(click through for a larger image)
While the court ruling held that the 3rd district illegally used race in a manner that resulted in too many black voters being drawn into it, they didn't release any guideline for what changes to neighboring districts would be necessitated which gives us a lot of possible map outcomes. This map looks at a potential compromise between the Republican legislature and governor McAuliffe. Whereas before the 4th district was roughly 31 percent black by voting age population (VAP), here it becomes the black majority district while the 3rd is just shy of plurality black, netting Democrats another seat. However all the neighboring Republican-held districts become safer with the 2nd district turning from one Obama won by two points in 2012 to one Romney carried by a hefty 13 percent. Districts 6, 8, 9, 10, and 11 are unchanged.
This configuration does the most to ensure that black voters will be able to exercise their influence in an additional district and does create an additional safe district for Democrats by flipping Republican Rep. Randy Forbes' seat. This is also likely the Republicans' best case scenario short of minor changes to the 3rd, which McAullife would be nearly guaranteed to veto. The map is similar in principle to one submitted by Democratic state Sen. Mamie Locke, for which Democrats had previously voiced support.
However if this is the type of map Republicans submit for the governor to sign or more likely if it falls short of this with minor changes, he needs to veto it and send it to the courts so they can decide.
This second map looks at a potentially fairer compromise or what a court might produce if they're using a clean slate in the southeast but adhering to a least-change principle elsewhere. As with the previous map, Randy Forbes' 4th district becomes the new black majority seat while Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott is drawn into a new Hampton Roads 3rd district. This new 3rd, while just over majority white VAP, now has a substantial black population of 37 percent, which should be sufficient to elect a black representative.
What's better about this map is that the districts are much more compact and the new 2nd district remains competitive, having gone for Romney by less than one point while having narrowly voted for Obama in 2008. McAullife and Ken Cuccinelli tied there in 2013 while Tim Kaine carried it in 2012. While 2nd district incumbent Republican Scott Rigell represents two-thirds of it and Randy Forbes just one-third, it sets up a bruising primary since Forbes is more entrenched and more of a movement conservative than Rigell, who himself donated to Obama in 2008.
Overall some iteration of this map, where Democrats gain a new heavily minority seat and the 2nd remains competitive, strikes me as Democrats most likely best outcome as the courts are less likely to completely redraw the rest of the map since there were no problems with racial gerrymandering there.
The final map is a start-from-scratch redraw that attempts to completely disregard partisanship when considering districts. This is also Democrats' best possible outcome, since as with the previous map they gain a new safe seat in Hampton Roads while the 2nd remains competitive. Democrats also gain a new strongly Democratic district in Northern Virginia with retiring Republican Rep. Frank Wolf's 10th district going from a narrow Romney win to an Obama victory of nearly 14 points.
Unfortunately the chances of this sort of map being enacted by the Republican-led legislature are nil and even the courts are less likely to completely throw out every single district and impose their own map. However in the latest round of redistricting nationwide multiple states such as New York did just that with the courts drawing up their own map entirely independent of the legislature and the two parties, so it's a possibility worth considering and shows you just how much the current map is gerrymandered.
The main purpose of this map is to illustrate why I believe Governor McAullife absolutely must veto what Republicans produce because there is very little to lose by sending the process to court. Keep in mind that this ruling might be overturned by the US Supreme Court or McAuliffe might agree to a compromise favorable to Republicans, possibly in exchange for policy concessions, but right now it's looking likely that come November 2016 Democrats will gain an additional district in southeastern Virginia and Randy Forbes will be looking for a new job.