Category Archives: Redistricting

Colorado’s Second Map

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission’s recently released second iteration of the state’s new eight-seat congressional map.

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 9, 2021 — After a round of public redistricting hearings, the staff for the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission released the second iteration of the state’s new eight-seat congressional map. The Centennial State gained one seat in national reapportionment.

The second map differs significantly from the first commission draw, but the partisan outcome may be similar. The biggest differences affect Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Silt) 3rd District, which becomes the contiguous southern seat for which many people were calling in the public hearings. Though her home would be placed in Rep. Joe Neguse’s (D-Boulder) 2nd District, all seven current incumbent members would have a place to run.

Rep. Neguse’s 2nd District has already drawn criticism for pairing the college town of Boulder with a rural western slope constituency that would stretch all the way to Utah. The traditional Colorado western slope rural district included all of the state’s western sector and stretched from Wyoming to New Mexico.

Despite the unusual draw, Rep. Neguse would have a safe Democratic seat. Rep. Boebert would have a district that would stretch beyond the Democratic city of Pueblo, which she currently represents, but this new 3rd District iteration would only be slightly more Democratic than her current domain.

According to the accompanying electoral statistical chart that the Commission supplied, all Republican candidates carried the 3rd in the chosen eight benchmark races from 2016, ’18, and ‘20. Curiously, the commission staff did not include the 2020 presidential contest among the considered races though they did include the landslide 2020 US Senate result.

The other member who would have a similar district to that of Rep. Boebert, but from a partisan Democratic perspective, is 7th District Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada). Here, Perlmutter would find himself in a relatively competitive seat that in a bad year for his party could flip. The cumulative election result gives the Democrats a 5.2 percent margin, similar to Boebert’s 5.5 percent Republican tilt in her 3rd District. The party registration numbers, however, give the Democrats only a 1.3 percent advantage.

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Ohio’s Lost Seat

Ohio’s Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 8, 2021 — In some of our previous redistricting articles, we’ve alluded to Ohio’s interesting situation. With a 16-member congressional delegation reducing to 15, it seemed unlikely that Republican map drawers would stretch the new map to 12R-3D from its current 12R-4D split. Outside pressures and other factors, however, suggest the first Buckeye State map could have such a partisan division.

Recently, news coming from Illinois suggests that Democratic leaders are looking at ways to reduce the Republican federal contingent in the Land of Lincoln from five House members to just three. If so, states like Ohio, where Republicans are in complete control of the redistricting process, face national pressure to maximize the partisan gain.

Another factor pointing to the Democrats losing the Ohio seat is that only one member to-date, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown), is not running for re-election. The eastern Ohio congressman is an announced US Senate candidate, meaning that his 13th District, which stretches from Akron to the Pennsylvania border, is largely unprotected.

As in Pennsylvania, where Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) is the lone House member not seeking re-election in his state because he, too, is running for the Senate, it is reasonable that the collapsed seat would be the one with no incumbent. Therefore, in both cases, Republican map drawers would have a defensible opportunity to collapse a Democratic seat. Furthermore, a Democratic power grab in Illinois, should that happen, makes Republican retribution in Ohio and Pennsylvania more likely.

Another transitional Ohio factor is the two new members coming into the House right after the Nov. 2 special election. Since the partisan primaries have already nominated candidates in a pair of vacated congressional districts that have consistently performed for each party, it became clear on primary night that Democrat Rep. Shontel Brown and Republican Rep. Mike Carey would be joining the delegation.

Brown’s 11th District that stretches from Cleveland to Akron is likely to be a key redistricting focal point. The 11th must gain 94,091 people to reach the new 15-District Ohio population quota of 786,630 individuals, which is the second most of any Buckeye State CD. Since this is also a majority minority seat, adding the necessary people from the Akron area would be a reasonable move, and such a population segment would have to come from Rep. Ryan’s 13th District.

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Michigan’s Lost Seat

Michigan Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 31, 2021 — Losing a congressional seat is nothing new to the Michigan delegation. Since the 1980 census, inclusive, the state has lost a district in every reapportionment and two in the 1990 iteration. Today, we continue our series about the states gaining and losing congressional districts under 2020 national reapportionment with a look at the Wolverine State.

Michigan is difficult to draw not only because of the consistent seat losses, but so many of the state’s districts abut immovable objects: i.e., an international or state border, or a body of water. Under the current map, 10 of Michigan’s 14 congressional districts at least partially border a country, state, or lake.

The Michigan per district population number for the 2020 census is a high 775,179 individuals. High per district resident numbers often occur when a state loses a seat. In this case, all of Michigan’s 14 districts must gain population, hence the underlying reason for another delegation reduction.

Another factor in making the state a rather unique draw for the new Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission that is tasked with creating the new congressional map for the initial time, is the areas needing to gain the most population lie in opposite ends of the state. This, added to the fact that over 70 percent of the current districts border an immovable object, means the 2021 redistricting process is a significant challenge for the eleven commissioners (4R; 3D; 4N) with no previous experience in drawing political maps.

The area with the largest population shortfall comes in the northern part of the state. Rep. Dale Kildee’s (D-Flushing/Flint) 5th District is the seat furthest away from the population quota, down 104,476 individuals. Directly to his west, Rep. John Moolenaar’s (R-Midland) 4th District is 77,325 people under quota, and to the north all the way to the Canadian border, Rep. Jack Bergman’s (R-Watersmeet) Upper Peninsula 1st District will require an additional 70,829 residents. Combined, these three seats are 252,630 people short of the population quota for three congressional districts.

The area in the second-most need of population is the city of Detroit. The two districts that encompass the city, Districts 13 (Rep. Rashida Tlaib-D) and 14 (Rep. Brenda Lawrence-D) are a combined 184,290 people short for a pair of districts. Because both CDs 13 and 14 and majority minority seats, it is more than probable that the commission won’t collapse these districts because of Voting Rights Act requirements.

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Gerrymandering Wars Ignited

By Jim Ellis
Aug. 27, 2021 — In the past few days, Democratic leaders and news sources in two states, New York and Illinois, are suggesting that the party redistricting strategists will attempt to maximize Democratic US House gains. Republicans will then counter in similar states that they control.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D), on her first official day in office after replacing resigned Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), bluntly answered a reporter’s question to the affirmative when asked if she would use her newfound power to maximize Democratic congressional gains through the redistricting process.

Earlier this week, news sources were reporting that Illinois Democratic map drawers, though no preliminary congressional map has yet been released, are attempting to draw a new 14D-3R map that would likely collapse Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) and Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) into a strong Democratic seat for the former and pairing for the latter with another downstate Republican.

Doing this would put added national pressure on Republicans in states such as Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Georgia – places where the GOP has full control of the redistricting process. Here, the states are either adding seats or in position to carve a sitting Democrat into unfriendly political territory.

With New York losing one seat, the prime district for elimination would appear obvious since Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) has already announced his retirement and his 23rd District is the lowest in population among all New York seats. Adjacent Rep. Claudia Tenney’s (R-New Hartford) 22nd CD is second lowest, so combining those two Upstate Republican districts into one appears to be a foregone conclusion. It remains to be seen if the Democratic leaders try to do more. The current delegation breaks 19D-8R but will reduce to 26 seats in the next Congress.

Of Illinois’ current 18 congressional districts, only one, that of Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), is over-populated and only by 10,986 people. While the Kinzinger seat is 61,125 individuals short of the state quota of 753,677 for the new 17-district map, his is not even close to being the most under-populated. He, however, sits between two Democratic seats that the party needs to protect, those of retiring Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), whose 17th CD is 79,907 residents under quota, and Rep. Lauren Underwood’s (D-Naperville) 14th, where she had a close call in 2020 but is only 482 people short of quota.

While the 14th does not need many more people, it does need significantly more Democrats and they can be found by dividing Kinzinger’s 16th CD into pieces.

Redistricting is always full of surprises, so this analysis is merely educated speculation. If, however, the Democrats come away with gaining a net three or four seats from New York and Illinois combined, then how do the Republicans retaliate?

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The Lost California Seat

Los Angeles, California-area Congressional Districts


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2021 — Continuing our series about the states losing seats in reapportionment and which members might be on the outside looking in, today we analyze the Golden State of California. The largest US House delegation will downsize one seat, meaning it will send 52 members to the next Congress.

To put the California population change into historical perspective, during the 1980 census the state gained seven new US House seats. In the 2010 census, for the first time in history, California did not add, and now we see actual reduction.

For the second time, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will draw the congressional map and under specific criteria. The districts are supposed to be constructed on a nonpartisan basis without regard to specific incumbents’ residences or political situation, adhere to the Voting Rights Act pertaining to their substantial number of majority minority districts, and keep cities and counties whole where possible.

Looking at the actual census population by district as opposed to the previously published census estimates, changes in which districts may be on the chopping block are evident. Under the estimates, it appeared that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) was the low population CD, but his 28th District seat now is 12th from the bottom. The new low is veteran Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), whose 40th District needs to gain 70,139 people.

Of the current 53 districts, 35 must gain population while 18 will shed; hence, the reason the state is losing a seat. From a county perspective, it appears the Los Angeles members will be most at risk. A total of 18 congressional districts encompass LA County including nine that are wholly-contained. The other nine districts cross county borders into such places as Kern, Orange, San Bernardino, and Ventura.

Of the 18 districts wholly or partially within the LA County borders, Democrats represent 15 and Republicans just three. Only one of these 18, the 23rd District of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), must shed population. Though certain other places in the state are also resident-low, there is a good possibility that the seat reduction will come from one of the Los Angeles districts, particularly among the nine seats wholly within the county since all of those contiguous seats must gain residents.

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