So Pennsylvania Republicans keep delaying the unveiling of their brand-new congressional map, which is sure to be a brutal gerrymander designed to keep the congressional delegation of a Democratic state dominated by conservative Republicans.
I decided to unveil my own map, the way I think Harrisburg might draw it.
Here's the map. Pennsylvania is losing one district, so it will have eighteen after this round of redistricting.
PA-01 (blue): Rep. Bob Brady, D-Philadelphia - 68.7% Obama, 30.3% McCain
Downside: It's an obvious vote sink for white and Latino Democrats in the Philadelphia area. And it makes Brady, who is a tool, safe.
Upshot: Well, Team Blue ain't losing this one any time soon.
PA-02 (green): Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Philadelphia - 93.9% Obama, 5.8% McCain [58% black majority]
Downside: It packs Democratic voting strength to an outrageous extent, not just because of black voters, but also Latinos and urban whites.
Upshot: This district will continue to elect the choice of the black community, the only VRA district in Pennsylvania.
PA-03 (purple): Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler - 49% Obama, 49.7% McCain
Downside: Even though then-Sen. Barack Obama lost it by less than a percentage point in 2008 to Sen. John McCain, this is still a Republican district. Also, Erie is shedding population, and that's the primary source of Democratic strength in this district.
Upshot: It's not that Republican, and if Kelly stumbles (or better yet, retires) in a good cycle for Democrats, we could pick this seat up for at least two years. After all, we did hold this seat during the 111th Congress, and the presidential numbers have hardly budged.
PA-04 (red): Reps. Jason Altmire, D-McCandless, and Mike Doyle, D-Forest Hills - 65.7% Obama, 33.4% McCain
Downside: It deathmatches two Democratic incumbents in a Democratic vote sink encircled by very red districts only getting redder, leaving the more conservative Altmire with a political Sophie's Choice in terms of where he wants to run.
Upshot: Doyle, a blue-collar Democrat with a more liberal voting record than Altmire, would almost surely prevail in this Pittsburgh-area district. It can support a more liberal Democrat than either Altmire or Doyle's current districts really allow.
PA-05 (yellow): Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard - 43.1% Obama, 55.4% McCain
Downside: It's an incredibly Republican seat, and G.T. is totally safe here.
Upshot: At least those Republicans aren't making the surrounding districts redder.
PA-06 (sienna): Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-Chester Springs - 51.4% Obama, 47.5% McCain
Downside: Gerlach has proven very difficult to dislodge, and this district actually goes from a 58-41 Obama district to one that is much closer. He's been shored up a great deal.
Upshot: By most analyses, the Philadelphia suburbs are trending our direction, unlike the Pittsburgh suburbs on the other end of the state. And even if Obama won this district by 4 points as opposed to 17 in 2008, he still won it. There is always hope.
PA-07 (magenta): Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Drexel Hill - 53.8% Obama, 45.3% McCain
Downside: Basically the same as Gerlach. Obama won Meehan's district in 2008 with 56% of the vote to 43% for McCain, so Meehan's been shored up a few points. And for whatever reason, flipping this seat has been a fool's errand so far.
Upshot: Meehan hasn't been shored up that much; Obama still overperformed his national numbers here, which is more than can be said for Gerlach's new district. Democrats also did gangbusters in Montgomery County this year, and while Chester County was something of a disappointment in then-Rep. Joe Sestak's loss to now-Sen. Pat Toomey last year, it's generally thought to be moving our way. We could compete here in all but very Republican cycles (like 2010), and eventually I think we'd flip it.
PA-08 (teal): Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, R-Levittown - 52.5% Obama, 46.3% McCain
Downside: This district hasn't changed very much, and the changes that have taken place have pushed it a couple points more Republican. And Patrick Murphy, the former Democratic congressman here and almost certainly our best possible recruit for this seat, is seeking statewide office instead of a return bid.
Upshot: Fitzpatrick is a freshman, unlike some of these other annoying Pennsylvania Republicans sitting in Obama districts. We can definitely play here; Obama about matched his national performance in this district, which is not bad at all.
PA-09 (orange): Reps. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, and Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg - 42.2% Obama, 56.4% McCain
Downside: This is a really conservative district, and Obama just got flattened here. Critz, no stranger to conservative electorates (though this is a pretty stark demotion from the 49-50 McCain district he currently represents), would have to contend with a fellow incumbent if he ran here in the form of Shuster, a greasy Republican who didn't even draw a challenger last year.
Upshot: This area is, at the very least, ancestrally Democratic, and Critz did hang on in last year's red tide months after scoring an upset in the special election. Perhaps being the protege of the late Jack Murtha has a certain cachet in southwestern Pennsylvania. It's certainly not fair to automatically write Critz off as a contender, especially if we're having a good night.
PA-10 (cyan): Rep. Tom Marino, R-Williamsport - 48.5% Obama, 50.4% McCain
Downside: Marino holds onto a McCain district, so we know we're going to be contending with a district that naturally favors Republicans.
Upshot: This district actually gets several points bluer! The 2008 presidential numbers for the current district were 45-54 McCain. And Marino is a scumbag who didn't really seal the deal against then-Rep. Chris Carney until very late in the game last year; he probably would have lost in a less decisive Republican wave. This is also extremely swingy turf, and a stiff breeze at Democrats' backs could flip it. Just because Obama didn't really play in the Appalachians doesn't mean a local Democrat couldn't take over this seat.
PA-11 (chartreuse): Reps. Tim Holden, D-Saint Clair, and Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton - 48.8% Obama, 49.8% McCain
Downside: Holden gets redistricted here, into a district that is mostly unfamiliar to him, and is put up against one of the Republicans' most skilled 2010 recruits. Then-Mayor Barletta almost knocked out then-Rep. Paul Kanjorski, a corrupt pain-in-the-ass of a Democrat, even as Obama led the party to victory in 2008; he finished the job last year, beating Kanjorski like a rented mule in a 57-42 Obama district. This district was actually won by McCain in 2008 by a point, meaning Barletta is shored up to kingdom come right here. Holden's got a decent escape hatch, too, with a friendlier open seat containing much of his current territory bordering this district.
Upside: Holden's current district went 48-51 McCain, making it redder than this one. Holden is basically the Democratic version of a Gerlach or a Meehan, and if anyone can master Barletta and make this a blue district, it's him. If he ran here, it'd be a marquee race and I suspect it'd be a real barnburner.
PA-12 (navy): OPEN - 42.8% Obama, 56.2% McCain
Downside: Well, Critz is drawn right out of this district. That might be just as well, because this district is way redder under these lines. Westmoreland County, all of which is contained within this district, is trending against us, too; we lost control of the county government for the first time in ages this year. This is a red district only getting redder, and it's probably Republicans' for the taking.
Upside: Critz could make a run here even though his home is elsewhere, and so could Altmire, whose current 44-55 McCain district isn't much worse than this one. All is not lost if one of them runs and Democrats do well nationwide.
PA-13 (salmon): Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Jenkintown - 73.7% Obama, 25.6% McCain
Downside: It's another Democratic vote sink, which sucks because an equitable map could really spread around some of the creamy goodness of the blue-shifting Philly suburbs.
Upside: This district is quasi-competitive no more. Shoring up their Philly-area incumbents means Republicans have to abandon their pipe dream of ousting the outspoken progressive Schwartz. That's good news for us, because playing defense sucks.
PA-14 (olive): Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Allentown - 56.7% Obama, 42.1% McCain
Downside: Since 2004, Dent is practically invincible. This guy is like if the AT-AT walkers from The Empire Strikes Back hovered instead of had easily constricted legs. He's like Dr. Manhattan without the detached self-loathing (as far as we know). Every cycle, we think he's vulnerable, and every cycle, we get schooled here.
Upside: This district gets about a point better for Obama, and every point counts in a swing district - and this still is very much a swing district. This district loved it some Obama in 2008 (it was more ambivalent in its affection for Sen. John Kerry in 2004), and with the right Democrat and the right cycle, we should be able to take this over with some help from the labor unions in Allentown and Bethlehem. This seat is competitive, dammit, Dent or not.
PA-15 (cornflower): Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Kennett Square - 48.3% Obama, 50.7% McCain
Downside: This district actually changes very little. Lancaster city is cut out of it in exchange for a lot more of Berks County, vicinity of Reading, but the presidential numbers hardly budge. And, well, Pitts has been completely dominant here. He's well-entrenched, and in a district of little change, he's probably safe.
Upshot: Pitts is old, baby, old! Well, he's 72, but by the end of the decade, he'll be in his 80s. So he's on retirement watch, and once he retires, this district could be interesting. Chester and Berks counties have had some movement toward us, and if we have enough Democratic voters there, we could potentially outweigh the big Republican vote of disgustingly conservative Lancaster County.
PA-16 (lime): OPEN - 50.7% Obama, 48.3% McCain
Downside: For an ostensibly Democratic seat, this district isn't all that Democratic. It's even got a Republican PVI. And Holden, who currently represents most of this new district's territory, lives in Schuykill County, some distance away.
Upshot: If Holden ran here, it'd be a lock for Team Blue. And Obama still did win here, and it's not like there's a Republican incumbent or even an obvious Republican waiting in the wings. Holden has smacked down all challengers in recent cycles, and this area is ancestrally Democratic and totally amenable to conservaDem types. This is a swing district, but I think it tilts in our favor in a neutral year, and that's understating it if Holden passes on facing Barletta in order to run here.
PA-17 (blue-violet): Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair - 46.7% Obama, 52.2% McCain
Downside: This territory was once the stomping ground for Democrat-loving union workers. Now the golden days of industry in western Pennsylvania are gone, and this part of the state is turning Republican with a vengeance. Obama lost this district by five and a half points in 2008, and Murphy is a competent incumbent who really shouldn't struggle to keep holding this district down.
Upshot: Obama lost Murphy's old district by an 11-point margin, so redistricting literally halves the gap here in terms of presidential numbers. That provides some modicum of opportunity, especially considering Obama didn't have the best profile for success in this part of the country in general. We could land Altmire here, and that would be really good, because Altmire would make a race of it against Murphy. Overall, this district is a conservative one, but it's not necessarily a Republican one, or at least it doesn't have to be.
PA-18 (grey): Rep. Todd Russell Platts, R-York - 40.4% Obama, 58.5% McCain
Downside: Platts's district gets even redder. There's no way a Democrat can compete here. And so the poor Democrats in York, the lone spot of blue in this red, red district, have to suffer through another decade of not having their interests represented.
Upshot: This district is, by virtue of geography, a giant Republican vote sink. That helps us in neighboring districts, just as with G.T.'s district.
Overall, I'm thinking this map has four safe Democratic seats, as well as two totally safe-no-matter-what Republican seats, and eleven of the districts left over are swingy but lean toward the Republicans to varying extents, at least one of which is mostly by virtue of incumbency; the remaining one probably tilts toward Democrats.
I don't have a partisan map this time, because DRA won't let me turn off district lines for Pennsylvania without Silverlight crashing, and also my laptop is dying.