When I first embarked on redistricting Maryland, I had no intention of creating a Democratic gerrymander--all I wanted to do was see how easy it would be to create a nice, contiguous, compact map, regardless of who it would elect. For fun. Once I got started, however, I remembered hearing rumors of Maryland Democrats trying to create an 8-0 map, and I wanted to attempt it myself. I think that I've done it! It's not perfect and there are some problems, but it is both a solid Democratic gerrymander and an improvement over the current map. Let's begin.
Maryland's 1st Congressional District
Congressman Andy Harris will face a tough re-election fight in the new 1st district. The new 1st ditches three southern counties in the Eastern Shore, Baltimore County, and most of Harford County, trading those places for a stretch into suburban DC. Though Harris was actually drawn out of this district--he lives just a little north of Baltimore--this is the likely district for him to run in because it includes most of his former territory. It won’t be easy though, because the newly reformatted 1st district would have given Obama 61.5% of the vote. This is a solid pickup for almost any Democrat.
Maryland's 2nd Congressional District
The new 2nd district is a natural fit for Congressman Ruppersberger, containing much of his former territory. The big difference, however, is that his new district is much more compact and neat. In exchange for taking the conservative areas in Baltimore County that previous belonged to the 1st district, the new 2nd is more conservative. Obama would have received 53.9% of the vote in this district, meaning that although Democrats are undoubtedly favored here, a tough race might emerge every once in a while. For now, this will be likely Democratic.
Maryland's 3rd Congressional District
The new 3rd stretches from Frederick County to Anne Arundel County, touching Carroll County, Baltimore County, a small sliver of Montgomery County, and virtually all of Howard County. It is much more compact than the previous 3rd district and although Congressman John Sarbanes does not actually live in the district—he lives just a few miles out of it in Baltimore County—it includes most of his former territory in the southern Baltimore suburbs. This district gave Obama 56.8% of the vote in 2008, and we can conclude that Democrats will have no difficulty holding it.
Maryland's 4th Congressional District
The reformatted 4th district is the second most Democratic district in the state and is primarily based in northern Montgomery County and northern Prince George’s County. It is a minority-majority district, but that’s deceptive—there’s a surprisingly high amount of Hispanics in this district, making it 35.2% white, 32.6% black, 20.1% Hispanic, and 9.9% Asian. Obama received 76% of the vote in this district in 2008, and it includes nearly all of Congresswoman Donna Edwards’ former territory, though her home is actually not located in the district. It’s a natural fit for her, however, and it will be a safe Democratic seat in any Congressman’s hands.
Maryland's 5th Congressional District
Congressman Steny Hoyer has gained some foreign territory in his new 5th district, but it’s nothing for him to worry about. In order to drag Andy Harris into the blue in the 1st district, Hoyer received three counties from the Eastern Shore, essentially making this a southern Maryland district. It remains solidly Democratic, having given Obama 63.2% of the vote in 2008, so Hoyer or anyone else should have no trouble holding it for the Democrats. It acquires its liberal leanings by encompassing most of the southern DC suburbs and by reducing the white population down to 52.5%. In the nearby future, this could become a minority-majority district, but for now, it’s a solid Democratic district.
Maryland's 6th Congressional District
In the previous drawing, the 6th district was the least gerrymandered. Now, it becomes the most gerrymandered. It continues to encompass all of the Panhandle and continues to reach into Harford County, but there’s a twist—now, it reaches down into southern Montgomery County and the northwestern DC suburbs and has ditched most of Frederick County, making it considerably less conservative this time around. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett has actually been drawn out of this district, due to the fact that he lives in the city of Frederick. However, because this district most closely matches his previous district, this is the likely place for him to run—should he actually choose to run again. This is also the least Democratic district in Maryland, having given Obama 50.9% of the vote. This is a relative swing district with a definite lean towards the Democratic Party; it’s a good fit for a moderate Maryland Democrat in the mold of Frank Kratovil. There are a number of moderate Democratic State Delegates from the Panhandle portion of the district and all of them would be good general election candidates. Though it’s not relevant in the slightest, I personally think that this district looks like a crab claw about to scoop up suburban Baltimore. Tossup or lean Democratic.
Maryland's 7th Congressional District
The 7th is essentially the city of Baltimore and it is the most compact district in the map. It includes almost all of Baltimore, except a few northern precincts, and reaches south into Baltimore County, Howard County, and Anne Arundel County a bit. It gave Obama 77.3% of the vote and is 49.4% black, making it the perfect district for Congressman Elijah Cummings. It is the most Democratic district in the state, and therefore, it is a solid Democratic hold.
Maryland's 8th Congressional District
Actually, remember when I said that the 6th was the most gerrymandered district? Maybe not. Previously, this district encompassed mainly DC suburbs. Now? It stretches from some northeastern Democratic suburbs to the city of Frederick—and actually reaches into the Panhandle a bit—before spanning the northern Baltimore suburbs. It’s actually a duplicate of the 6th, with the same crab claw-like shape that surrounds Baltimore. Congressman Chris Van Hollen may or may not live in this district—either way, it’s by just a few miles—but this is the place where he should run. It remains Democratic, but it’s been watered down. Now, it gave Obama 58.9% of the vote in 2008. Though Van Hollen will face closer elections than he has in the past, Republicans have little to no chance of winning this district. Likely Democratic.
In the end, I preserved the city of Baltimore in one district at the expense of the DC suburbs. If you were to drive the perimeter of the District of Columbia along I-495, you would change congressional districts a total of 5 times. All in all, I think that I created a pretty decent map. Population variance in every district is under one thousand, with the greatest variance in the 1st at -989. Also, I have sent this map into Governor O’Malley, so everything that I did had a point to it.
I leave you with a statewide view of my redistricting wonder, albeit with different colors than the close-ups used all throughout this article.