Maps: Daily Kos Elections is pleased to introduce the 2022 version of our congressional hexmap, which shows all 435 districts in the U.S. House as approximately equally sized. Our latest map, which is free to use, reflects the new districts that were created as a result of this decade's redistricting process and will be used for the first time in the November midterms.
To kick things off, we've combined the new hexmap with another set of data we recently released—our calculations showing how the 2020 presidential election would have gone under these new districts—to produce this map, along with a traditional version of the same map here.
The approach we've taken here, known as a cartogram, is designed to address a problem that plagues all traditional congressional maps: Sprawling but thinly populated rural districts dominate visually, while dense urban districts are often impossible to make out. In American politics, this has the effect of making red areas seem as though they're overwhelming blue areas, even when Democrats win. (And that's why Donald Trump loved those misleading maps of county-level results of his 2016 race.)
On our map, by contrast, each district is the same size, created from five hexagons apiece (or their equivalent in area for districts along state borders). This reflects the fact that every district elects just one representative who gets exactly one vote in Congress. It also reflects the fact that districts all have fairly comparable populations, ranging from 542,112 in Montana to 989,948 in Delaware as of the 2020 census.
By contrast, the largest district in geographic terms is Alaska's lone at-large district, which clocks in at a gargantuan 665,000 square miles. The smallest, New York's 12th, is around 12 miles square, yet both Reps. Mary Peltola and Jerry Nadler are running for re-election to represent similar numbers of people in the 118th Congress—and have identical powers under the Constitution.
When displaying election results or the outcome of floor votes in the House, then, our hexmap comes much closer to depicting reality than a standard map would. But of course, it comes with an important tradeoff: Districts sometimes cannot be placed within states where you'd expect them to be geographically.
You can see that illustrated in this hexmap that shows just New York state and specifically highlights the 15 districts that make up New York City and Long Island (plus a sliver of New York's 16th, which occupies a thin slice of the Bronx). Together, they stretch far upstate and take up more than half of the state's area as a whole; in reality, though, they account for just 7% of the state's landmass. But there simply isn't enough room to show all of these seats within the greater New York metropolitan area and still have them be visible.
There's truly no way around this if you want the states to remain recognizable and retain their shapes. The only alternative is to badly distort state outlines, which yields hard-to-parse blob-like maps such as this one. (It's of New York's counties rather than congressional districts, but the effect would be similar either way.) Our preferred approach when we use our hexmap is simply to release a traditional map alongside it.
If you'd like to create your own maps, you can find all the necessary data files here, including blank maps you can print and color by hand. The only requirement is that you cite us and link back to the source materials at http://dkel.ec/map. Happy hexing!