bachus would have no district he could win.


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Arizona had an independent redistricting commission pass its map and while I certainly love the idea of gauging partisan competitiveness when drawing the lines as it eliminates the structural GOP bias from single member districts, this is not the same criteria as used in California and is certainly not non-partisan. Given that this is conservative Arizona, considering competitiveness led to a mildly Dem friendly map. Arizona was the only state where Dems won a minority of the vote and a majority of the seats.

The big difference here is the 1st district which gains the rest of Pinal County, all of Cochise, and drops Flagstaff to become several points more conservative. Kirkpatrick would have come close, but still lost to Jonathan Paton. Ironically it's as conservative as the old one she won in 2008 and narrowly lost in 2010. The other differences are that the 2nd, by dropping Cochise County, gets a small amount more favorable to Dems and would have seen Ron Barber win somewhat more comfortably though still close against Martha McSally. Then, there is the 9th district which is the real question mark on the map. There are many ways to draw it, but this one tries to preserve the CoI of the neighboring 5th and 6th as much as possible which means the district is largely Tempe, south Scottsdale, minimal parts of Phoenix, and the more Hispanic and middle/lower-class parts of western Mesa/Chandler. Obama still narrowly won here and as Kyrsten Sinema only barely ran behind him in the two party vote share, she'd have likely narrowly won here too over Vernon Parker with the Libertarian again playing spoiler. The 3rd district is somewhat less liberal but still pretty safe and no other district's partisanship has significant change.


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Arkansas was a state where, despite Democrats controlling redistricting, saw Republicans sweep the 4 seats thanks to a dummymander that tried to make 3 of them winnable rather than 2. As such, no seat is optimized for Democrats, but that changes here. By adding Pine Bluff and the rest of the Delta region, the 1st district is now a whole 8% more Democratic than the state at large and most likely would have drawn a much more formidable Democrat such as 2010 nominee Chad Causey, rather than small time and woefully underfunded prosecutor Scott Ellington. Despite having massive spending advantages, the Republican candidates only won 55% here and against a well-funded Blue Dog as Causey would have been, I think that we could have won this seat. Even Blanche Lincoln won 48.4% here in 2010 and no other Democrat besides her was held below 56% even though Republicans won three statewide offices that year. So I feel pretty good about us winning it, especially since it has the parts of Arkansas where local Democrats usually run far ahead of the president.

The other district that remains in play is still the 2nd which is trending Dem relative to the state (which itself is trending GOP). We nominated a total 3rd tier candidate in liberal lawyer and former state Rep. Herb Rule who ran behind Obama, most likely due to undervoting. Had we nominated a serious candidate, it's certainly within reason that we could have won here with the Libertarian who took 4% playing spoiler. Obama won nearly 44% here and it isn't unreasonable to see a Blue Dog running just a mere 4% ahead. Again, it would all come down to counter-factual candidate recruitment so I didn't include this one in my tally, but it would certainly be competitive if we fielded a serious candidate. The flip side of all this is that the 4th becomes more Republican but seeing as how we lost it massively and I doubt Mike Ross wouldn't have retired as he wanted to run for governor next year, it doesn't matter.


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Colorado's map was court-drawn but wasn't entirely non-partisan. The state level (IIRC) court asked for submissions from the two parties and the Democrats' proposal won out, ironically to our detriment. Their proposal was crafted so that state Senate President Brandon Shaffer could run for congress and among other things I don't think were particularly logical for a CoI map, put the Ken Caryl area with the Denver district rather than the Jefferson County suburban 7th. I've corrected for this and it subsequently forced the 1st and then 6th to rotate counter-clockwise which puts the nail in the coffin for Mike Coffman. The district gets 2.5% more favorable to Democrats and seeing how he only won by 2%, he's toast. It's also possible that someone like Andrew Romanoff, who is running against Coffman this cycle, might have run with the enticement of a House majority or better recruiting in a more optimistic environment, but that is essentially unknowable. Finally, while the 1st through 5th remain the same in partisanship, the 7th gets knocked down to being just modestly Dem leaning, but Ed Perlmutter is an entrenched incumbent and wouldn't have had much trouble last year.


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This map was drawn by DKEr ProudNewEnglander, a Connecticut native, and it undoes what was essentially a holdover from the compromise map from 2002 when the state lost a district in reapportionment even though the current map was court-drawn. The big change is that the 5th district becomes slightly worse for Dems to the point where it becomes a tossup, but seeing as it's still slightly D+ and only gets a point worse on average, I think Esty would narrowly prevail.


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Florida saw yet another Republican gerrymander, but with the power of the ballot initiative could potentially see a map like this enacted. I will admit that I wasn't exactly sure what the hell to do with some of the huge counties like Miami Dade that also had VRA concerns, but I generally tried to make all three Hispanic VRA seats relatively equally as Hispanic so as not to pack them.

Anyway, what would be guaranteed to happen is that the 13th district gets much more Democratic thanks to absorbing St. Petersburg. Bill Young has been dragged kicking and screaming from not retiring in recent cycles and in the face of a legitimate blue seat at age 82 I think he'd do just that in which case this becomes an easy pick up. Even if he doesn't though, the district gets 4.5% more Democratic which cuts off 9% of Young's 15% margin and that was against a very underfunded candidate so it's very possible he may have just flat out lost, albeit narrowly. The other guaranteed pick up is the 10th where Dan Webster, who nearly lost an R+6/7 district, gets a D+7 one and is toast against former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings. Joe Garcia, who destroyed scandal plagued Rep. David Rivera in a swing district gets a safe one in South Florida.

Unfortunately though, the 5th district becomes only mildly Dem leaning, but given that this is the Deep South and Republicans hold not even zero D+ districts there, but zero Obama districts there, we'd hold this seat with someone in the Sanford Bishop mold like Jacksonville mayor Alvin Brown but possibly not incumbent Corrine Brown. Furthermore, and this might have just been my ignorance in drawing the lines, but given how close his narrow victory over Allen West was and the fact that Rooney would probably run in the 18th, Patrick Murphy is out of luck and almost certainly wouldn't have won, even over West disturbingly. This area of the state is trending Republican though and Murphy will likely run statewide at some point, so I wouldn't mind trading this district for two solid liberal ones in Orlando and Pinellas County. Finally, the 2nd district, which was eminently winnable with the right candidate, gets very slightly more favorable to Dems.


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Moving on is Georgia which Republicans also gerrymandered. Here it's all upside as John Barrow gets a district he'd have easily held onto last year and where we would potentially be able to hold it if he ever runs statewide. Rob Woodall gets an Obama district with just northern DeKalb and most of Gwinnett County and he would have almost certainly lost as a hard righter in an Obama district in the South. Sanford Bishop' district should have been made to be majority Black to comply with the VRA and I have done that here, bumping it up about 1%. No other district becomes competitive though, but since Barrow was originally supposed to be an underdog and his actual seat is gone if he ever vacates it, this is essentially a +2.


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Being one of the few states that Democrats aggressively gerrymandered, Illinois is one where we actually see some major downside. This map was largely influenced by one drawn by user GaleForceBurg Right off the bat, Cheri Bustos likely loses the 17th in a close match as does Bill Foster in a rematch against 14th district incumbent Randy Hultgren. Both the 8th and 10th become tossups, with Tammy Duckworth running in the neighboring Lean D 9th while Jan Schakowsky and Mike Quigley duke it out in the much safer 5th. The 10th would have been one of the closest races in the country last year as it gets slightly more Republican on average, but slightly better for Obama making it quite hard to make a conclusive decision. Still I think Schneider would have eked it out, but we're definitely talking recount territory here. In the adjacent 8th, Joe Walsh actually gets a Republican leaning district, but he likely faces a much more moderate Democrat than Tammy Duckworth, who barely ran any sort of negative campaign against him. Given Walsh's extremism and personal issues such as being delinquent on over $100,000 in child support, I think our candidate could run the requisite 2% ahead of Obama to beat him as he really was a fluke in 2010. Lastly, we have the downstate districts where Bill Enyart sees a slightly narrow but still fairly comfortable win in the 12th, while David Gill loses by a slightly larger margin in the still competitive 13th. The most amazing thing to me about this map is just how many districts are competitive with a full 10 out of the 18 being swingable under the right conditions.


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Indiana saw yet another Republican gerrymander, but unlike previous states it was fairly mild in that it could have targeted the 7th and made the 2nd much more Republican by trading South Bend to the 1st, but in the end it was fairly effective in producing the intended result of 7-2. This map makes the 2nd more of a swing district and given how poorly wacky Jackie Walorski did against Brendan Mullen despite a moderate spending advantage, there's little chance she'd have won this 2% more Dem district when she only won by 2%. There's also the possibility that Joe Donnelly wouldn't have run for senate in which case his incumbency makes this an easier hold. Additionally, the 9th becomes much more competitive locally as southern Indiana is an area where Obama underperforms local Dems in a big way. I'm assuming that Shelli Yoder would have gotten more outside funding here and made a race of it, or that we might have gotten a more seasoned candidate (a Baron Hill rematch perhaps?) and though we more likely that not would have still lost it, it's certainly within reason to think we might have won. Additionally, the 8th is more or less the same partisan wise and Dave Crooks turned out to be a bit of a dud against the underwhelming Larry Buschon so the only way we'd have won that is if the chance at a majority enticed Brad Ellsworth into running again, which is of course unknowable. Finally, the 5th becomes an Obama '08 district but is still fairly Republican at about the same partisanship of the state. Had Dan Burton not retired he might have lost, but Susan Brooks or David McIntosh would have won here just not with 60%.


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Iowa is an odd state to include because it already has a very effectively non-partisan commission drawing the lines. However I felt that it was worth drawing a different map for precisely one reason: the Iowa constitution does not allow for county splits and encourages the lowest population deviation. Indeed, under the actual map no district is more than 100 people off of the ideal. That led to the state being sliced rather like a square pizza and splitting the greater Des Moines area. Here I've rectified that while still preserving county integrity and keeping the deviation within 1%, something that the courts similarly allowed in West Virginia which also doesn't split counties. Subsequently, while the 1st and 2nd are relatively unchanged, the 3rd gets a good deal more Democratic. Unfortunately though, Tom Latham is a very strong incumbent while Leonard Boswell had pathetic fundraising and he would have still lost here, but it would have been a hell of a lot narrower than 9% and if Latham had run statewide as he is rumored to, this would have been a much easier pick up. The flip side is that Steve King gets a much safer perch and probably wouldn't ever run statewide, but with his hesitation to do so this cycle that wouldn't really matter.


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Kentucky is a state which has divided government and rather than have a court draw the lines like this, had the legislature compromise on an incumbent "protection" plan that backfired when Ben Chandler, who voted for cap and trade, lost big among normally conservadem heavy coal counties. This map undoes the incumbent protection which, while the Obama numbers are a very poor indicator, makes the 1st and 5th several points more Democratic while the 6th gets slightly more Republican. Still, the coal heavy east and west of the state are trending sharply Republican while the middle is trending Democratic so the partisan outcome is relatively minimal. While Chandler's 6th district relies less on coal Dems for its Dem strength, he still would have lost as he ran a poor campaign, but his cap and trade vote was the nail in the coffin of his political career.


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Louisiana, more than almost any state besides Mississippi is one of the most racially polarized in the nation and as such I think it is ridiculous that it is not required to draw a second VRA majority black district when it clearly is the case that the white majority votes as a block to deny the black minority the ability to elect the candidate of its choice. The state is also nearly a 3rd black, yet it only has 1/6 districts being black majority. Here I've changed that while trying to keep the map as clean as possible with minimal parish (county) splits and no water contiguity across the opposite shores of lake Pontchartrain. The 2nd district is still majority black while the new 4th district stretches from Baton Rouge to Shreveport and is majority black as well while splitting all of four parishes. This district is similar on the face of it to the 1992 version that was struck down by lower level courts, but that one took a hacksaw to cities and Parishes while this one does not.

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However, like with Alabama even if you're not sold on mandating the second VRA district, it's quite difficult to get a map that doesn't result in two Democrats. Starting with the premise that drawing a Baton Rouge to Shreveport district can't be forced, we go back to the drawing board. If you try to maintain the New Orleans based 2nd district as the VRA seat, you're required to shred apart both the greater Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas and that is purely unnecessary. The old 2nd district was contained entirely within the New Orleans area and it just so happens that you can fit almost the entirety of the metro area in one compact district. That allows the Baton Rouge based 6th to become a fairly compact VRA district without even setting foot in New Orleans. A bonus is that racial polarization is much higher here anyway compared to the New Orleans area. As such, you get two still safe Democratic districts, but the New Orleans one now might elect a white liberal like Mitch Landrieu, the current very popular mayor. From a purely electoral standpoint, this map is actually better than the 2VRA one because the 4th district in the north of the state is now theoretically winnable whereas before none of the others were. Finally, instead of giving then Rep. Landry the short end of the stick like the actual map did, his seat is revived as the Acadiana based 3rd and 4th district Rep. John Fleming keeps his seat. In exchange, Charles Boustany is thrown in at a disadvantage with 5th district Rep. Rodney Alexander while Reps Steve Scalise and Bill Cassidy would both run in the 1st unless Cassidy retired early for his 2014 senate run.


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Showing you just how few opportunities saw Democrats take advantage of gerrymandering, Maryland is just the only other state we drew where non-partisan maps lose us seats. Democrats in the state easily could have drawn an 8-0 map but the demands of John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger scuttled that and forced us to only draw 7-1. As such, we lose just one district, the 6th when a non-partisan map is implemented. Though it is possible to draw iterations where the 2nd or 5th become nominally swingy, these are done in VRA non-compliant ways that pack the neighboring VRA black majority 4th and 7th too much. About the only ugly thing here is that the 2nd uses water contiguity, but that is unavoidable without splitting Baltimore proper illegally or packing the 7th. As such, this map would be a very solid 6-2, just like last decade's.


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Massachusetts is another state Democrats drew but there was relatively little gerrymandering done to protect our vulnerable seats and indeed, this map even makes the most vulnerable one John Tierney's 6th, a point more Democratic. The biggest losers are the 2nd, 4th, 8th, and 9th districts but every single one on the map is still pretty solidly Democratic thanks to incumbency, strong candidates like Joe Kennedy III, and their partisanship. I tried to minimize town splits as counties are not really relevant in New England. This map, like the real one, still results in 9-0 and if anything is slightly better since Tierney, who only won by a point last year, gets a better seat.


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Michigan was drawn by Republicans and is an absolute bonanza when a non-partisan map is implemented which is why we'd be fools not to put an amendment on the ballot next year to do just that. Michigan was one of just 4 states where Democrats won a majority of the vote and a minority of the seats and here that would change. The 1st district remains more or less the same and we really fumbled it by not winning it last year. The 4th and 6th districts though, which had otherwise safe incumbents, get significantly more Democratic to the point where Obama actually carried them last year. We probably wouldn't have won either, but the 4th district in particular is one where Obama relatively underperformed the average and the candidates running where the district lies won 45.3% despite none of its territory being in an actually competitive race last year. We might just have won the 6th though, particularly if Mark Schauer, whose base of Battle Creek is added to the district, decided to run. Upton had his worst showing in a long time last year against a totally underfunded lower tier candidate, yet Democratic candidates won a combined 46% here so it would definitely be within reach.

Moving on, the seats I think we'd actually change the outcome in are without a doubt the 7th and 11th. In the 7th, Tim Walberg gets a Dem leaning district where he'd have likely lost seeing as our underfunded candidates won 47.3% and our bench is incredibly deep here. Had someone such as senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer run I definitely think she would have won as outside groups like the DCCC absolutely would have targeted Walberg pretty much regardless. Then, we come to the 11th which our Democratic candidates won outright massively and Obama easily carried with nearly 57% of the vote. Given that David Curson, a total stand in candidate, carried a nearly identical if not more Republican district over Kerry Bentivolio in the 2012 special election for Thad McCotters seat, this one becomes a slam dunk, especially if John Dingell ran here.

The flip side of this is that both of Sandy Levin and Gary Peters get drawn into the same district where either Levin just retires or Peters does before he runs for senate in 2014.


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Missouri saw all of the Republicans plus a few Democrats who crossed over vote to override Dem governor Jay Nixon's veto of their gerrymander with his implicit help. However the outrage among Democrats, including myself at the time, is truly misplaced as the partisan effect of that plan was minimal and if anything only shored up the 5th district for us as it only tried to block an Ike Skelton comeback which was never in the cards. Here I've tried to draw a more non-partisan plan though, and aside from the 4th district getting marginally more Democratic yet still solidly Republican, there was really little change. Missouri took a hard right turn in 2012, especially outside of the major cities and as such we stand zero chance at winning any of the other 6 districts. Russ Carnahan got screwed over the instant that Missouri lost a district as the VRA forces the 2nd to become a significantly R leaning district regardless when St. Louis can only support two districts. FWIW, Claire McCaskill did carry everything but the 7th and 8th though.


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Nebraska saw perhaps the most minimalist Republican gerrymander possible yet it still appeared to have made the difference. The 2nd district is far and away the best for federal Democrats and Republicans made it about 1.6% better for Mitt Romney's margin than this map I've drawn which didn't carve Bellevue and Offutt Air Force Base out from the 2nd in favor of rural Sarpy County. As it turned out, Douglas County Treasurer and heavily underfunded candidate John Ewing came withing that same 1.6% of winning here in 2012 so just using those data points, the race would have been a total coin flip. It gets better though, as the 2nd district was an Electoral Vote that Obama won in historic fashion in 2008 and as drawn above only saw Romney win by 5%. It is certainly within the realm of reason to think that either A) the DCCC/HMP would have helped out Ewing more and put him over the top, or B) the Obama campaign might have invested some in the ground game here as they were already blanketing the airways to reach neighboring Iowa. Either one causes a Ewing win while the district lines themselves might have indeed done so as well. Either way, the seat would be a tossup but I'd put our odds at somewhere over 50%. But wait, there's more! Nebraska has the ballot initiative and if we were really crafty we could try to put an Arizona style commission on the ballot that considered competitiveness (hey it passed in Arizona...) which would put the nail in Lee Terry's coffin and make the electoral vote more competitive.

New Hampshire

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New Hampshire saw Republican legislators use their supermajorities to pass a plan that tried to juggle the demands of two competing Republican incumbents. As it happened, they rather foolishly decided to marginally protect the 1st district and lost both instead of vote sink the 2nd and keep a 1-1 split. Here though, I've reunited the Merrimack Valley (or most of it anyway) in the 1st district which with the presence of Nashua moves it slightly to the left. The partisan outcome change is negligible though as both Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter still would have won last year by about 5 each, but for CSP that would be slightly easier to hold in the future and vice versa for Kuster.

New Jersey

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New Jersey is a state which, befitting its image of corruption, has a bipartisan commission that normally functions to just protect incumbents. Normally that is, but instead Chris Christie used the power of the purse to threaten the Rutgers program of normal tiebreaker and redistricting expert professor Alan Rosenthal, causing him to drop out of contention. Democrats then foolishly agreed to the replacement of former Republican acting governor John Farmer who predictably sided with the Republican map as tiebreaker. As such, we got a modest Republican gerrymander in yet another blue state.

In this map, the 3rd district is dismantled and reconfigured to combine Rush Holt and Jon Runyan in a Safe D district. Holt could either run here or in the neighboring Safe D 12th. Frank Pallone unfortunately gets a tossup district 6 that he would have only won thanks to Hurricane Sandy boosting incumbents and his $3 million war chest. It is possible he might have run in the 12th though despite not living there, in which case the district would be potentially harder to hold, though we could run someone less liberal. Scott Garrett gets screwed by being combined with Leonard Lance and his 5th district is reconfigured as a suburban safe D district. Rothman is still combined with Pascrell and might have run there instead. All in all this map likely goes 8-4 last year, but Pallone's 6th would be a tough hold for him.

New Mexico

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New Mexico was a court-drawn state but saw the court ask the two parties for proposals. Democrats proposed strongly packing the 2nd district, to which the court balked and instituted a least change map. While I'm by no means an expert on New Mexico, I still feel like the actual map isn't quite what a CoI criteria commission would draw. This map is slightly different and splits fewer counties, but the effect is the same of being a solid 2-1.

North Carolina

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Finally we get to my home state of North Carolina which Republicans disgustingly gerrymandered the living shit out of. The state was one of four to give Democrats the popular vote majority yet nearly gave Republicans a 10-3 advantage if not for a few hundred votes. Predictably, a non-partisan map causes them to lose big and there's no downside to Democrats. Mike McIntyre gets a much safer district he'd have held with ease, while the disgusting I-85 Charlotte to the Triad gerrymander is dismantled. Mel Watt gets a safe compact Charlotte district while the 9th disappears and is reconstituted as a compact safe D Triad area seat. Brad Miller also sees his district revived as a safe D Wake County-centric seat without hurting David Price. Renee Ellmers gets a much more Democratic district similar to the old 2nd which she barely won against a tarnished incumbent in 2010 of all years. If Larry Kissell, who represented much of Fayetteville, had decided to run here I think he'd have won relatively easily, but regardless I think that the Dems win so long as Bob Etheridge wasn't hopelessly destroyed by his "who are you!?!" moment. Obama won 47.6% here but relatively underperformed and Democratic candidates won 49.3% here despite not running competitive campaigns in all but one county in the district. Finally, we get to the 11th which is just about a slam dunk for Heath Shuler, who only retired after his district was destroyed in redistricting. Our underfunded Democrats won roughly 49% here and with Shuler's 3 term incumbency and wide win in 2010, there is practically no chance he'd have lost. In all that results in D+4 and a return to 8-5 largely thanks to the strength of our incumbents.


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More than any other state, Ohio probably yields us the most seats when we dismantle the Republican gerrymander. This was a state where Dems won roughly half the vote yet got 25% of the seats. So starting off, we have the 1st district which contracts to just Cincinnati and its inner suburbs and goes from a solid Romney district to one where Obama won over 56%. Our total sacrificial lamb candidates won a combined 49% here and if someone like former Rep. Steve Driehaus or Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory ran this would be a relatively easy pick up against the hard right Steve Chabot. The rest of the southwest and center of the state are relatively the same, but it's the north and east where we have a field day. Without the Toledo to Cleveland Gerrymander, the 9th is unpacked and the 5th becomes a marginally D+ district that we'd have picked up with a competent campaign in the political environment that was 2012; indeed our candidates won 54% there in 2012. The 6th district also moves left enough to be a coin flip for the recently deceased Charlie Wilson (meaning that a special would have been required had he won but that's another story). Wilson lost by just over 6% and the district gets over 3% better and has more of his old base in the form of his state legislative districts in it, which leads me to believe he'd have narrowly prevailed over Johnson and certainly would have gotten more DCCC funding as a strong former incumbent.

Moving onto the northeast, we see the LaTourette-mander dismantled with the northeast corner merged with the Youngstown area. Since LaTourette retired, Tim Ryan would have wiped the floor with David Joyce in this 57% Obama district. Adjacent to it, Betty Sutton's Safe D Akron district is revived where she'd have cruised, while unfortunately Dennis Kucinich, last seen becoming a Fox News contributor and flirting with running in Washington state, gets his West Cleveland district back. Still, even Kucinich would have a hard time losing this 57.4% Obama district though it's not guaranteed he'd have even won the primary. Finally, I emphatically do not believe that the 11th should be required to racially gerrymander its way down to Akron to be majority black. Racial polarization here is far lower than it is in places like the Deep Southern states and at 44% black would still easily allow black voters the ability to elect the candidate of their choice, who happens to be Marcia Fudge (who is black).

Sadly a map like this almost happened with Ted Strickland losing by just 2% in the most heartbreaking loss of 2010, but Ohio is a state with the ballot initiative and as with Michigan it would be criminal if we didn't try to get an amendment on the ballot to re-redistrict.


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Oklahoma is similar to New Mexico in that the partisan impact of the line drawing was minimal, but the map still has vestiges of the 2002 remap when the state had to cannibalize one of its districts. Here I've made both the 1st and 5th more compact and urban with the 1st containing pretty much all of Tulsa and its suburbs and the 5th containing the entirety of Oklahoma City (which spans three counties) even though they double cross counties. The partisan impact is negligible, so this one's just for completists. Republicans drew the actual map, but if anything its Dem friendly as they didn't try to crack the 2nd, not that they needed to. An alternate map could have kept all of Oklahoma County whole if you were concerned about county splits.


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Oregon saw Republicans largely roll over and vote for a mildly Dem compromise map. This map attempts to undo what little gerrymandering there was and as such sees the 4th district get a little more Dem at the expense of the 5th, which becomes a narrow Obama'08/Romney'12 district. Kurt Schrader is very well entrenched though and would have had no trouble winning, making this map still 4-1.


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Pennsylvania was easily the most fun to draw out of this entire set just because of how obscenely gerrymandered into Rorschach blots the actual map is. Like Ohio, it is also a bonanza for Democrats being one of the four where we carried the popular vote yet got just 5/13 districts. Starting in the west, Jason Altmire gets a district comprised of Beaver County and the northern Pittsburgh suburbs that he would have held onto easily as an entrenched incumbent (even Critz carried it despite not being his base). Mike Doyle's 14th then takes all of Pittsburgh and the southern Allegheny suburbs. Instead of running in the 12th, Critz gets combined with Tim Murphy in the 18th where he would have lost by a wider margin. Fortunately for Dems though, the 3rd becomes within reach as it is a narrow Romney district and Obama carried it in 2008. Despite being woefully underfunded, our candidates still won 46% there thanks to the reunification of Erie and with a better candidate or more funding could have kept it closer though probably not breached the 50%+1 mark.

Moving on to the east of the state, Tim Holden sees his old district essentially resurrected in the form of the 11th which he held with ease in 2010 and would be Safe D. Matt Cartwright still wins in the D+5 17th district, giving us a gain. Next, without the cracking of Allentown, Charlie Dent gets a D+ district where our candidates won 47.3% despite being sacrificial lambs and I think with a stronger candidate like 2010 nominee John Callahan would have pulled it off. Dent had never faced a serious challenge until that year and only pulled in 54% then. Democrats would have been licking their chops to face such an incumbent again in what was essentially the same district and with his voting record I don't see him winning a district where Obama won by nearly 5%, however it would certainly be a tossup at best and could have certainly gone the other way with a bad Democratic campaign.

Next we have the 6th which is comprised of Reading and almost all of Chester County. Though this is a bit of a leftovers district, it's almost impossible to put Reading anywhere else that makes more sense overall. It's still a fair amount more Republican than the district Gerlach held from 2002-2010 and Dem candidates won just 45.6% there. However, Obama carried it by 3% and Manan Trivedi wasn't exactly what we'd call the DCCC's preferred candidate, but I still think Gerlach holds on with his incumbency. Where the dynamite explodes though is in the 7th, which by regaining all of Delaware County becomes totally unwinnable for Pat Meehan at nearly 60% Obama. No matter how this district is drawn, Meehan is DOA. Nearby, Schwartz gets a somewhat less Dem but still solid seat with the remainder of Montgomery County and a tiny section of Philadelphia. Finally, the 8th district becomes slightly more Democratic but Fitzpatrick held on with ease last year so this one's Lean R more likely than not at best.

Rhode Island

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Like neighboring Massachusetts, the Democrats' Rhode Island map didn't change the partisan outcome and if anything made electing a Republican more likely by cracking Providence. Here, David Cicilline gets the rest of the city and its closer suburbs like Cranston and towns like Pawtucket. As such it goes all the way up to 70% Obama and Cicilline would have won easily while the 2nd isn't remotely Republican enough to endanger Langevin.

South Carolina

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South Carolina is the final of the three Deep South states where I believe Republicans should have been forced to draw a 2nd VRA district and presents the strongest case of the three. It is incredibly easy to cleanly draw 2 black majority districts without making mincemeat of communities of interest and looks no uglier than the actual Republican gerrymander. Here I've drawn the black belt plus Charleston as one and the remainder of the black belt plus Columbia as another while splitting as few counties as possible. Both districts are Safe D while the 5 others are all Safe R.

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If a 2nd VRA district isn't forced, Democrats actually about as well with an additional opportunity as it's very easy to draw one entirely rural Black Belt VRA district with a compact Columbia seat and a compact Charleston seat, the first of which is about an Even PVI Obama district and the latter a more Republican leaning seat, but still a good deal less than the actual one. Joe Wilson, who only won by 9 in 2010 of all years couldn't win a district Romney lost by 3, while Mark Sanford would have been a true coin-flip against Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the May 7th special election seeing as his district gets over 4% more Democratic. The main difference in partisan outcomes is that the 2nd is now vulnerable in midterms, but would be fairly solid for Democrats in presidential years. That makes for 3/3 Deep South states where, though my personal preference is a 2nd VRA district, not adding one doesn't cost Democrats any seats.


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Similar to Oklahoma, Tennessee is a state where Republican gerrymandering didn't change the partisan outcome at all (though if anything they could have cracked the 5th). The 5th and 9th are still safely Dem while the 4th is still too Republican for us to take advantage of DesJarlais' scandals. I will say though that aesthetically this is one of the prettiest maps I drew with respect to CoI and city/county integrity.


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This map was drawn by my fellow DKEr and Texas politico/political scientist wwmiv as Texas is a VRA disaster to try to draw cold. Still there are plenty of proposals out there from interest groups that were effectively similar to this.

Texas is a state that Republicans gerrymandered so aggressively they got slapped down by the federal courts, only for SCOTUS to intervene and somewhat aid them. This map undoes all of their ridiculous districts such as the Houston to Austin Rorschach blot. It also does what I've done in other states and draws additional VRA districts that I believe should be required and where court cases are still pending to that effect. In particular, the 27th becomes a Spanish Surname Voter Registration (SSVR, a proxy for citizen voting age population) majority VRA district that Blake Fahrenthold, Mr. Duckie Pajamas would have lost big. Also in South Texas, Pete Gallego gets a Safe D district that Obama carried with ease by undoing the San Antonio gerrymander. In Austin, with the dismemberment of the 10th district and McCaul's likely run in the safe R 10th in Houston if he wants to win reelection, the new 25th district is a narrow Romney district and a total tossup. Still, the seat would be open for Roger Williams and with a well-funded Blue Dog we should be able to win it, especially if Obama nearly carried it.

Traveling on to Houston, we see that Nick Lampson gets screwed over to the point where the Galveston based district is totally uncompetitive. However, the Houston based 7th district becomes safe Dem at 55% Obama, all while the 3 VRA districts are preserved. Moving on to Dallas, Dems gain a district that should have been forced in the form of the black majority CVAP 6th district. Marc Veasy would probably run there, opening up the 33rd to a Hispanic candidate now that it is 59% VAP and a coalition district at CVAP, especially with the black population much reduced there. All in all this gives us +3-4 in the state.


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Utah Republicans drew a bit of a dud gerrymander when, in the most Republican state in the nation, they allowed Rep. Jim Matheson to cheat political death once again. Here though, he likely meets his demise in the primary as the 4th district is a genuinely liberal seat. Romney's % predictably inflates Republican strength, but Obama won 57% here in 2008 and our House candidates easily carried it. But since that includes Matheson who might not have been able to sufficiently pivot left, even our senate sacrificial lamb carried it against longtime incumbent Orrin hatch which should give you an idea of how Democratic it is. All three of the remaining districts become the most Republican in the nation thanks to Republicans' hyper-density and Romney's Mormonism native son boost in Utah.


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Virginia is a state where we came heartbreakingly close to blocking a Republican gerrymander in 2011 when we lost the state senate by a mere couple hundred votes thanks to our particular gerrymander of that chamber backfiring. As such Republicans gerrymandered an 8-3 split in a state Obama won by 4%. Here, I've dismantled the ugly Hampton Roads to Richmond gerrymander in favor of a compact Richmond seat and compact Hampton Roads + Southside VRA district. I admit I'm not entirely sure how a commission might draw this area as it's possible that the 2nd district, which here is roughly Lean R, could get either more or less Dem. Either way though, we'd get an extra safe seat out of Richmond. The 2nd would also make for an awesome fight between evangelical fundie Randy Forbes and 'RINO' Scott Rigell. At 49.2% Obama it's not inconceivable that we might have defeated Forbes, but I'm not particularly hopeful here as it's possible the seat could get more conservative depending on how Hampton Roads is drawn.

In Northern Virginia, Frank Wolf, who is getting up there in years and might have retired in favor of state legislator Barbara Comstock, gets a 56.3% Obama seat where Kaine likewise won a similar percentage. Dem House candidates actually carried the district, and while Wolf is a strong incumbent he has also not faced a serious challenge in a long, long time and has nothing but a conservative voting record and the seat is roughly half new to him, diminishing his incumbency. Not a single Republican won a district where Obama did that well last year and I think we'd have knocked off Wolf with a well funded nominee and cruised here if he retired. Gerry Connolly keeps his safe seat though it's less packed, but Eric Cantor gets absolutely screwed by dropping his conservative white Richmond/suburbs base and gaining Charlottesville (where the hell else would you put it?) in a district that voted for Obama in 2008 but Romney carried by 4% in 2012. If Cantor is the Republican nominee, we carry the district plain and simple, but I'd imagine he just retires or runs in the 5th as he knows he's toxic in a swing seat. Luckily for Democrats, we have a fantastic candidate who nearly won a district 2% redder in 2010 of all years and whose entire base is in the district: none other than Tom Periello. I feel pretty good about us winning this district anyway as it only narrowly voted for George Allen despite his old congressional district and electoral base having very significant overlap with it.

The 5th gets much more Republican, as does the 1st to the point that they're unwinnable. Finally, from an aesthetic standpoint I love how the Shenandoah Valley fits almost perfectly into the 6th and Appalachia + the Blue Ridge fits almost perfectly into the 9th.


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Here we have another state with a bipartisan commission and unlike in New Jersey, where the tiebreaker voted with Republicans to screw over the Democrats, here we just had a Democrat vote with Republicans to screw over the Democrats. This is largely because, even more so than the New Jersey commission, the map was pure incumbent protection and after 2010, incumbent protection has a GOP bias. So here's what my best guess as to what a California-style commission might draw. Note that districts 3-5 are all pretty much the exact same as the actual map.

The difference though comes in the Sound districts with the 6th dropping Tacoma in favor of Olympia and the 8th dropping Pierce County. I see no reason why it should have Pierce in addition to Seattle suburbs and with that it goes up to 58% Obama and dooms Reichert, the main difference in the map. Unfortunately though the 10th becomes just mildly Dem leaning, but Denny Heck performed very well in a redder seat in 2010 and I have no doubt he'd have won here last year. Finally, the 1st and 2nd switch partisanship largely by becoming more similar to their prior configurations, meaning that Suzane DelBene would have taken on Reichert in the 8th and someone else would have won the 1st. Obviously there are many ways to draw King County, but it is by dropping Pierce that Reichert is doomed.

West Virginia

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West Virginia is the final state where Democrats drew the map and rather than draw a partisan gerrymander, they maintained the 1990s geographic gerrymander that was designed to protect then 1st and 3rd district Reps Alan Mollohan and Bob Wise from a primary challenge from 2nd district Rep. Harley Staggers when the state lost a district during reapportionment. Here I've undone that with a more geographically and regionally compact map. Ironically the 3rd gets ever so slightly more Democratic thanks to the loss of Mason County on the Ohio river in exchange for Braxton and Clay, two coal heavy counties. More than any district in the entire United States, the 3rd sees the largest divergence between presidential performance and all other Democrats' performances due to the issue of coal (it's THE heart of coal country), but with the state trending Republican and the Democratic party moving away from fossil fuels and natural gas killing coal, our days are numbered here despite heavy unionization. The 2nd though would have been more competitive in 2014 with Shelley Moore Capito running for senate as instead of being R+2 compared to the state it's just barely more Republican thanks to having both Charleston and Wheeling. The overall outcome is the same 1-2 split we saw in reality though, just with Rahall winning slightly more comfortably than 8%.


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Our final state is Wisconsin, which Republicans gerrymandered to effectively produce a 5-3 split in the last of the four states where Democrats won the popular vote but a minority of the seats. In this map, Paul Ryan gets screwed over with a D+2 district that Dem candidates actually carried. I think Ryan would have retired to be just the VP nominee and then cash out to a think tank or as a lobbyist after Romney lost, but if he didn't this one would have become a massive money sink though we'd have ultimately won it. This seat probably would have seen a stronger candidate than the liberal Rob Zerban run, but Ryan is just unelectable in a seat like this that's 6% better for Dems than his actual one. The other seat we likely gain is the Northwoods based 7th which regains heavily Democratic Stevens Point and with it the home and base of Sean Duffy's 2010 opponent, state senator Julie Lassa whom Republicans specifically drew out for fear of a rematch thanks to her Dem heavy base in Stevens Point. With this bluer district that Obama carried yet nonetheless underperformed in, a stronger and better funded opponent in Lassa, who seemed like she wanted to run again and has nowhere to go in the state senate minority, and a district where even our 2nd tier candidate won 48%, Duffy would have lost though kept it close. Reid Ribble However keeps his district more or less the same, while Ron Kind's gets somewhat more Republican but he massively outran Obama and would have been fine.

Candidate Quality

Overall, I don't want to assume we'd get 1st tier candidates in every race, so there's nothing in here like Brian Schweitzer running for Montana's open seat, but it can't help but be emphasized just how much the prospect of the majority influences candidate recruitment. We see it all the time in state legislatures and we certainly saw it in 2010 where tons of deadwood washed up on the shore because serious Republican candidates sat out the early cycle. As such there are two districts in particular that, though the lines wouldn't have changed at all because of implementing non-partisan maps, are nonetheless worth highlighting.

CA-21 This was essentially Jim Costa's old seat seeing as he represented 3/4ths of it and only fled to the even more Democratic 16th when his buddy Dennis Cardoza retired and resigned. I am of the belief that Cardoza only retired because there's no point serving in the minority when you can cash out and become a lobbyist/sell your influence. Obviously this is unknowable without asking Cardoza himself, but being in the majority is a very strong enticement and if he ran, Costa would have run in the 21st and it would have been a slam dunk.

Even if Costa didn't run there though, that same enticement would still apply to our actually not too shabby bench here. Regardless, I see very little chance of us forfeiting the election by nominating the ethically challenged some dude John Hernandez who spent only $100k and accordingly lost big. Any competent Democrat who could have raised $600k would have won as Republicans just were not winning Democrats where Obama won nearly 56%, especially not as non-incumbents.

NY-11 If the prospect of the majority brought better candidates, it's possible that Mike McMahon would have sought a rematch in the State Island based district. I believe, along with other observers, that he would have won had he run as our actually challenger Murphy raised little money and was an otherwise poor candidate. I have no idea whether McMahon would have run or not so I'm certainly not including him in my estimate, but it's at the very least something to consider.

OK-02 Being hopelessly in the minority and seeing his district shift out from under him was probably the determinant factor in 4 term Rep. Dan Boren retiring in this ancestrally Democratic district (which still has a huge Dem registration edge). Given that he's not even 40 and could easily have waited until Dems regained the majority with seniority, I'd have to bet that the second factor played the bigger role. Boren only won by 13% in 2010 over a totally unfunded nobody and he'd have certainly been the top Republican target in 2012. Perhaps he might have been enticed into running again if it looked like we could take the house, but even so I really don't see how he'd have won considering our touted nominee Assistant US Attorney Rob Wallace spent over $1.2 million and took all of 38% of the vote.

This same principle applies nationwide, but much more so than alternative districts where we can look at actual election data, is mostly unknowable but still worth our consideration.

Bonus Map
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In case you didn't get enough ;) here's one extra where I drew Mississippi (which had a court-drawn map) with two majority black VAP districts. Each is at 50.6% black and over 57% Obama last year, but I'm torn as to whether or not this could have been required and without it the 3rd is uncompetitive.

So that wraps up what is a very lengthy diary that I hope you all still enjoyed. If I had the time and resources I would attempt to turn this into an actual academic paper with a more thorough justification for my alternative maps and perhaps things like interviews with experts/candidates, but as just an undergraduate student that's a little bit above my pay grade. Still, we should all be infuriated that our system is so stacked against us and should act to help alleviate this bias by again organizing independent redistricting initiatives. Helping to do so will be my next project now that this is largely done. So thanks for reading and I welcome your thoughts and well-reasoned critiques in the comments.

2:02 PM PT: Wow recommend list, thank you all :D

Originally posted to Stephen Wolf on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania and Community Spotlight.


How many seats would Dems have won under non-partisan maps?

5%14 votes
1%5 votes
2%6 votes
7%19 votes
9%26 votes
23%61 votes
21%55 votes
13%34 votes
3%9 votes
4%13 votes
1%4 votes
5%15 votes

| 261 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good Report...thank you (11+ / 0-)

    Me thinks that we need to focus on the next census... 2020 and be ready.  

    •  That's 4 cycles away (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      YucatanMan, Tool, PDiddie, sturunner

      Meanwhile, the 2010 debacle will continue to be the gift that keeps on giving.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:33:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hopefully, Democrats have learned... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MartyM, Lava20, ColoTim, MarciaJ720

        ... not to piss off their base nor let Republicans get away with a constant stream of lies in a census year.  sadly, 2014 is already beginning to look like a repeat of that.

        I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

        by blue drop on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 08:31:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          blue drop

          doubt it.  I mean even Chris Matthews said we needed to calm down and show up.  And I am NO Tweety fan.  He okay.  But he was outright begging us to show up.  He did numerous shows.

          But honestly, as I remember Kos and others saying at the time.  The Democrats had the House and a Supermajority.  WE HAD BOTH!  And we still can't get a Public Option at least?

          My brother knows fuckall about politics and knew the Stimulus was not enough.  Pelosi and others even to this day try to tell us we are crazy and Chained CPI is a good thing.

          I say fuck this, in safe districts we need to primary.  Go all in.

          I say NO HILLARY.  We can get a true left strong Democratic President.  Nationally we have nothing to lose.

    •  Focusing on the next census (4+ / 0-)

      is just another all-eggs-in-one-basket tactic. I don't want to focus on Democrats winning in 2018 and taking back the reins to do damage to Republicans. I want to FIX this. Ohio is SO screwed — even more in our legislature than in Congress, with a spate of the most extremist legislation we have ever seen and legislators that know they can't be ousted. Plus term limits ... don't even get me started on the damage term limits do to democracy. No one cares who holds the seat when the Tea Party is the real power controlling the state from a tiny minority position.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:39:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doesn't this gerrymandering (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ColoTim, Stephen Wolf

        make a complete mockery of our claims to be the "best democracy in the world"?  Even the UK does a much better job drawing voting districts.  Until gerrymandering is ended, we're basically a fraud of a "democracy."  It's absurd.

      •  It's terribly depressing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Whenever Democrats talk about drawing congressional districts, we always talk in terms of making them fair and representative.  Whenever Republicans talk about it, they talk about wringing the greatest possible number of seats from the map.

        I agree that we can't simply focus on the next census, we have to build the infrastructure so that the next round of redistricting can't be hijacked the way 2010 was.  We need to get independent redistricting commissions constitutional amendments onto as many state ballots as possible.

  •  Per a conversation in the Live Diget (8+ / 0-)

    with James Allen I'm reminded that a similar but much uglier version of LA-04 was struck down as a racial gerrymander (but NC-12 wasn't funny how that goes). So I've come up with this slightly cleaner version of it that doesn't have the quirky hook around the top:
     photo LAFairMapwholealternate4th_zpsb87e24c3.png

    50.2% Black VAP, 45.3% white VAP. Probably 56 to 56.5% Obama '12 and Safe D still.

  •  What I don't understand is why either (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tool, elwior

    party is allowed to set the district lines. It seems to me universities should set these up not a party of either side.
    So universities in Mass. should draw the lines for New York.
    California for Texas ect.

    •  Because it's hard to get people in power (16+ / 0-)

      to voluntarily give up power. Many of the states with independent redistricting have ballot initiatives that put those institutions in place.

      The best solution is to have what's called mixed member proportional representation where some members are elected by independently drawn districts and the rest are elected by party lists so that 1) gerrymandering doesn't affect the outcome and 2) third parties become viable. You can see why the two parties would be opposed to this obviously, but that's the only permanent solution to both gerrymandering and the GOP bias of single member districts.

      Most European and other developed countries have a system like this.

      •  we need a Midas rule (8+ / 0-)

        the way my dad did it was on a leftover piece of cake
        if my brother cut it I got to chose which piece I wanted.

        We need a system that allows fairness.

        •  Agreed, which is why I like (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ybruti, Odysseus, elwior, ColoTim

          proportional representation. There's no reason for the vast, vast majority of voters in the country to have no impact on the result because their district is too red or too blue. If you want to vote for a party, your vote should further that party getting more seats plain and simple. Plus it's just not fair that we can only have two parties because if we don't the other side will win with a split vote. I just don't see us ever doing that because we aren't likely to totally reshape our electoral system under the constitution and we sadly don't have the initiative nationwide.

      •  MMA is actually comparatively rare (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stephen Wolf, Odysseus, elwior

        Germany's got it, as has New Zealand and Scotland has a similar system for the Scottish parliament. Most countries with proportional representation use lists, though, without any single-member constituencies.

        I favour MMA, but it does have the problem that parties can stack their lists so that certain candidates can't not get elected and so that controversial candidates don't have to face the voters. The German system is fairly good, as I believe there those elected by the list are selected from candidates of that party who got the most votes without getting elected.

        •  Yes Germany's Bundestag is what I'd love to have (0+ / 0-)

          as our model for a unicameral parliament (without their old 'overhang' seats). I suppose I was just speaking in generalities such that proportional representation itself is much more common, but yes you're right that MMP is itself not very common. I can't imagine the US ever having pure party list though, so MMP is more ideal for us in particular.

        •  OK, let's geek out (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Stephen Wolf

          Several points:

          1. Proportional Representation (PR) is indeed the best solution to gerrymandering, and the details are just that: details. But I'm easily one of the 10 biggest election-methods geeks in the world (and I could name any of the other 10 who are in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Latin America, or Taiwan). So I can't resist debating those details.

          2. MMA, especially in the German open-list style, is a decent way to do PR. Another good way is multimember districts (3-5 seats) with STV, as advocated by FairVote in the US. (I have my differences with FairVote around IRV; approval voting is both simpler and better. But I support them on PR.)

          3. But the best way to do PR is a biproportional delegated system such as PAL representation. This lets like-minded candidates pool their votes so that the strongest of them is elected. It ensures a large majority of voters get a representative they favor. And it does it without needing any redistricting.

          4. Regardless of which system is chosen, PR will need to be implemented at the state-by-state level. There's a 1969 federal statute that effectively prohibits it, although there's a (good, but probably unpopular) biproportional PR system called Fair Majority Voting which might pass muster with that law.

          5. For the long run, I favor a constitutional convention to propose an amendment that gives a collective right to an effective vote (since the small-r "republican government" clause of the constitution is toothless). The meaning of "effective vote" would improve with time, but I can guarantee that plurality-voting in single member districts ain't it.

          Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

          by homunq on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 06:06:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm not an STV fan (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stephen Wolf

            We have it for local elections in Scotland (the Lib Dems got it as a concession in coalition negotations after the 2003 Scottish parliament elections), and I don't think it lives up to its plaudits.

            The voters don't understand the system well (despite many attempts to explain it to them), it doesn't eliminate safe seats (because there are certain areas where parties are guaranteed a quota, and indeed not a few seats where everybody knows one party will get two seats and another the third, so nobody puts much effort in), there is no intra-party competition (that only happens in Ireland, and only because they don't have cohesive parties on ideological lines) and it's done nothing to boost turnout.

            It also creates larger wards, which reduces the connection between representative and electorate, and requires all-out elections, which makes voter contact less frequent (granted, the latter is less of a problem in the USA, as you have short terms.) All in all, I'd say it's the form of PR I like least.

            In general, I'm keen on MMA, or any system that combines single-member districts with a degree of proportionality. I say a degree, because I actually think full proportionality isn't that important. It's good that everybody has a chance to elect a like-minded representative, but the majoritarian aspect of FPTP system has definite advantages from a governance perspective.

      •  Ohio had an issue on the ballot (0+ / 0-)

        that would have put in place a citizens commission that was one-third Republican, one-third Democratic, and one-third independent or third party, thus diluting any power block within it. It also forbade officeholders, candidates, party officials and lobbyists from being on it.

        The Republicans lied their asses off, rigged the ballot language, and spent tens of millions to defeat it. Now our secretary of voter suppres ... I mean STATE ... Jon Husted is trying to look like a hero and propose his own plan which is somewhat better than what we have but not enough. It would expand the number of elected officials on the apportionment board and require a certain amount of minority buy-in. Obviously it would still be susceptible "You protect my incumbent and I'll protect yours."

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:23:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Very good work. (5+ / 0-)

    Though I must say I get ruffled whenever people talk about NJ redistricting.  I know Dems lost, but it isn't that bad.  Rosenthal chose a Republican redistricting map in 1991 for Congress and the state legislature, making way for a GOP surge in the '91 and '93 elections.  And the 80's maps weren't much better.  Jim Saxton used to have a district in northeast Jersey that snaked across the border with NY and included Jersey City.  The real problem is incumbency.  In open seat scenarios, we ought to pick up the 3rd and 2nd.

    But you did do well in your NJ map.  Very well.

    Also, I think AZ-01 should have all of Coconino County plus that largely Native American precinct that crosses into the county just west of Coconino.

    "It is the stillest words that bring on the storm. Thoughts that come on doves' feet guide the world." -Nietzche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

    by KingofSpades on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:48:35 PM PDT

  •  Love your TX-25 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Finally a swingy district that isn't the 23rd and is seemingly only going to get less red.

    I disagree in part with your WA commission complaints.  The only parts of that map I disagree with is that the 8th ought to have been a little bluer and the 1st ought to have been a district that Murray won in 2010 (as opposed to narrowly lost).  You did the 8th and 1st pretty good.  Can the 1st give up North Seattle for a bit more of Seattle suburbs as that is probably a more realistic proposal?

    "It is the stillest words that bring on the storm. Thoughts that come on doves' feet guide the world." -Nietzche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

    by KingofSpades on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:54:10 PM PDT

    •  You mean MY Texas 25 :P (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      JK. ;)

      Notice, though, how much of a plummet that Obama took here from 2008. IIRC he got around 54% or 55% in these lines in 2008, but I have to go back and check. Yes, long term the trend is Dem, but let's caution that with short term fluctuations as well.

      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 03:22:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think (0+ / 0-)

        That Stephen slightly tweaked the Austin area from my version, because from the looks of it Pflugerville is in the eastern district not the western district. Under my lines the district was only 50.2% Obama. Under these lines, I think, it would almost certainly be somewhere in the range of 53-55% given the specific areas that appear to be traded.

        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 03:28:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I didn't touch Austin, I changed some minor things (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wwmiv, elwior

        elsewhere IIRC but they weren't to anything that remotely mattered; I can't remember exactly. As I have it, Obama won just 52.2% two party there in 2008. You must have given me a different version than your most recent non-partisan map then if the lines are different in Travis County as I wouldn't know where to begin changing them. Obama did definitely fall a good amount though in that part of it, however I should caution that the 2012 results are estimated based on the proportion of his 2008 results that were in the district compared to the county at large, so they could be plus or minus a point I suppose.

  •  Have you seen split line redistricting algorithm? (0+ / 0-)

    I am far more partial to a simple algorithm and a computer as the redistricting authority simply because a computer wont care about partisan nonsense.

    This algorithm looks like it can make very fair (and more sensical) districts than any human.  This also has the added benefit of being easily checked.

    The url is:


    •  Yes and I don't like it at all because it (12+ / 0-)

      is totally devoid from the reality of how representation ought to work. There's no reason to needlessly split towns and neighborhoods like that does. You end up with tons of districts where the constituent parts have nothing in common with each other.

      If you want a system that takes partisan bias out of the process, proportional representation is the way to go and there's a reason nearly every other developed country minus the UK and a few others has some version of it.

    •  I'm aware of it (0+ / 0-)

      But I'm not a fan. The reason is that it doesn't follow the VRA and just splits up communities of interest just so the lines can be compact.

      For more election analysis and redistricting maps, check out my blog CA-2 (former CA-6) College in CA-37. Go Trojans!!

      by Alibguy on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:13:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To S. Wolf and Abilguy, I think a better computer (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stephen Wolf, Odysseus, Mannie

      algorithm, that recognized and weighted real community centers and boundaries, would still be the better answer. In other words, an algorithm that would recognize the "center" of every neighborhood, or small town, and would place boundaries as far from these centers as it could, to minimize splitting neighborhoods.

      Then a non-partisan or bipartisan commission, as in California,  could make final adjustments if called for. Sounds idealistic, I know, but you have to try.

      •  Sure but that's just it (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wwmiv, elwior, sturunner, James Allen, Skaje

        once you're at that point, you're already introducing a human element into it by having people decide what constitutes a community center or local jurisdictional boundary. At that point, why not just have people draw the lines? It seems to me that there's a reason that no country has computer algorithms, however sophisticated draw the lines even in those that have some form of independent redistricting nationally.

        I'd sure love to see someone come up with that sort of algorithm though as I'd love to be able to use more automation when I map, but at the end of the day the mere act of putting the figurative pen (cursor?) to the paper is going to induce human choice.

        Proportional representation just seems like a much easier method to alleviate partisan biases and that's why I think it's so prevalent in the developed world.

  •  Great work (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, salmo, elwior, sturunner

    Wow - you put a lot of work into this.

    To a small extent at least, doesn't the effect of gerrymandering decrase as the decade moves on, i.e, maximum effect in 2012 and minimum effect in 2020?

    •  Thanks and yes that's very true (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, sturunner, James Allen

      and the housing bubble certainly played a large role in last decade's districts shifting under their members' feet, particularly in Florida.

      Unfortunately though, when legislatures gerrymander they higher professionals (lawyers, I'm assuming people knowledgeable on demographic trends, in addition to electoral experts) who anticipate some of these trends, but with any venture that tries to predict the future it is imperfect.

      It still isn't a huge degree though and we typically see it more in states with a lot of competitive districts already such as California where many of them will become solidly Dem by 2020. In a state such as Michigan? probably not too much.

      •  Yeah, it so happens that the most effective (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stephen Wolf, elwior

        gerrymanders are in some of the most stagnant states - MI, OH, PA. So demographic/population change alone probably won't do much for us in those places.

        It would be an interesting follow-up to try to figure out where the gerrymanders are most likely to unravel by 2020. I'm guessing Virginia? Maybe Florida...? Bet we gain a seat each in NJ and NV, too, based on demographic change.

        •  I would bet Virginia or Florida too if not for the (5+ / 0-)

          patter that in the south unfortunately a lot of the Dem growth is in places that are already packed into Dem vote sinks, like Fairfax County Virginia and parts of Prince William. I might even wager North Carolina as the 9th district is clearly moving towards us and there's a good chance the 2nd and 13th might as well, but the flip side of that is the 7th is trending away so I couldn't really say conclusively. I'll definitely think about this conversation if I'm still in this line of hobby/work 8 years from now.

          One thing that seems destined to happen though is in California where demographic creep alone will cause many of our districts to solidify and the GOP ones to become swingy simply because there's a massive generational gap and it's only growing wider. We'll eventually get to the point where seats like CA-22 and 23 become somewhat competitive, though it might be a little more than 10 years in that case. That area of the central valley is something like >80% Hispanic under 18 if not more and most of those people are citizens eligible to vote when they turn 18.

  •  I am quite a fan (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    defluxion10, Stephen Wolf, GoUBears

    Of these maps although I am pretty sad at how we lose all the Illinois seats.

    For more election analysis and redistricting maps, check out my blog CA-2 (former CA-6) College in CA-37. Go Trojans!!

    by Alibguy on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 01:11:54 PM PDT

    •  Yeah if it weren't for Walsh (4+ / 0-)

      then we'd definitely lose all 4. I'm honestly pretty amazed though that Dold! would have only won by 3% as Lake County, which is 99% of the district, voted just 51.5 to 48.5 Republican.

      If Ted Strickland's narrow loss was the most heartbreaking in 2010, then Pat Quinn's was one of the sweetest win because it easily yielded us 4 seats with a good shot at that 5th one. I really feel sorry for the guy though as he seems to be trying to do a good job in Illinois yet his approval rating is worse than Bush's when he left office.

      •  I don't even like to think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        about how narrowly Strickland lost and how Taxin' John Kasich won with 49% of the vote yet acts like he is 100% right about everything and doesn't have to take alternative views into consideration. But Ted has only himself to blame — and the rest of us suffer. Argh.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:29:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Honestly I'm surprised he kept it as close (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sturunner, Englishlefty

          Kasich was basically generic Republican in the eyes of the electorate and in a year like 2010, that was a very positive thing to be. That Strickland lost by 2 instead of 10 was nothing short of astounding. He was polling horribly for most of the summer and fall too that many including myself had written him off until October. This was Ohio after all. Rob Portman won by 20 points and Strickland lost by just 2. Hence why I think his was the most heartbreaking loss of 2010; we came so close and lost so much.

  •  Recommended (11+ / 0-)

    What an amazing effort Stephen.  This needs to be required viewing for anyone who wants to talk about gerrymandering in the House.

  •  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:

          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:

          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 ]

  •  Well done (and a lot of work!) (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, bythesea, TexDem, elwior

    My problem is that I reside in TN-01. Unreal how Republican this district is.

    There are no second class citizens in America, and there are no second class marriages in America. - Eleanor Holmes Norton

    by Captain Sham on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:23:54 PM PDT

  •  I like your IL map much better (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alumbrados, sturunner, Stephen Wolf

    I'm not in favor of gerrymandering from either side, and the new IL map is a mess.  My suburb is carved up completely non-sensically, and the place where I vote 4 blocks from my house is in a different district now.

    I do think it's better for the voters and community involvement to have towns be as uniform as possible and have one representative.  District lines can be drawn using rivers, interstates, forest preserves and industrial areas, so that neighbors on opposite sides of the street don't have different Congressmen.  I hate what the Dems did to IL districts.

  •  Oh, and Melissa Bean was a Blue Dog (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Do we really want her back?  There have to be better and more qualified Progressives out there who don't simply vote how the Chamber of Commerce tells them to.  It's hard enough to get rid of bad incumbants.  We actually did that, time to move on.

  •  Thank gawd Alaska has only one rep-- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, elwior, sturunner

    speaking as an Alaskan.

  •  Pretty sure we invented gerrymandering... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Everyone is crying out for peace; no one's crying out for justice...

    by mojave mike on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:40:27 PM PDT

    •  Just because some past (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alumbrados, elwior, Englishlefty

      Democratic party operatives may have invented gerrymandering is no reason for modern Progressives to approve of it.

      Don't trust anyone over 84414

      by BentLiberal on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 02:49:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Know your history! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Alumbrados, Stephen Wolf
      In 1812, Jeffersonian Republicans forced through the Massachusetts legislature a bill rearranging district lines to assure them an advantage in the upcoming senatorial elections. link1
      According to one version, the shape of the district attracted the eye of the painter Gilbert Stuart, who noticed it on a map in a newspaper editor's office. Stuart decorated the outline of the district with a head, wings, and claws and then said to the editor, "That will do for a salamander!" link2
      Although Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry had only reluctantly signed the law, a Federalist editor is said to have exclaimed upon seeing the new district lines, "Salamander! Call it a Gerrymander."link1
  •  OMG (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alibguy, Stephen Wolf


    You used my map with 2012 data!!! I love you right now.

    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 03:11:58 PM PDT

    •  Do you want me to send you screenshots (0+ / 0-)

      That remove the precinct boundaries? Or the file itself (I thought I had sent it to you already anyway).

      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 03:17:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No I actually like the precinct lines (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Alibguy, wwmiv, elwior, sturunner

        most of the time at least when I do close ups as it gives you a rough idea of the population in cities, but I obviously take them out for statewide shots. I have the file itself though you might have changed it since. And yes, I have no fucking clue what I'm doing when it comes to massive VRA states like Texas; thank god California had the model for this project as I'd have otherwise never have done it. Florida alone was enough of a bear to map out and I'm still very dissatisfied with how my map turned out.

  •  "what can we do about it?" The shortcut (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In 2012, 42% of eligible voters didn't bother to show up.

    Why was that?

    A USA today poll, interviewing entitled voters who did not expect to vote, and why, says:

    They're too busy. They aren't excited about either candidate. Their vote doesn't really matter. And nothing ever gets done, anyway.
    people who are eligible to vote but aren't likely to do so finds that these stay-at-home Americans back Obama's re-election over Republican Mitt Romney by more than 2-1.
    So, if all had voted instead of the Dems getting 31 votes of 100, the Rs 27, Dems would have gotten around 60 of 100, and crushed Rs.

    The question resolves not around which legislative levers to pull, but in getting people who have a stake to turn out and vote their natural inclination.

    That means, giving them something they want. What do 72% of Americans want? Jobs. Majorities of Republicans (56%), Independents (76%) and Democrats (91%) want a Federal Jobs Stimulus to create more than a million jobs.

    Talk about low-hanging fruit. 56% of Republcans!!! wanting a Federal Jobs Stimulus. Why this isn't the highest priority, shouted from the rooftops by Democratic Leadership 24/7... whatever that reason is, that's why we have a Republican House. Gerrymandering helps them; Democratic unwillingness to represent the will, and needs, of the people hands it over to them for free.

    Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

    by Jim P on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:25:27 PM PDT

    •  I should caution you though that (7+ / 0-)

      the statistical significance of non-voters is going to be horrendously low as for one they only conducted 1 poll and Suffolk University is not a good pollster. They stopped polling Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida prior to the election because 'Romney has them locked up' I kid you not.

      That being said, your general idea is certainly in the right ballpark as we've seen poll after poll after poll where Democrats do worst with likely voters, better with the wider registered voters, and best with all adults (in the poll). What that implies when dozens of polls find it is that non-voters are heavily Dem. So yes, that is the low hanging fruit in terms of getting new voters. But the whole point of that part of my diary was that the voters themselves don't matter. It's where the vote that does and if they're packed into Republican districts then it's irrelevant. We could spend <$10 million changing Ohio's lines and elect 5 new Democrats to congress. That's certainly a better bang for the buck than actual campaigns, sadly.

      •  This is so true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Stephen Wolf, elwior

        And I think we need to market this independent commission plan better to big Democratic donors so they can fund initiatives like the one in Ohio which had insufficient funding.

        Turning out voters does not work unless they are in the right districts. All the strategy and messaging and funding could be put into the right candidate but if they are in a district that is too Republican and does not have enough Democratic votes, our efforts just will not work and we cannot rely on every House district to nominate an Akin style Republican.

        For more election analysis and redistricting maps, check out my blog CA-2 (former CA-6) College in CA-37. Go Trojans!!

        by Alibguy on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:50:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The highest unemployment and poverty (0+ / 0-)

          levels are in Red States. Whatever the gerrymandering, people will abandon their previous identifications if the choice is a do-nothing Republican and a Democrat looking to get them past living on food stamps, I'd think.

          I seriously doubt that, today, there's enough districts in the US composed exclusively of the well-off to keep giving Repubs majorities in every one. But they need a reason to abandon their previous loyalty.

          Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

          by Jim P on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:32:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sadly they won't though (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and I'll give you an example that is truly deplorable.

            Consider, for example, the Black Belt of the Deep South; that region stretching from roughly the Mississippi Delta up through northeastern South Carolina/Southeastern NC. It's one of the poorest regions in the country among both blacks (predictably) and whites, yet the whites there vote about 90-10 Republican in Louisiana through Alabama and 75-25 Republican through Georgia to North Carolina. This is despite the fact that they'd almost all gain from Democrats' economic policies. This is despite the fact that the choice is do-nothing Republicans and a Democrat looking to get them past living on food stamps. Republicans just play to their racism and that gets them so mad they vote against their own interests. Now obviously this isn't every white voter in that region, but the point still stands. This is a very poor region yet the whites are hyper-Republican.

            So it isn't just a matter of people overcoming gerrymandering because then it wouldn't be an issue! Obviously this is a problem that needs another solution than non-partisan redistricting but that's part of my point. We can't begin to help these people when they won't help themselves if we can't help ourselves.

            Think about this in broader terms. There aren't enough voters who are in the 1% to help the 1% repeatedly, yet the 1% makes out like bandits solely because there are a huge proportion of voters who vote Republican consistently and don't care. So clearly they don't need a reason not to abandon their loyalty.

            Thankfully those folks aren't close to a majority, but they get a majority of districts because they draw the lines and pack us into fewer districts. That is why we need electoral and redistricting reform.

            •  Well, still not convinced. Not that it's (0+ / 0-)

              an either/or situation, both angles, getting the non-voter to vote; redistricting need doing. But you don't get a chance for the second, if you don't get the first. Or at least I don't see how.

              Again, there's districts which go overwhelmingly for Republicans, but then how many just squeak by? And higher turnout... I think that's a wildcard we can play.

              Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

              by Jim P on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 05:37:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Issue 2's loss in Ohio (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          was about way more than "underfunding." The GOP threw every dirty trick in the book at it, so much so that our 6-1 Republican state Supreme Court tossed out the first ballot language rigged up by the Republicans because it was untruthful. Their subsequent language was merely misleading. They saved untruthful for the campaign.

          In addition, the "underfunding" was relative to the glut of money on the other side from special interests who wanted to protect their investment in the politicians they owned.

          The GOP was frantic to hang onto their gerrymander because people in Ohio do not support their policies, now that the Tea Party has their nuts in a vise.

          Jon Husted is a dick.

          by anastasia p on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:36:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  First, thanks for this incredibly well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        thought out, and presented essay.

        The 42% non-voting is in line with the last few elections (excepting 2008, when people were hungry for change.) And of course, mid-term elections have even lower turnout.

        Even the goal of changing the districts, which can't happen by 2014 anyway, isn't going to see Democratic victories without a genuine and convincing demonstration by the Party that they mean to provide the Federal Jobs Program, the "Restored New Deal" as it were, which the people overwhelmingly want.

        In either case (2014 or long-term redistricting), we have to give voters an incentive to both, come out when they usually wouldn't, and then to pick the Democrat in the race.

        I don't really see there's any concern in the Leadership with either the lack of jobs, the need to stop the overseas bleed of them, or any interest in the fact that half the population is now either in poverty or a month lay-off from it. And that situation has been growing steadily worse since Jan 2009, absent the short-term bump of the under-funded stimulus and the census-taking hires.

        Absent that, we'll see ever-decreasing turnout, as neither Party seems motivated to do the obvious and give voters what they need.

        Still, great essay you have here. Thanks for all the hard work you put into it.

        Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

        by Jim P on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:28:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Those are also the voters (0+ / 0-)

      least likely to vote downticket.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:31:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow!! (6+ / 0-)

    I truly respect the work that goes into a post like this.
    Thank you.

    The Ghost of Tom Joad

    by Illinois IRV on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:26:20 PM PDT

  •  If only for Photobucket... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RUNDOWN, Stephen Wolf, James Allen

    We would have taken back the house.  :)

  •  Ironically, the California Democratic Party (0+ / 0-)

    did not support having an independent redistricting commission. We have one only because of a citizen's initiative, Proposition 11, Voters First Act, on the November 2008 ballot. States without the initiative process will have a hard time wresting the power of redistricting from the legislatures.

    In accordance with the Voters FIRST Act (Act), the California State Auditor randomly selected the first eight members of the first Citizens Redistricting Commission (Commission) on November 18, 2010. These first eight commissioners—three who are Democrats, three who are Republican, and two who are either Decline-to-State or are registered with another party—were part of the 36 eligible applicants that remained in the sub-pools after the legislative leaders exercised their authority to make strikes and eliminated the names of 24 applicants from the pool of 60 of the most qualified applicants identified on September 23, 2010 by the Auditor’s Applicant Review Panel (Panel). The Panel reviewed and evaluated the applicants based on criteria set forth by the Act approved by voters in November 2008; including relevant analytical skills, the ability to be impartial; and a demonstrated appreciation for California’s diverse demographics and geography.Link and Wikipedia link
    As I recall, more than 24,000 citizens applied formally to be on the commission. The process was very fair.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:42:45 PM PDT

  •  I haven't gotten a look at the whole diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, elwior, Englishlefty

    But looking at the WI section even though there was a 90s map that put PARTS of Green County in WI-1, there's just not the population to leave out southern MKE County entirely, so I suspect they would have skipped Green County entirely and put in Franklin (SW corner of MKE County instead. Green County is much less industrial and really fits better into the 3rd district CoI.

    Also, I don't think they drew Stevens Point out of the 8th out of any particular fear of Lassa so much as just because it's a large source of Democratic votes.

    Other than those minor gripes, looks good.

  •  Thanks for the most accurate analysis (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, elwior, sturunner, Skaje

    of Ohio I've seen from a wool-spinning map-drawer here. So many of them seen like they were drawn from 10 miles up by someone who has never been in Ohio.

    I live in the 11th, and you are right about it: it's absurd to think this district would not elect a black congressperson if it were slightly less than 50% black. Most of the white people here (like me) are very progressive and have no problem supporting someone like our current congresswoman Marcia Fudge, who is also chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and extremely focused on the needs of regular working people of all colors. Also, Ohio-03 elected a black congresswoman THIS time despite being only around a quarter black.

    However, I disagree that Kucinich might have lost even if he had had the district you drew on the west side of greater Cleveland. He probably would have scraped out a primary victory as he did in 2008 with primary challengers. Now that he's out of Congress, you would see one or more of a raft of fresher candidates stepping up. I've got a few in mind I'd love to see run in a district like this.

    And 14 is already pretty swingy. The Republican mapmakers did less to protect it than elsewhere because of LaTourette's enduring and inexplicable popularity. If the Democrats had had a real candidate this past cycle, that seat would be blue. Unfortunately, they had decided to put their resources elsewhere due to LaTourette's enduring etc and let perennial nobody candidate Dale Blanchard (who usually loses in the primary) play candidate. This district is ripe for plucking.  Michael Wager has already stepped up.

    Jon Husted is a dick.

    by anastasia p on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:19:55 PM PDT

    •  Thanks and I definitely redrew after you commented (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elwior, sturunner, Skaje, Englishlefty

      on my last few diaries and I certainly agree this map is much better than those. Anyway, Kucinich wouldn't have lost, you're right and I have it as Likely D in the chart, but if he did manage to win the primary he'd have run far behind Obama. As for OH-14 it's really a new district as it's clearly Tim Ryan's and not LaTourette's as I really don't see any other logical way to draw it because Akron can clearly anchor its own district and rightly should do so. The Youngstown area (not sure what that region is called) can clearly anchor its own district too, which when you put those two criteria together causes it to merge with Geauga County and the rest of the northeast corner of the state.

      This was definitely one of my favorite maps out of the set of a whopping 33 so I'm definitely glad you liked it as a native Ohioan. I'm really hoping we can pick off the 14th in 2014 or 2016 though and it's a real shame Blanchard didn't step aside as he was truly unelectable but he clearly didn't care.

  •  California Commission (6+ / 0-)

    When California voted on it's commission I had the impression it was actually a Republican plan since the Democrats had such big lead in both state houses.

    I have to say I like the results we got, including getting rid of some blue dogs. Not everything was ideal, but it worked pretty well.

    Seems to me this is a path we should pursue state by state. I think someone needs to hire Stephen Wolf to help. He obviously has a passion for it.

    This is one of the most impressive diaries I have ever seen. Could this be Diary of the Year?

    The Democrats create jobs. The Republicans create recessions.

    by Tuba Les on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:40:44 PM PDT

  •  Hard to believe states like Florida and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    Pennsylvania have majority GOP members of Congress but still vote BLUE during Presidential elections.

    We have to fight back against gerrymandering.

    Fighting Liberal at
    “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” --Gandhi:

    by smokey545 on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 04:46:32 PM PDT

  •  One quibble (0+ / 0-)

    Lancaster and York counties must be separate from each other. This is similar to the "keep Bucks County whole" rule.  

    •  They mostly are, in fact I painstakingly kept (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      York and Lancaster proper separate themselves. Bucks is at least in a corner where it's easy to keep whole; I'd imagine if it were in the center of the state that rule might fly out the window and Lancaster and York are more or less in the population center of the state, district wise.

      Try drawing it yourself though and you'll find that at least one element of CoI has to be broken in southeast Pennsylvania. Though I do certainly intend on redrawing it at some point, but still. It's hard to keep the counties separate and it's hard to attach Reading to anything else that seems logical.

  •  One legal quibble with IL-04. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, Englishlefty

    Is it 65-70% Hispanic (total population)?  It needs to in order to comport with the 7th Circuit case Barnett v. City of Chicago, which states:

    Likewise, because of both age and the percentage of noncitizens, Latinos must be 65 to 70 percent of the total population in order to be confident of electing a Latino.
    More here:

    Yeah, that case was about Aldermen districts, but it was still a federal case on redistricting and is the reason why IL-04 has been upheld since its creation in '91 despite being ridiculously earmuff-shaped.

    "It is the stillest words that bring on the storm. Thoughts that come on doves' feet guide the world." -Nietzche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

    by KingofSpades on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:06:00 PM PDT

  •  OR-03 & OR-05 (0+ / 0-)

    I don't know if this is the map I recommended to you, but OR-03 is basically the exact same as the Republican proposal.  OR-05 Schrader may be able to hold onto in most years (he is a farmer & veterinarian, and you know what they say about them), but in a Republican wave year he'd be gone.

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:21:24 PM PDT

  •  Gerrymandering serves both parties.... (0+ / 0-)

    Want to see gerrymandering democratic style....   Follow the history of Gerry Nadlers
     seat in NY.    Weirdest squeezed out district and designed to make sure Jerry stayed in the house.  

    Where I live new immigrant groups are fighting the inner party gerrymandering too.   Districts mercilessly split so that blocks of NEW ethnic groups cannot take over "party seats". And upset the party apple cart.    

    "You've got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and a humorist to stay one" - Will Rogers

    by KnotIookin on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:15:15 PM PDT

  •  How did you get data for the 2012 election? (0+ / 0-)

    As far as I recall, DRA doesn't have it.

    by Inoljt on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:46:14 PM PDT

    •  Estimated based on county level data (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      basically I assumed that Obama's 2008 vote total proportion in the district for that county was equal to his 2012 vote proportion in that county. Obviously imperfect, but not as prone to error as one might think. I took a look at most of the county and district level returns for 2012 that jeffmd posted and for the most part the proportions for the real districts were similar so I felt like this method worked well for hypothetical districts too as long as it was grounded in the 2008 precint and 2012 county returns. For Illinois however and a few other large counties and New England towns I used the actual precinct/town level returns. Generally whenever precinct redistricting didn't throw a wrench in it I used precinct returns for big counties. Otherwise the error is tiny, such as in Arkansas.

  •  A masterpiece (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks Stephen for all your hard work. This is mind boggling detailed, I hope this gets picked up by a national news source, as obviously it should!

    If you're ever in New Orleans, drinks are on me.

    23, Male, LA-02, TX-08 (originally), SSP: sschmi4

    by Stephen Schmitz on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:55:59 PM PDT

  •  Awesome job! Thank you! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, wishingwell, Stephen Wolf

    I'm with the commenter above: this is a major candidate for diary of the year. Great work!

    Reality has a well-known liberal bias -- Stephen Colbert

    by ItsaMathJoke on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 09:40:38 PM PDT

  •  Fantastic diary... (4+ / 0-)

    and a very important topic.

    I wish there were more diaries like this on DailyKos.

    Tipped and recced.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 04:48:58 AM PDT

  •  Where's Kansas? (0+ / 0-)

    There may be other states missing, but I wanted to see your proposal for my home state.

    I also favor districts where there's a requirement for shortest boundaries so that districts don't have wild long appendages.  Sure it may not get districts that are balanced or homogenous, but it kinda forces people to meet and get along with differing interests as well.

  •  Best Comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    I am rec'ing just for this


    Finally we get to my home state of North Carolina which Republicans disgustingly gerrymandered the living shit out of.
    No kidding.. and now the NCGA is trying to screw over Wake County by demanding redistricting the School Board districts.

    Why do Republicans Hate Americans?

    by Caniac41 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:31:36 AM PDT

  •  What happened to (0+ / 0-)

    Howard Dean's 50-State Strategy?  He started that in the early aughts (2000's) and when he was replaced at the head of the DNC, they dropped his plan - which to me, seemed to be working.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 09:40:38 AM PDT

  •  Forget independent commissions. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Win state legislatures and draw Democratic maps.

  •  Illinois .drf? (0+ / 0-)

    I think downstate could represent CoI a little better, want to play with it.

    IL-10 to IL-07 by way of -09, -17 and -18.

    by GaleForceBurg on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 10:25:03 AM PDT

    •  Here you go (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I actually thought I did a relatively better job downstate than upstate in Cook in DuPage. What don't you like about it?

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

        Think a commission IL would look more like this downstate.

        The two things I saw were the IL-17 and -12.

        17) QC-Peoria only happens in gerrymanders. Besides the Deere/Cat rivalry, they're distinct parts of the state (tell a Peorian they're in Western Illinois).

        More likely IL17 would combine the area between the Illinois and Mississippi (once referred to as "Forgottonia")with the QC and NW IL.

        12) The Metro East proper is split. This is the Metro East + Perry County.

        Wanted to see if this changed the partisan situation at all. Nope. IL13, 15, 16, 17 & 18 all go red. IL12 likely goes blue for another Congressman or so.

        IL-10 to IL-07 by way of -09, -17 and -18.

        by GaleForceBurg on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 04:36:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for drawing that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          your way makes more sense I suppose. Illinois was one of the states where I had the most trouble and was quite dissatisfied with the map.

          What did the Obama numbers come out to for your IL-10 as that one looks better for Dems than mine? Lake County just reminded me of Bucks County a lot in that, though it makes sense to split it intuitively, it's almost the perfect size for a district so I didn't. It's one of those regions where I'd totally ignore county lines, but I just can't see a commission doing it to that extent.

          •  It's 62.5 Obama '08. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Stephen Wolf

            It'd be solid for Dold, keeping the ticket splitters at the south end.

            Lake is weird. I'm not satisfied with the Chicago area I drew there (why I ignored it). In CoI terms, there are two or three Lake Counties. Western Lake shares more with McHenry. Very exurban, lots of pockets of wealth. Eastern Lake has been developed for 150-odd years. It's much denser and shares more with northern Cook. Then there's Waukegan/North Chicago.

            Between the two maps, it's clear that a commission map of IL would produce about an 8-10 Dem seats. Illinois is a state where it's very true that Dem votes are inefficiently distributed.

            IL-10 to IL-07 by way of -09, -17 and -18.

            by GaleForceBurg on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 05:53:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Independent Commissions for State Legislatures (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    First, an impressive and thought provoking piece of work, congratulations!

    I expect that there has been lots of gerrymandering for the state legislatures as well as the U.S. House. Drawing all of the maps independently would help balance the state legislatures and hopefully create a much better government overall. We don't have a really independent commission for the state legislature in Colorado, but there is a commission with members of both parties and a couple of people who are deemed independent.

    I'm impressed by how much the Colorado Legislature has been able to accomplish this year after redistricting (and gaining Democratic majorities in both houses). We also have term limits so there are many fewer entrenched politicians to fight for their current district.

    Couple of examples: a fourth gun control measure passed yesterday and a fifth on the way, civil unions passed, and a measure to mail ballots to every registered voter and allow election day registration is in the process of winding its way through the legislature. Well worth fighting for a better redistricting system for state legislatures!

    •  Thanks. Yes this is unfortunately an area where (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Republicans have a huge advantage too thanks to the 2010 bloodbath. That was really the electoral equivalent of winning the lottery for them since it was a redistricting year. States like Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, among others all have GOP legislatures because they're heavily gerrymandered, while states like Ohio that are swingy make it still impossible for us to win the majority.

      Then you have states like Georgia where the GOP can gerrymander us into superminority status so that even if we elect a governor they can override our vetoes.

      Colorado came within 200 votes of having a Dem trifecta in 2010 which would have locked the state up for us. We could have gerrymandered a comfortable majority in the legislature and 2 more congressional seats and that would have led to a wave of progressive legislation even more so than the great things we've already seen from the state.

      On the other hand, Minnesota's governor race came within 7,000 votes or so of them winning the trifecta and that would have been an utter disaster for the state. Instead we now have a Dem trifecta but unlike Colorado they've been fumbling issues like the budget.

  •  Good work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    I really appreciate diaries like this. Thank you.


    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 12:47:29 PM PDT

  •  It's a shame that there are no political parties (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    in the Constitution. If there were, then maybe we would have per-state proportional representation. For example, people could vote for the party of choice (by voting for their local candidates), and based on the number of votes each party received, they would be able to select a certain number of representatives who would then go to Washington. At that point, the only remaining gerrymanders would be for state offices (but states could also do their voting by parties and choose state legislators accordingly, plus as long as we're rewriting the Constitution, what do we need the states for anyway?).

  •  Honestly maybe we need to send this diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf, jncca, philipmerrill

    to a few big liberal donors. Conservatives have made a much better use of the initiative process than Dems this would be a great cause for liberal uber-donors to focus on. With the public fed up at Washington a simple message of "Let voters pick their politicians, don't let politicians pick their voters" would carry the day in most of these states.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 01:54:16 PM PDT

    •  If I had their contact info I absolutely would (0+ / 0-)

      Over the next few weeks I'm going to try to find out if there is any effort to get such measures on the ballot in Ohio and Michigan, but it's hard to find that kind of stuff out without it being up and running yet. I really don't see how we retake the house under the current lines since at this point we're likely to have divided government until 2019. 2020 is a presidential year and it's unlikely we'll have a massive wave then unless Republicans really screw things up, and waiting 8 years is just ridiculous anyway when we're bound to have last year's situation repeat where Dems win the popular vote, polling shows us leading the generic ballot by 3, yet we don't even come close to taking the house.

  •  Great diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    But, is there a more dysfunctional and complex electoral system in any other democratic nation?

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 04:48:43 PM PDT

  •  I'd really be interested in that liberal Utah seat (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    And who would run for it. Rocky Anderson, maybe?

    Leftist Mormon in Utah, Born in Washington State, live in UT-04 (Matheson).

    by Gygaxian on Tue Apr 23, 2013 at 06:37:44 PM PDT

  •  Map to Victory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    This research and report is first rate. It should be cross-posted to the Washington Post and NY Times. It should be required reading for the DNC, especially in Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Nebraska, and Arkansas where we should insist on state constitutional amendments to force redistricting along democratic lines.

    Or we can keep letting Republicans steal our country back.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Wed Apr 24, 2013 at 04:23:53 AM PDT

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

    Congratulations on such an excellent diary.
    I also want say that your diary got a link on Rick Hasen's Election law blog. That is in its self warrants congratulations.

  •  Well done Stephen Wolf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    This obviously took a lot of time. I've been sharing it liberally to try to get more eyeballs on it. Fantastic analysis.

    Bold Progressive. Deal with it.

    by novenator on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 02:30:09 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for mentioning me! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Wolf

    I'm honored that you added my Connecticut map.

    I have a question though: your New Jersey map is an edited version of the one in my diary. I am curious as to why you switched Montgomery Township with Warren Township in Somerset County, and took North Plainfield out of the 5th and into the 12th.

    (-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 Fri Apr 26, 2013 at 06:49:53 PM PDT

  •  Arkansas (0+ / 0-)

    Your 2nd Congressional District is Safe Republican. You have Faulkner, Saline and Garland County in that district, which are extremely Republican downballot. You also have Grant County in that district instead of Conway County, which you have in the 4th. Griffin or any competent Republican would easily win that seat.

    Your 1st Congressional District is no sure thing either. White County and Lonoke County are extremely Republican and also have better voter turnout than the rural Delta.

    •  You think a 44% Obama district is safe R? (0+ / 0-)

      or put another way, you don't think our candidate could have run just 4-5% ahead of Obama for the Libertarian to play spoiler? I think if we had gotten a better candidate than Herb Rule we might have kept it close so I don't see why it would be safe R if we assume a somewhat better candidate. I agree though that with Rule it was Safe R as he ran behind Obama, but you don't think we could have gotten a better candidate?. I know Saline and those other counties are heavily Republican, but Pulaski is still heavily Dem and half of the district. The district was .7% to the left of the state in 2006, but 4% to the left of the state in 2010.

      The 1st district I agree is no sure thing, Likely D is overoptimistic and tossup tilt D is probably more appropriate. But our candidates got nearly 45% there despite being woefully underfunded, you don't think we could have done 5% better with candidates stronger than Jeffress and Ellington? I think it would all come down to candidate recruitment and I suspect we could have gotten someone stronger than Ellington as our 1st district nominee. What do you think, would we have gotten a better candidate and who might that have been? Ellington basically performed like Blanch Lincoln minus her base and no other candidates statewide did that even in 2010 or in the state legislature in the southern part of it in 2012 if I'm not mistaken. That's where a significant chunk, roughly a 4th would be new to Crawford. The district overall is a good 8% to the left of the state, in both 2006 and 2010.

      Let me add one more qualifier and say what if we had non-partisan redistricting in all of the state legislatures too? I'd imagine that would have a big impact on candidate recruitment as well and I don't see why that can't be consistent with my overall project as gerrymandering is still gerrymandering even when it benefits Dems despite being unsuccessful in keeping the legislature.

      •  I agree with GradyDem (0+ / 0-)

        by the way. I maintain that Dems should try for one safe D seat in AR rather than 2, which could lead to a dummymander.

        (-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 Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:05:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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