Now for those of you who are confused, this isn't about the current reapportionment, since Oregon narrowly missed out on getting a 6th district. According to Sean Trende at RCP, though, Oregon will probably take one of West Virginia's congressional districts as a result of the 2020 census, a decade from now.
I think this is realistic. I think the foundation that Governor Kulongoski made for a new solar manufacturing economy here in Oregon, along with other measures we've taken, have given us a stronger recovery than many other parts of the country, and I see prosperity returning to the Portland metro area and a few other parts of the state relatively soon. Southern Oregon may take a bit longer to recover, and Central Oregon even longer, but Portland is growing and the suburban counties should be booming this decade.
A caveat with the maps that I've posted below is that I'm using population data from the 2010 census that is already out of date, and by 2020 will be irrelevant. Population growth in certain areas does not matter alone, though, it matters relative to growth in the rest of the state. I think that where we saw something like 40% growth in Bend in the last decade, that growth will be more spread out this decade. I think it'll be concentrated in the Portland metro area, but most of the population is already there. There will be modest growth, I think, returning to Southern Oregon, and some in Central Oregon as well, but also in Marion County, and Benton County, perhaps Linn as well because of its proximity to Benton. Benton is home of Corvallis and OSU, which powers the economy and growth there and has kept it relatively healthy, with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state. The coastal counties and eastern Oregon will continue to decline relative to the rest of the state, along with Lane County, home of Eugene. I think discrepancies in growth will make it easier, though, to draw this as a cleaner, Democratic map. Growth in Yamhill and Washington counties will make it easier for them alone to compose a district, for example, as right now I need to pick up 8-9k people somewhere else to meet population equity.
Without further ado, here is my second version of an Oregon with six districts.
My 1st and 6th districts are very similar (almost identical) to my last map, so I'll use the same descriptions I gave then.
Estimated Partisan Voting Index: D+4
Population Deviation: +3
Communities of Interest: Coast, West side of Portland
As many have been saying should happen, the coast gets its own district. Currently the coast is divided between three districts. Democrats have reason to like the idea, as historically we've been strong on the coast and do well here in legislative/congressional elections. For example, Bush won Tillamook County twice, and even Obama lost Coos County, but they both have Democratic state legislators, Tillamook went easily for Schrader last year while he ran a closer race elsewhere, and DeFazio usually easily carries Coos. Republicans have reason to like this, because the Coast is trending Republican in many areas.
Unfortunately, the coast doesn't have enough population to compose a district alone. In fact, it only gets about halfway there. We need to add in other counties. I've decided to add in Josephine, Polk, southern Jackson, to get Ashland, and Columbia County and dipped from there to grab the west side of Portland, and some of largely industrial North Portland. This way we get a balance of areas, some Republican, most of the additions are Democratic, and more importantly most of these areas are trending more Democratic.
Overall, out of the roughly 639,000 people here, over 389,000 are in Democratic-leaning areas, 250,000 are in Republican-leaning areas (Douglas, Curry, Coos, Polk, & Josephine Counties). Ultimately, this is a district John Kerry won by nearly 30,000 votes, and Barack Obama by over 55,000. It's a lean Democratic district. For comparison we've held OR-04 for decades and it's only D+2, we've held OR-05 for all but one term since 1990, and it's only D+1, this D+4 district should be pretty securely Democratic.
Republicans wouldn't like the district like this because it would favor Democrats and wouldn't be trending as strongly Republican as the Coast alone. They could choose to either make this a Republican district by adding in the rest of Southern Oregon, Douglas, Jackson, maybe Klamath County, instead of some of Portland, or they could make it a Democratic vote sink so they could try for other districts. The easiest way to do this would be instead of adding Portland, add Eugene and Corvallis. Another Republican option might be to add Yamhill County, conceding Washington County to a Democratic district. However, I don't see the Republicans getting any better than a compromise map, not a free hand, so Democratic preferences will have to play a role.
I should add, one of the reasons I like this essentially new district is because it takes people from each of the current districts, not just some of them.
Estimated PVI: R+12 or so, whatever, its safe Republican
Population Deviation: -30
Communities of Interest: Eastern Oregon
Nearly every speck of Blue in this district has been taken out. Hood River County voted for Gore, Kerry, and Obama, and it's gone (and along with it, Congressman Greg Walden). Warm Springs Indian Reservation is gone. Ashland is gone. Bend is gone. Ashland and Grants Pass go to the new 1st district. Hood River and Warm Springs go into the new 3rd district, along with a little bit more of Wasco and Jefferson Counties. Bend, Sisters, and a few other towns in Deschutes County go into the new 4th district. It also gains most of Douglas County in Southern Oregon. This leaves us with a much more conservative, and now incumbent-less 2nd district, since Walden is drawn into the 3rd. Aside from the small addition of the Douglas County voters, all of these other voters in the district are used to Walden, though, and he's become more conservative over the years, so he could credibly run here despite not living here. Or he could move into the district. Hood River isn't that far from the Dalles. But he'd also be vulnerable to a challenge from state senator Jason Atkinson, who's in this district's portion of Jackson County, or House Co-Speaker Bruce Hanna, of the Roseburg area in Douglas County. Southern Oregon Republicans will be a major force in the Republican primary (Medford, in Jackson County, would be the biggest city in the district, by far, and Roseburg may be the next biggest), and so a candidate like them from Southern Oregon could be very strong. In fact, over half of the district's population lives in Jackson, Douglas, or Klamath County, at over 330,000 people. Compare that to less than 94,000 in Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson, or less than 167,000 in the gorge and northeastern Oregon.
However, at his age in 2022, Walden may not want to run anymore.
Incumbent: Earl Blumenauer (D), Greg Walden (R)
Estimated PVI: D+17-18? Regardless Safe Dem
Population Deviation: -25
Communities of Interest: East side of Portland and the eastern suburbs, and the Mt Hood-related communities of Warm Springs Reservation, Hood River County, and northeastern Clackamas County
Earl is completely safe in this district if he still wants to be in Congress in a decade. If he doesn't, a Portland Democrat would still hold the district. Portland makes up more than half of the district, at something like 365,000 people. Multnomah County's population makes up something like 75-80% of the population of the district. And while many of the other parts of the district (Sandy, Mt. Hood Villages, Hood River, Warm Springs) are Democratic-leaning, they aren't so much as Portland, so in a primary Portland would be even more dominant. Losing some parts of Portland to the 1st and 5th districts, and Milwaukie to the 5th, this district does lose some Democratic voters, but the new areas in the district in Hood River, Wasco, and Jefferson Counties are also Democratic-leaning, as much of the population here east of Mt Hood in Wasco and Jefferson are Native Americans in the Warm Springs reservation.
Greg Walden now lives here but no Republican could win this district short of a major realignment.
Incumbent: Peter DeFazio (D)
Estimated PVI: D+5
Population Deviation: +36
Communities of Interest: Good brewing cities, major universities, Mid-Upper Willamette Valley, the cool parts of Deschutes County
This is a major redrawing of the 4th, which used to contain much of the coast, and now has none, and used to contain much of Southern Oregon, and now has nothing south of Lane County. 5 cities make up the vast majority of this district: Eugene, Bend, Corvallis, Springfield, and Albany. Of these, all but Albany leans Democratic, and Obama drew about even in Albany. Bend and Deschutes County are the only significant parts added to the district, and Obama nearly won Deschutes, while winning Bend. Most of the more conservative parts of the county, like Redmond, were left in the 2nd district. Bend & Deschutes appears to be trending Democratic.
Nearly 2/3 of the district's population resides in solidly Democratic Lane and Benton Counties. Add in the Democratic-leaning city of Bend, and that's over 3/4 of the population. Considering that Gore, Kerry, and Obama all lost all of the counties removed from the district, and Bend and some other parts of Deschutes County were the replacement, it makes sense this district shifts from D+2 to D+5.
Incumbent: Kurt Schrader (D)
Estimated PVI: D+2?
Population Deviation: -20
Communities of Interest: Marion County, South & SE Portland Metro Area
Democrat Kurt Schrader's district retains it's core areas of Marion & most of Clackamas Counties. He loses Republican-leaning Polk County, Democratic-leaning Lincoln County, and swing Tillamook County (which tends to vote R for governor and president but D for congress & the state legislature), and heavily Democratic SW Portland to the new 1st district, while gaining some of SE Portland (Sellwood, Eastmoreland, Reed) and Milwaukie from the 3rd district, all areas that lean to Democrats or are strongly Democratic. Overall, then, the change shouldn't be significant, but it should slightly favor Democrats. This district shifts slightly away from the Salem metro area (some of Polk County's population is in West Salem) towards Portland and its suburbs, but Marion County has a plurality of the population, at over 315,000 people, to Clackamas County's less than 282,000. About 41-42,000 of the people in the district live in SE Portland.
Incumbent: Suzanne Bonamici? (D)
Estimated PVI: D+4
Population Deviation: +38
Communities of Interest: Yamhill and Washington Counties
This district loses its northern counties, Columbia and Clatsop, and most of its remaining Portland/Multnomah County territory. I doubt it will need much, if any, people outside of WashCo and Yamhill to hit population equality, but if it does, a few people in unincorporated Multnomah County can do the trick. The district as drawn here now would be a bit better than D+4, but as Yamhill isn't moving much, and WashCo, the bulk of the district, is trending Democratic quickly, it should be better for us by the end of this decade. This district and the 3rd would be the least white districts, both at about 75% by voting age population, while every other district is over 80-85% white.
This area is where the most consistent growth has been and where I expect it to be given WashCo's liberal (loose) land use policies and solid local economy, so I fully expect that it should be considered for the new district, especially as WashCo and Yamhill together just about make up the right population for it.