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Did you really think Arnold Schwarzenegger was pushing a mid-decade redistricting in California out of the goodness of his heart?

Make no mistake about it, redistricting is nothing more than a power struggle.  It's about who has power, who wants power, and who is going to do whatever it takes to get power.  

Arnold's redistricting plan is aimed squarely at keeping the GOP in control of Congress for decades to come.

Read the fine print.

Much has been made about the fact that Schwarzenegger's plan takes redistricting out of the hands of the State Legislature and puts it into the hands of three retired judges.  But the real power in Schwarzenegger's plan is not the panel of judges; it is the fact that the judges can only draw maps after following a set of strict and powerful criteria - criteria that hurts Democrats and helps Republicans.

Schwarzenegger disguises his initiative as a plan to take politics out of redistricting, but in reality, it is cleverly designed to draw neat, compact districts that pack Democrats into heavily Democratic seats.  This strategy leaves the remaining seats stacked in favor of Republicans.  Steven Hill, a fellow with the New America Foundation explains it well.

The urban vote is more concentrated, and so it's easier to pack Democratic voters into fewer districts. As Democratic redistricting strategist Sam Hirsch has noted, nice square districts are in effect a Republican gerrymander because they "combine a decade-old (but previously unnoticed) Republican bias" that along with a newly heightened degree of incumbent protection "has brought us one step closer to government under a United States House of Unrepresentatives."

Schwarzenegger's Compactness Criteria:
Arnold's redistricting criteria in Prop 77 sounds non-partisan:

1) Judges must maximize the number of whole counties in each district, and minimize the number of multi-district counties.
  1. Judges must maximize the number of whole cities in each district, and minimize the number of multi-district cities.
  2. Districts must be as compact as practicable.  To the extent practicable, a contiguous area of population shall not be bypassed to incorporate an area of population more distant.

Fair and balanced, right?  Wrong!  These redistricting rules will have devastating effects on the power of Democratic voters.  Here's how it works.

Schwarzenegger's plan takes advantage of the geographic phenomenon that voters in urban centers vote heavily Democratic.  In contrast, outlying suburban and rural areas lean Republican.  In almost direct proportion, the further away from the urban core of a city, the more conservative the voting behavior.  

Couple this with the fact that in recent years, local migration patterns have been steadily away from expensive liberal coastal areas, sending more people into more affordable suburban areas in the Central Valley and Inland Empire, where voters become more conservative, just like their neighbors.

In the next two decades, populations are projected to increase by 45 percent in inland counties, compared to 17 percent in coastal ones, the state's historical population centers. Inland counties will also have more absolute growth, 4.8 million compared to 4.4 million for their coastal counterparts. The fastest growth rates will be in the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties), the San Joaquin Valley, and the Sacramento metropolitan areas...

By requiring judges to draw a redistricting map that emphasizes compact districts incoroporating entire cities, the criteria in Prop 77 literally corrals Democrats into urban districts.  These districts could be as much as 80% Deocratic.  Districts will be so liberal, candidates will be munching on granola, wearing tie-dye and debating over whether condoms should be distributed to students in 4th grade or 6th grade.  

Where does this leave the remaining districts?  They'll be rural and suburban, and stacked in favor of the Republicans.

It's a classic Republican gerrymander.  Pack all the Democrats into a few heavily Democratic districts, leaving Republicans with slight edges in the majority of seats.

Look at California on the map of Purple America.  California has blue strongholds in the Bay Area and Los Angeles, but is purple everywhere else.

There is no way to predict with any certainty what a new map of Prop 77 Congressional districts would look like.  Judges could draw lines north-south, east-west, in infinite variations.  However, the Schwarzenegger compactness criteria are present in every possible plan.  This presents a statistical nightmare to ordinary citizens, but a wildly interesting challenge to mathematical geniuses and political junkies like Micah Altman at Harvard who wrote a dissertation on almost exactly this topic.

Compactness standards, rather than being the neutral standard that the court envisions, are likely to have distinctly partisan effects. These simulation results contradicts the view of compactness advocates and bears out Lowenstein's (1985) assertion that compactness is not a partisan-neutral standard because of the way that Democrats are concentrated geographically.

In other words, most compactness standards will give the GOP an advantage over Democrats.

Maybe this would explain why the Chair of the California Republican Party, Duf Sundheim, is so adamant about supporting Prop 77.

I ask that every Republican elected official in California whether he/she holds a municipal seat or a seat in the United States Congress support the fundamental principles of fairness and competition and not provide financial aid to defeat Proposition 77.  These are principles that the Republican Party holds dear and principles that the CRP will not turn its back on - no matter whose job is put at risk.

When Republicans start using terms like "principles of fairness", it's time to be worried.

California's Congressional Delegation is currently composed of 32 Democrats and 20 Republicans, a 61%-39% advantage.  
In 2004, Kerry only beat Bush by 10 points in California, 54%-44%.  A 2006 redistricting with Arnold's pro-GOP "compactness criteria" would make the Congressional delegation worse off than 54%-44% (28-24 seats).  That means the loss of at least four Democratic seats in the House - exactly what Tom Delay stole from Texas last Fall.

If Democrats ever want a chance at taking back our government, we need to stop the whining, stop the in-fighting, and concentrate on the things that actually change elections.  Again, I turn to Steven Hill.

But has this stark reality of our political landscape made a dent in liberal or Democratic understanding of "what to do?" Hardly. Instead, moderate and progressive wings of the Democratic Party have been cannibalizing each other over the no-win debate about the base versus swing voters. Or else they have been fiddling to the latest fad about Lakoffian reframing.

How convenient, to think you don't have to engage in the hard work of enacting fundamental electoral reform, city by city and state-by-state, all you have to do is find better speechwriters and produce slicker TV ads and then the left can go back to its poetry nights.

The biggest battle for control of Congress won't be happening in Ohio or Texas or Colorado.  And it won't even happen in 2006.  Control of the US House of Representatives for decades to come hinges on an arcane redistricting initiative on a special election ballot this November in California.  

There's a campaign on, and it's time we got involved.

Originally posted to calpolitic on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 08:54 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Excellent summary of this critical issue (none)
    facing all of us here in California. No on 77!  

    Most Americans are a lot dumber than we give them credit for- George Carlin 2004

    by maggiemae on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 09:00:37 AM PDT

  •  It's a tough issue (none)
    Here in Massachusetts, we had some non-binding questions on nonpartisan redistricting on the ballot last year.  It's an issue I believe in strongly, but unfortunately in Massachusetts, it hurts Democrats.  So I was conflicted.

    Obviously because the ballot question wasn't binding it didn't really make a difference.  Not sure how I would have voted if it had actually mattered.  Somehow we have to figure out a way to end political gerrymandering, but I'm not sure how it will ever happen.

    •  It'd be great (4.00)
      If we could have non-political redistricting nationwide.  But, if we only do "fair" redistricting in some states, while the GOP'ers gerrymander the shit out of places like Texas, we're losers (in more ways than one).
      •  Yup, that's the problem (none)
        I wish state legislators from different states would call each other up and hash out agreements.  If California and Texas both switched to non-partisan redistricting, it might not change the overall makeup of Congress, and we'd all be better off.  But it'll never happen.  
        •  Which begs the question... (none)
          ...what exactly is "fair" redistricting?  I've been trying to come up with a good definition of this for quite some time, and it's somewhat elusive.  What's your definition of "fair"?
          •  Fair redistricting (none)
            My definition of fair redistricting would be districts defined without any regard to politics.  The only way to pull that off would be for redistricting to be done entirely by a computer program, and the inputs would only indicate where voters lived, not how they vote.

            Presumably one of the criteria that the computer would consider would be the "compactness" of districts, which I see you've criticized as always detrimental to Democrats.  I'm not sure why that's true, though--maybe I'm missing something.  It seems to me that it would sometimes help Democrats and sometimes hurt them.

            I'd also love it if we could have districts that crossed state lines, so that small states didn't get more representation in the House than they deserve.  But that's just a pipe dream.

            •  Other factors (none)
              I'm not sure a computer program could take in all of the nuances of redistricting.

              How could it ensure that geographic communities of interests weren't diversified into so many districts that they didn't have a voice?

              Ditto for minority voting groups.

          •  I did my senior thesis on these issues (none)
            It was never the Founders' intent that representatives cover single-interest districts, but, rather, the understanding of "representation" at the time was that each representative would cover a district with diverse interests and act as a sieve to filter through constituents' views and figure out what's best for the whole.

            That said, I absolutely agree on the main point: do it nationally, or not at all.

            Patrick Murphy for Congress (PA-8) -- Murphy06.com

            by Adam B on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 09:32:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, it should be (none)
        done nationwide or not at all.  None of this cherry-picking states to redistrict.  Seems like it would violate some part of the "one man, one vote" notion.

        And ditto Maine and Nebraska's EV distribution.  Though they've never split them up, it's unfair that every state but those two are winner-take-all.

        Visit RemoveRepublicans.com and follow every 2006 Senate race.

        by AnthonySF on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 09:15:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this (none)
    I think a lot of people want to vote for this out of pure naivety.  I will fight hard against this redistricting.  It's utterly foolish.  We need to get people out there voting against this, this is one we can't afford to lose.  
  •  Highly Recommended! (none)
    An excellent analysis of the issue.  
  •  I like the idea (none)
    of keeping counties together, though.  It makes sense to maintain these distinct lines, arbitrary as they are, since in large part counties have identities that should be represented as one (or more than one, as the case may be in larger regions like L.A. and S.D.)  Why redraw lines when they are already there?  Why should part of an L.A. district seep into O.C.?

    I'm still voting NO, though.

    Visit RemoveRepublicans.com and follow every 2006 Senate race.

    by AnthonySF on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 09:13:08 AM PDT

    •  County lines.. (none)
      Make sense for two reasons.  First, they are their own bodies of government and a lot of programs (sheriff, welfare, health, probation, public works, planning...) run through the county.

      But second, counties for the most part contain the same geographic communities of interest.  

      Which is why Arnold's plan is so screwed up.  He actually deletes the Constitutional requirement that geographic communities of interest should be kept together.  This is pretty ludicrous.  Why does he want to do this?  To keep his precious "compactness criteria" pure.  

      Darn that Arnold!

      •  The current administration (none)
        The gang in Sacramento is filling out the remainder of the term of a Democratic governor, remember.  But the current Governor by and large is not working with a staff he selected--instead, a lot of the people who participated in the administration of former Republican governor Pete Wilson have returned to power.

        "Arnold" is not calling any shots regarding Proposition 77.  That's a creature of the state Republican Party and its business (and much of that anti-consumer) allies in the state Chamber of Commerce.  Kos is kidding himself if he thinks that those people have any inclination to propose any sort of nonpartisan, good government system.

        We're all in this together.

        by JTML on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 02:46:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  what do counties have to do with the House? (none)
      sorry, there is no connection there. To suggest that there is, is buying Koolaid. Or you would like Ahnold to ghettoize you?

      Be a Carville, not a Colmes

      by seesdifferent on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 09:22:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (none)
        I'm in San Francisco, so I don't see how I can be ghettoized, but here is my reasoning...

        The average district in CA is 690,000 people.  How about we just tweak slightly these counties to maintain their already existing borders insteading of creating whole new ones:

        • San Joaquin (632k residents)
        • San Mateo (697k residents)
        • Kern (713k residents)
        • San Francisco (751k residents)
        • Ventura (791k residents)

        These counties could be split into roughly 2 districts, also with slight tweaking:

        • Sacramento (1.33 mil residents)
        • Alameda (1.46 mil residents)
        • Santa Clara (1.67 mil residents)

        And then group these nearby counties together, whose total pop is +/- 700k:

        • Santa Barbara + San Luis Obispo (656k residents)
        • Marin + Sonoma (712k residents)
        • San Benito + Monterey + Santa Cruz (722k residents)

        And so on...

        (Please, appoint me to the redistricting committee)

        Visit RemoveRepublicans.com and follow every 2006 Senate race.

        by AnthonySF on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 09:31:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Geography-Based Representation is the Problem (none)

    Proportional Representation is the answer.

    Real electoral reform would break the duopoly, not shift it to one or another of the essentially corrupt duopolists.

    Of course, then we might have viable third and fourth parties, which is exactly what the two major institutional parties effectively conspire to prevent with the maintenance of an already structurally rigged first-past-the-post system of gerrymandered districts that are both politically and geographically indefensible, so we get to choose between center-right and hard-right.

    Limiting the power of the two parties is the first step toward making them more responsive.

    Institution of proportional representation is a first step toward that goal.

    •  Are you talking about multi-member districts? (none)
      How many members per district would be fair?
      •  Nope. (none)
        I'm talking about seating all or part of the legislature on the basis of state-wide voting percentages from party lists.

        If the socialists pull 15% of the statewide, they get 15% of the seats, without regard to their percentage in any particular district.

        The notion of districts, which was intended to protect regional concerns, is now just a gimmick used by both parties to maximize their safe districts and their base, and both parties work together to insure that the structure excludes third parties, because both parties are more concerned with their own institutional prerogatives than with addressing legitimate public issues.

        Any Democratic or Republican politician who isn't working to open up the electoral system is part of the fundamental problem, however good his or her positions on some major issues might be.

        •  Sorry (none)
          However relevant it might be to a general thread on elections and apportionment, proportional representation means nothing to someone trying to decide how to vote on Prop. 77.

          I have no trouble arguing for the No vote which favors the Democratic Party and its candidates, because I understand how committed my opponents are to anti-democratic systems (not to mention how strictly the Republicans have enforced party loyalty in recent years, both in this state and in Congress).

          We're all in this together.

          by JTML on Sun Oct 16, 2005 at 02:51:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Question: (none)
    If the most populous, urban regions are mostly Democratic, and the outlying regions are mostly Republican, but each region has about the same number of voters, wouldn't the number of representatives per Democratic voter be about the same as the number of representatives per Republican Voter? Or, to say it another way, isn't true that under compaction, each highly Democratic district would be smaller geographically than each Republican district, but would have about the same total number of voters?

    It seems to me that the main difference would be geographic--i.e., population density--under the proposed system, rather than a difference in representation between Democrats and Republicans.

    BTW, in order for me to vote in favor of any of Arnold's initiatives, it would have to be incredibly "fantastic" (which none of the current ones are), and Hell would also have to freeze over.

    Greg Shenaut

    •  Population Density (none)
      You're right.  Population density would be a huge difference in the districts.  But, here's the catch.  When population density is high almost anywhere, the politics are liberal.  When population density is low, the politics are conservative.  (there are exceptions to every rule, but this is a good benchmark)

      In fact, one of the best indicators to how someone is likely to vote anymore is how close they live to their neighbors!

      So, given all of that.  In Arnold's compact districts, he draws lines around cities... leaving them compacted.  This locks-up lots of Democratic voters, keeping them away from suburban districts where Republicans will have a slight advantage.  

      Combine this with the fact that the GOP turns-out a higher percentage of voters, and presto, you have a GOP gerrymander.

    •  Umm no (none)
      In redistricting its about the lost votes - how many opposition voters can you put in a district where they have no chance of winning, but are still numerous - a 60/40 district is safe 9 elections out of 10. The idea is to create lots of 90/10 districts for the other party, and then 60/40 districts for your party.

      So a five district set up could be

      90/10
      40/60
      40/60
      40/60
      40/60

      with one party winning four districts - despite the total number of supporters being equal. This is less extreme an example than you think.

  •  Ideologically.... (none)
    I would say that your main complaints are benefits. If you've drawn nice, square districts that pack together people of similar beleifs - isn't that a good thing? In that way, the maximum number of people will be represented by someone they agree with and support, and the number of people who feel disenchanted with the Democratic process (because they're Democrats who live in a Republican stronghold, or vice-versa) will be reuced. Matching up compactness requirements with equal population requirements means that each voter representative would still have the same number of constituents, they'd just be more likely to agree with one another.

    Now that that's out of the way, on a partisan level, it would be awful. It would, as suggested, concentrate similar-thiking people into small districts, which would have the result of electing more Republicans, as they're more spread out.

    The solution would be some kind of PR or party-list type system, but there's no way that would happen here (although you wonder what PR would do to the amount of Pork in the various budgets - I guess it would depend on the scale of the PR).

  •  Would it be Stupid of me.... (none)
    ....to just vote AGAINST any issue raised by Shortzenpecker from today until the day he dies? Wouldn't that save a lot of time for me? Just asking :-)

    Bush makes America WEAK.

    by pseudomass on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 09:42:04 AM PDT

    •  Why Just Him? (none)
      I dare say that it would be easier to simply vote against every ballot proposition that comes up. Switzerland is about the only place that has made direct democracy work to any degree, and that's because they've had years of indoctrination about it.

      The whole point is that you've elected officals to represent your interests. If they're doing so, there should be no need for propositions. If they're not doing so, then don't you have a bigger problem?

  •  KISS--Keep It Simple, Stupid! (none)
    This is a great discussion to have here, but remember, when we go out in the world, we want to Keep It Simple, Stupid!

    Toward that end, I suggest the following:

    (1) Look at Pennsylvania.  What the GOP is trying to do here is similar to what they did in PA. The trick is that Democrats are more concentrated in inner cities than Republicans are in suburbs. So you get 90% Dem districts in the inner cities, and 60% Rep districts in the burbs. Guess which there are more of?  PA is battleground state--fairly balanced overall, went to Kerry last year. But its Congressional delegation is 11-7 GOP.

    (2) Just say no!  Redistricting should be done once every census cycle. Doing it toward the end of a cycle--not even the middle!--is nothing but a form of political mischief no matter how good it sounds.

  •  Still don't quite see it (none)
    So, we'd have a bunch of densely populated, mostly Democratic districts plus a bunch of sparsely populated, mostly Republican districts. What this does is to get rid of close elections: urban seats will be safe for Democrats, suburban/rural seats will be safe for Republicans. Under those circumstances, voter turn-out (it seems to me) would not matter so much, and not only that, voter turn-out would probably decline in general because the outcome would be so predictable.

    Personally, I think closer elections--which depend on mixed districts--are probably good for democracy in that either party's candidate has a chance of winning. It would make for more interesting campaigns, more voter turn-out, and so on.

    What we have now is a blend, some safe districts for one party or the other, and some mixed districts. In the safe districts, the action tends to shift to the primaries, and that's probably would would happen under Arnold's plan.

    Greg Shenaut

    •  Not quite (none)
      We wouldn't have a "bunch of sparsely populated, mostly Republican districts".  California does not have enough people in it's rural communities to really make that much of a difference in districts made up of 600,000+ people.  The rural communities are too spread out (California is the third largest state) and rural voters are dwarfed by suburban and urban voters.

      What we will have under an Arnold redistricting are basically two types of districts.  Urban and sub-urban.  The urban districts will be HEAVILY Democratic, and the suburban districts will be slightly in favor of Republicans.  It's a classic gerrymander.

    •  up the comments list (none)
      see Stirling Newberry's comment (upthread) ... qualitatively, it may seem like a push, but when quantified, it's easy to identify how the hanky panky works ...

      We had that going in Illinois - a red Congressional delegation in a blue state - until Melissa Bean defeated Phil Crane last time out. Dems will have to scramble to keep the advantage here, as first-termer Bean's not got a strong chance of defending her seat. Other Dem challengers all have uphill fights in majority GOP districts, while the nominally Dem districts average better than a 70/30 advantage.

      Some times require that you accept circumstances as they are ... claiming blamelessness just doesn't cut it

      by wystler on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 10:19:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  disproportionality (none)
    California's Congressional Delegation is currently composed of 32 Democrats and 20 Republicans, a 61%-39% advantage.  
    In 2004, Kerry only beat Bush by 10 points in California, 54%-44%.  A 2006 redistricting with Arnold's pro-GOP "compactness criteria" would make the Congressional delegation worse off than 54%-44% (28-24 seats).

    Mathematically, congressional representation is not expected to be proportional to presidential vote, since there is an exponential effect.  In Massachusetts, for example, you don't have 1/3 of their representatives being Republicans even though roughly that proportion votes GOP for president.  The general consensus I have heard is that the incumbent protection gerrymander we have currently benefits the GOP in Congress and the Democrats in the state legislature.  

    We ought to lock some geeks in a room with the redistricting software they use and come up with a bunch of maps and see who wins.  Short of work like that coming up with something unexpected, I see little reason to panic.  I think Republican non-opposition is more likely fear of Democratic gerrymandering after the 2010 election.  That fear is certainly justified - but that would make the redistricting the difference between the status quo and something even more favorable to Democrats, not less.

    •  Just Look at a Map! (none)
      Besides Sacramento, name me one Democratic Congressional seat in the entire California Central Valley that would survive a Prop 77 Arnold-style redistricting?

      There are currently 3 Democrats in Congress that hold Central Valley seats: Jim Costa (Fresno), Dennis Cardoza (Merced), and Doris Matsui (Sacramento).  Matsui might survive, but it would be very expensive every year.

      Now, we'd definitely lose the Lois Kapps seat on the Central Coast, and probably lose another in Orange County.

      This plan is BAD BAD BAD for Democrats.  No need to lock up geeks in a room with maps and redistricting software, the blogosphere is the perfect venue to sort this one out.

         

      •  you forgot mike thompson and george miller (none)
        unless the delta doesn't count as the valley. while thompson's district is spread up the coast, davis in yolo county is the largest city in the whole 1st congressional district. as for matsui, sacramento is solid democratic, and not at risk. it's a safe seat, and you would have to cut sac in two and gerrymander the hell out of it to make it competitive. the valley as a whole might be reactionary, but the delta and sacramento are pretty blue. cardoza and costa are more worrying, though.

        crimson gates reek with meat and wine/while on the streets, bones of the frozen dead -du fu (712-770)

        by wu ming on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 10:52:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thomson's Toast Too. (none)
          The Thomson seat would most likely be made into a nice, compact square, incorporating Trinity, Shasta, Modoc, Siskiyou counties.  It would become a Rep seat.

          Miller would probably be okay, but the most conservative areas of Contra Costa Co, would most-likely fall into his district or Eleln Taucher's instead of being in Pombo's.  Their districts would go from safe to competitive.

      •  costa, cardoza, and matsui (none)
        There is a safe Democratic Sacramento seat.  Whichever district has Stockton will be at lest competitive Democratic.  Costa's district doesn't exactly stretch to the Bay Area suburbs to grab Democrats - there are some in the San Joaquin valley, really!  The Kapps seat would be harder, for sure, but so would Republican seats like Pombo's.
  •  Recommended... (none)
    Good analysis deserves a wider audience.  Highly recommended.
  •  sorry, I don't buy it (none)
    I'm a progressive Democrat, and I like compact districts.  Besides, you omit the fact that the Texas redistricting did the opposite of what you suggest Arnold is trying to do!  The city of Austin was divided into four districts, each with a Republican suburban majority, for the express purpose of ending the career of the representative from Austin.

    A redistricting plan drawn up by judges won't change the balance of power significantly in California.  That's because the current lines were drawn not to force a greater Democratic majority, but rather to protect incumbents of both parties.

    •  I don't know how they did it in Texas... (none)
      But if you want to minimize the impact of one political party, what you want to do is pack as many people from that party into as few districts as possible, which is exactly what they're doing.  If you have one district that's 90% democrat then that's 39% worth of democratic voters that are entirely unused.
    •  Liking compact districts is one thing... (none)
      Liking them only in California is another.  We can't have "fair, non-partisan redistricting" in California, but have a complete anti-Democrat gerrymander in Texas.  Otherwise we always lose.

      Also, about Texas, Texas has a much different political geography than California.  Austin was able to be split up, because there were enough conservatives in the areas surrounding Austin to dilute the number of Democrats in Austin to a powerless voting minority.

      In California, liberal cities are surrounded by moderate but slightly conservative suburbs.  If you tried the Austin (cracking) plan in CA, you'd end up with the Democrats from the city tipping the balance in the suburban districts towards the Dems.

  •  I haven't seen this comment: it won't pass, (none)
    at least according to the latest polls (49% opposed vs. 34% for).

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/26/BAG46EDCNJ1.DTL

    Now, I certainly appreciate the heads-up, but I thought that it'd be important for people to know that this proposition is doing poorly at the polls (thanks to Schwarzenegger's unpopularity).

    The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. Somerset Maugham

    by verasoie on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 10:43:48 AM PDT

    •  Look More Closely (none)
      I really hope it won't pass, but look at the follow-up question from the PPIC poll.

      "If voting districts were redrawn by an independent panel of judges, do you think California would generally have Congressional and state legislators who more effectively
      represent their districts than legislators do today, or not?"

      46(Yes) - 35(No)

      People like the concept, and the more they learn about it (from Ahnold's slick tv ads) the more they'll turn against us.

      This thing is beatable, but not by much.

      •  Perhaps, but not if the Republicans don't support (none)
        it either!

        I forgot to comment on that part of the article, even though it was the main point:  incumbent Republicans don't want to lose their seats either (as would occur by redistricting)!!

        The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. Somerset Maugham

        by verasoie on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 11:20:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not even the CONCEPT polls 50%! (none)
        I understand the concern--and thanks for this diary, it's a good one--but if even the CONCEPT of the judge-panel districting doesn't poll above 50%, there isn't much danger.  If that number were 60%, it would mean there was an incipient population that was convinced by the concept and just had to be sold that the implementation was really going to conform to the theory they support.  Even that is an uphill battle, given that Reps are split and ArrghNo is a pariah.

        But at 49% conceptual support and 34% actually polling support, the best case scenario for 77 is a narrow loss.  I'm just not worried about this one.  I agree with your analysis of what it would do, but I don't put a lot of time into meteor preparedness, either.

        The blood of the tortured. The skin of the privileged class. The blood of the ruling dynasties.

        by Dracowyrm on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 11:20:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Think about this for a second... (none)
          Check out [this ad that Ahnold has in the can mms://media.vitalstream.com/marcom_sitestream_com/open/prop77.asf] already for the Yes side.  

          I'm really happy Prop 77 is behind in the polls right now, but things can change in a jiffy.

          Americans, and especially Californians, love a comeback story.  I think people are pissed about what Arnie's done so far, but they secretly want him to succeed.  Let's face it, things in California aren't all gravy, and if Arnold succeeds in selling another bag of hope to the voters, we're in trouble.

          Also, the turnout in November could be ultra-conservative given the fact that it's not a normally scheduled election and there's hardly anything for Dems to vote in favor of.

          This is hardly worrying about meteors.

  •  Nope. (none)

    I'm talking about seating all or part of the legislature on the basis of state-wide voting percentages from party lists.

    If the socialists pull 15% of the statewide, they get 15% of the seats, without regard to their percentage in any particular district.

    The notion of districts, which was intended to protect regional concerns, is now just a gimmick used by both parties to maximize their safe districts and their base, and both parties work together to insure that the structure excludes third parties, because both parties are more concerned with their own institutional prerogatives than with addressing legitimate public issues.

    Any Democratic or Republican politician who isn't working to open up the electoral system is part of the fundamental problem, however good his or her positions on some major issues might be.

  •  The good news is that 77 is toast. (none)
    A poll released 8/26 shows the measure failing by 49% to 34%.  The standard rule of thumb for ballot measures is that their numbers generally are highest on first impression and then drop as voters become more informed, confused by competing messages, and knowledgeable about who is backing them.  34% at this stage of the game is  a sign of pretty much certain death.

    Add to this Governor Meathead's plummeting popularity and public credibility, his increasingly visible special-interest hand-puppet status, and the ethics probes on his extracurricular "salaries" while in office as governor, and I'd say you can take to the bank that the charismatic dimbulb has lost his lustre and will not get any of his "reform" measures past the voters.  

    Moreover, even many incumbent Repugnicants are opposing the measure because they fear it will lose them their seats.  If even the Party of Darkness can't show unanimity behind their Steroidal Leader's Big Plan, you can stick a fork in it.  

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/08/26/BAG46EDCNJ1.DTL

    All of this is great news for us.  ArrghNo is now destined to be a weird footnote of CA politics, instead of a US Senator or major reshaper of the state's government.  It's taken him less than three years to show himself incompetent, politically unskilled, corrupt and arrogant.  California now hates him about as much as it did Gray Davis during the recall.  He's finished.

    The blood of the tortured. The skin of the privileged class. The blood of the ruling dynasties.

    by Dracowyrm on Mon Aug 29, 2005 at 11:12:23 AM PDT

  •  OK, how can we get people to grasp this quickly? (none)
    The logic of this is fairly subtle, I think, and isn't going to be able to "grab" people right off the bat. The idea of taking elected politicians out of the districting process is very appealing. I think that at least two things are required to get the word out on this.

    First, an easy-to-understand graphic that can be published in newspapers and put on signs. Everyone understands the red/blue symbolism: since Arnolds plan not only creates this finely nuanced gerrymander but also gives much larger amounts of territory to Republicans, a red/blue state map, even if you get into shades of purple, should be compelling.

    Second, there needs to be a specific alternative that can be used as a basis of comparison, and that is just as obviously neutral as the Arnold plan is biased toward the Republicans. The existing plan must be contrasted with each one. If I understand this whole thing correctly, one way to do this would be to use voter registration records for the preceding 10 years to build in a control against gerrymandering based on simple arithmetic.

    Perhaps the alternative could simply use all of the rules of Arnolds plan plus gerrymander control and a rule that redistricting can be done only once, within one year of each federal census.

    Greg Shenaut

    •  Anyone Else Have Ideas Also? (none)
      This is the million dollar question... literall.

      The campaigns for and against Prop 77 are going to raise and spend millions to get their messages out.  

      The No message is much harder to get out, since it is more subtle.

      I think the idea of a graphic with Red and Blue California is good, but I think it might only work with Democrats.  There's other arguments against the initiative here that might work better with Reps and Dems.

      What other arguments are there?

  •  Ahhhnold - answer this before redistricting (none)
    Imagine this - 30,000 out of 70,000 state-owned vehicles in Kaaaaliforniyaaaaaaaa (for those who don't speak German, its California) are missing.  I kid you not.

    Ahhhnooollld, how do you lose 30,000 cars?  


    "The Mystery Of 30,000 Missing State-Owned Vehicles"

    Did they get lost during the redistricting?

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