What if Chicagoland was its own state? I've been mulling this idea, in a very abstract way, for a while. What would its congressional districts look like? What would happen to Illinois? Or the other states around it?
Like most fantasy redistricting diaries, I'm not doing this because I think it will (or should) happen. I'm just doing it for fun.
Lots of maps and data below the fold...
I followed the traditional definition of Chicagoland for this 51st state, including Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties from Illinois; Jasper, Lake, Newton, and Porter counties from Indiana; and Kenosha and Racine counties from Wisconsin. I considered including Walworth County from Wisconsin as well, but a cursory search of its ties to Chicago versus its ties to Milwaukee suggested that it's usually considered a Milwaukee exurb rather than part of the Chicago metropolitan area.
CH-01 (blue): Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) - 73.3% Obama, 25.6% McCain [55.7% Latino majority]
The notorious conserva-Dem (whom I didn't realize was so terrifying-looking until researching for this project) is basically screwed here, with his blue-collar hometown of Western Springs subsumed into this Mexican-heavy VRA district. Much of this district is currently represented by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Puerto Rican American whose present district has perhaps the most egregious "earmuffs" formation in the country to include Puerto Rican neighborhoods in north-central Cook County and Mexican neighborhoods separated by a belt of white and black areas to their south. Gutierrez would probably stay with his fellow Puerto Ricans, leaving Lipinski to get hammered by a Mexican American Democrat in the primary here. Lipinski might actually bolt for whiter pastures. Safe Democratic.
CH-02 (green): Rep. Bobby Rush (D) - 89.5% Obama, 9.8% McCain [50.5% black majority]
Due to the change in target population for these districts as well as the addition of whiter counties from Indiana and Wisconsin, Chicagoland struggles to maintain three districts that are majority-black by VAP. But I've done it. I think Rush lives here; at any rate, it's the district bearing the most resemblance to his current district, although it has to wrap around the bite Rep. Danny Davis's district takes out of the South Side of Chicago to maintain its VRA status. Safe Democratic.
CH-03 (purple): Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D) - 72.2% Obama, 26.4% McCain [46.7% white plurality]
Unfortunately, to wring three black-majority districts out of Chicagoland, I had to water down a planned Latino-plurality district based in the aforementioned Puerto Rican quarter of Chicago. This district is still 49.5% Latino by total population, and Latinos probably still comprise a majority of Democratic primary voters here. Gutierrez shouldn't struggle. Notably, this district is very, very not-black in order to accommodate Davis's district. Safe Democratic.
CH-04 (red): Rep. Michael Quigley (D) - 70.7% Obama, 28% McCain
Quigley, whose name I think sounds vaguely like he might be a Neopet, gets a district that sprawls more into the suburbs than it used to, but is still rooted in downtown Chicago, with its towering financial district and great lakeshore views. I think Quigley still lives inside these lines, but even if he doesn't, this is where he'd run. Safe Democratic.
CH-05 (yellow): Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D) and Bob Dold! (R) - 67.6% Obama, 31.2% McCain
Bob Dold doesn't need this. This district climbs up the shore of Lake Michigan from Schakowsky's home in Evanston through Dold's home in Kenilworth and up to Kenosha. I originally wanted it to go right up to the Wisconsin state line, taking in Racine, but alas, the population constraints had other ideas. This district is almost entirely suburban and very white-collar in character, and Schakowsky should be a hefty favorite to beat Dold and hold this seat for the Democratic Party. Safe Democratic.
CH-06 (sienna): Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D) - 84.5% Obama, 14.8% McCain [50.6% black majority]
The good news for Jackson? He's not redistricted together with former congresswoman and primary challenger Debbie Halvorson, he gets a safe Democratic district, and his district is still majority-black by VAP. The bad news for Jackson? His district practically withdraws entirely from Chicago, he has to introduce himself to a whole bunch of new voters from what is now Indiana, and the total percentage of residents in his district who are black drops appreciably. Oh, and I don't think he lives in this district any more than Halvorson does, even though I've listed him as the incumbent (hell, even now-President Barack Obama couldn't choose a path that was clear enough to beat Rush, back in 2000). With Jackson's ethics issues and his general douchebaggery, this may be a prime opportunity for a black Democrat from Gary, which anchors this district, to go to Congress. Safe Democratic.
CH-07 (lime): Reps. Danny Davis (D) and Judy Biggert (R) - 82.7% Obama, 16.5% McCain [50.3% black majority]
Let us revel in another conservative's misfortune here. Actually, Biggert would probably just run across the way in a different district, because this district is a lock for a black Democrat. It has to plunge into Chicago's South Side for population reasons, but it gets the job done for Davis. Safe Democratic.
CH-08 (teal): OPEN - 59% Obama, 39.8% McCain
This district is in the part of Chicagoland that I've already begun thinking of as the Tammy Duckworth seat. It's less solidly Democratic than the others (and bear in mind a lot of these Chicagoland presidential numbers are skewed by then-Sen. Obama's hometown effect in 2008), but it should still be pretty secure for Duckworth, provided her campaign doesn't completely flop like it did last time. Likely Democratic.
CH-09 (orange): OPEN - 56.3% Obama, 42.6% McCain
This is where I think Biggert would run. She might have company in the form of Democratic Rep. Pete Visclosky, for reasons below, but it's a lot more competitive and Biggert could make it a tough win for a Democrat. No incumbent lives here, as far as I can tell; Biggert is the closest, followed by Visclosky. Lean Republican with Biggert, Lean Democratic without Biggert.
CH-10 (cyan): Reps. Pete Visclosky (D) and Adam Kinzinger (R) - 52.9% Obama, 46% McCain
Kinzinger is one of those horrible young, fresh-faced, enthusiastically conservative Republicans you just hate because you know if you don't squash them early in their careers, they're going to become FOX News regulars, the Republican Party's going to tout them as statewide contenders, and before you know it, one of them's being sworn in as president and you're really wishing the local Democratic Party had recruited someone better than a Some Dude to try to dislodge them back during their first reelection bid. Visclosky is dirty as all hell, but maybe with his organization and Hoosier status (sure to be a factor in at least the first few elections held in the new state of Chicagoland), he could knock out Kinzinger before his administration can plunge us into war with New Kashmir over the eastern third of the Utopia Planitia basin. If Visclosky chooses to run elsewhere, Halvorson lives here and may be keen for a rematch. Tossup/Tilt Democratic with Visclosky, Tossup/Tilt Republican without Visclosky.
CH-11 (magenta): Reps. Peter Roskam (R) and Randy Hultgen (R) - 55% Obama, 42.7% McCain
Yes, I deathmatched Roskam and Hultgren in a district Obama won by almost 12 and a half points for the lulz. The eventual Republican primary winner is probably no worse than even money to hold the seat, considering Obama's favorite son status in Chicagoland, but I like making Republican incumbents have to work their asses off. I think a Democrat with roots in Naperville and/or Aurora could win here in a neutral year and would be favored in a good year, too. Tossup.
CH-12 (slate blue): OPEN - 57.4% Obama, 41.3% McCain
This oddly shaped district includes all of LaSalle County but is anchored by Joliet, keeping it reasonably Democratic. With no incumbent of either party here and a 16-point win for Obama in 2008, I think a Joliet-area Democrat would be a big favorite to win this district in all but a very Republican election cycle or a low-turnout special election. Likely Democratic.
CH-13 (olive): OPEN - 54.9% Obama, 43.8% McCain
Yet another open district, this one leans toward the Democrats as well, thanks to its inclusion of a clump of very liberal suburbs in Lake County. While Republicans should do very well in Boone and DeKalb counties, they may struggle to run up the margins enough to beat Democrats in the inner suburbs, though this is still a swing district in my view. Lean Democratic.
CH-14 (salmon): Rep. Joe Walsh (R) - 52.8% Obama, 45.8% McCain
Everyone's favorite deadbeat dad also gets to try to hold down a swing district. Obama's performance here was pretty close to his national numbers, and considering his home-state effect, that makes this district a shade to the right of a pure tossup (though it's arguable how much his Chicago residency impacted his numbers in Racine County, which is included in this district). But Walsh, the accidental congressman, is such a weak incumbent that I think he endangers the seat for Team Red more by seeking reelection than he would be retiring or moving elsewhere. Interestingly enough, the current Democratic challenger to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, Rob Zerban, lives in Kenosha (part of Schakowsky's district) and could hop across the district line here to run against Walsh if he were so inclined. Lean Democratic with Walsh, Tossup/Tilt Republican without Walsh.
So there are no solidly Republican districts in this new state, and in a good year, with good candidates, Democrats can reasonably hope for a 14-0 delegation. Obama carried Chicagoland in 2008 with 66.3% of the vote to Sen. John McCain's 32.5%.
I'd call Chicagoland a 9-0-5, and you can see that split with this partisan-colors map:
Now let's look at the other three states affected by Chicagoland's statehood.
Most of Illinois' population is in the Chicago area; in fact, almost half of its population is in Cook County alone. As a result, the state drops to six congressional districts, comparable to neighboring Kentucky. I drew this as I thought a court might, as the loss of that much population (including most of the state legislators as well as the governor) would probably force the court to get involved in redistricting, as the remaining legislature would be Republican and any acting governor would probably be a Democrat.
IL-01 (blue): Rep. Donald Manzullo (R) - 53.4% Obama, 44.8% McCain
Manzullo's district actually doesn't change all that much. It expands, of course, but it's still anchored by Rockford and it's still a northwestern Illinois district. Manzullo has never been entirely safe, and he's actually got the second-most Democratic district on this map, so I'm considering this a swing district even though I think his powers of incumbency are probably sufficient to call him favored. Tossup/Tilt Republican.
IL-02 (green): Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) - 51.6% Obama, 46.8% McCain
This L-shaped district descends from Democratic-leaning Rock Island County to the southern suburbs of Springfield, the state capital. Obama won here in 2008 by about five points, meaning this district has a Republican PVI, but it's competitive. Schilling, another one of those obnoxious "rising stars" in the GOP, is favored here, but I think he's beatable with a good Democratic candidate who can run up the margins in Rock Island and keep it close in the rural counties. Not sure who that would be, though…any ideas? Lean Republican.
IL-03 (purple): Rep. Aaron Schock (R) - 49.7% Obama, 48.6% McCain
Congress' sexiest man shouldn't be in too much trouble in this central Illinois district, though the twin poles of Peoria and Springfield can potentially support a strong Democrat. The cities aren't that Democratic, though, and the area in between is pretty rock-ribbed Republican. I'm considering this a swing district, since after all Obama did win it despite it centering on a non-Chicago media market and having a very different regional character than Obama's native Chicagoland. But it's pretty close to borderline. It's probably the least competitive of the competitive districts in this diary. Lean Republican.
IL-04 (red): Rep. John Shimkus (R) - 56.1% Obama, 42.3% McCain
This would be Rep. Jerry Costello's district, but Costello is retiring, leaving us to wonder who's on first? Not Shimkus, a crusty ultraconservative who wouldn't have much hope of winning in this district based in St. Louis' eastern suburbs. Shimkus lives here by a good margin, so I've listed him as the incumbent, but I think he would probably move elsewhere to run. Costello's successor as the Democratic nominee, perhaps Brad Harriman, wouldn't be certain of victory here, but this district has a strong Democratic tradition and a significant black minority likely to keep it in Team Blue's column. Likely Democratic.
IL-05 (yellow): OPEN - 43% Obama, 55.2% McCain
I'm thinking Shimkus would move to this open southern Illinois district, which has much of his current territory. This is the only district on the map that Obama actually lost in 2008, although lose it he did - by a 12-point margin. Shimkus or any other Republican would win easily here. Safe Republican.
IL-06 (sienna): Rep. Tim Johnson (R) - 50.1% Obama, 48.1% McCain
You know, I would have expected a district based around the college towns of Urbana and Champaign to be more liberal, but this district ends up being nearly as borderline as Schock's. Unlike the much younger Schock, Johnson is expected to retire within the next few cycles, but even then, I think the Republican would be favored without a strong Democrat or in a Democratic-favorable cycle. Lean Republican.
Overall, losing Chicagoland drops Illinois from being a safely blue state to being a light red state. The Illinois Democratic Party apparatus would probably regroup to adjust for the loss of Democratic strongholds in Chicagoland, but it might take a few cycles to do so. With the home state effect in play in 2008, Obama carried what would be the state of Illinois with 50.7% of the vote to McCain's 47.6%, making this very much a swing state.
The delegation split would be a 1-1-4 by my estimation, with all four of the swing districts likelier to elect Republicans than Democrats. That's quite a change from the current state. Here's the partisan map:
Now let's move on to Indiana, which lost four counties in the making of Chicagoland (and was lucky not to lose LaPorte County as well).
In losing part of the northwestern corner of the state, Indiana drops down to eight congressional districts. But with Visclosky in Chicagoland, there's still room for everybody. I drew this map as I thought a Republican trifecta anxious to avoid calls of gerrymandering without giving an inch to the Democrats, as the current trifecta has done, might.
IN-01 (blue): OPEN - 48.3% Obama, 50.3% McCain
Rep. Joe Donnelly actually lives here, but he's retiring to pursue the Democratic nomination for Sen. Dick Lugar's seat. That's a bad break for Democrats, because a district in an area where Obama massively overperformed in 2008 that the then-senator actually lost by two points? That's rough, and without the strength of a Blue Dog's incumbency, Democrats will have to cross their fingers and hope for "Wacky" Jackie Walorski or a similarly inept Republican to win her party's nomination in this district. Lean Democratic with Donnelly, Likely Republican without Donnelly.
IN-02 (green): OPEN - 47.1% Obama, 51.8% McCain
And straight away, it's the second district on this map with an incumbent drawn in who has decided not to run for reelection. Mouth-breathing troglodyte Rep. Mike Pence, who flirted with a run for president earlier this year before deciding to run to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, won't be pushed here; he probably wouldn't be pushed even if he were seeking reelection to the House. As this district contains South Bend, the Democratic voice of which it promptly drowns in the Republican rurals, this district isn't a total slam-dunk for the average Republican nominee, but it's not too far off. Democrats would probably rather put their energy into the neighboring open district than try to win here, especially with Pence at the top of the ticket. Likely Republican.
IN-03 (purple): Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) - 44.4% Obama, 54.6% McCain
The tea-doused, amusingly named Stutzman is unfortunately a pretty good bet in this Fort Wayne-anchored district. Indiana's second-largest city simply isn't all that Democratic, and its suburbs are extremely Republican, making this district a very red one. Safe Republican.
IN-04 (red): Rep. Andre Carson (D) - 68.3% Obama, 30.9% McCain
Carson has said a couple of dumb things, but that's probably a matter for a primary (if it's really even worth one, which…eh) rather than enough to make him seriously vulnerable under these lines. Carson's is actually the one Obama district on the map. It stays entirely within Marion County and might take in the homes of Republican Reps. Dan Burton and Todd Rokita, but I haven't bothered listing them as incumbents here because, well, this isn't their district. Safe Democratic.
IN-05 (yellow): Rep. Dan Burton (R) - 45% Obama, 53.9% McCain
Speak of the devil! Here's someone who can expect, as usual, a crowded primary. Burton is perhaps best known for being an out-of-touch, serially unpopular conservative windbag who squeaks by every two years thanks to the Republican clown car's massive vote-splitting. If he wins the nomination again, he'll get reelected; if he loses it, the winner will get elected. The northeastern suburbs and exurbs of Indianapolis are just not good territory for a Democrat. Safe Republican.
IN-06 (sienna): Rep. Todd Young (R) - 44.6% Obama, 54.3% McCain
It is Young's dubious honor to relieve the other Republicans in the congressional delegation of having to deal with Bloomington, the famously left-wing home of Indiana University. All of liberal Monroe County is included here, in this district heavily weighted by blood-red southeastern Indiana. Those who want to see progressive hero Vi Simpson, Monroe County's state senator, in the U.S. House of Representatives will have to wait…and wait…and wait… Safe Republican.
IN-07 (magenta): Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) - 46.6% Obama, 52.3% McCain
Under these lines, Bucshon gets to represent the very south of Indiana, and it's a fine place to be a Republican. Obama didn't do so well here at all; in fact, I'd say he underperformed, just as he did across the river in Kentucky. I think Bucshon is beatable in a good year with the right Democrat, but I wouldn't call this a swing district. Likely Republican
IN-08 (teal): Rep. Todd Rokita (R) - 43.7% Obama, 55.1% McCain
The former Indiana secretary of state gets the reddest district on the map, and with that, "the Bloody Eighth" is blood-red, a swing district no more. Terre Haute hardly makes a difference here; like Fort Wayne, it's not that Democratic a city, and the surrounding area sure is Republican. Yeesh! Safe Republican.
Despite geography meaning Republicans rule the roost at the legislative and congressional level, Indiana isn't so bad nationally. The loss of those four counties in Chicagoland turns Obama's narrow win in Indiana in 2008 into a narrow loss, with McCain winning with 50.4% of the vote to Obama's 48.5%.
However, this map would be a pretty stable 1-7. That ugly picture is represented with this map:
The next state to be affected by Chicagoland statehood is Wisconsin, which sheds two counties in its southeast.
Wisconsin holds steady at eight congressional districts, as its population loss to make room for Chicagoland is not too extreme. This map is basically an incumbent protection plan, though I think Republicans are pretty clearly overextended with their current 3-5 split in the delegation, considering Wisconsin's geography. This is no Indiana, after all.
WI-01 (blue): Rep. Paul Ryan (R) - 48.7% Obama, 49.9% McCain
With Zerban out of the picture and Ryan's two worst counties removed in favor of ultra-Republican Waukesha city, the architect of the current fuck-the-poor Republican pet plan is looking a lot safer. Obama overperformed in this part of Wisconsin, skewing the presidential numbers here somewhat, but this area is generally good to Republicans. Ryan will have quite the target on his back, but the makeup of this district and the threat of all the big conservative money that will flood in here to shore Ryan up is likely to keep good Democrats out of the race and out of contention. Likely Republican.
WI-02 (green): OPEN - 69.9% Obama, 28.7% McCain
With Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin seeking the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Herb Kohl, this district is up for grabs between mega-cutie Kelda Roys and Mark Pocan, who offers a prospective one-for-one gay swap with Baldwin. Both are Democrats; the action here is sure to be in the Democratic primary, since this is a very blue seat. Safe Democratic.
WI-03 (purple): Rep. Ron Kind (D) - 56.5% Obama, 41.8% McCain
This district runs along Wisconsin's western spine, taking in La Crosse, some of Dubuque's suburbs, and some eastern exurbs of the Twin Cities. Kind has never held a completely safe district, but he always seems to do all right, even hanging on in 2010's red tide. This district is probably soft enough that a Republican could make a play here even in a neutral year, were it open, but with Kind holding it down, it would probably take a very bloody cycle and a very strong Republican to take it over. Likely Democratic with Kind, Lean Democratic without Kind.
WI-04 (red): Rep. Gwen Moore (D) - 76% Obama, 22.8% McCain [49.2% white plurality]
It's a safely Democratic seat confined to Milwaukee County and barely straying outside the Milwaukee city lines. It's even minority-majority by a hair. For the Democratic incumbent, who could ask for anything Moore? Safe Democratic.
WI-05 (yellow): Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R) - 41.8% Obama, 57% McCain
Ugh, the circle of ignorance. Sensenbrenner gets the lion's share of it for a district that is just disgustingly Republican. It also scoops out much of Milwaukee County's conservative western and southern suburbs, relieving Moore of having to deal with them. Great news for this conservative Republican congressman. Safe Republican.
WI-06 (sienna): Rep. Tom Petri (R) - 50.2% Obama, 48.1% McCain
This is another one of those borderline districts that I consider competitive because Obama won it. Petri is a pretty strong incumbent, but Wisconsin is given to big swings, and a tough Democrat could knock him out of this Lake Winnebago-centered district. Petri does get a bit of the circle of ignorance here, but I'm sure he'd like to have more. Lean Republican.
WI-07 (orange): Rep. Sean Duffy (R) - 56.1% Obama, 42.1% McCain
The former "Real World" star had to show some political chops to beat then-Rep. Dave Obey's handpicked successor, Julie Lassa, last year. But Duffy's still kind of a dim bulb, and there's a reason he's considered vulnerable. With incumbency and minor celebrity at his back, I wouldn't say Duffy is sure to lose, but I think his odds are subpar in a district like this. Lean Democratic.
WI-08 (teal): Rep. Reid Ribble (R) - 53.5% Obama, 45.1% McCain
Then-Rep. Steve Kagen's defeat at Ribble's hands last year was one of the most disappointing results of the 2010 elections for me. Kagen, whose hometown of Appleton is still in this northeastern Wisconsin district, could mount a comeback under these lines, but the PVI of the district is about EVEN, maybe a hair to the Republican side of it, and Ribble's got the incumbency edge now. Tossup/Tilt Republican.
With Kenosha and Racine counties excised, Wisconsin remains a Democratic state, and in fact it changes very little. Obama carried this incarnation of the state in 2008 with 56.6% of the vote to 41.9% for McCain.
This map works out to be a 3-2-3, meaning it's really up for grabs as to which party dominates the delegation. Check out the map.
If you've been keeping track of the map, Chicagoland statehood does mean an additional congressional district is wrung from this region, and the unlucky state to lose a district because of it is, of course, neighboring Minnesota. I already drew that map, which you can see at the bottom of this diary.
Thoughts, either on the maps or on the concept? Remember, this is just for fun; I'm not seriously proposing that Chicagoland become the 51st state.