This is the second part of a two-part diary series exploring the redistricting connotations of returning Virginia to a previous form. In the first diary, I envisioned a Virginia that reincorporated the states of Kentucky (which split off and became a state in the early 1790s) and West Virginia (which became a state more than half a century later). This diary will explore the intermediate phase of Virginia, as it existed between Kentucky's accession to the Union and West Virginia's unilateral secession from the commonwealth.
As with the previous installment, this diary imagines how Virginia would be redistricted if West Virginia were to join back up in the modern day. If West Virginia had never broken off at all, well, a whole lot might have been different in Virginia's history and perhaps the history of our great nation as a whole.
Under this map, West Virginia is once again part of Virginia, as it was for decades until it split off to join the Union during the American Civil War. This is thus a modern recreation of how the Commonwealth of Virginia was constituted from 1792 to 1863. I've tried to be a bit more consistent with the color scheme here, but as always, I'm bit restless with it. Districts are numbered roughly starting from the southeastern corner of the state, as with the previous map.
As a special treat, I've calculated 2008 two-party presidential numbers for every district, though a couple of counties are split in West Virginia and that isn't fully accounted for. The splits are minor, as you can probably tell, and I doubt any of them moves the needle much at all. As most Virginia jurisdictions only listed the two major candidates on the ballot in 2008, I've ignored third-party and write-in votes altogether, including those cast in West Virginian precincts.
VA-01 (blue): Reps. Scott Rigell (R) and Randy Forbes (R) - 48.3% Obama, 51.7% McCain
This district is functionally identical to the district in my previous map, just minus almost exactly 10,000 people. The same stuff applies here: Rigell has more of a geographic base but has done some things to piss off conservatives enough that Forbes is probably the favorite in the primary, but Forbes has lost enough of his base to perhaps be vulnerable to voters being introduced to him on account of he is a deranged evangelical theocrat. The district voted for Sen. John McCain over then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008 by less than four points, but even Forbes would probably be a narrow favorite because of how politically polarized this area is; it's not clear Obama could have improved his numbers any better. That being said, most of the area in this district was held down by Glenn Nye, a Blue Dog Democrat, for a while until just this January. It's the first swing district in this redrawn state. Tossup/Tilt Republican with Forbes, Lean Republican without Forbes.
VA-02 (green): Rep. Bobby Scott (D) - 67.6% Obama, 32.4% McCain [47.6% black]
This is about as black as I could make this district. It's very safe for Scott, who retains his base and should enjoy a Democratic primary electorate comprised mostly of blacks. It stretches down to the North Carolina border to pick up additional voters, as white parts of Norfolk are largely carved out by VA-01. All of Hampton and Newport News, where Scott lives, are included in the district. Safe Democratic.
VA-03 (purple): Rep. Eric Cantor (R) - 41.2% Obama, 58.8% McCain
At least one of Cantor's homes should be in this district, if I'm not mistaken, and in many regards, it's the logical place for him to run: it's mostly Richmond exurbs, with some lily-white suburbs and some rural turf on the outskirts of the Hampton Roads area thrown in for good measure. It's also an extremely safe Republican district. Cantor could run in the district that contains Culpeper, but why would he? This district was made for him. Safe Republican.
VA-04 (red): OPEN - 64.9% Obama, 35.1% McCain [45.9% white]
Once again, this district is about as nonwhite as I could make it. It's anchored by heavily black Richmond, the state capital and former seat of the Confederacy (good times), but it isn't shy about slinking south and southwest of the city to grab a few significantly black rural counties. This tail keeps it from being totally surrounded by VA-03, but the term "circle of ignorance" still applies for Richmond's environs. No incumbent lives here except for maybe Cantor (who wouldn't run here), but for a black Democrat, it would look pretty enticing. Safe Democratic.
VA-05 (yellow): OPEN - 50.5% Obama, 49.5% McCain
Paging Tom Perriello? This district is basically drawn for the former Democratic congressman. It's a fair fight even if Perriello opts not to run for Congress again, having been narrowly won by Obama in 2008. If Democrats land their preferred candidate, that would be optimal. In a decent year for Republicans, they could certainly take this seat. Cantor actually has a home here in Culpeper, but I doubt he'd bite. Rep. Robert Hurt, the Republican incumbent who bested Perriello last year, has been drawn out. Democrats can count on some good enthusiasm in Charlottesville and Fredericksburg, which should help out here. Still, this district has a Republican PVI, and unlike in other parts of this expanded commonwealth, a significant number of voters here tend to vote straight-ticket Republican rather than Republican at the presidential level and Democratic otherwise. Lean Democratic with Perriello, Tossup/Tilt Republican without Perriello.
VA-06 (magenta): Rep. Robert Hurt (R) - 38.3% Obama, 61.7% McCain
Hurt gets a bit of a change of scenery with this Appalachian-skirting district. This district is extremely Republican, though, so I don't think he should mind. No other incumbent lives here, and Hurt is safe for reelection as long as he wins the Republican nomination. In a state with several extremely Republican districts, this is the Republicanest. Safe Republican.
VA-07 (teal): OPEN - 38.6% Obama, 61.4% McCain
That's not to belittle this district in any way. It's also painfully Republican, though until this January, much of it was represented by Blue Dog Rick Boucher. This is also the first district that takes any turf out of present-day West Virginia, which it does by sliding an awkward tentacle up along its border. Isn't Kanawha County awkwardly situated for this? Safe Republican.
VA-08 (cyan): Reps. Nick Rahall (D), Morgan Griffith (R), and Bob Goodlatte (R) - 46.2% Obama, 53.8% McCain
Ah, I am enjoying this. Obama got crushed in coal country, but West Virginia's Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin rode massive margins in this region to victory over Bill Maloney this year. As Obama performed significantly worse in the portion of this district taken from West Virginia (he got 47.5% of the two-party vote in the Virginia part of the district and just 44.2% of the two-party vote in the West Virginia part), that bodes well for Rahall, a Beckley boy who should outperform Obama's numbers by high single digits or even double digits in most years. This district also includes the cities of Roanoke and Salem, where Goodlatte and Griffith respectively live. The freshman Griffith very well might move to VA-07, and rusty campaigner Goodlatte might go elsewhere as well rather than face a tough race for reelection. Lean Democratic.
VA-09 (orange): Reps. David McKinley (R) and Shelley Moore Capito (R) - 45.3% Obama, 54.7% McCain
I've managed to fit Charleston, Wheeling, Parkersburg, and Morgantown into a single district without it looking grotesque. That dumps McKinley and Capito, the two Republican members of Congress currently in West Virginia's congressional delegation, into the same district. I'm mean. Obama may have underperformed in West Virginia, but with this many population centers in the state, a white conserva-Dem is probably the slim favorite here unless Capito is the nominee. And way more of McKinley's base is here. Lean Republican with Capito, Tossup/Tilt Democratic without Capito.
VA-10 (chartreuse): OPEN - 39.8% Obama, 60.2% McCain
See, a Shenandoah Valley district like this would look pretty damn appealing to a guy like Goodlatte. Eastern West Virginia doesn't have the non-presidential Democratic tendencies of much of the rest of the state, and when combined with the part of the valley currently over the state line into Virginia, it winds up being a very red district. No incumbent lives here, but I think Goodlatte might consider a move. Safe Republican.
VA-11 (sienna): Rep. Rob Wittman (R) - 44.8% Obama, 55.2% McCain
Easily the most bizarre district on the map, this district shoots up from Jamestown to Jefferson County (WV), forming the outer ring of a series of four NoVa districts nested like Russian dolls along the way. It includes Wittman's home in Montross on the Chesapeake Bay coast before swooping up through southern Stafford County and all of Fauquier County en route to the land border with Maryland. This area is heavily Republican; Obama overperformed in Jefferson County, which seems to respond strongly to advertising (it's in the Washington, D.C., media market, which rarely gets attention in West Virginia races but would get a lot more attention under this expanded commonwealth configuration), and he did well in the rest of NoVa, but he got blown out along the Bay. This is a district Obama lost by more than 10 points that is based almost entirely in Virginia, which Obama won by nearly his national numbers in 2008. Likely Republican.
VA-12 (slate blue): Rep. Frank Wolf (R) - 55.9% Obama, 44.1% McCain
Thanks for playing, Congressman. Wolf is a political survivor, but I don't see him surviving this redistricting. Obama won this district by 12 points. I didn't even have to do anything crazy with it; Wittman's district sopped up the swingier parts (not to mention the archconservative parts) of NoVa in Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, and Stafford counties, and Wolf's district simply formed a semicircle from the Bay to the Maryland state line around the remaining two districts, making it the mantle in the geological cross-section that is NoVa. Likely Democratic.
VA-13 (salmon): Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) - 59.5% Obama, 40.5% McCain
Wolf's weakening didn't come at any expense for Connolly, who sees what was a somewhat tenuous district strengthened to a quite blue district. This district is anchored in the Fairfax area, expanding just as far south as Dale City in Prince William County. All of this is pretty good Democratic turf. By total population, this district is actually less than 51% white, but it's getting it below 50% that's a doozy; it closes the gap in VA-12 by two points. If redistricters wanted to go that route, it's not hard to do, but for a Democratic map, it's not ideal. Safe Democratic.
VA-14 (olive): Rep. Jim Moran (D) - 64.9% Obama, 35.1% McCain
So, uh, I guess imagine that the inner core shot a jet of magma up deep into the mantle. Except I guess that doesn't make much sense, because the inner core of the Earth is made of ultra-dense solid iron, and the mantle is made of molten rock anyway. Maybe it's like a shaft from Journey to the Center of the Earth or that awful movie The Core, but neither of those made any sense either (I'm considerably more forgiving of Jules Verne, though, because back in the 1870s, as opposed to last decade, people didn't actually know better). So much for that analogy. Anyway, Moran is safe to the point where I sent that magma jet out past Sterling into some purplish precincts because I could. It don't hurt him none. Safe Democratic.
By my count, we have a 5-5-4 here, which is about as equitable as you can get in a state that Obama would have carried in 2008 with 51% of the vote (and 51.6% of the two-party vote!). On the map, that looks like this:
Thoughts, either on the map or on the concept?