For any who may be reading this series for the first time: this is a thought experiment where I try to see what would happen if the size of the House of Representatives were doubled to 870 members from 435. This series is both highly theoretical and very unlikely to ever occur.
I almost didn't publish this final diary, I wasn't sure if people would even notice. But thanks to WisJohn, I know I have fans! So even though the timing of this, with only 4 weeks to go until the general election, is not conducive to fantasy redistricting diaries, here it is, the final installment in Doubling the House.
Previous Doubling Diaries: CA, PA, TX, WA, MT, NY, AZ, CO, KS, AL, GA, TN, IL, MD, WV, DC, New England, NE, MO, NC, MI, FL, SC, WI, LA, MS, UT, NV, OK, AK, WY, IN, NJ, VA, OH, HI, ND, SD, NM, VT, DE and ID
Arkansas is a unique case. Even after the red bloodbath that was 2010, Democrats managed to hold on to the redistricting trifecta, even while losing two sears in Congress, both due to the incumbent Democrats retirement. However, Gov. Beebe and the legislature showed much more interest in holding on to their legislative majorities than taking back the congressional delegation. And on top of that, Mike Ross, the delegation's last remaining Democrat, made a lot of demands for his district that weakened the map overall, and then abruptly decided he wasn't running for reelection at all. So we will most likely see a 0-4 delegation next year, from a map drawn by Democrats! It's ludicrous.
Anyway, Arkansas gets 8 districts under doubling.
VAP: 58.2 White, 33.2 Black
Tim Griffin (R-Little Rock) lives here. Pulaski County (Little Rock), minus some very white rural precincts at the periphery. President Obama won Pulaski County with 55%, so this is very much a district that Griffin would not want to run in. He'd most likely parachute to the 5th. This is a district that State Senator Joyce Elliott, who was our nominee in 2010, would do well in. Safe D
VAP: 50.3 W, 45.5 B
Open. The Arkansas Delta, including West Memphis and Pine Bluff. There are a couple tendrils into El Dorado, Camden and Hope to bring up the Black %age, so this district may even satisfy the VRA, giving black Americans the opportunity to elect. Regardless of that primary outcome, this is Safe D
VAP: 77.4 W, 16.6 B
Open; Mike Ross (D-Prescott) is retiring. Southwestern corner of the state. This one I'm a little wobbly on. It contains some of the best counties for Mark Pryor's first run at the Senate in 2002, plus some of Jimmie Lou Fisher's best counties in her failed run for the Governorship in the same year. However, I did cut out a few black precincts to put in the 2nd. Since this doesn't reach up into the very red northwest corner of the state like the current AR-04 does, I'll be bullish and say Lean D, assuming the right candidate.
VAP: 90 W
Open. West central, including some Little Rock suburbs. Nothing to be said, this would be very Republican. Largest city: Benton. Safe R
VAP: 87.6 W, 7.6 B
Open, though like I said I believe Griffin would run here. East central, with some Little Rock suburbs. Largest city: Conway. Safe R
VAP: 91.8 W
Rick Crafword (R-Jonesboro) lives here. Northeast corner. Crawford, who currently sits in the most Democratic district in the state, for what that's worth, would breathe a sigh of relief that he got this district. Safe R
VAP: 83.7 W, 8.4 Hispanic
Steve Womack (R-Rogers) lives here. The northwest corner, minus Fayetteville. Safe R
VAP: 80.7 W, 11.1 H
Open. Fayetteville, Springdale and Bentonville. I hold out hope that as this grows and gets more Hispanic, it will get more competitive. But for now, the HQ of Walmart is Safe R
Arkansas goes from a 1-3 delegation in a likely 0-4 map to a 3-5 map. Counts as an improvement.
Iowa gets 8 districts
Iowa redistricts by a non-partisan commission, which also is forbidden to split counties. I tried to hold true to that.
VAP: 93.5 W
Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) lives here. Northeast corner, with the cities of Waterloo, Cedar Falls and Mason City. Braley is safe. Safe D
VAP: 89.9 W
Open. The Iowa half of the Quad Cities, plus Clinton, Dubuque and Muscatine. I imagine this would be very Safe D.
VAP: 89.9 W
David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) lives here. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Loebsack adds a few points of safety. Safe D
VAP: 94.2 W
49.5 Obama (win by 1900)
Open. The southern tier of the state, with the largest cities being Burlington and Ottumwa. This would probably be a district that Kerry and Gore lost be a healthy margin, so it would take a very good candidate for our side to win this one. Christie Vilsack, who most likely lives in Mount Pleasant with her husband, might be our best shot. Lean D if Vilsack runs.
VAP: 94.1 W
Open. The northwest corner, going down into the east central. The weakest Dem district, I think Steve King might be tempted to run here to avoid being Iowa Dem's favorite target cycle after cycle. Safe R
VAP: 90.9 W, 5.5 H
Steve King (R-Kiron) lives here, though he may run in the 5th instead. West central, including Sioux City, Council Bluffs and Fort Dodge. Assuming Vilsack runs in the 4th instead of here, it would take a good candidate for us to win this, with maybe some leniency if King stays in the district. Lean R to be safe.
VAP: 92 W
Tom Latham (R-Ames) lives here. Des Moines suburbs on all sides, including Ames and Marshalltown. Latham has enough of a moderate reputation to do well here, and without an incumbent Democrat to run against, he'd probably survive, though it would be quite a fight once the seat was open. Likely R
VAP: 82.8 W, 5.7 B, 6.5 H
Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines) lives here. This is the one county split I allowed, since Polk County is simply too big for one congressional district under Doubling. So this is Des Moines and West Des Moines, and pretty much nothing else. Boswell, who is in genuine danger this election cycle running against Tom Latham, would be very safe in this district by contrast. Safe D
Iowa's new congressional map could probably be called 2-0-2, and this November it could go anywhere from a 4-0 to a 2-2. But under Doubling, I have us at 5-3, assuming Christie Vilsack runs in the 4th.
The Bluegrass State gets 12 districts.
Kentucky is a classic Demosaur state, perhaps one of the few left, with Arkansas and West Virginia. Registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans, and Democrats just swept 5 out of 6 statewide elections in 2011. They currently hold the House of Representatives and the Governorship, while Republicans hold the Senate. I imagine we could get a map fairly similar to this under Doubling, although most likely less gerrymandered.
VAP: 92.3 W
Open. The western tip. Largest city: Paducah. This district would have voted for Beshear by wide margins, even in his first run in 2007, but I have no idea if it could support a Democrat federally. Likely R to be safe.
VAP: 87.9 W, 7.3 B
Ed Whitfield (R-Hopkinsville) lives here. Brett Guthrie (R-Bowling Green) might also live here, or in the 3rd, but he would run here, since the 3rd is inhospitable. West/west central Kentucky, including parts of Bowling Green and Greenville. Hopkinsville is likely the largest city. I would say a primary with Whitfield and Guthrie would favor Whitfield due to his seniority, but he could also choose to retire. Safe R no matter what.
VAP: 85.4 W, 9.1 B
48.4 Obama (McCain win by ~2000)
Open; like I said Brett Guthrie's home might be here, but he's very unlikely to try a run here. A good old-fashioned Ohio River gerrymander, with the cities of Bardstown, Owensville and Henderson, along with some gerrymander tendrils into Elizabethtown, Bowling Green and Madisonville. This could possibly support a centrist Democrat, but any Blue Dog would be completely safe here. Safe D
VAP: 80.1 W, 11.8 B
Jefferson County district #1. John Yarmuth (D-Louisville) could live in either one, and he'd have to make a choice between taking a not-insignificant hit in Obama's performance (from 56%), to running in a district that may be too liberal for him. Regardless, I think this would be Safe D
VAP: 66.7 W, 26.6 B
Jefferson County district #2. See above for Yarmuth's dilemma. If Yarmuth chose not to run here, this district could support a truly liberal Democrat. Safe D
VAP: 94.6 W
Hal Rogers (R-Somerset), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, lives here. South central Kentucky, with lots of midsize cities. Between this one and the 9th, these are probably the only two districts that didn't vote for Steve Beshear in 2011. More of Rogers' territory is in the 9th though, so he may decide to run there instead. Safe R
VAP: 93 W
Open. A very suburban district, it takes in Louisville and Lexington suburbs, including some of the outer Cincinnati suburbs. Another district that Beshear would have done relatively well in, but it's unlikely a Democrat could win here federally.Safe R
VAP: 93.2 W
Open; Geoff Davis (R-Hebron) resigned in July. Cincinnati suburbs, the cities of Covington, Florence, etc. Beshear would have won this district, but very narrowly. Doesn't spell good things for national Democrats.Safe R
VAP: 96.5 W
Open. Southeast. The most Republican district in the state, the other one that Beshear would have lost, with the 4th. No major cities, but a handful of midsize ones. Safe R
VAP: 95.4 W
Open. Coal country, including Elliott County, the county with the longest one-party voting streak in the country (it has voted Democratic since 1870). Some bigger cities would be Ashland and Richmond. A Nick Rahall-type Democrat could do very well here (better, perhaps, since KY-10 is better than the current WV-03). Lean D
VAP: 78.1 W, 12.5 B, 5.3 H
Ben Chandler (D-Versailles) lives here. Frankfort and Lexington. Chandler gets much safer so he can rest easy while he plans his statewide run. Safe D
Kentucky goes from a 2-4 delegation in a map where there are a couple theoretical Demosaur districts, but where we have very little chance of winning, to a 5-7 map, including at least one solid Democrat joining John Yarmuth. So I think everyone would be pretty happy.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes gets 15 districts
Minnesota has had a court-drawn map for (at least) the last two redistricting cycles, due to partisan differences between the Governor and the Legislature. So we got a relatively least-change map, although Republican John Kline's district took a small hit and could become an enticing target when it's open. So I just wanted to try to test the limits in my Doubled map.
The Dem average is compiled of "All 2004-2008 statewide races" So a mixed bag in spots, considering Tim Pawlenty's reelection in 2006 and the super close Senate race in 2008, but generally favorable to Democrats.
VAP: 90.1 W
55.8 Obama, 55.1 DFL
Tim Walz (DFL-Mankato) lives here. Basically the current MN-01, with all the reddest parts excised and adding some blue areas along the Mississippi like Red Wing and Inner Grove Heights/Cottage Grove in the MSP area. Walz is rewarded for holding down a marginal district like he has for 3 terms by getting some extra safety. Safe DFL
VAP: 89.7 W, 5.2 H
51.6 Obama, 52.6 DFL
Open. More remnants of MN-01 and MN-02. Closer to the current MN-01 politically, it contains Owatonna and Faribault. Given both the extremeness and brokeness of the MN Republican Party, I'll hazard a guess at Lean DFL.
VAP: 93.2 W
43.3 Obama, 44.1 DFL
John Kline (R-Lakeville) lives here. Parts of MN-02 and MN-01, once again, but the most Republican parts of both. Kline is safe, except from a primary. Safe R
VAP: 93.7 W
61 Obama, 64.8 DFL
Open. A true Iron Range district without any need to go into the MSP metro, this would be safe as can be for Rick Nolan, though he would probably either fall in a primary to a Duluth-area pol or retire, again, before too long. Safe DFL
VAP: 89.6 W
52.1 Obama, 52.5 DFL
Collin Peterson (DFL-Detroit Lakes) lives here. As before, I took his current district, cut out the most Republican parts, and added some more Dem-leaning parts. Peterson is absurdly safe given his profile, and maybe we could even hold it after he's gone. Safe DFL
VAP: 93.3 W
44.3 Obama, 46.3 DFL
Open. Exurban MSP, including St. Cloud. This is where Michelle Bachmann would run, despite living in the 7th. She'd still be in danger due to her lightning rod status, but it would be safe for anyone not her. Likely R
VAP: 90.1 W
43.4 Obama, 42.5 DFL
Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) lives here. More exurban MSP, the most Republican district in the state. Like Kline, Paulsen is safe except from a primary. Safe R
VAP: 95.2 W
43.5 Obama, 45.4 DFL
Open. Miscellany, leftovers from my MN-12 gerrymander. The whitest district in the state. That's all I got. Safe R
I split the Twin Cities in ways that locals would probably find criminal, so I don't know for sure which district Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) and Betty McCollum (DFL-St. Paul), but I'll hazard a guess.
VAP: 82.7 W, 5.3 B, 5.6 Asian
59.3 Obama, 57.2 DFL
Open (?). Apple Valley, Rosemount, Burnsville and Eagan in Dakota County and Bloomington and parts of Minneapolis in Hennepin. Safe DFL
VAP: 83.5 W, 7.8 B
59 Obama, 57.6 DFL
Open (?). Part of Minneapolis, plus Minnetonka and then into very red outer Hennepin County and parts of Wright County. As the bluest of the Minneapolis districts, I imagine Keith Ellison would most likely run here. Safe DFL
VAP: 74.6 W, 11.7 B, 6.8 A
57.5 Obama, 55.7 DFL
Open (?). Parts of Minneapolis, plus Brooklyn Center and Plymouth in Hennepin County, plus parts of Wright County. Ellison could also run here, the high(ish) black and Asian populations could be considered parts of his base. Safe DFL
VAP: 77.9 W, 7.5 B, 7.8 H
63.5 Obama, 62.2 DFL
Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) lives here, but like I pointed out above she would run in the 13th with St. Cloud. Most of Washinton County, with parts of both St. Paul and Minneapolis, plus some suburbs in Dakota County. Safe DFL
VAP: 74.4 W, 8.3 B, 5.4 H, 9.7 A
59.2 Obama, 58.8 DFL
Chip Cravaack (R-Lindstrom) lives here. Chisago, Washington and Anoka Counties, but mostly Ramsey County and St. Paul proper. Betty McCollum might run here, or in the 10th. Safe DFL
VAP: 78.5 W, 8.1 B, 5.8 A
57.7 Obama, 57.6 DFL
Open (?). Minneapolis and Champlin in Hennepin County, New Bedford in Ramsey and Fridley in Anoka. Smallest disparity between Obama and average DFL performance here. Safe DFL
VAP: 85.1 W, 5 B, 5.1 A
57 Obama, 56.7 DFL
Open (?). St. Paul, outer Ramsey County and most of Anoka. As I mentioned above, McCollum could choose to run here too. Safe DFL
So, from a 5-3 map that gave us a 4-4 delegation following the 2010 elections, in Doubled we get 11-4! Cravaack gets axed but another crazy Republican gets to join Kline, Paulsen and Bachmann, and they're all in super safe districts so they can't build a profile to run statewide. I'm happy, hopefully you're happy too.
The Beaver State gets 11 districts.
Oregon is a marginally blue state that has been trending bluer as of late, delivering larger margins to our presidential candidates (47-46.5 in 2000, 51-47 in 2004 to 58-40 in 2008). However, Republicans had some big gains in the state legislature in 2010, cutting down our margin in the State Senate to just 2 and actually tying in the State House.
Anyway, here's the map. No political data, but I consulted with our resident Oregonians, SaoMagnifico and James Allen to make the best map I could.
VAP: 83.4 W, 11.3 H
Open. The vast majority of the state, geographically speaking. But very few people live here. Greg Walden was just drawn out of this district, but may want to run here if he wanted a guaranteed job for a while. Safe R
VAP: 88.9 W, 6.2 H
Open. Republican cities of Grants Pass and Medford, plus some miscellany in Coos, Curry and Douglas Counties. Safe R
VAP: 88.1 W, 6.4 H
Greg Walden (R-Hood River) lives here, but like I said he may want to move to the 1st. This district makes a mockery of communities of interest, and it's also one of my favorite ones I've drawn in this whole series. It takes in the most Dem parts of Jackson and Josephine Counties (Ashland), Coos Bay and Bandon in Coos County, Dem-trending Bend and the solidly Dem Hood River and Wasco Counties. It passes through some very red territory to get there like Eugene's suburbs, but overall I'd call it Dem-leaning. Lean D
VAP: 85.5 W, 6.2 H
Pete DeFazio (D-Springfield) lives here. Eugene/Springfield and Corvallis, home to OSU. DeFazio, who has always been a little too liberal for his current district, is right at home here. Safe D
VAP: 85.2 W, 10.2 H
Open. The third Republican vote sink, with Albany, Woodburn and most of the Cascades. Safe R
VAP: 78.8 W, 13.8 H
Open. Salem, minus its suburbs, outer Corvallis and coastal Lincoln County. Safe D
VAP: 79.6 W, 12 H
Open. Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook Counties, plus parts of Yamhill and Washington, including the city of Hillsboro. Swingier than the rest of the districts, but still Lean D
VAP: 75.3 W, 10.6 H, 9.7 A
Open; Suzanne Bonamici (D) lives in Portland, but her base in her current district is mostly Washington County, so she may run here instead. This district is entirely in the aforementioned Washington County, including Beaverton, Tigard and Tualatin. Safe D
VAP: 86.3 W, 5.9 H
Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) lives here. Clamackas County, plus part of Portland and one precinct in Washington County, for population equity's sake. This is the inner portion of Clamackas, very blue Portland suburbs, and Blue Dog Schrader is likely too conservative for it. He may choose to run in the Salem-based 6th instead. This district is Safe D regardless.
VAP: 78.6 W, 6.2 B, 6.3 H, 5.2 A
Open (?); Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) could live in either the 10th of 11th, and could run in either of them easily. Eastern Multnomah County and the majority of the City of Portland. Safe D
VAP: 72.4 W, 11.5 H, 8.9 A
Open (?). Portland, Gresham and western Multnomah County. Safe D
Oregon goes from a 4-1 delegation on a 3-1-1 map to 8-3 under Doubling.
These 5 states add up to 32-22, bringing the whole House to 488-320-62, an impregnable Democratic majority.
I'll do one final diary wrapping up the series, but as for new maps, this is it! Thanks everyone for reading.