With the 2012 election over, many people have noticed that the Democrats picked up some key legislative chambers. Minnesota, Colorado, Oregon, and New York (possible) now all have Democratic Legislatures and Democratic Governors.
In 2003, Republicans in Georgia and Texas gained control of the governors mansion and legislature, respectively. In both states, Republicans were ruthless and took the court-drawn map in Texas and Democratic-drawn map in Georgia and turned them into partisan Republican gerrymanders. While Texas Democrats courageously fled the state to avoid a quorum, we all know what happened in the end, and in 2004 Democrats in each of these two states were decimated.
To be sure, and to be clear, Democrats are better than this. I am personally not suggesting Democrats follow the lead of Republicans 10 years later. In fact, I am personally opposed to them doing this, because this sort of partisanship in bluish-purple, good government states is not going to fly with the public. Still, I thought this would be a fun exercise in the event that some out there want to get even.
Oregon is not a democratic gerrymander, but it is a 5-1 Democrat state currently. I really don’t think it is possible to make it 6-0. In New York, Andrew Cuomo doesn’t really want a Democratic state senate and there’s no way he’d sign onto mid-decade redistricting so that’s fruitless. So while getting the trifecta in these two states is nice, it doesn’t really do anything for Dems in redistricting.
Minnesota and Colorado are different stories. The 2010 wave crashed hard in Minnesota, turning the legislature Republican for the first time in awhile. Things weren’t as bad in Colorado, where Democrats kept the state senate but lost the state house. In both states, with Democratic governors elected in 2010, a compromise court-drawn map was implemented. In Minnesota, things were left pretty status quo. In Colorado, the court actually went with a version of the map the Democrats had proposed. But, the Democratic map wasn’t really an extreme partisan gerrymander. In the spirit of Texas and Georgia Republicans, let’s see what an extreme Democratic partisan gerrymander could look like.
I made one assumption and had three objectives in creating the Colorado map. The assumption is that the Hispanic population in this state will continue to grow substantially, drifting Colorado to the left even more over time. My three objectives were to 1) maximize the potential for Democratic pickups, even if the Democrat is a blue dog, 2) keep existing incumbents in their current districts, and 3) do not respect communities of interest. I’m not an expert on Colorado anyway, so it would be hard for me to do a COI map. Here we go!
1st District (Blue)
Most of Denver and southern suburbs
Democratic votes concentrated in Denver are split. The 2011 court map decreased Obama performance from 74% to 71%, and DeGette just got 68% in 2012. We can get this down further without endangering her. This is most of Denver (except northern parts), then takes in southern portions of Arapahoe County (Centennial and Littleton) and southern portions (red areas) of Jefferson County and Highlands Ranch in of ruby-red Douglas County. Dem performance is now only 54% but Obama got 59% in 2008. I still think this is Safe D.
2nd District (Green)
Boulder, ski towns, and the western slope
People in Mesa County will be furious with this. All of Boulder County, except Longmont. Western Larimer County. Westward to capture blue ski towns in the middle of the state and red counties around Grand Junction in the western third. This is a dramatic change from the current configuration. Jared Polis is liberal and gay, and the folks in Mesa County won’t take well to him. But he’s a self-funder and I have to hope he could hold this district. He’s also young so probably would keep this district for the rest of the decade. The 2011 court map decreased Obama performance from 64% to 61%, and Polis got 56% in 2012. The Republican only got 39% in 2012. This is now 53% Dem and went 57% for Obama in 2012. With Polis, this is Likely D. Without Polis, Lean D. Scott Tipton, who lives here I believe, would lose in a matchup with Polis.
3rd District (Purple)
Southern Colorado, downtown Colorado Springs, some western Denver suburbs.
This is the second district that is quite different from the current district, but it’s also the first ugly-looking, yet masterful district. It certainly ignores COI. I’ve seen a couple of maps on this site that had districts picking up the Democratic precincts in central Colorado Springs (there are Dems there!). Given what the Republicans did in Ohio with their Cleveland-Akron Marcia Fudge district, why shouldn’t Dems do that here? I actually had to go far north too, to pick up western blue suburbs in Jefferson County to get this up to population. Ed Perlmutter, who lives in Golden, is not in this district. It’s open, but both Sal Pace and John Salazar live in the southern end of the district. You’d need to get a lot of money to run here since you’d have to run ads in the Denver and Colorado Spring media markets, among others. A blue dog would be best here. The court increased Obama performance from 47% to 48% in 2011 but Obama got 52% in this map. Dem performance is only 48%. This is probably a Tossup but with the appropriate Democrat, a moderate Hispanic, this could be Lean D.
4th District (Red)
Fort Collins, Longmont, Broomfield, Weld & Morgan Counties
Brandon Shaffer was the architect behind the Dem map that the court approved in 2011. But the court made a few adjustments, which happened to shaft Brandon Shaffer. Shaffer lives in Longmont and wanted to run against the up-and-coming (i.e. statewide potential) Cory Gardner. This district is more of what he’d want. The district does not include any eastern prairie counties, as it has historically, although Morgan County is quite rural and red. The court decreased Obama performance from 49% to 42% in 2011 but Obama got 52% in this map. Dem performance is only 45%. Don’t get me wrong….Gardner is a strong candidate and would certainly have a chance here. But Democrats have a legitimate shot. We could increase the Dem performance by getting rid of Morgan County and bringing in some parts of Adams County but I didn’t want it to look uglier than it already is. Tossup
5th District (Yellow)
Most eastern prairie counties, southern Douglas County, most of El Paso County.
The great Republican sinkhole, I actually created this district last. Doug Lamborn, I’ll assume his home is not in downtown Colorado Springs. The court map kept Democratic performance the same, 40% in their new map, but this map decreases performance even more, down to 31%. Obama got 36%. Safe R
6th District (Teal)
Most of Arapahoe and Adams Counties, northern portions of Douglas County, southern portions of Jefferson County, northeast Denver (including airport)
This is the Republican parts of Jefferson, Adams, and Arapahoe counties, but also includes plenty of blue in Arapahoe and Adams. We should have beaten Coffman in 2012. With Coffman’s disease, Miklosi should have had this. The courts dramatically changed the 6th district with their re-draw, making the Obama performance increase from 46% to 54%. In this, map I actually increase Obama performance to 57%. Dem performance is 49%. Coffman only got 49% in 2012. Again, we need a strong Dem here. In that case, Lean D.
7th District (Grey)
Northern Jefferson County, Northwest Denver, Western Adams County
Ed Perlmutter deserves a break. He’s been a good Dem in a fairly secure district and survived the 2010 wave. His seat dropped in Obama performance by 2 points in the court map. He got 53% to Joe Coors’ 41% in 2012. His seat is now 57% Dem and went for Obama in 2008 for 63%. Safe D
By my count:
Current Delegation is 3-4 Republican. This map would be 4-1-2. CO-3 and CO-4 are the swing districts. Again, my goal is to maximize Dem potential…did I draw a dummymander? If we got good recruits, this map could be 6-1. Most likely scenario might be 5-2, with Gardner holding on in the 4th. With CO trending blue and more Hispanics moving in, all of these CDs should trend blue.
El Paso (2 ways)
Douglas (3 ways)
Denver (3 ways)
Jefferson (3 ways)
Arapahoe (2 ways)
Adams (3 ways)
Boulder (2 ways)
Larimer (2 ways)
I’ll do Minnesota in a couple of days.