Category Archives: Reapportionment

Oregon’s New Seat

Current Oregon US Congressional Districts Map


By Jim Ellis

July 2, 2021 — Oregon earned a sixth congressional seat in the 2021 apportionment, but exactly where that district will be placed on the Beaver State’s new map is not particularly obvious.

Like most states, Oregon handles redistricting through the legislative process and Democrats have firm control of all three legs of the legislative stool. In addition to Gov. Kate Brown (D), the party has a 18-11 margin in the state Senate with one Independent. Their majority in the state House of Representatives is similarly large, 37-22, with one vacancy. Yet, the partisan breakdown of the state might make drawing a solid 5D-1R map surprisingly somewhat difficult.

Currently, the five congressional districts are not obviously gerrymandered, as the seats are drawn in block form. Naturally, all but two cluster around the Portland metropolitan area, the state’s dominant population region.

The five incumbents are all senior, with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Washington County) being the most junior with her original election coming in a special 2012 contest. The delegation dean is House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) who was first elected in 1986.

As you can see from the following chart, using 2019 population numbers since the Census Bureau will not be delivering census tract data to the states until after Aug. 15, the five districts are remarkably equivalent in relation to population size.

DISTRICT INCUMBENT 2020% POPULATION REG. VOTERS
1 BONAMICI 64.6% 858,875 570,186
2 BENTZ 59.9% 841,022 598,375
3 BLUMENAUER 73.0% 853,116 588,614
4 DeFAZIO 51.5% 820,504 588,508
5 SCHRADER 51.9% 844,220 578,609

The population figures suggest that each district will have to shed between 115,000 to 155,000 people in order to create six CDs with equal population, likely a number around 710,000 individuals for this state.

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Colorado Releases First New Map


District 1 – Rep. Donna DeGette (D-Denver)
District 2 – Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette/Boulder)
District 3 – Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt/Western Slope)
District 4 – Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor/East Colorado)
District 5 – Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)
District 6 – Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora)
District 7 – New Seat
District 8 – Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada/Thornton)


By Jim Ellis

June 28, 2021 — The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission, using only Census Bureau estimates because no state has yet received its census tract information and won’t until at least Aug. 15, released a preliminary new eight-district US House map late last week. Colorado is one of the states that gained a congressional seat under the 2020 national reapportionment.

The published commission map will not be the final version because population estimates and statistical sampling cannot be used for redistricting purposes per a 1999 US Supreme Court ruling (Department of Commerce v. US House of Representatives). Therefore, if this map is to become the basis for the actual plan, it will have to be adjusted after Colorado is presented with its census tract data.

This is the first redistricting cycle where Colorado has opted for the commission process. The new congressional map looks similar to the current seven-district design, in that the basic configurations of the seats and anchor population centers remain consistent with the notable exception of Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s (D-Arvada) current 7th District.

What appears designed as the new seat, District 8, takes a key population center from the 7th, the Arvada-Westminster-Thornton corridor, and makes it the new 8th CD anchor. This means the new 8th begins just north of Denver in Adams County and consumes about 85 percent of the local entity before moving slightly west to capture small Broomfield County and parts of Jefferson and Boulder counties. It then continues northeast to encompass a portion of Weld County.

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Census Delays: Some Ramifications

By Jim Ellis

June 1, 2021 — As we know, the Census Bureau has delayed in meeting its public reporting deadlines, which causes ramifications in the political world. As a result, the state officials responsible for redistricting could well find themselves placed behind the proverbial eight ball as the new year approaches.

Reapportionment is the term used to explain the entire decennial process. Reapportionment, as the US Supreme Court defined it in their 1999 ruling on the US Census Bureau v. House of Representatives case, is basically divided into two parts. The first, which was finally completed and released on April 26, is the allocation of congressional seats to the states. The second is the re-drawing of congressional, state, and local district boundaries most often referred to as redistricting.

To complicate matters even further, the delayed allocation proved much different – affecting six seats to be exact – than predictions. It was believed for at least two years that Texas would gain three seats in the 2020 reapportionment and Florida two, with Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon adding one seat apiece. The actual numbers found Texas gaining two, Florida one, and Arizona none. The other one-seat gaining states were correctly predicted.

Conversely, Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia were all expected to lose one seat apiece. The actual report found Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island each retaining the same number of seats they held in the 2010 reapportionment, while the others did lose a single district apiece.

The Census Bureau claims that COVID is largely responsible for their delays, but the state of Alabama, in their pending lawsuit against the federal statistical entity, disagrees. Alabama claims the deadline violations occurred because of the Bureau’s attempt to impose, for the first time in history, differential privacy over the data. This means, under the argument of protecting individual privacy, data would be deliberately scrambled, and certain information not publicly released.

Differential privacy alone would make redistricting extremely difficult for state map drawers because the released census tract numbers, now by definition, wouldn’t equal the state population figures brought forth earlier in the year. The effect would cause political havoc throughout the country. A court ruling on the Alabama case is expected shortly.

Because of a successful legal challenge from Ohio, the Census Bureau has agreed to make the data necessary for redistricting available to the states by Aug. 15 instead of the Oct. 1 date indicated when allocation was announced.

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Rep. LaHood Considering Judicial Bid

By Jim Ellis

Illinois Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria)

May 25, 2021 — An interesting story is breaking in Illinois that involves four-term US Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria). Reports suggest that the congressman is considering running for an open state Supreme Court position next year instead of re-election.

The move would make some sense in that winning the 3rd District Supreme Court position would appear to give Republicans a 4-3 majority on the judicial panel, the only area of power that the GOP would control in the state.

Considering the Illinois congressional map is a heavy Democratic gerrymander (13D-5R statewide) and will likely continue as such under a new 17-seat map (down one from the current 18) to be drawn when the Census Bureau reports the track data to the states, probability is high that the collapsed seat will be Republican and come from Illinois’ downstate region.

Though fewer people reside in the state of Illinois today than 10 years ago, the population loss appears greater outside the Chicago metropolitan area. Democrats, with their wide majorities in both houses of the state legislature, will assuredly capitalize upon the opportunity of collapsing two of the few remaining GOP seats into one. This means despite languishing in a severe minority, Republican congressional strength in the state will likely diminish even further.

Illinois is one of the few states that runs its Supreme Court elections by districts. Justices are initially elected in partisan elections for 10-year terms, and then must stand for a yes-no retention vote to secure succeeding terms. To win retention, a justice must receive at least a 60 percent yes vote.

Third District Justice Thomas Kilbride recorded only a 56.5 percent yes vote in the November election; therefore, he was defeated. His appointed replacement, Democratic Justice Robert Carter, has already said he will not seek a full 10-year term in 2022, meaning the position will be open for election.

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Census Patterns

By Jim Ellis

April 30, 2021 — Monday’s Census Bureau’s congressional apportionment and state population report continues to be digested, and its many surprises will potentially lead to legal action from unanticipated sources.

First, the ongoing Alabama lawsuit against the census counting methodology, among other issues, will likely be drastically altered since the Yellowhammer State did not lose its seventh district. An in-person hearing has been scheduled for Monday, May 3, in the state capital of Montgomery.

Second, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is already making noises that his state will sue over the apportionment formula that eliminated one of his state’s congressional districts by just 89 individuals. Others are questioning how the state, where projections forecast a loss of potentially two congressional districts, landed exactly on the national growth average and came within just a few people of not even losing one seat.

The 50-state population segmentation is interesting in that it again provides us clear growth and mobility patterns. Regionally, the immense area starting in the center of the country and moving west to the Pacific Ocean is the big population gainer. The Midwest and Northeast is the major loser, with the South and Southeast producing mixed data.

In the 17 states beginning at the eastern border of North Dakota and moving down all the way to Texas’ eastern border and then back through the entire west but not including Alaska and Hawaii, the regional population growth rate was 10.6 percent, or 3.2 points above the national growth rate of 7.4 percent.

If, however, the five states within this sector that fell below the national growth rate are removed, California (6.1 percent growth rate), Oklahoma (5.5 percent), Kansas (3.0 percent), New Mexico (2.8 percent), and Wyoming (2.3 percent), the regional average for the 12 states that exceeded the national growth rate becomes 13.4 percent, or a full six points above the US benchmark.

Therefore, the fact that this western region gained five of the seven new congressional seats is consistent with the recorded sector growth data.

The South/Southeast segment, which includes 11 states, produced inconsistent regional data. Area-wide, the average growth rate was 6.7 percent, or 0.7 percent below the national average. This is a surprising number considering the region gained two congressional seats in reapportionment.

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