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For those who haven't read my hypothetical redistricting diaries before, my definition of fair is the following:

1) Don't combine rural and non-rural areas unless required
2) Don't combined different metro areas unless required
3) Respect city and county lines where it doesn't conflict with numbers 1 or 2
4) Ignore the VRA (although in this case it's pretty easy to comply with it by drawing Philadelphia in an uglier fashion than I did)

So here's what I came up with:


Safe Democratic Districts:

1st District: Bob Brady (D)

This district is 45% Black and 37% White and takes up a little less than half of the city of Philadelphia.  I'd love to see Fattah take on and beat Brady here in a plurality-Black district, but I doubt it'd happen, and the machine would go all out for Brady anyway.

2nd District: Chaka Fattah (D)

This district is 40% Black and 38% White, very similar to the 1st district.  Not much more to say.

13th District: Allyson Schwartz (D)

At D+8, this is safe for any Democrat, and it takes in most of Montgomery County's population along with Radnor Township in Delaware County.

14th District: Mike Doyle (D)

D+6.5 as the Pittsburgh area is un-votesinked from the GOP map.  The areas in Washington County appear suburban on DRA and thus I didn't want to put them into Murphy's district.

Safe Republican Districts:

5th District: G.T. Thompson (R)

This R+10 district is one county away from Thompson's residence, but I think he'd run here and win pretty easily.  A generation ago, Democrats might've been competitive here: Cambria, Armstrong, and Indiana were pretty blue counties, and I think Clearfield was swingy as well.

10th District: Tom Marino (R)

Another rural R+10 containing Williamsport and a bunch of places with two, three, or four digit populations.  Marino should cruise every year here.

9th District: Bud Shuster (R)

Everyone's favorite Pennsylvania legacy politician gets a ridiculously Republican R+17 district that contains Altoona, Gettysburg, and not much else.

16th District: Joe Pitts (R)

The big beneficiary of this map is Pitts, who moves westward and now has an R+10 which he should hold until retirement (which might not be too far off).  His home is still barely in the district.

So the split is 4-4 for safe districts.

Likely Republican district:

OPEN 12th

At R+5 in an ancestrally Republican area, this would be a very uphill climb, but since Platts retired, this would be the best chance for a while to take it.  With that said, I don't know of any bench we have in the area.  I do really like this district; combining Harrisburg and York allows for more 100% rural districts to represent rural interests, and the cities of Harrisburg and York are much more similar with each other than they are with the countryside.  With that said, much of this district is very very rural and very very conservative.

So, in terms of basically safe seats, it's 5R-4D, mainly because the city of Philadelphia is such an efficient vote sink.

Lean Republican:

18th: Tim Murphy (R)

I might be overstating how Democratic this district is willing to vote for Congress nowadays, but having taken out the most suburban parts of this district, we're left with an area full of dying manufacturing towns and conservaDem "bitter clingers."  Obama didn't do very well here (it's R+7) but Sestak would've won four of the five counties here in a neutral year (all but Westmoreland).  Murphy, as a pro-union Republican, won't lose here even in a wave, but in an open seat, we have a shot.

Lean Democratic:

7th: Pat Meehan (R)

The urban parts of Delaware County spell Meehan's defeat after one term in this D+5, which is good because he has statewide potential.  Bryan Lentz can run again and win here or Sestak can come back, doesn't really matter to me.

11th: OPEN

This seat, at D+4.5, is perfect for Corey O'Brien.  I know Cartwright won the primary in this area, but I think someone higher tier would've run if Holden weren't in the race.  Either way, Republicans don't really have a shot here.

The special case district:

17th: Lou Barletta (R) vs. Tim Holden (D)

I didn't count, but I believe Holden represents more of this district.  Two problems:
1) It's R+10, which is slightly more conservative than Holden's previous districts
2) He's up against an incumbent for only the second time, and this one knows how to campaign.
I'm calling it Tilt R, but we really wouldn't know.

Now for a pretty big category, Tossups when Open:

3rd District: Mike Kelly (R)

Kelly will have a tough time even when it's not Open, as it's R+1.5 and more Democratic down the ballot. With a top Dem candidate, I'd call this a Tossup.

4th District: Jason Altmire (D)

A mix of Republican suburbs and Central/East Allegheny County, which has some liberals and some conservaDems, this R+3 district would be Lean Dem as long as Altmire runs.  However, in the event of a retirement, it's a Tossup.

6th District: Jim Gerlach (R)

Basically an inverse of the 4th.  At D+2, its PVI leans slightly to the other party.  Due to ancestral loyalties, it'll only be a Tossup when Open, but it Leans to the incumbent while he stays in office.

8th District: Mike Fitzpatrick (R)

I split Bucks.  Deal with it.  D+1, Tossup every cycle.

15th District: Charlie Dent (R)
D+2.5.  See the 6th District, this is basically the same thing.  Dent won't lose, but it'll be a Tossup when he retires.


As a fair map, how would you rate this?

12%3 votes
28%7 votes
12%3 votes
8%2 votes
8%2 votes
8%2 votes
24%6 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    19, D, new CA-18 (home) new CA-13 (college). Economic liberal, social libertarian, fiscal conservative. -.5.38, -3.23 Check out my blog at

    by jncca on Fri May 04, 2012 at 07:53:09 PM PDT

  •  I'd call it fair (0+ / 0-)

    I see you made rings around Philly.  2 districts in the urban core. 3 in the suburban ring. 3 in the exurban ring. 3 in the Philly-influenced rural ring.

    •  wow (0+ / 0-)

      didn't notice how ring-shaped those 4 tiers are, but yeah I guess so

      19, D, new CA-18 (home) new CA-13 (college). Economic liberal, social libertarian, fiscal conservative. -.5.38, -3.23 Check out my blog at

      by jncca on Fri May 04, 2012 at 09:42:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went B+ (0+ / 0-)

    Would have been higher, but "fair" often includes "legal", and ignoring the VRA is illegal, obviously. I think abiding by it wouldn't have moved the partisan balance much at all.

    But otherwise, stellar job.

    24, Practical Progressive Democrat (-4.75, -4.51), DKE Gay Caucus Majority Leader, IN-02; Swingnut. Gregg for Governor! Donnelly for Senate! Mullen for Congress!

    by HoosierD42 on Fri May 04, 2012 at 11:08:01 PM PDT

    •  Depends if you consider the VRA "fair" (0+ / 0-)

      However, fixing it to comply with the VRA only affects the 1st and 2nd districts.

      19, D, new CA-18 (home) new CA-13 (college). Economic liberal, social libertarian, fiscal conservative. -.5.38, -3.23 Check out my blog at

      by jncca on Sat May 05, 2012 at 12:11:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  C or worse (0+ / 0-)

    This, although very visually appealing, is not a politically fair map. It's biased towards the Republicans as most of your tossups and even lean seats are practically drawn to ensure Republican wins.

    22, Burkean Post-Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (Taught; B.A. in Political Philosophy/Science), TX-17 (Lived); Left, right, back to the middle... Taste my skittles?

    by wwmiv on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:09:50 AM PDT

    •  isn't that more a result of Democratic (0+ / 0-)

      self packing in Philadelphia, though?

      Pennsylvania is an R+2 state outside of Philly

      19, D, new CA-18 (home) new CA-13 (college). Economic liberal, social libertarian, fiscal conservative. -.5.38, -3.23 Check out my blog at

      by jncca on Sat May 05, 2012 at 01:14:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think in se Pa. it's a much better map. For (0+ / 0-)

    example, there is a logic to combining lower Bucks County and NE Philadelphia.

  •  It's easy to draw... (0+ / 0-)

    a non-gerrymandered, VRA complaint Philly district.  Just include nearly everything west of Broad Street.  Works out almost perfectly on the map.  

  •  GOP Incumbent Protection (0+ / 0-)

    They drew the lines with the intent of protecting their majority.  With a GOP controlled House, Senate, Governors Office, Courts, etc., there was nothing the Dems could do.

    2010 was a sweep for the GOP and Lou Barletta caught a wave and road it in.  He would never have survived this upcoming election in November if PA-11 remained the way it was.  
    Simply put, they just drew lines around the areas with a high concentration of Democratic voters.

    What they didn't see coming was Gene Stilp.  

    You heard it here first.  Go Gene!

    Oh, and I gave you an A+ on the map work.  Nice job...

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