Everyone expected Illinois to be a redistricting windfall... and it turned out it was, with a possible +5 Democratic seats thanks to some aggressive Democratic map-drawing. California, though, was an open question, thanks to the fact that its lines were being drawn by a brand-new independent commission for the first time, and nobody knew what to expect. (Although, given the changing demographics of the state and the dramatic growth of the state's Hispanic community, it seemed evident that Democratic gains would be significant if the lines were blown up and done from scratch rather than focusing on tweaking and incumbent protection.)
Well, the first drafts of the map are out today, and the line-blowing-up happened, meaning it's Redistmas Part II: a big gift to the Democratic party. We're still getting our heads around the maps (their site was overwhelmed for much of the morning, and there's no one helpful overview, but rather more than 60 closeup views that need to be mentally assembled). But the scrambling seems to have benefited Dems greatly, especially in southern California. Here's Cook's redistricting guru Dave Wasserman's take:
First CA impression: Dems +4. Gallegly (R), Dreier (R), Miller (R), Bilbray (R) lose out, Loretta Sanchez (D) keeps winnable district
About a week ago, some very rough drafts of the California congressional map being assembled by the commission were leaked, which seemed to create more questions than they answered. One of the weirdest things was the apparent reconfiguration of mostly-Latino, compact CA-47 (Sanchez's district, comprising Santa Ana and Anaheim) into an odd mix of Santa Ana and wealthy suburbs, possibly taking away its Latino majority and creating potential VRA problems. They seem to have changed that somewhat with today's map, as that district, even though it still seems to lose part of Anaheim, instead of reaching down to the coast, now takes in other more middle-class parts of inland OC, like Fountain Valley. That may make Sanchez more vulnerable to a Vietnamese Republican, but, on the balance, as Wasserman observed, seems to preserve a Dem-leaning district for her. (Note: you can click on these maps to see larger versions of them.)
I'm wondering if Dave missed a possible fifth GOP casualty here as well: Ed Royce, in the current 40th, centered on Fullerton. The district still has Fullerton and GOP strongholds like Yorba Linda, but now also includes La Habra and loses strongly-GOP Orange, so this district may also be Hispanic-majority. (We'll know later, once Jeff does some more extensive numbers-crunching.)
The real disaster for the Republicans seem to have come further north and east, in the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire. David Dreier's once-gerrymandered 26th is completely scrambled; his town of San Dimas is in a Latino-majority district that includes El Monte and East Covina. And Gary Miller, based in Diamond Bar, is now in a weirdly-drawn district that seems to have been drawn to have an Asian majority (or at least plurality) that hooks his town up with places further west like Alhambra and Monterey Park, which seems to be tailor-made for Dem Rep. Judy Chu. An entirely new mostly-Latino district pops up in the middle of the San Gabriel Valley, centered on Ontario and Pomona.
The core of Ken Calvert's 44th, Riverside, is now the center of a Hispanic-majority district (inevitable, given the heavy Latino growth there over the decade); however, he seems to survive, as his home town of Corona is now in a further-south district taking in much of Darrell Issa's turf. Issa, who lives in northern San Diego County, also seems to survive, but Brian Bilbray, currently in the 50th, seems to get the short end of the stick.
Henry Waxman parts with some of his bluest West L.A. turf (which he can afford to do) in order to shore up two other districts: Elton Gallegly's Ventura County-based district now reaches down into Malibu, pushing it into Dem-leaning territory, while the currently vacant 36th picks up Santa Monica, which should balance out the fact that it also picks up the Republican-leaning Palos Verdes peninsula, which observers had worried might push this blue district in a swingier direction. [UPDATE
: Gallegly, in fact, is multiply screwed, because he also loses GOP-friendly Simi Valley to Buck McKeon's district, while gaining heavily-Dem Oxnard. One possible consequence of that, though, is that Oxnard comes out of Lois Capps' district, making hers a bit swingier, though still probably blue.]
Further north, the biggest question seemed to be the fate of Jerry McNerney, in the 11th, spanning eastern Contra Costa and western San Joaquin Counties. He actually seems to come out of this map strengthened, with a bigger piece of Stockton. The odd man out in the Bay Area may wind up being, as suspected, Pete Stark (who's pushing 80 and a likely retiree anyway), whose Fremont-centered district basically gets divvied up to Barbara Lee's district to the north and Mike Honda's to the south. That doesn't lead to a Democratic loss, though, as his seat essentially migrates over to the Central Valley, where Modesto and Merced now have separate seats; if the Dems can hold that seat, they've held the line.
UPDATE: Here are some thoughts on the new Central Valley configurations from our jeffmd, who's concerned that in a bad year (like 2010, where we saw Jim Costa nearly lose) that these districts, though all solidly Hispanic-majority, might be in reach for the GOP because of dismally low turnout:
Costa...well, they removed a lot of Fresno Dems from his district. The central valley on this map bothers me a bit given how weak our holds were last year (and how badly Brown/Boxer did there), and now there are 3 districts there that may be within reach - the Modesto-Tracy district ("Stanislaus"), the Merced-Fresno district ("Merced"), and what appears to be the natural successor to Costa's, the Hanford-Bakersfield district ("Kings").
My impression is that Stanislaus will be VERY swingy. Stan County itself was 49-47 Obama; 50-44 Whitman; 54-40 Boxer; the San Joaquin arm is I think roughly even - Dem-leaning Tracy balances R-leaning Manteca.
Merced should be rather Dem-leaning, with most of Fresno proper attached and Merced County being more Dem-leaning than Stanislaus County. Though Madera is heavily Republican, the part of Madera in the district is not as conservative.
Costa's new district is also hard to get a read on. Kings County is very Republican, the rural parts of Fresno are ok (Hispanic pockets balancing things out), and the part of Kern is very Democratic thanks to the right parts of Bakersfield. But, that part of Kern is also very heavily Hispanic and low-turnout, accordingly, so not the best.
This is all only a starting point, what with dozens of little maps to look at. Help us crowdsource this in the comments, with your observations! And merry Redistmas II!
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