Doing a Michigan judge-drawn map might seem like an academic exercise since the state lege and governorship are both Republican. But, one of the underlying assumptions embodied in the Republican map is that you can't draw two VRA districts contained wholly within Wayne County, forcing more than one district to dip into Oakland County from Wayne. Well, it's wrong, and the proposed GOP map violates Michigan state law. It may not be pretty, but you can draw two VRA districts without leaving Wayne County. Now, the Michigan Supreme Court is 4-3 Republican so it might not rule in Team Blue's favor. But the judges might be forced to redraw the map, so below is what a nonpartisan effort would look like:
CD1: Dan Benishek (R)
Upper Penninsula/Northern Michigan
2008: Obama 49.6-48.6
Avg: Republican 55-45
The First District is mostly the same in my map and the GOP map. And like the old First District, this one narrowly went for Obama. Considering how rural areas have moved away from Democrats, this is probably lean Republican for the decade.
CD2: Bill Huizenga (R) and Fred Upton (R)
2008: McCain 51-1-47.1
Avg: Republican 63.2-36.8
Historically it's the most Republican district in the state, and McCain only got 51% here. It's probably safe Republican unless Sharron Angle runs. Fred Upton and Bill Huizenga both live in this district and a faceoff between the two would probably shape up as establishment (Upton) vs. teabagger (Huizenga). Tim Walberg lives in the new 6th, and the 7th is open but it leans Democratic so a move by either would be unlikely. Thus, this might actually force Blll Huizenga into the race against Debbie Stabenow since Upton wouldn't leave his chairmanship.
CD3: Justin Amash (R)
Grand Rapids Metro Area
2008: McCain 49.5-48.8
Avg: Republican: 62.5-37.5
Amash doesn't have to take on Battle Creek in this map (unlike the proposed Republican map), staying entirely within the Grand Rapids metro area. It's still likely Republican; Amash actually seems like he might have some crossover appeal because he doesn't toe the party line all the time. Still, Democrats might Gerald Ford their way into Gerald Ford's old seat if Amash missteps.
CD4: Dave Camp (R)
2008: Obama 50.9-47.3
Avg: Republican 57.2-42.8
Dems should at least try to see if Dave Camp is vulnerable under this map. The Republicans knocked off committee chairs Jim Oberstar, Ike Skelton and John Spratt last year (thought only Oberstar was in a lean D district). Camp hasn't faced a serious challenger in a long time, and Dems should at least see if he still has his sea legs in a district that still takes in most of Central Michigan but looks much more compact.
CD5: Dale Kildee (D)
2008: Obama 62.5-35.9
Avg: Democratic 55.4-44.6
Kildee has held this Roger & Me-based seat for decades now, and he should continue to hold it under this iteration. It's basically the same as the CD5 in the current plan (.7% less Democratic)
CD6: Tim Walberg (R)
2008: Obama 53.7-44.6
Avg: Republican 55.4-44.6
Schauer-Walberg round 3? Both live in this version of the district. Mark Schauer might also try moving to Lansing to the new open CD7. He was a state legislator and grad student there for a significant period. As the district average shows, Obama probably overperformed here because John McCain pulled out of the state. Still, I'd rate it a toss-up if Schauer enters the race, Lean Republican if he doesn't. Of note, Walberg barely lives in this district; Tipton is on the border with new CD8.
Lansing Metro Area
2008: Obama 57.3-41.1
Avg: Republican 53.1-46.8
That average makes me hesitate a bit in calling this a Democratic district, but there aren't many Republicans who could win a seat in a presidential year where John McCain only pulled in 41%. Republicans have cracked up the Lansing area in the past 2 gerrymanders to protect Mike Rogers, but this map would reunite it. Maybe Virg Bernero runs here, banking on "I shouldn't have voted for Rick Snyder" support.
CD8: Mike Rogers
2008: McCain 50.4-47.9
Avg: Republican 61.2-38.8
Rogers probably has this district locked down for now, but as suburbs trend Democratic this might be contestable by the end of the decade. This takes in a few rural areas, but mostly consists of exurbs. Thad McCotter might be tempted to eat some cat fud and run here because his old CD11 is virtually unwinable in this map.
CD9: Gary Peters (D) and Sander Levin (D)
2008: Obama 63.6-35.2
Avg: Democratic 52.3-47.7
Even under this map, Levin and Peters (who do live close to each other) are thrown together. Levin lives closer to the Macomb County line and has represented portions of the new CD12 before, but it's unclear if he's willing to stomach a tough re-electon fight while he's in his 80s. I doubt Peters would move to the new CD12 as well, since he said he might run for Oakland County executive. My guess is Steve Israel asks Peters to move next door, but considering that most of his old district remains intact he probably stays and fights.
Thumb and Exurbs
2008: McCain 51.6-46.5
Avg: Republican 62.2-37.8
Candice Miller technically lives over the border in the new CD12, but she probably runs in her old CD10, which retains much of her old territory and is probably a safe seat absent a Macaca moment.
CD11: Thad McCotter (R)
Wayne County suburbs and Ann Arbor
2008: Obama 61.5-36.8
Avg: Democratic 51.7-48.3
McCotter might try to stick it out, but he'd have to run up against the buzzsaw that is John Dingell, who represents much of this area already and barely lives over the line in CD14. McCotter could run for Senate, which I welcome since Stu Rothernberg basically said he's a dumb jerk who only got this seat because of his powerful mother. Better yet, he could run for president! Also, while researching where McCotter lived (part of Livonia is in CD14) I found out that his address is on Golfview Lane. How fucking Republican is that?
CD12: Candice Miller (R)
2008: Obama 54.7-43.5
Avg: Republican 52-48
With Miller moving to CD10, this becomes a targeted open seat. The lower spread between Obama and the average indicates that this seat is home to a lot of Reagan Democrats, and probably leans Democratic ancestrally. Further, the bluing of the suburbs should help future performance. I wouldn't write off Republicans here, but a Dave Bonior-type could lock this seat down. Speaking of which, what's Dave Bonior up to these days?
CD13: Hansen Clarke (D) and John Conyers (D)
Detroit: South and East
50.2% AA VAP
2008: Obama 81.4-17.7
Avg: Democratic 71.9-28.1
Conyers, if he's got the stomach for another campaign, probably runs next door even though he lives in Highland Park. I told you it wouldn't be pretty creating to Wayne County-only VRA districts, but I pulled it off with a few-hundred AA voters to spare. This district also takes in Detroit's Latino neighborhoods, making its white VAP only 37.9%
CD14: John Dingell (D)
Detroit: North and West
50.4% AA VAP
2008: Obama 77-21.9
Avg: Democratic 67-33
Conyers probably runs here, but I wonder if he can get out of a primary considering his ethical lapses and all the new voters in this district. He's not quite Clay Davis, but his appeal is probably limited on the suburbs. Michael Moore is his homeboy, though, so that might help among white liberals.
So there's what a nonpartisan map would look like. There's no telling what the Michigan Supremes would ultimately hand down, but this would be a good jumping-off point. Further, even though Michigan is a Dem-leaning state, the map still puts a thumb on the scale for Republicans. Dems only have five safe seats (CD5, CD9, CD11, CD13 and CD14) and two that lean their way (CD7 and CD12). Meanwhile, the only Republican seat where Dems would have a shot most years would be CD6 (especially since Walberg is an ideologue) but 8-6 should be the norm in Michigan, not a good year for Democrats.
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