After a visit to Washington over spring break, I wanted to try my best to draw a COI map of the state, which I don't believe I've seen drawn before. I believe my effort was fair. My guidelines:
1) Respect counties, but don't make them the top priority, especially in the SeaTac metro area.
2) Try to keep blue-collar and white-collar areas separate where possible.
3) Don't split Tacoma
4) Don't double-cross the Cascades
5) Respect communities of interest where they are clear, regarding economic status and metropolitan area.
The state map is at the end, but here are the 10 districts.
1st: Susan DelBene (D)
Rating: Safe D
Communities: Northern Seattle suburbs, including Everett, Marysville, Lynnwood, Bothell, and North Creek.
How'd I do on COI?: Pretty well. This district is all areas tied to Seattle and is pretty cleanly drawn. However, it's a mix of blue-collar and white-collar, but that's unavoidable.
2nd: Rick Larsen (D)
Communities: Bellingham, Mt. Vernon, Anacortes, Oak Harbor, Arlington...basically everywhere north of the Seattle area and west of the Cascades, plus two counties east of them including the Wenatchee area.
How'd I do on COI?: Well, you have to cross the Cascades somewhere. I chose this area because if you cross in the south the Yakima area gets split and if you cross in the middle, you combine Seattle suburbs with Eastern Washington and that's even worse. However, I recognize that the roads here are not as good as other cross-Cascade connections. Larsen would be in for a tough fight here every cycle, although my guess is the Republican electorate here is very conservative and that could lead to less electable candidates.
3rd: Jaime Herrera Beutler (R)
Rating: Lean R if Democrats ever actually recruit someone here.
Communities: Portland suburbs in Clark County, Longview, and small towns/rural areas.
How'd I do on COI?: Wonderfully. Technically the Cascades are crossed again but only to pick up a few thousand people. This district is almost identical to the current 3rd except for some precinct changes in Thurston County.
4th: OPEN (R), Doc Hastings (R) retiring
Rating: Safe R
Communities: Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Pullman, rural areas
How'd I do on COI?: I like this configuration better than any other way to do Eastern Washington. It's the cleanest option and respects communities of interest. This district is also only 69% White, the second most diverse in the state thanks to Hispanic agricultural workers.
6th: Derek Kilmer (D)
PVI: D+4, Murray 51-49 in 2010
Rating: Lean/Likely D
Communities: Tacoma and most of its suburbs, although not the wealthiest ones
How'd I do on COI?: I don't like the extension into Kitsap County but it makes the rest of the map work better. Otherwise it's much better than previous maps which have tacked Tacoma onto the Olympic Peninsula and split it from its suburbs. In terms of competitiveness, the fact that Dino Rossi couldn't win it in 2010 makes me feel Kilmer should be safe unless there's another monstrous Republican wave.
7th: Jim McDermott (D)
Rating: Safer than Safe D. It's probably be Safe Communist too if the alternative was a Republican.
Communities: Seattle except its poorest neighborhoods, Vashon and Bainbridge Islands, and a few suburbs north of the city.
How'd I do on COI?: Creating a blue-collar 9th meant splitting Seattle. This is the wealthier three quarters of the city combined with middle to upper middle class suburbs. That makes a D+28 district which is also 75% White, which is a Marin County level of White and liberal. Other than the split of Seattle, I like the COI, but the split of Seattle is justifiable too.
8th: Dave Reichert (R)
PVI: D+4, Rossi 50-50 in 2010
Rating: Tossup. D+4 is very tough for Republicans to hold but Reichert has won tough turf in the past and the district's ancestrally Republican.
Communities: Wealthier suburbs, including Redmond, Bellevue, Sammamish, Mercer Island, Maple Valley, Covington, Bonney Lake, and Puyallup.
How'd I do on COI?: I love this one. Purely white-collar and not ugly.
9th: Adam Smith (D)
PVI: D+13. Interestingly this 54% White district is quite a bit less Democratic than McDermott's.
Rating: Safe D.
Communities: South Seattle (the poor part) plus blue-collar communities between Seattle and Tacoma such as Federal Way, Renton, Des Moines, and Kent. A few middle-class areas are tacked on to meet population.
How'd I do on COI?: I think it's great. Not every town in here fits but that's due to population, not my map.
10th: Denny Heck (D)
PVI: D+4, Murray 53-47 in 2010
Rating: Likely D. Murray's strong performance here means it's the safest of the 3 Dem-leaning seats by PVI.
Communities: Olympia, Bremerton, and the beautiful Olympic Peninsula.
How'd I do on COI?: The Olympic Peninsula should be added to Olympia, not Tacoma, and I did that here. I think this district is damn near perfect considering you have to add it to something less rural than the peninsula itself.
To summarize, that means we have:
3 Safe Democratic
1 Likely Democratic
1 Lean/Likely Democratic
1 Lean Republican
2 Safe Republican
In 2010, this may have been 6-4 GOP (but probably 5-5), while in 2008 it may have been 8-2 Democratic.