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I decided to try my hand at redistricting California's Congressional districts for 2010-2012, using Dave's Redistricting App. After playing around with it a bit, here's what the map I came up with looks like overall:

And here's the 2008 Obama/McCain vote in California, on the precinct level:

Read on for a detailed analysis and breakdown:

California redistricting after the 2010 census presents a great opportunity for Democrats. In 2000, a bipartisan incumbent protection map was drawn, which very effectively protected all incumbents - both Democrats and Republicans. In fact, since that map was drawn, only 1 seat has changed hands. That was CA-11, lost by Richard Pombo to Jerry McNerney in 2006. With time, as California has continued to become more strongly Democratic, the Congressional map has effectively turned into a GOP gerrymander.

My goal was to make as many seats as possible that voted about 63% for Obama, while making as many of the rest of the remaining seats as possible at least competitive and winnable for Democrats, and conceding as few seats as possible to the GOP. My vote estimates are not exact (I did not add up all the precincts), but should generally be accurate, and any errors should be small enough to not really effect the overall partisan status of each district. My vote percentages take into account only Democratic and Republican votes, disregarding 3rd party votes which do not alter the outcome - so 63% for Obama necessarily means 37% for McCain as well. However, if CA 3rd party voters cast votes for major party candidates in Congressional races, on net it should probably help Democrats - a majority of 3rd Party votes in California were cast for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney. I also assumed that California will keep 53 districts, though it is possible that California will lose one (or who knows, even gain, if the census count is high).

In theory, it would be possible to redistrict California so that every Congressional district voted for Obama. But that would require either a bit more gerrymandering than I was willing to contemplate (like running a district from downtown San Francisco to Shasta County), or would require weakening some Democratic seats to the point that they might actually become winnable for Republicans. So instead I settled on trying to create the maximum number of seats with a PVI at or near about D+10. If a Democratic incumbent in a seat which is about D+10 loses their seat to a Republican, they probably deserve to lose it - corruption, scandal, $100,000 in the freezer, and we are probably better off without them. But even if the GOP did manage to momentarily pick up a D+10 district, Democrats would have an excellent chance of picking it back up in the next cycle. Other than scandal, it would take a truly formidable national GOP wave, greater than that of 1994 or 2006, to lose more than a handful of D+10 seats. And in that case, the GOP would control Congress regardless of what happens in California.

I also made a statewide precinct map showing the Obama/McCain vote in 2008 on the precinct level. It is not entirely complete, because no votes were cast in some irredeemably rural "precincts" and some precincts have changed. But for the most part it should get the job done in the areas where we have to worry about looking below the county level. I could have never done Southern California in particular without this. There are 8 shades of blue and red, equally incremented by 6.25 points each, so that for example, the lightest blue means that Obama won the precinct with 50-56.25% of the vote, while the darkest blue precincts voted 93.75-100% for Obama. There's also a bigger version of the same map if you want to a more zoomed in view (big image, you were warned).

In addition, here's the 2008 Obama/McCain vote with the size of each precinct adjusted in proportion to the actual number of votes cast in the precinct, rather than its geographical size. With the caveat that this slightly understates Republican strength because the few counties missing in the previous map voted for McCain, this is in one sense a more true depiction of the the Presidential vote in California. It also really brings home what a great proportion of the vote was cast in the LA and Bay areas. There are really not that many substantial clusters of red precincts that cannot be overwhelmed with surrounding blue areas. While in the geographic precinct map, it looks like McCain won some substantial areas, the reality is that he won in very few places - McCain only won in the most sparsely populated areas of the state and in select CA suburbs and exurbs. (Click here for a zoomed in version of the same map).

I'd also recommend anyone interested in California redistricting read Silver Spring's earlier work on redistricting California, (which gave me some of the ideas that went into this map), which drew a map with 44 Democratic, 7 GOP, and 2 swing seats while increasing Latino and Asian American opportunity districts and generally respecting community/political boundaries. But I wanted to see if I could push the map further, conceding fewer GOP seats and further increasing Hispanic and Asian American representation, without endangering any existing Democratic incumbents.



The future political shape of California

California voted 61% for Obama to 37% for McCain. Disregarding 3rd party votes, Obama got 62% to McCain's 38%. Obama also managed to narrowly win 8 of 19 GOP held districts which had been gerrymandered to be safe GOP, proving by example that there are potential progressive gains to be made in California.

Because California is unlikely to become much more Republican over the next 10 years, the likelihood that an aggressive redistricting plan will backfire, like the 2000 GOP gerrymander of Pennsylvania, is minimal. The chief reason for this is that California is a Majority Minority state in which the white population will to continue to decline as a share of the population. Yet white voters made up 63% of the electorate in California in 2008 even though they only make up 42% of the population. Simply put, as time passes, the electorate in California will continue to become less white, and more racially representative of the population as a whole. So there are really only two ways that the GOP can gain any ground (or avoid losing it) in California - they must either suddenly start getting support from minority voters, or they must start receiving levels of white support that they only now really get in parts of the South and a few other places. Given the GOP trend on issues like the confirmation of Sonia Sotamayor, it seems unlikely that the GOP can possibly pick up any meaningful sort of ground among minoritiesby 2020, assuming that the GOP does not suddenly transform into a very different party.

According to exit polls, the 2008 vote in California broke down by race as follows. White and black voters exceeded their share of the population, while the percentage of the electorate that was Asian American or Hispanic was only half the percentage of the population that was Asian American or Hispanic.


Actual 2008 Vote                                                                      
% of ElectorateObamaMcCainEffective Obama Support
White63.0%52.0%46.0%53.1%
African American10.0%94.0%5.0%94.9%
Latino18.0%74.0%23.0%76.3%
Asian6.0%64.0%35.0%64.6%
Other3.0%55.0%41.0%57.3%
Total62.3%

Now, what would the 2008 vote in California have looked like if the electorate had the same racial breakdown as the population as a whole? Assuming that each racial group gave the same % to Obama, he would have done 3 points better (7 on net). And that even includes cutting the African American percentage of the electorate by nearly HALF. This is what the future of the California electorate looks like, and it looks hopeless for Republicans.


What if the 2008 Electorate looked like the population?                                                                      
% of PopulationObamaMcCainEffective Obama Support
White42.0%52.0%46.0%53.1%
African American5.9%94.0%5.0%94.9%
Latino36.6%74.0%23.0%76.3%
Asian12.2%64.0%35.0%64.6%
Other3.3%55.0%41.0%57.3%
Total65.6%

So what if the GOP were able to get a massive swing of white voters? With the 2008 electorate, McCain would have had to win white voters 2 to 1 to have pulled even in California (much less win it). In fact, he lost white voters 52-46. With the future electorate, things are naturally even bleaker for the GOP. In fact, with an electorate that looked like California's population (the future electorate that CA is trending towards), Obama could have lost white voters 53-45 and still done better than he actually did in 2008.


What if the 2008 Electorate looked like the population?                                                                      
% of PopulationObamaMcCainEffective Obama Support
White42.0%45.0%53.0%45.9%
African American5.9%94.0%5.0%94.9%
Latino36.6%74.0%23.0%76.3%
Asian12.2%64.0%35.0%64.6%
Other3.3%55.0%41.0%57.3%
Total62.6%

It would obviously take much more for Republicans to even come close to winning Statewide elections. In fact, for McCain to have won California without making gains with minorities and with the 2008 electorate, he would have needed to win white voters 66-32. If the electorate had broken down by race the same way as the population, he would have had to win white voters 83-15. And that only just barely gets a narrow GOP win.

Coming close to winning statewide elections is precisely what it would take for the GOP to start putting more than a handful of the D+10 seats in any danger at all. There's just flat out no way that they can do that in California without appealing to a meaningful number of progressive voters in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles. And frankly, if the GOP starts appealing in places like Los Angeles and the Bay Area, then they will have rejected most of what they currently stand for and progressive Democrats will have already won (or failed spectacularly to the point of creating a GOP wave far exceeding 1994 or 2006). It would be foolishly Rovian to claim that is impossible, but it is a very high bar to hurdle, especially because the national GOP is so deeply averse to even the facade of quasi-moderation of exhibited by Republicans like Schwarzenegger, Crist, and Snowe.



Political Impact

The political impact of this map would be to increase the number of Democrats in Congress from California. Barring major scandal, California should have an approximately 40-13 Democratic delegation (including all 33 current Democratic incumbents). That's likely to be at least 44-9. And in a best case scenario, in which all the swing seats turn blue, California even has a chance to send an overwhelming 49-4 Democratic delegation to Washington. Moreover, most of the new Democrats elected would likely be reasonably progressive Democrats.

The drawing of a Congressional map along these lines would also have the effect of neutering the net national partisan impact of Republican gerrymanders in states like Florida and Texas. While my personal preference would be to have all districts drawn by a non-partisan commission, it is no good if only Democrats do that in states where Democrats will control redistricting, while the GOP goes on a gerrymandering binge in states expected to gain seats like Florida, Texas, Georgia, and Utah. But with an aggressive redrawing of the lines California, Democrats can in one fell swoop come close to making sure that redistricting will not be a net negative on the national level. By carefully drawing the seats so that newly Democratic districts have strong progressive bases in areas like Los Angeles and the Bay Area, we can also increase the likelihood that better Democrats will be elected from those districts.


District Political Status                
Dem39
Lean Dem5
Swing5
GOP4

Safe Democratic seats

I classify 39 seats as reasonably safe Democratic seats. All of these districts voted 60%+ for Obama (D+7), and 28 of them voted 63%+ for Obama (D+10).

Lean Democratic seats

There are 5 Lean Democratic seats (3, 20, 42, 45, 50). The 20th is already in Democratic hands (and could probably be made safer pretty easily), and there would be a very good chance of picking up the other 4 seats in 2012, especially if Obama again does well in California. These seats all voted 55-58% for Obama and are likely to become more Democratic - 3 of them are new majority Latino seats, and the others have substantial minority populations whose turnout should gradually rise).

Swing Seats

These are seats that voted from 51% to 53% for Obama (4, 40, 41, 44, 48, 49). 40, 41, and 48 all have white populations that make up less than 50% of the district's population, and should continue to become more Democratic as minority turnout increases. There is no guarantee that Democrats will necessarily be able to pick up all (or any) of these seats, but strong candidates ought to be able to run competitive races and win in these districts.

GOP Seats

Finally, there are 4 safe GOP seats. These all voted about 32-41% for Obama and are designed to be completely unwinnable for Democrats. These districts all serve to suck in the maximum number of Republicans possible, making surrounding districts more Democratic.

In retrospect, if I were to redraw the map, I might consider conceding one more safe GOP seat in the Orange County/Riverside/San Bernadino area. If the most heavily GOP areas remaining were combined into one more district, it would be pretty easy to make a number of swing/lean Dem seats a bit more Democratic.



The Voting Rights Act

I endeavored to follow the requirements of the Voting Rights Act in full, and tried to even go a bit beyond its strict requirements. From the districts drawn in 2000, I managed to substantially increase minority voting strength for both Latinos and Asian Americans, while maintaining effective black control or at least substantial influence over 4 districts. :


VRA Status of New Districts                                                                                                
District Type# of Districts% of Districts% of Population
Majority White1935.8%42.3%
Plurality White1120.8%42.3%
Total White3056.6%42.3%
Majority Latino1528.3%36.6%
Plurality Latino11.9%36.6%
Total Latino1630.2%36.6%
Plurality Asian35.7%12.5%
Effective Black47.5%6.7%

Increase Latino voting strength

5 new Majority Latino seats are added. They are the the 18th, 21st, 25th, 42nd, and 45th. CA-32 also changes to an Asian plurality district, which is offset by the change of CA-26 to a Latino majority district. Factors such as how complete the census count of Latinos is and how concentrated Latino population growth actually is will have a big effect on the actual location and shapes of these districts, but in reality it ought to be possible to add a number of new Latino majority districts.

Increase Asian American voting strength

The 12th, 15th, and 32nd districts become Asian American plurality districts. Although Asians are not a homogeneous group politically or ethnically, and although Californians have sometimes elected Asian Americans in districts without a particularly large Asian community (like Doris Matsui in Sacramento), Asian voters will now have more of a guarantee that they can elect candidates of their choice.

Maintain African American voting strength

I tried to maintain African American voting strength as much as I could, but trends are working against the maintanance of the existing 4 districts which are effectively controlled by African American voters (CA-9, CA-33, CA-35, CA-37). Particularly in the 3 LA districts, Latino population growth is gradually overwhelming the African American population, particularly in CA-35. Additionally, population growth has not kept up with the state average in these districts, meaning that they will need to expand - and there are really no more concentrations of black voters nearby that can be added to the 3 districts. On the basis of population, one could probably justify merging the African American areas of the 3 existing districts into two districts with higher African American populations, but I did not do this in order to try and protect all incumbents. If a merger of these districts does not happen in 2010, the voters may well make it happen anyway, making a merger in 2020 a near certainty. But despite these difficulties, I managed to actually slightly increase the black population % in CA-9 and CA-33. In CA-35 and 37, the African American percentage drops, but the main threat to effective black control of these districts (Latino voters) are decreased as a share of the population. By making these districts more white and more Republican, Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson are probably actually safer, because the main threat to their incumbancy is a primary challenge from a Latino Democrat. While one could arge that this disenfranchises Latinos, there is really no other way to maintain black VRA districts that I can see, and the Latinos removed from CA-35 and CA-37 help make it possible to create other Latino majority districts in the LA area.



Breakdown of the Districts

Finally, let's look at the new districts themselves, in aggregate and individually. Because I de-packed many overly Democratic districts, the average and median district becomes more Republican, while a greater number of districts become Democratic.


District Summary                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
DistrictNew Dist Est. Obama%Old Dist Obama %Change in Obama %DesignationVRA StatusRegion
16367-4DemMajority WhiteNorthern California
23944-5GOPMajority WhiteNorthern California
357507Lean DemMajority WhiteNorthern California
453458SwingMajority WhiteNorthern California
56271-9DemPlurality WhiteNorthern California
67278-6DemMajority WhiteNorthern California
76373-10DemMajority WhiteBay Area
88187-6DemMajority WhiteBay Area
98390-7DemEffective BlackBay Area
106366-3DemMajority WhiteBay Area
1161556DemPlurality WhiteBay Area
1279763DemPlurality AsianBay Area
136476-12DemPlurality WhiteBay Area
147375-2DemMajority WhiteBay Area
156970-1DemPlurality AsianBay Area
166671-5DemPlurality LatinoBay Area
176574-9DemMajority WhiteCentral California
1860600DemMajority LatinoCentral California
19634716DemPlurality WhiteBay Area
205661-5Lean DemMajority LatinoCentral California
21674324DemMajority LatinoCentral California
223239-7GOPMajority WhiteCentral California
236267-5DemMajority WhiteCentral California
24635112DemMajority WhiteGreater LA
25655114DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
26625210DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
276268-6DemPlurality WhiteGreater LA
287678-2DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
296169-8DemPlurality WhiteGreater LA
306472-8DemMajority WhiteGreater LA
317382-9DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
326370-7DemPlurality AsianGreater LA
3394886DemEffective BlackGreater LA
346576-11DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
357686-10DemEffective BlackGreater LA
366466-2DemPlurality WhiteGreater LA
376481-17DemEffective BlackGreater LA
386373-10DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
396267-5DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
4052484SwingPlurality WhiteGreater LA
4153458SwingPlurality WhiteGreater LA
42584612Lean DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
436369-6DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
444150-9GOPMajority WhiteGreater LA
4555523Lean DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
46604911DemMajority WhiteGreater LA
476061-1DemMajority LatinoGreater LA
4852502SwingPlurality WhiteGreater LA
4951465SwingMajority WhiteSan Diego
5057525Lean DemMajority WhiteSan Diego
516264-2DemMajority LatinoSan Diego
523846-8GOPMajority WhiteSan Diego
536370-7DemPlurality WhiteSan Diego
Average62.1763.37-1
Median63.0066.88-4



Northern California

I defined the Northern California region as pretty much everything from Sacramento northwards. It includes 6 districts. 4 Should be Democratic, while CA-2 is Republican and CA-4 is a swing district. This is the whitest part of the State, and therefore probably the part of the State where there is the greatest potential for the GOP to make gains (even if it seems improbable at best that they will make much headway in liberal areas like Sonoma County). For that reason I decided not get too overly aggressive here. It would be possible to avoid conceding a GOP district in the far North-East, but unless you did something like draw a tentacle from Nancy Pelosi's district up into rural GOP areas, it would be very hard to then also avoid creating a strong or leaning GOP district in the Sierra Nevada's East and South-East of Sacramento. So I didn't even try. Instead, I took advantage of the opportunity to move Nancy Pelosi's district north without endangering the 1st or 6th districts, giving her Marin County across the Golden Gate bridge, which, as we will see, makes it possible to squeeze a great deal out of the Eastern side of the San Francisco Bay.

Northern California




Sacramento Area






San Francisco Bay Area

Every single seat based in the San Francisco Bay area is safely Democratic. A number of these districts also extend outwards to the east, in order to avoid wasting too many votes in ultra-Demacratic districts. But many districts remain entirely within the Bay area, and if one were willing to draw pinwheels flowing out from San Francisco and the San Mateo Peninsula to places like Bakersfield, Fresno, and Barstow, you could pretty easily squeeze out another one or two utterly safe Democratic districts.

Northern Bay Area




Southern Bay Area






Central California

Given the GOP lean of much of this region, having only 1 GOP district is not bad. Latino voting strength is greatly increased in this area. Although it might not be at all certain that all of the Latino districts will immediately have an effective Latino voting majority, they will with time. This is the most obviously gerrymandered part of the state, but that is necessary in order to increase Latino voting strength and to increase Democratic strength in less heavily Latino areas. The actual lines in this area will be greatly affected by the actual distribution of Latino population growth within counties.

Central Coast




Central Valley






LA Area

I am using a broad definition of the LA area, including areas beyond the city of Los Angeles proper, including Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, and Ventura counties. In this area, and especially in LA County, some of the districts are better thought of as general ideas than specific exact proposals. I am fairly certain that someone who knows the area better than I do could draw the urban lines a bit more sensibly while maintaining or increasing all the political benefits and fully complying with the Voting Rights Act (a major cause of strange district shapes). Additionally, the 2008 Population Estimates are only available on the County level - so the actual population will be distributed somewhat differently than in the lines I drew. The exact lines should not be taken too literally, but it should be possible to draw roughly similar districts with the same basic demographic and political results. I may have mistakenly drawn some Democratic incumbents' houses out of their district, but in reality that would probably be easy to avoid, if it matters. The greater LA area also has the greatest concentration of minorities in California.

That is the chief reason why I was more willing to draw some districts that were only lean Democratic or swing seats - because of their high but still relatively low turnout Latino and Asian American populations, many districts are safe bets to become more Democratic as that turnout increases. So even if these seats do not all flip Democratic in 2012, there is a great chance that they will flip some time between 2014 and 2020. Still, you can make a good argument for either conceding another seat to the GOP (or sending another district or 2 deep into the heart of LA), and if I were redrawing the map I would probably concede a third safe GOP seat in the Orange/Riverside/Burnadino area in order to make the surrounding districts more Democratic. But the overall point is that there is no reason for any district in LA County to be Republican, and from LA County, a number of districts can be safely extended outwards to make even more Democratic seats. It also ought to be possible to create more Latino majority seats and an Asian American plurality seat.

Southern California




Northern LA area




Southern LA area




Eastern LA area






San Diego

Last but not least, the San Diego area. Democrats currently hold only 2 of 5 seats in this area, while Obama won 54-44. With the exception of CA-51, the minority population in San Diego is relatively small. But even without relying on votes from Los Angeles, it should be possible to make 3 fairly strong Democratic districts, one heavily GOP district, and a swing district out of this area.






Breakdown of the Districts

And now to all 53 of the individual districts, one by one.





CA-1

                   
Incumbent:Mike Thompson (Blue Dog D) v. Wally Herger (R)
Previous District PVI:D+13
New District estimated Obama/McCain:60% Obama, D+7
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:63% White
New District Demographics:66% White

CA-1 pairs Napa Blue dog Mike Thompson with Butte County (which narrowly voted for Obama) Republican Wally Herger. The district basically consists of Napa, Yolo, Colusa, Sutter, ande Butte counties, along with the section of Sonoma County previously in CA-1. Those areas combined voted 60% for Obama, and that is the basic partisan orientation of this district. If that's not Democratic enough, it could easily be made stronger by trading some Sonoma area territory with CA-6. Some relatively unpopulated parts of Yolo and Sutter Counties are cut out to provide a path for CA-4 to connect Yolo and Placer counties, and the city of Marysville in Yuba County is thrown in to equalize the population.

In the event that Herger decided to actually run in this district, he would almost certainly lose. Half of the districts population lives in Napa, Yolo, and Sonoma counties, and would vote heavily for Thomson. In the other half of the district, Herger might win, but would have a lot of trouble winning by enough to offset the heavily Democratic Napa/Yolo/Sonoma margin. It is also easier to imagine Thomson appealing to voters in Butte County than it is to imagine Herger appealing to San Francisco Bay area liberals.

But more than likely this is a moot point, because Herger would almost certainly take one look at CA-1 and opt to run in CA-2 instead, which includes a lot of his rural GOP base areas.





CA-2

                   
Incumbent:?Wally Herger? (R), ?Tom McClintock? (R)
Previous District PVI:R+11
New District estimated Obama/McCain:39% Obama, R+14
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:72% White
New District Demographics:78% White

CA-2 serves to pack as many rural Northern California Republicans as possible into one district. It is the whitest district in California, and is very strongly Republican. CA-2 includes compact rural counties in Northern California, and snakes down through Placer, El Dorado, and Amador counties to pick up rural/exurban GOP areas, leaving closer in Sacramento suburbs in Placer County to CA-4, and leaving the more Democratic Lake Tahoe area to CA-10.

As discussed with CA-1, Wally Herger would probably run in this district, even though he lives in the new CA-1. Tom McClintock would also probably want prefer to run in this district than in a swing district, even though he lives in the new CA-5. In the event of a primary between Herger and McClintock, Herger would probably prevail because slightly more of the new CA-2 comes from Herger's old district than from the old CA-4, and Herger has longer standing actual ties to the area than McClintock.





CA-3

                   
Incumbent:Dan Lungren (R)
Previous District PVI:R+6
New District estimated Obama/McCain:57% Obama, D+4
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:65% White
New District Demographics:56% White

CA-3 is now entirely within Sacramento County, and is substantially more Democratic than the old CA-3, which voted narrowly for Obama. There is a delicate balancing act here between hurting Lungren and keeping Matsui secure. It would be possible to make CA-3 even more Democratic, but not without dragging CA-5 under roughly D+10, which I wanted to avoid. It is not a complete certainty that Lungren would lose in this district, but it is a certainly that he would face very competitive elections every 2 years until he does.





CA-4

                   
Incumbent:None
Previous District PVI:R+10
New District estimated Obama/McCain:53% Obama, D+0
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:79% White
New District Demographics:57% White

The new CA-4 is a bona fide suburban swing district, combining 99% of Democratic Solano County (4/7 of the district) with GOP leaning Sacramento Suburban part of Placer county, and sparsely populated areas in between to connect them. There is no real incumbent in this district, but Charlie Brown would be well positioned to win here. This district is much less Republican than the old version, which he only barely lost in 2008. If not, a Democrat from Solano County would have a good chance of winning here. The only potential hitch is the fast pace of growth in Placer County. If that tends to increase GOP margins, this district will become more Republican with time. On the other hand, if the Sacramento suburbs liberalize as they grow, this district will stay roughly even or move slightly more Democratic. It would be pretty easy to make this district more Democratic by extending it further into the Bay Area, but I kept it more compact and suburban based.





CA-5

                   
Incumbent:Doris Matsui (D)
Previous District PVI:D+15
New District estimated Obama/McCain:62% Obama, D+9
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:39% White
New District Demographics:46% White

CA-5 becomes more Republican, but not Republican enough to put Doris Matsui in any realistic danger. It now crosses over (barely) into Yolo County to pick up West Sacramento, but otherwise is based very much in Sacramento proper.





CA-6

                   
Incumbent:Lynn Woolsey (D)
Previous District PVI:D+23
New District estimated Obama/McCain:72% Obama, D+19
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:70% White
New District Demographics:71% White

CA-6 ditches highly progressive Marin County to pick up less-progressive-but-still-progressive areas further North along the coast. Lynn Woolsey still has absolutely nothing to worry about, and could easily take on some more GOP turf or donate some heavily Democratic areas to CA-1. Alternatively, CA-2 could be sucked into CA-6/Marin and become a swing or Democratic district rather than being conceded to the GOP, but that would make it much more difficult to make CA-4 a swing district, and much more difficult to turn CA-10 into a Democratic district with a strong base in the Sierra Nevadas, and would also necessitate some more county splitting.





CA-7

                   
Incumbent:George Miller (D)
Previous District PVI:D+19
New District estimated Obama/McCain:63% Obama, D+10
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:39% White, 27% Latino
New District Demographics:50% White, 31% Latino

CA-7 moves out of Solano County, and into San Joaquin where it picks up Lodi, Tracy, and Manteca (most of the county other than Stockton). The district also cedes areas around Richmond to CA-10 and CA-9, resulting in a more Republican District. My intention was to bring it down to about D+10, but it could be a couple points off in either direction. If it is too Republican, it would be very easy to fix that and make this district more Democratic. CA-7 isn't D+19 any more, but it does not really need to be. Long time incumbent George Miller, who has been in Congress since 1974, will not be in any danger of suddenly now losing his seat simply becase it becomes a bit less Democratic.





CA-8

                   
Incumbent:Nancy Pelosi (D)
Previous District PVI:D+35
New District estimated Obama/McCain:81% Obama, D+28
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:45% White, 30% Asian
New District Demographics:61% White, 18% Asian

Nancy Pelosi's CA-8 plays a very important but subtle role in this overall map. By crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and taking in Marin County, her district becomes slightly less Democratic. But that's not the main point. By taking in Marin County, it allows CA-6 to push northwards, and just as importantly, it sucks CA-12 into San Francisco (making it Asian plurality in the process), and sucks all the districts to the South-East of it towards San Francisco. This dominoes through the districts and ultimately provides the impetus to pull more Republican districts in the Central Valley further in towards areas like Santa Cruz, San Jose, and Alameda.





CA-9

                   
Incumbent:Barbara Lee (D)
Previous District PVI:D+37
New District estimated Obama/McCain:83% Obama, D+30
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:36% White, 20% Black, 17% Asian, 23% Latino
New District Demographics:37% White, 22% Black, 16% Asian, 21% Latino

The percentage of African Americans in Barbara Lee's new 9th District is not just maintained, but actually increased, even while the district becomes a little bit less Democratic. I did this by trading ultra-liberal but predominantly white areas of her district (principally Berkeley) for predominantly white liberal areas in Contra Costa County, along with Richmond, which has a fairly high black population. So the district now consists of Oakland, Richmond, and areas of Contra Costa county like Orinda, Walnut Creek, and Pleasantville.





CA-10

                   
Incumbent:?John Garamendi? (D)
Previous District PVI:D+11
New District estimated Obama/McCain:63% Obama, D+10
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:56% White
New District Demographics:60% White

This new version of CA-10 is rather different from the previous CA-10, and is drawn under the assumption that John Garamendi wins the CA-10 special election. This district is probably the most bizarrely shaped of all the districts I drew, but it makes sense, at least from the perspective of drawing a distrcit that would be good for Garamendi. Republican George Radanovich also lives here (in Mariposa), but he wouldn't have much chance if he ran in this district.

Nearly 4/7 of the population of CA-10 live in Contra Costa or Alameda Counties, and those areas are all very heavily Democratic (Berkeley - where Garamendi went to college, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Pinole). From there, it snakes through sparsely populated parts of Solano, Amador, and Sacramento counties, picking up Garamendi's home along the way. Then it enters the Sierra Nevada mountain range through Calaveras county, where Garamendi was born and has a ranch. It picks up Republican leaning areas near Yosemite National Park (Garamendi was Deputy Secretary of the Interior), and picks up a mixture of Rural Republicans and more liberal Lake Tahoe/ski areas up and down the Nevada border, stretching from Inyo County in the south to Nevada County in the north. I have to say, I was sorely tempted to cross into Fresno and Tulare counties to pick up Sequoia and King's Canyon National park, and into San Bernadino to take in all of Death Valley, but I restrained myself.

Alpine, Calaveras, Inyo, Mariposa, Mono, Nevada, and Toulumne counties collectively voted McCain 52% to Obama 48%. If you assume that liberal areas around Lake Tahoe (parts of Placer and El Dorado counties) roughly cancel out extraneous GOP areas, and that the Contra Costa/Alameda county parts of the district voted about 75% for Obama, then you end up with a district that voted about 63% for Obama, litte changed from the current partisan stance of CA-10. And there we have it - a district that takes care of some hard to deal with GOP areas in the Sierras, avoids wasting Democratic votes along the Nevada border on a GOP district, that opens up space in eastern Contra Costa County for CA-7 to dilute GOP votes in San Joaquin county, and that John Garamendi should be able to effectively represent despite the district's bizarre geographic shape, given his background. Whew!

As a more compact alternative to this, instead of reaching all the way to Berkeley, the district could combine the Sierras with a different and nearer Democratic area, such as the city of San Joaquin. But then this district would not include Garamendi's home, would be only weakly Democratic rather than safe, would be less progressive, and would really be more like a reconfigured 19th than the 10th.





CA-11

                   
Incumbent:Jerry McNerney (D)
Previous District PVI:R+1
New District estimated Obama/McCain:61% Obama, D+8
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:51% White, 26% Latino
New District Demographics:45% White, 27% Latino

CA-11 is altered significantly to make it more Democratic. It now takes in all of the city of Stockton, in exchange for which it gives up some relatively conservative areas to CA-7. It also expands a bit more in Alameda County, taking on Livermore as well as a bit of territory from Pete Stark and Barbara Lee. The end result is a much safer district for McNerney. I guesstimate that it voted roughly 61% for Obama, but that could be off by a few percentage points. If it is too Republican, that is easy to fix.





CA-12

                   
Incumbent:Jackie Speier (D)
Previous District PVI:D+23
New District estimated Obama/McCain:79% Obama, D+26
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:45% White, 31% Asian
New District Demographics:35% White, 38% Asian

CA-12 moves further into San Francisco to accomadate Pelosi's shift into Marin County. In the process, it turns into a district with a slight Asian American plurality.





CA-13

                   
Incumbent:Pete Stark (D)
Previous District PVI:D+22
New District estimated Obama/McCain:64% Obama, D+11
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:29% White, 35% Asian, 23% Latino
New District Demographics:37% White, 26% Asian, 28% Latino

CA-13 is still primarily based in Alameda County, where 2/3 of the district is located, retaining Pete Stark's home town of Fremont, along with Union City, Newark, and most of Hayward. It then crosses through unpopulated mountains to the east and reappears on the outskirts of Modesto, where it basically picks up the parts of Stanislaus County that were formerly in the 19th district. The end result is a district which is still strongly Democratic, but not packed as full of progressive Alameda County voters as before.





CA-14

                   
Incumbent:Anna Eshoo (D)
Previous District PVI:D+21
New District estimated Obama/McCain:73% Obama, D+20
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:53% White, 21% Asian, 19% Latino
New District Demographics:52% White, 22% Asian, 20% Latino

Like CA-12 before it, CA-14 is sucked towards San Francisco because of CA-8's trip across the Golden Gate Bridge. In San Mateo County, it adds San Carlos, Foster City, and San Mateo. Saratoga in Santa Cruz County along with CA-14's old section of Santa Cruz County are removed. This has no real political impact, and CA-14 remains a veritable Democratic fortress.





CA-15

                   
Incumbent:Mike Honda (D)
Previous District PVI:D+15
New District estimated Obama/McCain:69% Obama, D+16
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:39% White, 36% Asian
New District Demographics:35% White, 39% Asian

Moving parts of CA-9 and CA-13 out of Alameda County has left some people there that need to go somewhere. They go into Mike Honda's 15th district, which is now up to 39% Asian American. No real partisan effect, except CA-15 may get a bit more Democratic.





CA-16

                   
Incumbent:Zoe Lofgren (D)
Previous District PVI:D+16
New District estimated Obama/McCain:66% Obama, D+13
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:28% White, 26% Asian, 40% Latino
New District Demographics:29% White, 19% Asian, 45% Latino

60% of CA-16 remains within Santa Clara County. To get to the rest of the district, it crosses the mountains and ends up in Stanislaus County, where it takes in the city of Modesto. strengthening the Latino plurality in the process. This only makes the district 3 or 4 points more Republican, and Zoe Lofgren has nothing to worry about.





CA-17

                   
Incumbent:Sam Farr (D)
Previous District PVI:D+19
New District estimated Obama/McCain:65% Obama, D+12
Current District 2008 (Est.) Demographics:41% White, 48% Latino
New District Demographics:60% White, 19% Latino

Sam Farr's district becomes much whiter than before, principally because it gives up predominantly Latino areas inland (Salinas, Hollister, Watsonville) to the 21st district in order to help give that district a strong Latino majority. In exchange, Farr adds the rest of Santa Cruz county (except for Watsonville), parts of Santa Clara county (Saratoga, Campbell, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno), as well as some conservative inland areas in San Luis Obispo and Kern counties. But 78% of the population lives in Monterrey, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties, all of which are strongly Democratic, so Farr's district remains strongly Democaratic even while becoming much whiter. As a rough estimate, this district probably voted about 65% for Obama.






Apparently this diary is too long for Daily Kos' html checking to accept... :) Read the rest at Swing State Project, which has laxer html screening.



That's all, folks!

If you liked this diary, do me a favor and contact your Representative and Senators and tell them to support strong Health Care Reform. A strong public option, no trigger, no opt-in, no opt-out. Strong subsidies to make the mandate affordable, open the exchange to everyone, and for crying out loud there's no reason we should have to wait all the way until 2013 to have it go into effect!

Originally posted to MattTX on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:14 AM PDT.

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