This week I have interactive state legislative district maps for Kentucky and Tennessee, utilizing the presidential election results by district calculated by the team at Daily Kos Elections. Each legislative chamber is mapped out and color-coded according to the presidential winner and the party that holds each district, along with some info on each legislator. You can find links to all the previously released maps here, which you may want to bookmark.
Districts in solid blue were carried by Obama and are represented by a Democrat, while those in solid red were won by Mitt Romney and are held by a Republican. Lighter red districts voted for Obama and a Republican legislator, those in lighter blue went for Romney and a Democratic legislator, and those in gray are entirely new districts created through redistricting. Note that the map displays use only the two-party vote to give you a more equivalent comparison between presidential and legislative results, but this post and Daily Kos Elections numbers include totals for third-party candidates, though the differences are minor.
Kentucky State Senate
Kentucky was one of the very few states where divided government actually led to a compromise over redistricting rather than a court fight. Republicans held the majority in the state Senate and thus gerrymandered that chamber; Democrats held the state House and did the same there. Both these new lines take effect in 2014. Another factor unique to Kentucky is that polarization is lower than nearly every state and ticket splitting occurs with high frequency and there was statistically almost no correlation between presidential and legislative performance by district in 2012.
In the Senate Mitt Romney won 33 of 38 districts, but in addition to the five Obama seats Democrats also hold nine won by Romney. This gives Republicans a 24 to 14 majority, including an independent who caucuses with them whose district is in green. Unlike in most states, only a simple majority is needed to override vetoes. Romney won the median two districts by a margin of 62 to 36, which was three points better than his statewide margin. Senators serve staggered, four-year terms with only half the chamber up each cycle.
Kentucky State House of Representatives
Showing you how important control over redistricting is, Democrats are in a much better position in the lower chamber. While Obama only carried 18 districts to Romney's 82, Democrats hold all of those 18 plus an additional 35 Romney seats adjusted for redistricting. The Democrats' current 54 to 46 majority is very much at risk of falling to Republicans for the first time since the 1920s. The median two seats voted for Romney by an average of 63 to 35, which was five percent to the right of his statewide performance.
Kentucky's House of Representatives is one of the few highly competitive chambers this fall and Democrats' narrow majority is highly imperiled due to the longstanding rightward trend of the state. However, Democrats are fielding many strong candidates and over a dozen of their Romney-won districts lack a Republican challenger. As we saw in West Virginia, coal country bastions in places like eastern Kentucky may reliably vote Republican for president, but they still often favor Democrats down-ballot.
Please head below the fold for Tennessee.
Tennessee State Senate
Republicans have an ironclad hold on the Tennessee legislature thanks to the heavy rightward lean of the state and their total control over redistricting for the first time since Reconstruction. Obama carried just five districts to 28 for Romney: Only two of the Romney seats are currently held by Democrats, but both of those senators are retiring this year. With the veto-override threshold in the state just a simple majority, the 28 to five Republican majority makes Democrats essentially irrelevant. Senators serve staggered four-year terms. The median seat in the chamber went for Romney 65 to 34, a huge 11 points to the right of the state.
Tennessee State House of Representatives
As with the State Senate, Republicans utterly dominate the lower house. Romney won 79 districts to Obama's 20 with the latter all electing Democrats along with seven Romney seats. Republicans have an overall 72 to 27 super-majority including one independent who caucuses with them, colored in green on the map. The median seat went for Romney by 67 to 32, a punishing 14 percent more Republican than the state.