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Let's imagine for a moment that Democrats controlled redistricting in Texas last cycle. Can they do what the Republicans did in 2003 and flip the map back in their favor? Can they be the margin of victory that pushes Democrats back into the majority in the House and reinstall Nancy Pelosi (or her successor) as speaker?

In this diary, I had only one firm requirement: that it adheres to the Voting Rights Act. Guidelines and goalposts that I tried to stick to:

  1. Keep Nueces County (Corpus Christi) whole.
  2. Give Nick Lampson an opening to return to Congress.
  3. Districts intended to elect Latino candidates have SSVR numbers over 50.1%.
  4. Reduce wasted Democratic votes as much as possible.
  5. Incumbent preferences were mostly disregarded. If someone must insist on a >70% Obama district, well he or she doesn't have to be in Congress.
  6. After drawing the Democratic districts, the leftover GOP areas should be drawn as neatly and sensibly as possible.

Now, the map!

Texas

Percentages table
Dallas-Tarrant
Dallas-Fort Worth
Harris
Houston
Travis-Williamson
Austin
Bexar
San Antonio
South Texas
South Texas
Details

TX-01 (blue) – Central East Texas: Tyler, Longview
Incumbent: Louie Gohmert (R–Tyler)
Rating: Safe Republican

God bless these people. They keep voting in this wingnut, and they'll keep doing it for as long as he wants the office.

TX-02 (green) – Southern East Texas: Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Orange
Incumbent: Ted Poe (R–Humble)
Rating: Safe Republican

Poe's home is right across the border in TX-18, but he should be fine here.

TX-03 (purple) – Northern Dallas exurbs: Plano, Sherman
Incumbent: Sam Johnson (R–Plano)
Rating: Safe Republican

This district might be a bit too spread out for him, but it's better than watching it slowly slip away from under his feet. Interesting fact: due to his experience as a Vietnam War POW, he refuses to eat rice.

TX-04 (red) – Northern East Texas: Texarkana, Rockwall
Incumbent: Ralph Hall (R–Rockwall)
Rating: Safe Republican

The oldest incumbent congressman lives on in this safe district.

TX-05 (gold) – Dallas, Mesquite
Incumbent: Jeb Hensarling (R–Dallas)
Rating: Likely Democratic

Our first Republican to get screwed over gets this D+4 district. I don't know enough about the Texan Democratic bench to determine who can run here.

TX-06 (teal) – Fort Worth, Arlington
Incumbent: Joe Barton (R–Ennis/Arlington)
Rating: Likely Democratic

The second to fall is the infamous Joe Barton. He can now apologize to oil companies all he wants, just not on our behalf. Maybe state senator Wendy Davis can run here? More likely, incumbent congressman Marc Veasey might want to jump here (see TX-33 below).

TX-07 (dark gray) – Western Houston
Incumbent: John Culberson (R–Houston)
Rating: Tossup

It looks a bit contorted, like a turkey on a pygmy horse (TX-09) on top of a dog (TX-22). On a more serious note, I'm not sure how a Texan GOPer can win an Obama district in a normal year. Given the margin, however, Culberson can hang on, but he's definitely on thin ice.

TX-08 (plum) – Northern Houston exurbs: The Woodlands, Huntsville
Incumbent: Kevin Brady (R–The Woodlands)
Rating: Safe Republican

I'm not sure his coveted Exxon headquarters is in his district, but no matter: Democrats are in the driver's seat in this diary and he can go pound sand.

TX-09 (cyan) – Houston, Missouri City, Stafford
Incumbent: Al Green (D–Houston)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Our first Democratic incumbent gets a few points shaved off, but he should be fine.

TX-10 (deep pink) – Gulf Coast/Houston exurbs: Victoria, Wharton, Lake Jackson
Incumbent: none
Rating: Safe Republican

Michael McCaul (R–Austin) doesn't live here, nor does Blake Farenthold (R–Corpus Christi). They can have fun fighting this out, preferably with pillows and in ducky pajamas.

TX-11 (chatreuse?!) – West Texas: Midland, San Angelo, Georgetown
Incumbent: Mike Conaway (R–Midland)
Rating: Safe Republican

It now includes an arm sticking into Williamson County to take in Georgetown. Otherwise, Conaway is safe.

TX-12 (cornflower blue) – Fort Worth suburbs/exurbs: Mansfield, Decatur, Weatherford
Incumbents: Kay Granger (R–Fort Worth), Roger Williams (R–Weatherford)
Rating: Safe Republican

This district gets spun out into the hinterlands. I'm not sure who has the upper hand here, but it's going to be some form of Republican.

TX-13 (dark salmon) – Texas panhandle: Amarillo, Wichita Falls
Incumbent: Mac Thornberry (R–Clarendon)
Rating: Safe Republican

The most Republican congressional district in the United States stays that way.

TX-14 (olive) – Eastern Gulf Coast: Beaumont, Galveston, Houston
Incumbent: none
Rating: Lean Democratic

Hi there, Representative Nick Lampson.

TX-15 (dark orange) – Nondescript fajita strip: Edinburg, Harlingen, San Patricio
Incumbent: Rubén Hinojosa (D–Mercedes)
Rating: Safe Democratic

He should get his finances in order.

TX-16 (lime) – El Paso
Incumbent: Beto O'Rourke (D–El Paso)
Rating: Safe Democratic

There's not much one can do when it's stuck in a corner.

TX-17 (dark slate blue) – Central Texas: Cleburne, College Station
Incumbent: Bill Flores (R–Bryan)
Rating: Safe Republican

Much of Waco got taken out and a lot of empty space got added instead. Sadly, the likes of Chet Edwards will not make their return here.

TX-18 (yellow) – Central Houston
Incumbent: Sheila Jackson Lee (D–Houston)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Looks a bit more rickety and one arm got lopped off, but still contains mostly the same territory.

TX-19 (yellow green) – West Texas: Lubbock, Abilene
Incumbent: Randy Neugebauer (R–Lubbock)
Rating: Safe Republican

Baby killer.

TX-20 (pink) – West-central San Antonio
Incumbent: Joaquin Castro (D–San Antonio)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Probably the most compact district on this map, a simple blob plopped on Bexar County.

TX-21 (maroon) – I-35 corridor suburbs: San Antonio, Schertz, New Braunfels
Incumbent: Lamar Smith (R–San Antonio)
Rating: Safe Republican

The northern arm moves a bit north, withdrawing from Austin and sticking into Williamson County and cracking Round Rock. Smith will survive here.

TX-22 (sienna) – Harris/Fort Bend: Houston, Sugar Land, Rosenburg
Incumbent: Pete Olson (R–Sugar Land)
Rating: Lean Democratic

The district of Tom DeLay, mastermind of the 2003 Texas redistricting, shifts into Houston and flips Democratic. Oh the irony burns.

TX-23 (aquamarine) – Upper Rio Grande: Big Bend, Eagle Pass, San Antonio
Incumbent: Pete Gallego (D–Alpine)
Rating: Safe Democratic

This district was shifted several points leftward, ensuring a lock by Gallego.

TX-24 (indigo) – Northern DFW suburbs: Grapevine, Irving, Flower Mound
Incumbent: Kenny Marchant (R–Coppell)
Rating: Safe Republican

This districts is very similar to the actual TX-24, shifting a bit west to take in half of Flower Mound instead of Carrollton. Still as red as ever.

TX-25 (pale violet red) – Western Austin
Incumbent: Lloyd Doggett (D–Austin)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Austin gets pieced back together, with this district composing the more Anglo parts of town. I'm not sure if Doggett lives here, but he should be fine here.

TX-26 (gray) – Northern DFW exurbs: Denton, Frisco, Lewisville
Incumbent: Michael Burgess (R–Lewisville)
Rating: Safe Republican

The district shrinks into mostly Denton County and Frisco, and Burgess doesn't need to drive as much.

TX-27 (spring green) – Coastal fajita strip: Corpus Christi, Brownsville
Incumbents: Blake Farenthold (R–Corpus Christi), Filemon Vela (D–Brownsville)
Rating: Likely Democratic

2010 is most likely a fluke, and the district will most likely revert to form. However, I won't discount the national GOP pouring money into this race to save Farenthold.

TX-28 (plum) – Another fajita strip: Laredo, San Antonio
Incumbent: Henry Cuellar (D–Laredo)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Rather than wrapping around San Antonio, this district goes straight into its heart, hopefully giving an ambitious San Antonio pol to primary out the unnecessarily conservative Cuellar.

TX-29 (dark sea green) – Central Houston
Incumbent: Gene Green (D–Houston)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Rather than circling around and around, the district becomes the central bloc anchoring the other Democratic districts. Very Latino and very safe.

TX-30 (light coral) – Southern Dallas and suburbs: Dallas, Ennis, Corsicana
Incumbent: Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–Dallas)
Rating: Safe Democratic

Rather than taking in white liberals, why not take in white conservatives instead? The district pushes southward to take in one of Joe Barton's homes in Ennis while remaining plurality black and strongly blue.

TX-31 (khaki) – Central Texas: Waco, Killeen, Temple, Fort Hood, Pflugerville
Incumbent: John Carter (R–Round Rock)
Rating: Tossup/tilt Republican

The district was originally slowly shifting leftward, but now it just zooms over the edge into blue territory. This won't automatically elect a Democrat, but a moderate-to-conservative Democrat from Waco or something can definitely hold this down. And I swear, I didn't crack up Carter's base in Round Rock into three pieces on purpose.

TX-32 (orange red) – Northern Dallas suburbs: Dallas, Garland, Richardson
Incumbent: Pete Sessions (R–Dallas)
Rating: Safe Republican

The district gives Sessions some more breathing space, but it doesn't stop the bluing trend.

TX-33 (olive) – Latino DFW: Dallas, Irving, Grand Prairie, Fort Worth
Incumbent: Marc Veasey (D–Fort Worth)
Rating: Safe Democratic

I'm not sure if he wants to run here or in the more Tarrant-dominant TX-06. A Latino pol can easily primary him here.

TX-34 (lime green) – Last fajita strip: McAllen, Seguin, San Antonio
Incumbent: none
Rating: Safe Democratic

Rather than an Austin-San Antonio district, why not have another fajita strip? Saves the Austin Democratic votes for other purposes, or maybe for another district, like...

TX-35 (dark orchid) – Eastern Austin: Austin, Bastrop, Gonzales
Incumbent: Michael McCaul (R–Austin)?
Rating: Safe Democratic

...this one. It looks a lot like Lloyd Doggett's old CD-25, but this time there's a higher chance for Austin Latinos to elect one of their own.

TX-36 (purple) – Houston suburbs: Friendswood, Pearland, League City, Katy
Incumbents: Steve Stockman (R–Friendswood), Randy Weber (R–Pearland)
Rating: Safe Republican

Last but not least, this crescent-shaped district designed to mop up the remnants of the Houston area's redness. Crazy primary involving crazy people, resulting in a crazy congressman getting elected here.

----

Breakdown

This map gives:

Partisan:
13 safe Dem
3 likely Dem
2 lean Dem
2 tossup
16 safe GOP

As all less-than-safe districts voted for President Obama in 2008, it is conceivable that there is a Democratic-majority Texan delegation under this map. At worst, it would give an evenly-split one at 18-18, still better than the 24-12 that we have now. This six-to-eight seat swing is a little less than half of the number of seats we need to get to win back a Democratic majority in the House.

VRA:

18 majority-minority (half of the seats!)
8 SSVR >50%
3 African-American
1 TX-33, with SSVR high enough to dominate the Democratic primary (?)

Not surprisingly, all safe or potential Democratic districts except for TX-25 are majority-minority. TX-22 in particular has a high Asian population, and it might be a good place to elect the first Asian Texan to Congress. This was actually by accident, as I was trying to turn TX-07 blue while keeping TX-09 and TX-18 VRA-compliant, and it just came out this way.

Credits

Many thanks to deladem for the TX-14 east-into-Houston idea and wwmiv for the VRA thresholds.

Originally posted to kurykh on Mon May 13, 2013 at 07:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

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