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Leading Off:

NJ Redistricting: Well, this sucks. John Farmer, the tiebreaking member on New Jersey's redistricting commission, voted on Friday morning in favor of the GOP's congressional proposal. The plan nominally mashes up GOP Rep. Scott Garrett and Dem Rep. Steve Rothman (NJ is losing a seat), but in reality, it combines most of Rothman's district with that of fellow Dem Rep. Bill Pascrell, which could augur for a Rothman-Pascrell primary. And if Rothman did challenge Garrett, Garrett would still be the favorite, making this a likely 6 D, 6 R map—pretty remarkable for a heavily blue state like New Jersey.

For a more in-depth review of the new plan, I strongly encourage you to click here for David Jarman's complete analysis at Daily Kos Elections. A copy of the new map is below (and a PDF version is here):

New Jersey new congressional map

NV-Sen: It looks like the Las Vegas Review-Journal has found a new pollster, after the firm they used last year, Mason-Dixon, badly botched their final poll of the Harry Reid-Sharron Angle race. (They had Angle up by 4, when Reid won by almost 6.) In any event, they're now using the University of Nevada's Cannon Survey Center, which, in their first poll of the season, has Dem Rep. Shelley Berkley leading GOP Sen. Dean Heller by just a single point, 44-43. Ridiculously, UNLV insists on using decimal points, which is perhaps my least favorite tic among pollsters. It indicates a weird failure to understand how significant digits work and what margins of error mean, and always causes me to view any poll which includes them with suspicion. However, the numbers in the case at least are match up with those we've seen elsewhere, including PPP's October survey.


WI-Gov: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who ran for governor last year and is a possible repeat candidate in a potential recall election of Gov. Scott Walker, just announced his plans to seek re-election to his current post. However, the mayoral race is in April, and given that he's essentially unopposed, it's not inconceivable that he could win that contest and then dive right into a recall race. Indeed, Barrett refused to rule out such a possibility, though I'm not sure how well that would play with his hometown voters.


AZ-06: Roll Call's Abby Livingston reports that GOP freshman David Schweikert is pleased as punch that his home turf of Fountain Hills was moved into the recently revised 6th CD, which would give him a boost if he and fellow Republican Ben Quayle both decide to run in this district. But I'm wondering how much it matters, because Quayle currently represents about two-thirds of the constituents who will make up the redrawn 6th, while Schweikert represents less than a third.

But perhaps we should read more into Quayle's reticence than into the raw numbers: While a Schweikert-Quayle matchup had looked very likely under the October version of the map, Quayle is now saying he hasn't made up his mind. A spokesman did say, though, that "he’s going to run in a district that represents the majority of his current constituency," so that would have to be the 6th. But comparing their respective quotes, it's clear that Quayle (whose house is just outside the district, in the new 9th) is less thrilled than Schweikert.

CO-06: Ugh, really? Wealthy chiropractor Perry Haney, a latecomer to the Democratic primary in the redrawn 6th CD, is already taking jabs at state Rep. Joe Miklosi, his chief rival for the right to take on GOP Rep. Mike Coffman. And it's a stale line we've seen deployed pretty unsuccessfully elsewhere so far this year: He's slamming Miklosi for being a "career politician." That's especially ridiculous in this case, given that Miklosi has only served in office since 2009. Hint: If the iPhone was already on the market by the time someone won their first election, they aren't a "career politician." BeloitDem makes an even better point: "In any field besides politics, if you claimed lack of job experience as a qualification, people would look at you like you were insane."

FL-27: Dem ex-Rep. Alan Grayson says he's raised over $500,000 this quarter for his comeback bid, though with redistricting still looming, it's not exactly clear where he'll run. For now, we'll continue to slot him in in the 27th District, which is what he's marked down on his FEC filings.

IL-10: I definitely wouldn't have known about this story had Politico's Charlie Mahtesian called attention to it—and the even more unusual fact that it's being covered in the Indian press rather than the American media. In any event, there's a fourth candidate to take note of in the Democratic primary in the 10th: Attorney Vivek Bavda, who hasn't run for office before but has worked for various Illinois politicians and election campaigns. Bavda hasn't raised much money (he says just $50K since entering the race on Sept. 4), but we've seen wallets seriously open up for many Indian-American candidates in the recent past, so Bavda may yet be able to tap into that network. Indeed, Mahtesian says that the Indian press "takes a keen interest in American politics and especially in rising Indian-American politicians like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley."

IL-15: As expected, veteran GOP Rep. John Shimkus filed for re-election in the 15th CD. His current district is the 19th, whose number is getting retired because Illinois is losing a congressional district. Shimkus represents 54% of the constituents of the new 15th and could have faced an epic primary battle with fellow Republican Tim Johnson, who represents 45%. In fact, I suspect Democrats were hoping to goad them into exactly this fight by creating such an evenly-split 15th. But Johnson selflessly decided to run in the new (and much bluer) 13th, where he's posing a stiff challenge to Dems.

KY-04: Attorney Marcus Carrey says that he, too, is looking at the open 4th CD (about the ten zillionth Republican to do so), while Democrat Nathan Smith, our best hope of making this race interesting, promises an announcement "after the holiday season."

NJ-07: This is a bummer: Former Edison Mayor Jun Choi, who seemed like a pretty good recruit for Democrats when he announced that he'd run against GOP Rep. Leonard Lance in May, is dropping out of the race. Choi says his home was moved outside the 7th and is now in Dem Rep. Frank Pallone's 6th. But perhaps a bigger problem is that the township of Edison, which was split between the 6th and 7th under the old lines is now entirely inside the 6th.

Other Races:

IN-SoS: The judge who ruled that GOP Secretary of State Charlie White was ineligible to run for office last year and therefore had to step down from his post has stayed his ruling pending White's appeal. If you're new to this whole story, I strongly recommend reading AndySonSon's excellent new post, which gives the complete background on this long, complex, and extremely unusual saga.

Grab Bag:

Virginia: PPP miscellany.

Voter Suppression: Wow, a win for the good guys: The Dept. of Justice has refused preclearance to South Carolina's new voter ID law. Just like new redistricting plans, voter ID laws (and in fact, any changes to voting procedures) in so-called "covered jurisdictions" must be first vetted by the DOJ pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. If the Justice Dept. finds that the new laws have a discriminatory effect on minority voting rights (as they did here), they can't go into effect. So South Carolina now either has to sue the DOJ in Washington, DC federal court, pass a modified law, or drop the entire plan altogether. So we could yet face setbacks, but for now, like I said, this is definitely goods news—and taken in concert with the Texas redistricting preclearance case, it's also heartening to see that Attorney General Eric Holder is (finally) willing to show a little muscle on the VRA front. (Of course, the news was announced late on the Friday before Christmas, so it seems like the DOJ didn't want to trumpet the action.)

Redistricting Roundup:

CA Redistricting: Yet another Californian is calling bullsh*t on ProPublica's new report claiming the state's new redistricting commission got manipulated by Democrats—though, unlike Dem party chair John Burton, she didn't use that precise word. But importantly, it's not a Democrat who is pushing back: It's Connie Galambos-Malloy, one of the four independent members of the commission. She says that "it’s clear that most of the allegations are dead wrong" and that at least "some of the allegations made in the story are easily disproved by a look at our website." A commission spokesman also confirmed that ProPublica had some initial conversations with commissioners, but never contacted anyone for further comment on "the specifics of the their investigation." It's starting to sound like someone got rolled here.

NY Redistricting: I've considered writing about Common Cause's new redistricting proposals for New York a couple of times, but ultimately I concluded that they're just another set of maps from yet another interest group. If I wrote a bullet for every similar batch of plans, I'd soon run out of electrons. But, unusually, Common Cause's offerings—which they bill as "non-partisan, good government reform maps"—are actually having some impact on local politics. Assemblyman Jack McEneny, who sits on the legislature's redistricting commission, at least paid lip service to CC's efforts, saying: "We will take a look at them and see what good parts we can incorporate into our plan."

I suspect, though, that McEneny is just playing nice—but his words might trouble Dem Rep. Eliot Engel, who came out and blasted the proposals (which you can view here):

"The Common Cause lines are their own form of gerrymandering with the goal of an idealized form of representation. But the effect is to destroy the representation of communities and neighborhoods in legislative bodies by imposing lines which break up these communities. This is especially so in the Bronx and other outer boroughs where the lines show a vast lack of understanding of and familiarity with the neighborhoods and communities existing there."

Maybe Engel doesn't have to worry, though: CC is already back to whacking the redistricting panel for the crime of wanting to talk to members of Congress about their districts before redrawing the map. And I suspect that what guys like Engel have to say is going to matter a lot more to McEneny & Co. than what Common Cause thinks.

NY Redistricting: In an unrelated development, Democrats and Republicans on the legislature's redistricting panel (known as LATFOR) have reached a deal on counting prisoners for line-drawing purposes, agreeing that 46,000 of the state's 58,000 inmates should be counted with their hometowns—as state law requires—not their places of incarceration. Supposedly, the state lacks sufficient address information on the remaining 12K, which I find both hard to believe and pathetically believable at the same time, odd as that may sound. What's not clear is whether the GOP will also drop their pending lawsuit over this issue. A recent ruling found in favor of the law (and Democrats), but Republicans are appealing it. So if the GOP is now abandoning their legal case, it may be that Dems sacrificed 12,000 prisoners by pretending they couldn't figure out their addresses in order to get them to do so. I am definitely capable of believing that.

TX Redistricting: The DC panel hearing the state of Texas's preclearance case just issued a ruling explaining why it denied summary judgment to the plaintiffs (thus necessitating a trial), and also laying out the standards it plans to apply for determining whether the state's maps deserve preclearance. There are a number of complex legal issues at play here, and I can't possibly do a better job summarizing them than Michael Li has, so if you're interested in the topic, I strongly urge you to read his post. All in all, though, it looks like a pretty big win for the Department of Justice, which has opposed granting preclearance to the legislature's state House and congressional maps.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In Florida, we overwhelmingly supported (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, rebel ga, MichaelNY

    gerrymandering amendments for state and Congressional seating to the state constitution in 2010. Even though 2010 was a Republican year, the state's voters favored it. I was also happy to learn that Arizona tried to create an independent commission, but I was dismayed with what Gov. Brewer did to the independent commissioner.

    •  I was so happy when those amendments passed. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nerve, rebel ga, MichaelNY

      But they are being challenged in court right now. I hope they don't get struck down.

      •  All the more reason to have a gerrymandering (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        psychodrew, NorthCountryNY

        amendment that would make all states have independent commissions. Democrats and Republicans have grown too comfortable with their redistricting. Such an amendment would allow more seats to be vulnerable and as it would threaten incumbency. Given that the amendments passed solidly, it says something about the electorate: we need electoral changes.

        •  Another reason (0+ / 0-)

          The GOP dominates democrats in the redistricting process. Democrats are generally working to produce fair maps while the GOP are only trying to gerrymander democrats out of existence.

          They are getting very good at it.

          There is almost no chance of the democrats taking the House after redistricting without one vote being cast.

      •  The amendments themselves will be fine (5+ / 0-)

        But I think it's likely that they will turn out to have almost no effect.

        I wonder what genius decided to spend so much money merely telling the legislature what to do?

        Ok, so I read the polls.

        by andgarden on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:02:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  well, I don't know about "almost no". (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I agree that they won't have much legal force, but the legislators did redraw some of the districts to be more compact.  Only the redrawn 3rd really looks as bad or worse to me as the current map.

          I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

          by James Allen on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 11:01:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Arizona didn't try to create a commission (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      They have one already.

      Also, what exactly are you saying? Do you want a Florida-style amendment with nebulous, hard-to-enforce prohibitions against considering political factors when redistricting? Or are you advocating a California- or Arizona-style commission which gives equal weight to Democrats and Republicans regardless of how unrepresentative that is of the state's partisan registration statistics?

      21, male, RI-01 (voting) IL-01 (college), hopeless Swingnut

      by sapelcovits on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 02:40:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If you have a bipartisan commission whose members do reflect the partisan balance of the state, then what's the point?

        I'll say right here that when I wrote that sentence I was thinking of states with commissions like Idaho or Arizona, where eliminating the commission would be very bad for Democrats (not that it matters much in Idaho). Rethinking it, accurately reflected commissions in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York would be very good for Democrats.

        23, Solid Liberal Democrat (-4.75, -4.51), DKE Gay Caucus Majority Leader, IN-02; Swingnut

        by HoosierD42 on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 03:02:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ah, good. (5+ / 0-)

    The holidays are nice, but it's good to have political news coming back on the uptick.

    (-7.62, -6.31), Blood type "O", Democratic-socialist, social anarchist, KY-01, "When smashing monuments, save the pedestals. They always come in handy." — Stanisław Lem

    by Setsuna Mudo on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 05:15:02 AM PST

  •  What's the problem with decimal points? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The best estimate of a population proportion, this is true, regardless of sample size.  Suppose, for example, the sample size is 400.  Well, then the minimal difference in estimated proportion is well under 1%.  Compare 200/400 = 50.0% with 201/400 = 50.25%.  

    This is not directly linked to MOE, which is not a measure of the proportion, but a measure of how could the estimate is.

    Follow me on Twitter @PeterFlom

    by plf515 on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 05:27:27 AM PST

    •  For statisticians, nothing. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      plf515, jeffmd, DCCyclone, MichaelNY

      For unskilled readers of polls it suggests a degree of accuracy that polls simply don't have.

      Try to talk to non-trained people about MoE. You'll see that most people, even people on a blog like DailyKos which skews more academical than the nation at-large, have no concept whatsoever of a probability distribution, much less a normal one.

      So considering that most people who read polls have no idea how to read polls correctly, I wouldn't include decimal points because most people will just take that to mean "Ah, that pollster is so certain of his result that he included decimal points! So my candidate is surely ahead if he has an edge of 0.3% in that poll!"

      •  Well, most people will misinterpret (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        polls anyway, saying things like "statistical dead heat", having no clue about MoE or what a confidence interval is.

        Should pollsters have to play to the LCD (lowest common denominator) (pun intended, my apologies)

        Follow me on Twitter @PeterFlom

        by plf515 on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:50:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pollsters need to be aware (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          plf515, DCCyclone, MichaelNY

          Of who is consuming their information. And 270's point is exactly mine: Do we really want to start pretending that pollsters can call races to 0.3%? There's a good reason why none of the big mainstream pollsters ever release numbers with decimals.

          I mean, if pollsters want to include extra decimals in their crosstabs, I guess that's fine (though still a little pointless, in my opinion). I'd much rather see them do what we do, which is release raw data.

          Political Director, Daily Kos

          by David Nir on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:20:50 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Raw data would be good (3+ / 0-)

            looking at crosstabs with N is fun for us data geeks, and let's us compute MoE etc more accurately than the single number given by the pollster.

            But I think part of the solution to "poll illiteracy" would be for pollsters to explain what the polls mean.

            Follow me on Twitter @PeterFlom

            by plf515 on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:30:18 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yeah, plus raw data also lets you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              plf515, MichaelNY

              run your own models over the data, even such as easy ones as just logistic models.

              And yeah, there really needs to be like a FAQ on polls on top of every site that deals with polls. Especially for the MoE. No, not every result within the MoE is equal, no, MoE isn't really what the pollsters claim it is, and no, results won't fall within the MoE 19 out of 20 times in the real world.

  •  Rush Holt is helped by the NJ map since he (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psychodrew, MichaelNY

    now has a district that is more centered around his home base in Mercer county.

  •  NJ-6 looks like they are trying to protect (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    NJ-4 from water.

    With sea level rise, the south part of NJ-6 will disappear.

    "Don't dream it, be it" - Brad, Janet and Frank

    by captainlaser on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 06:46:39 AM PST

  •  Eric Holder is such a wimp. -"like I said, this (0+ / 0-)

    is definitely goods news—and taken in concert with the Texas redistricting preclearance case, it's also heartening to see that Attorney General Eric Holder is (finally) willing to show a little muscle on the VRA front. (Of course, the news was announced late on the Friday before Christmas, so it seems like the DOJ didn't want to trumpet the action.)"

    Dam, his response to things is so slow and ineffectual.  It reminds me of someone else in the administration.

  •  Why there's a Phil Burton Federal Building (0+ / 0-)
    “It’s complete bullshit, an absolute fucking fabrication.”
    (John) Burton said he was never contacted for comment on the story which published by the San Jose Mercury News this afternoon — and only just heard about the allegations it contains. […]

    “As the chair of the party, I know the party didn’t do this… the Democratic Party didn’t do shit,” he said. “As far as I was concerned, there was nothing you could goddamned do.”

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Sciant terra viam monstrare."

    by annieli on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:47:42 AM PST

  •  UT4: Matheson ahead by 9 to 19 points (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DrPhillips, MichaelNY, itskevin
  •  What did I do to deserve this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I moved out of Ben Quayle's district just to trade him for David Schweikert. Now I may have Quayle back again?
    Where do I have to move to get a Democrat?

    "I couldn't reach Karl Rove; I can never draw the pentagram quite right." - Stephen Colbert

    by AZ RedWingsFan on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 07:57:00 AM PST

    •  Schweikert is better than Quayle (0+ / 0-)

      and I suspect he will beat him in a primary. If you want a Democrat, you could move to the new 9th district, based in Tempe.

      •  Schweikert is a tea partier (0+ / 0-)

        How could he be better? He voted against raising the debt ceiling.

        "I couldn't reach Karl Rove; I can never draw the pentagram quite right." - Stephen Colbert

        by AZ RedWingsFan on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:24:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  True, but Quayle did as well. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          David Nir, askew, jncca

          Quayle is an annoying brat who calls Obama "the worst President in history", posts on lewd websites, and gets his mother to complain to the governor that the new map would make it hard for him to win reelection.

          I wouldn't want either as my congressman, but Schweikert is definitely a step up from Quayle.

          •  It's sad that we have to make such comparisons (3+ / 0-)

            But you're right. Except that given that they both have horrific voting records, I'd actually root for Quayle. For one, if that district ever becomes winnable, it would be more winnable if we run against Quayle. For another, Quayle would always be vulnerable to primary challenges due to perceived weakness (in spite of his mama, or perhaps because of it), and GOP infighting is almost always good. And finally, if anyone is going to have some kind of public meltdown or have skeletons emerge from their closets, Quayle seems far more likely than Schweikert to do so.

            So, perversely, I'd still rather have Quayle!

            Political Director, Daily Kos

            by David Nir on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 10:25:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  True, true about Quayle. (0+ / 0-)

            I reject both as my representative.

            "I couldn't reach Karl Rove; I can never draw the pentagram quite right." - Stephen Colbert

            by AZ RedWingsFan on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 10:32:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Engel is my Congressman (NY-17) (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He has a nicely gerrymandered district. The CC plan puts too many incumbents in the same district. Both Engel, and  Charles Rangel, would be in majority-Hispanic districts -- but it is likely that neither would elect a Hispanic Congressman because of lot of the Hispanics are recent immigrants who don't vote yet. Most of Jose Serrano's old district is in the new district that is home to Rangel and the CC map puts him in the same district with Engel. Also no way Carolyn Maloney and Joseph Crowley end up in the same district, nor Gary Ackerman and Steve Israel in the same district. It is nice to see Bob Turner in an 85% Obama district, though.

    •  The plan also (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      puts my parents' hometowns (Mount Vernon and Mamaroneck) in the same district.  Not sure how I feel about that.  I'm so used to them in separate districts.  And it'd be minority-white!  

      26, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-12(now)

      by Xenocrypt on Mon Dec 26, 2011 at 08:52:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Downstate NY Maps Are Mess In Part (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Due to the seat drawn for Nydia Velazquez 20 yrs ago.  Connecting Latinos in the Bklyn, Manhattan and Queens is not easy so that impacts the seats around them.  

      No doubt Engel's seat is a gerrymander but so is Jerry Nadler's which remains in tact in this map. Connecting South Brooklyn with the Upper West Side makes no more sense than connecting Riverdale with Rockland County but I am sure Nadler is a Common Cause favorite (I love him) so they left him alone.

      The state maps really make no sense.  Connecting Riverdale with upper Manhattan in the State Assembly makes no sense.  The current Riverdale Assembly district is compact and contiguous.  

      This map has much to do with electing minorities than ending gerrymandering.  Nothing wrong with that but it shouldn't be under the guise of redistricting reform.

      •  Connecting Riverdale with Inwood (0+ / 0-)

        isn't too bad. And currently Riverdale is split between three Senate districts; the CC map puts it in one. (Full disclosure, I live in Riverdale.)

        •  Also, the CC map ends the disproportionate size (0+ / 0-)

          of districts. D districts in the Assembly are underpopulated, and D districts in the Senate are overpopulated, as the result of past gerrymandering.

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