Did you know Illinois has 451,554 census blocks? Well, SSP Labs (now a division of Daily Kos Elections) analyzed all of them, spitting out the distribution analysis of the new Illinois districts. And, as the title of this post implies, there are some not-necessarily-obvious subtleties of that map that make it so quite the piece of work.
First, the eight incumbent Dems clearly got their seats protected; each retains the vast majority of their constituents (between 69% for Luis Gutierrez to 93.49% for Jerry Costello), with some minor reshuffling. The southward reach of both the new 1st and 2nd are obvious, with significant percentages from the old 11th to the south.
Far more exciting, however, is what this map does to the 11 current Republican incumbents. The Dems were diabolical with the General Assembly map (which forced no less than 1/3 of the GOP Senate caucus into fratricidal districts)... but that was only a sign of things to come.
Starting in Chicagoland, the Cook County (read: Democratic) parts of Peter Roskam's old 6th are farmed into the new 8th, while Joe Walsh's old 8th is split into FOUR districts...with no more than 33% of his current constituents moved into the same district. Bob Dold! keeps 61% of his current constituents, but given the thin ice he was on, the 39% new (including 7% from a strongly Democratic section of the old 9th) is likely more than enough to send him packing.
The old 14th is split among 6 new districts, though a substantial portion is retained for the new 14th. Strategically, Randy Hultgren should run here, as the new 6th is really primed for a GOP primary battle royale: Roskam and Hultgren live in the district, while Judy Biggert lives nearby (and may not want to run in the solidly Dem new 11th). Oh, and they all represent between 21% and 25% of the new 6th... but no more.
Moving a little further south, the Dems clearly chose to target Adam Kinzinger and not Aaron Schock, dicing Kinzinger's district among no fewer than EIGHT new distrcts. The largest part of the old 11th is in the new 16th (perhaps allowing us better to understand why the rumors of Kinzinger running in the new 16th). AK47 (yes, our nickname for the Congressman) still has a numerical disadvantage against current IL-16 incumbent Don Manzullo though, 44% to 31%.
Bobby Schilling gets a cleaner (and more Democratic) district, though he keeps 46% of his constituents. Again, it's the new ones that could hurt him, especially with a 70% Obama section of Rockford and Winnebago County (taken from the old 16th). The cost of drawing these other Republicans out is, of course, keeping Aaron Schock safe, who retains 61% of his constituents. He wouldn't be particularly vulnerable to a primary challenge either, as he gains 12% of the old 15th repped by Tim Johnson and 16% of Schilling's old 17th.
Speaking of Tim Johnson... I think he's left without too many good options: the old 15th is split four ways, with 46% retained for the new 15th. That'd be all well and good, except 53% of the new 15th comes from John Shimkus' old 19th. Johnson could run in the new swingy 13th, but has only represented 27% of it before. Even there, Shimkus' 29% has him beat. The new 13th is not particularly Dem leaning, but is still brilliant nonetheless in that no current GOPer represents more than 30% of it. This point is hard to understate: this district nominally leans Dem, and was likely specifically constructed to minimize incumbency effects that would benefit the Republicans — which of course, increases the probability that the nominal Dem-leaning nature of the district will shine through.
With so much in the air, we know this will be a fun game of GOPer musical chairs that we'll get to observe. But when the music stops, more than a few Republican incumbents will likely find their seats taken — not by each other, but by Democrats.
Note: SSP Labs is continuing to work on Illinois. Stay tuned for continuing coverage....
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