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I don't know why, but I have a lot of fun redistricting Virginia. Maybe it's because the state used to be so reliably Republican and it's moving towards us. Maybe it's the joy of trying to see how possible it is to unpack the majority-black third district, or maybe it's trying to see if it's ever possible to try to unseat Frank Wolf. Whatever it is, my absurd fascination with Virginia produces this new map, and boy did I have fun with this guy! I had a few goals in mind with this one:

1. Unpack VA-03 enough to at least give us a solid chance in VA-02 and VA-05, while still keeping it majority-black by VAP

2. Protect all Democratic incumbents (particularly Gerry Connolly in VA-11)

3. Make VA-10 Democratic enough that if Frank Wolf ever retires, we'd be favorites to win the seat.

4. Create a majority-minority district in NoVA

So did I succeed, or is all of this just a pipe-dream of a crazy New Mexican who has an unhealthy obsession with Virginia? Well, let's go below the flip to check...


So, let's talk about what I've done to the Republicans (and honestly, I wasn't really caring much about the Republican districts except insofar as I was able to strengthen the Democratic districts). This map pretty much screws over Scott Rigell and Robert Hurt; as they both have to make a decision to either run in districts that have become quite hostile to them, or try to run against Randy Forbes in the newly created sinkhole that is VA-04. Even more hilarious is that I realized that I had actually redistricted Bob Goodlatte out of VA-06 into VA-05 (although realistically he'd run in VA-06, in addition to the fact that VA-05 is easily too Democratic for him to win, VA-06 still has most of his home area, although Hurt might run in the sixth as well, given that Goodlatte absorbs some new territory as well). Really, the only Republicans who don't get a major shakeup is going to be Morgan Griffith and Rob Wittman (although Griffith's district does get renamed as the 8th, mostly because I wanted to have the NoVA districts all be in the same grouping). And, of course, because VA-05 becomes so Democratic, it stages the perfect comeback for ex-Rep. Tom Perriello.


So looking at VA-02 and VA-03 (and, at the statewide level VA-05) you can see that the general outline of VA-03 doesn't really change (although it does become even uglier... go me!) there are huge dividends paid out. VA-02 goes from a toss-up at best, to having a profound Democratic lean (maybe Glenn Nye tries to run again, or another, more progressive, Democrat runs).


So let's start with the bad news, this map will not force out Frank Wolf (I don't really think that it's possible to create a map that forces out Wolf at this point). Not only that, but McLean is still in the 10th district (sorry DCCyclone!) but at the same time, this district will almost certainly fall into Democratic hands once Frank Wolf retires (and this might make Wolf have to actually try this time around, which might make him consider retiring). Plus, not only was I able to strengthen VA-11 and keep Gerry Connolly safe, I was able to turn his district barely into a majority-minority district (although I imagine that in practice the electorate is still easily majority-white). This was accomplished by switching Democratic parts of VA-01 with more Republican parts of VA-11, and unpacking what's now VA-09. I suppose that Jim Moran might not be totally happy with this arrangement, but he's still safe, so I doubt he'd have a fit about it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aamail6, Skaje, abgin, KingofSpades, WisJohn

    Politics and more Formerly DGM on SSP. NM-01, 26 (chairman of the Atheist Caucus)

    by NMLib on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 08:43:24 AM PDT

  •  It is a good try (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I would draw a little bluer VA-05 and VA-10.

    In the case of VA-10 seems possible mixing a little the district with VA-09 and VA-11. A D+5, D+6 rating for all the Democratic seats would be my goal if it is possible.

    •  This is the most Democratic version of VA-05 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NMLib, abgin

      that I've seen done here.  To get more Democratic you would have to go into one of the major urban areas.

      •  Exactly... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Plus, the only urban areas I can go into would either require me to dilute VA-02 (which is already D+6 anyways) or drop VA-03 to below 50% AA (which I'm not willing to do here).

        Politics and more Formerly DGM on SSP. NM-01, 26 (chairman of the Atheist Caucus)

        by NMLib on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 04:51:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You do a very good work here (0+ / 0-)

          Your VA-05 is 56.3% Obama that is very close to a D+4. 57.5% Obama would be a D+5.

          I would look to the little cities of your VA-06. Changing it by some rural areas can help, even if you give that rural areas to your VA-04 or to your VA-06. I know not the exact numbers but would be the alone way that I see.

          Including some 40% Obama territory replacing some 30% Obama territory can help improving some point.

          Still excellent work, you are very close to the goals that I would find for a Gerrymander finding the limits.

      •  Can someone tell me what areas (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        are in this version of VA-05?

        26, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

        by Xenocrypt on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:11:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          abgin, NMLib

          Charlottesville, Roanoke (city), Danville, Petersburg, Martinsville, the black neighborhoods of Lynchburg and the areas of rural Southside and Tidewater that have large African-American populations.

          26, originally OK-1, currently NY-10. Former swingnut.

          by okiedem on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:53:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I doubt Moran or Connolly would agree to it... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Particularly Connolly, who had a bad scare in 2010, and especially when Frank Wolf is just going to keep winning in the district anyways.

      And really, what's the point of doing all of this when it has no immediate payoff, Frank Wolf is still invincible, so he's going to hold the seat as long as he wants it, so it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to weaken two incumbents for a better chance several years down the road.

      Politics and more Formerly DGM on SSP. NM-01, 26 (chairman of the Atheist Caucus)

      by NMLib on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 04:58:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The point is drawing Wolf out isn't *that* hard (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You already took what looked like a 3rd of his district out, just divide the other 2/3rds three ways among all three districts, make them all about D+5/6 and bingo.  Let's put it this way, Frank Wolf might be a strong incumbent for his current district/new real district, but he's no Tim Holden.

        He might have even been vulnerable (Lean R?) if we had gotten a court map, since the new district probably would have  kept only 5/6ths of Loudon and a sliver of Fairfaix while adding all of Prince William and be D+5 or so and half new.  John Douglass would have been a strong candidate too and I'm sure the DCCC would have jumped at that opportunity.

        Also FWIW the partisan numbers for Virginia understate Obama's vote share by 1.5% (3% margin) statewide.  I usually just correct that across the board, but that's obviously a fairly flawed method.  Roguemapper was working on updating the numbers I think.

        NC-06/NC-04; -9.00, -8.41; progress through pragmatism

        by sawolf on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 06:30:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True it is an easy Gerrymander tactic (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You are right, and in this case seems easy to do.

          Since the point of a Gerrymander, the safest Democratic incumbents get always less favored because the excess of the Democratic vote that they have goes to other districts.

          A D+5/D+6 level proved to be enough to avoid a Republican wave in 2010, then it is the right level for assure a Democratic seat for years.

          •  Well no (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The first priority of any gerrymander (at least from the incumbent party's perspective) is to protect their incumbents, and they'll usually err on being cautious with their incumbents.

            Plus, one of my own goals was to create a majority-minority district in NoVA (which I did, even if barely), doing any changes would drop the minority vote below 50% in VA-11. And because of that, pretty much all of the movement would have to come from Moran's district, and he would absolutely not agree to it (I've already dropped his district significantly, and I can't imagine he'd be totally thrilled about that, even if I think I could get away with it).

            Politics and more Formerly DGM on SSP. NM-01, 26 (chairman of the Atheist Caucus)

            by NMLib on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 03:28:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The first priority of any fantasy gerrymander (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              is to give your party as many seats as you can.  Don't worry about protecting incumbents (unless they're your favorite incumbents) because unlike in the real political proceess they don't get a say.

              •  The fantasy here... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Is Democrats holding the trifecta. Plus, I stand by what I said before, from everything I've read, Wolf has a history of winning in NoVA-centric districts. I don't think it would pay off to try to weaken the other two until he retires.

                And, like I said, I still wanted to create a majority-minority district in NoVA, weakening VA-11 means that it's no longer going to be majority-minority.

                Politics and more Formerly DGM on SSP. NM-01, 26 (chairman of the Atheist Caucus)

                by NMLib on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 08:16:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You are the boss defining your goals (0+ / 0-)

              If you want a minority-majority district you are free of course.

              But I agree with dufffbeer about the habitual goal of a extreme Gerrymander. The goal is not to protect the incumbents. As example, would you draw a Democratic extreme Gerrymander of Pennsylvania protecting T Holden? I would not do that. Since my point T Holden would be in a 40% Obama district or in a 58% Obama district.

              •  I think either can be done (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                depending on the diarist's preferences. I do usually consider incumbents in my gerrymanders, though they don't have to be given ideal districts, especially not Blue Dogs who should take one for the team. For example, I would be willing to draw Jim Cooper into a EVEN district, but I would not baconmander Minneapolis and deathmatch Ellison and Paulsen in a D+4 district.

                Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02, remorseless supporter of Walker's recall. Pocan for Congress and Baldwin for Senate!

                by fearlessfred14 on Wed Jul 18, 2012 at 11:55:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I do either a lot of times (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  but if I must down one district from a D+10 to a D+5 for doing others more democratic I do it. And I take not it as a damage for the incumbents of the D+10 districts. Obviously they are less safe but still they are safe, except in case of scandal.

                  I would never put Ellison and Paulsen in the same district. But I would give to Paulse a difficult D+5 or D+6 seat.

  •  District numbering (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In reality, VA-9 is the southwestern panhandle district and 8 is the closest-in NoVA seat, represented by Jim Moran.  It looks like you switched those numbers while keeping the others covering at least some of the same territory.

    36, MD-8 (MD-6 after 2012) resident, NOVA raised, Euro/Anglophile Democrat

    by Mike in MD on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 04:58:49 PM PDT

  •  this is a very good (and aggressive) map (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm not quite sure whether Virginia Dems would have the stomach to draw the fifth as you have it but if they get the trifecta the next time around this would be a very good model from which to work.

    I will also say that this maps shows very well how inefficiently distributed Democrats are in Virginia (living disproportionately in super-Democratic areas of NOVA and majority black areas downstate). Sadly 6-5 Dem is about the best you can do, while 8-3 Republican (as the Reps did this time around) is pretty easy to accomplish.

    26, originally OK-1, currently NY-10. Former swingnut.

    by okiedem on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:59:57 PM PDT

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