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Pennsylvania redistricting map
(click for larger)
The Pennsylvania legislature finally rolled out its proposed map of the state’s 18 new Congressional districts today. Pennsylvania Republicans control both legislative chambers and the Governor’s office. There’s not going to be any sort of Voting Rights Act angle for challenging this map, so don’t expect major modifications or extended court battles… what you see is pretty much what you’ll get. (If you want to see a pdf closeup of the district lines in the Philly burbs, especially the monstrosity that's the new 7th, click here. H/t to PoliticsPA for the statewide map.)

As expected, the GOP was focused mostly on locking in their 2010 gains, rather than trying to repeat their 2000 “dummymander” mistakes and overextending themselves.  The rumored big-ticket changes, a mashup between Dems Jason Altmire and Mark Critz in SW Pennsylvania, and a swap making NE Pennsylvania Dem Tim Holden and GOPers Lou Barletta and Tom Marino much safer, both happened. Also, there were changes around the margins that will try to shore up GOPers Pat Meehan, Charlie Dent, and Jim Gerlach in Philly’s burbs by a few points (though Mike Fitzpatrick’s lot didn’t seem to improve much).

In a nutshell, it’s a map with 5 safe Dem districts, 7 safe GOP districts, 4 swingy districts (of the vote Dem for Prez, GOP for House variety) in the Philly suburbs, and 2 swingy districts in the west (PA-03 barely qualifies, but let’s just call it that). But here’s a district-by-district run-down.

PA-01: Dem Bob Brady, head of the Philly machine in addition to moonlighting as a Rep., makes out just fine here. He keeps South Philly, the east-of-Broad parts of North Philly, the African-American outposts of Delaware County like Chester, and gets an expanded share of NE Philly.

PA-02: Dem Chaka Fattah seems to lose small parts of Philly, in exchange for Lower Merion, the toniest and closest-in part of the Main Line. He can easily absorb it (not that the Main Line is that strongly GOP anymore, anyway); this and the 1st are still ultra-blue.

PA-03: The lines in the 3rd get tidier, but the changes around the margins benefit GOP frosh Mike Kelly. He gets all of Butler and Armstrong Counties now, the reddest of the Pittsburgh area’s collar counties, making this swingy district a little more GOP-leaning.

PA-04: This is the former 19th, held by long-time GOPer Todd Platts. Figuring that the moderate Platts might like a slightly less red district, they give him the city of Harrisburg, freeing up the conservative suburbs of H-burg in Cumberland County to go to Lou Barletta’s f’d-up new seat. York Co. is red enough to keep this a safely R district, though.

PA-05: GOPer Glenn Thompson’s district shifts a little to the west, letting the 10th expand more into Lycoming Co., but the overall lean should change very little.

PA-06: The 6th is no longer the ugliest district in the state; that belongs to the 7th now. GOPer Jim Gerlach gets a safer district, though probably still about even, PVI-wise. He loses problematic Dem-trending turf in mid-Montgomery County in exchange for more rural land in Chester and Berks.

PA-07: This Rorschach-test district reaches all over to grab GOP precincts to secure GOP frosh Pat Meehan, though like the 6th it’s probably still around even PVI. The Delaware County core now has tentacles that go east into mid-MontCo (which is pretty blue) but also more GOP-friendly Berks and Lancaster Cos.

PA-08: Not much change here: GOPer Mike Fitzpatrick’s district still mostly just follows the contours of Bucks County. It stays light blue, and won’t be much help to him in a Dem wave year.

PA-09: The 9th is still a safely red district for GOPer Bill Shuster, mostly taking in the bottom of the Appalachian “T” in mid-state. It does reach over further to the west to safely absorb the Mon Valley south of Pittsburgh, so that Tim Murphy doesn’t have to take it. Also, it still avoids Dem-friendly Johnstown, leaving it in the Critz/Altmire 12th.

PA-10: The pretty solidly Republican 10th (which was held for a few terms by Dem Chris Carney, but now has GOP frosh Tom Marino) gets a click or two redder, with a longer arm reaching up into the Appalachian midsection, and still steers clear of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre proper.

PA-11: GOP frosh Lou Barletta used to hold one of the bluest districts of any GOPer, but not any more. The district’s core, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, now belongs to Tim Holden. Barletta keeps his home town of Hazleton, but his district now heads west and south from there, reaching all the way to Harrisburg’s conservative burbs in Cumberland County. This may still be only lightly GOP-leaning and I'm eager to see the numbers, but it doesn't seem likely to come back to us soon.

PA-12: It looks like Dems Jason Altmire (who lives in Pittsburgh’s northern burbs) and Mark Critz (from Johnstown, in Cambria Co.) will indeed face off in a primary. This swingy-to-light-red district has a lot of traditionally Dem turf but is trending fast in the GOP direction, and it’s also engineered so that GOP up-and-comer Jim Christiana, from Beaver County, a once-blue-now-red collar county to Pittsburgh’s west, will take on the winner of the Dem primary.

PA-13: Dem Allyson Schwartz gets a somewhat more compact district, giving up some of NE Philly and taking more of Montgomery Co. The close-in parts of MontCo are pretty solidly blue these days, so this district still looks safe for her.

PA-14: Dem Mike Doyle, as before, keeps SW PA’s Dem vote sink in the city of Pittsburgh and its closest environs. It seems to have opted for a tendril to mill towns to its northeast, rather than to its south, to keep those Dem-friendly towns out of the new 12th.

PA-15: GOP moderate Charlie Dent’s district used to very neatly cover just the Allentown/Bethlehem area, but now has a long arm that reaches all the way over to Lebanon County to grab more dark-red rural turf. This pushes his Dem-leaning district closer to an even PVI.

PA-16: Right-wing Joe Pitts’ district pretty much stands pat. He loses bits of Lancaster and Chester Cos. to help Pat Meehan, but still has a basically safe R district (even though it has arm that reaches up to absorb and neutralize the Dem city of Reading). [UPDATE: Courtesy of commenter MattTX and DRA, it turns out that the 16th is in fact a bit bluer and getting into swing territory: 50-49 in favor of Obama in 2008. Lancaster Co. electing a Dem would be quite the shock, but it does seem to be gradually trending that way.]

PA-17: Indestructible Blue Dog Tim Holden, who’s held down red districts for nearly two decades, now finds himself with a Dem-leaning district (and an increased risk of a primary), thanks to the addition of Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. He gives up the Harrisburg area in exchange, and keeps his home turf of Schuylkill County.

PA-18: GOPer Tim Murphy gets much tidier lines, but the net effect is about the same: a GOP-leaning district composed of Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs, swingy Washington Co., and most of reddish Westmoreland Co.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Tue Dec 13, 2011 at 02:44 PM PST.

Also republished by Progressive Hippie.

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