With this year's elections fast drawing near, there are still several cases working their way through the courts on the validity of the new lines drawn by state legislatures. This past Monday, the Supreme Court issued a uananimous per curiam opinion in a case out of West Virginia (its second resdistricting opinion of the term) to draw the 2011-12 Term to a close.
The issue in Monday's decision was the impact of modern software on the rules governing judicial review of the new districts. The impact of this technology is slightly overstated as it was always possible to move individual census blocks to make districts more equal, but modern redistricting software makes it easy to draw very different maps and quickly get the total population of the districts in each of the maps. The Supreme Court's bottom line was that this new technology did not alter the rules for review. As such, while West Virginia could have drawn more equal distircts, the small deviation (less than 5.000 for districts of approximatly 700,000 individuals) was minor enough that the lower court should not have invalidated the districts in light of the reasons given by West Virginia for that deviation.
After Monday's decision (and the decision earlier in the term on the Texas court-drawn interim lines), the rules seem to be as follows:
1) A 5% difference in population between the smallest and largest district remains the absolute line at which the districts are automatically unconstituional. A smaller gap will require the state to provide a reason for the differences.
2) This reason does not have to be particular substantial. Instead, the courts will effectively defer to the legislative priorities including incumbent protection, minimizing changes from current lines, respecting existing political subdivisions (county lines, city limits, precinct lines, partisan advantage, etc.).
3) The one issue that will get some closer scrutiny is minority voting power. On the one hand, when there is a clear concentration of minority voters (large enough to comprise a substantial part of a district), attempts to dilute that vote will violate the Voting Rights Act. On the other hand, when there is not such a clear concemtration, drawing weird lines to connect two separate pockets with high minority population will violate the Equal Protection Clause.
4) Even when there is a finding of a Voting Rights Act problem (or any other illegality), any interim court-drawn lines should respect the priorities set by the legislature in the invalid districting map and should make only those alterations necessary to remedy the violation.
The big issue to be addressed later this term (probably) will be whether Southern states will still be required to pre-clear their new lines (in a Washington Court under the tougher Section 5 standards -- allowing lines to be invalidated if they represent a step backwards from previous lines). If pre-clearance is set aside, those seeking racially-fair lines in the South will be required to prove their case (in a local federal court) under the more lenient Section 2 standards (showing dilution of the voting power of racial minorities).
Last week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the redistricting plan for the state assembly and state senate districts. You can view the order after the jump. Kudos to all the local Democrats who sued to make this happen. (Hi Dariel! It gave me great pleasure to have seen your name there!). Dan over at PJVoice has a great article with all the details and the new petition schedule, which can be viewed here. For 2012, the 2001 local districts will be in place.
However, the Congressional Districts will not be changing. Why, you ask? No one challenged them. I'm unclear why there was one suit and not another, but I'm glad for the win.
There's something else I believe the state assembly should be sued over: that post will be up at noon.
Monday afternoon, the United States Supreme Court held an unusual afternoon argument on what maps will be used for this year's elections in Texas -- Congressional, State Senate, and State House. For the first time since Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court is in a position where the case must be decided immediately rather than the Justices being able to take time to thoughtfully consider and draft an opinion. If the Supreme Court does not want to force another delay in the Texas primary elections an opinion is really needed by the week of January 23rd.
At the heart of this case are three separate legal provisions and forty-five years of cases dealing with those provisions.
First, there is the equal protection clause (and on the Congressional level, the decenial change in the number of Representatives that each state gets) requiring districts that are essentially of equal size.
Second, there is Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (officially, Title 42, Section 1973) which forbids election practices which discriminate based on race. Section 2 further provides that a practice discriminates based on race of the party challenging the practice shows that it has the effect of giving members of that racial group less opportunity to elect candidates of their choice than other racial groups. While the law expressly indicates that it is not required that a group can elect a number of candidates exactly proportionate to their number, in practical terms, this statute forbids the enactment of district lines designed to dilute the power of minority groups. An action under Section 2 can be filed in any District Court where it is heard by a three-judge panel with a direct appeal to the US Supreme Court
Third, there is Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (officially, Title 42, Section 1973c) which requires that any change in covered states must be approved by a three-judge panel of the District Court for the District of Columbia (unless the State opts to use an expedited process by which the Department of Justice approves the change).
Texas is a covered state and opted to go with the three-judge panel rather than requesting approval from the Department of Justice. The three-judge panel has yet to hear the case meaning that there are no legal lines for Texas. At the same time, opponents of the new plan filed a case based on Section 2 and (more importantly) the Equal Protection Clause in the District Court in San Antonio. Having no approved new lines and clearly invalid old lines, the District Court attempted to draw "interim" lines to permit this year's elections to proceed as scheduled.
While the Supreme Court could have denied a stay or an interlocutory appeal (one before a final judgment), it opted to take the appeal to resolve the issue about what a federal court should do under these circumstances.
Republicans notched a major redistricting win on Tuesday with the unveiling yesterday of a Pennsylvania congressional map that deals a sharp blow to Democrats' prospects in the state. The plan is not final — it must be passed by both houses of the state Legislature and then signed into law by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. But Republicans control all levers of redistricting in the state, leaving Democrats with little power to contest the map.
"This congressional redistricting plan is breathtakingly brazen in its defiance of the interests of Pennsylvania's voters" said Common Cause/PA Executive Director, Barry Kauffman, upon the Senate State Government Committee's vote to approve the Congressional redistricting plan (SB-1249) that will be in place for the coming decade. Calling the plan the "ultimate in political cynicism" the bill abandons any pretense of maintaining congressional districts as communities of interest.
The plan unveiled today features a district (CD 7) that meanders bizarrely through five southeastern counties resembling the mythological three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades. Another (CD 15) stretches from the Delaware River (Bethlehem and Allentown areas) to the Susquehanna River (just south of Harrisburg) following close to the I-78 and I-81 corridors; while another reaches from the Delaware even deeper into the Allegheny mountains (CD 10). One western Pennsylvania district, resembling an emaciated hammerhead shark, reaches from the Ohio border to Johnstown.
Erie County has been split in half. Scranton and Wilkes-Barre have been separated from the rest of Northeastern PA. Easton has been separated from the rest of the Lehigh Valley.
Meanwhile, Southeastern Pennsylvania's fractal lines wind and intertwine in such a way that it is difficult to tell who lives where, and the 7th Congressional District is barely contiguous. On the other side of the state Congressmen Mark Critz and Jason Altmire have been drawn into a district together and will have to compete in the Democratic primary.
Common Cause/PA noted that the legislature has had the census data, on which the redistricting plan is based, since the beginning of April, but did not release its proposed plan until December 14th. The legislature could easily have developed the new congressional district plan by the end July, put it out for 60 days of public comments and public hearings, and still passed it before the end of October. Instead, with the date for candidates to circulate nominating petitions looming just six weeks away, the bill will move forward on the legislative fast track, with no public hearing on the plan, and no meaningful opportunity for interested citizens and community leaders to review the plan and attempt to improve it during its one week of legislative life.
Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA), left, and Mark Critz (D-PA) must face each other in a primary.
While states likes Iowa, California and Arizona have moved forward to take redistricting out of the hands of self-interested politicians whose principal goals are to create a gerrymandered advantage for their parties and to protect incumbent lawmakers from the voters, Pennsylvania's system remains the ultimate incumbency protection program. Several senators even noted that Pennsylvania's system manifests an abuse of power regardless of which party is in charge. "If Pennsylvanians ever hope to take back control of their government" said Kauffman, "we must reform our system for drawing legislative and congressional district boundaries. This plan is a clear-cut case of politicians picking their voters in order to prevent voters from having a meaningful opportunity to pick their elected officials."
The Democratic party has created a website where citizens can vote on which Congressional District is the most gerrymandered and a Rorschach test where you can propose what each district most resembles. (Examples include "Zombie aardvark in an airplane seat" [District 3], "A rabbit pulling the tail of a giraffe" [District 7]" and "A seahorse riding a platypus" [District 17].)
Close-ups on Southwestern Pennsylvania and Southeastern Pennsylvania
House Democratic Caucus Whip Rep. Mike Hanna (D-Clinton/Centre) intends to offer a fair Congressional map as an amendment to the Republican maps unveiled Tuesday (SB 1249).
The remainder of the Supreme Court term is looking like a political hot potato for the Supreme Court.
Aside from the mammoth health care reform case, there are several other cases that have the potential to create massive outrage -- only one of which is currently set for argument.
The oldest of the cases is United States v. Alvarez. This case involves a First Amendment challenge to the Stolen Valor Act -- a federal criminal statute that covers falsely claiming military honors. Some lower courts have found that this statute criminalizes speech in violation of the Free Speech Clause. The easy out for the Supreme Court is to find that this case is about fraud, a traditionally-recognized exception to Free Speech. However, arguably the Stolen Valor Act is broader than just covering fraudulent conduct.
Still pending on application for certiorari is Bluman v. FEC. This case was on last week's conference but got postponed until the January conference. The issue in the case is whether restrictions on campaign contributions by "foreigners" violates the First Amendment. Given past Supreme Court holdings that campaign contributions are speech, these restrictions clearly implicate the speech rights of non-U.S. citizens (and nothing in the First Amendment is limited to citizens). The issue below was whether there was a compelling interest in precluding nationals of other countries from influencing U.S. elections. If the Supreme Court decides in January to take the case, it might be heard in the late April/early May sitting (and thus decided this June) or heard next October (possibly making it even more of an issue in the elections).
There are also a ton of gay marriage cases in the pipeline. Probably closest to reaching the Court is the Proposition 8 case which is likely to be decided by the Ninth Circuit in January. At this point, this case will not be argued this term, but it is likely to either be on one of the June conferences (or even worse in the "long conference" at the end of September.
However, last Friday and this Monday saw two very big cases land on this term's docket -- the Texas redistricting cases and the Arizona SB 1070 cases.
Of the two, the SB 1070 case is the simplest -- sort of. It is unquestioned that immigration law is primarily the responsibility of the United States government. However, the question before the courts in cases involving state laws implicating immigration is whether the federal laws on immigration were intended to preempt (bar) or permit state laws. Last year, in dealing with the first round of immigration laws from Arizona, the Supreme Court found that the federal immigration statutes expressly permitted states to penalize employers who hire unauthorized immigrants. This statute, however, seeks to impose penalties on immigrants (and may also require action on the part of federal agencies).
The more complicated case is the Texas redistricting cases.
I love Barney Frank, always have. Very sad that he's leaving Congress, and doubly sad about the reasons, which relate to an inability to get things done in the current environment, and the effects of redistricting. As tmess wrote this weekend, there's a lot going on with redistricting. Updating from his post, Texas did file with the Supremes, and it looks like if the judicial map holds, Democrats could pick up 12 seats in Texas.
Twelve is an important number as it would take 25 seats to regain control of the House, and 12 is almost halfway there. But what will that control mean if the GOP seats stay far-right wacko, and the progressives like Barney Frank are replaced by junior members who are far less liberal? Remember, when Frank leaves, we'll retain the seat, but lose the seniority.
One of the things Frank said in his speech was that his new district includes 235,000 constituents he doesn't know. Remember that this is a two-fold issue: yes, the borders have changed, but also the number of Congressional reps hasn't changed in 90 years, and thus instead of representing 35,000 people (as the earliest House did) the new districts have about 700,000 people. Bigger populations than some states represented by two Senators. The original intent of a bicameral system was to balance the representation of big and small states. Another decade and those numbers will become even more skewed. Remember that the only people who can raise the number of House seats is Congress. And it's unlikely that they will ever want to dilute the power they have. Can House districts become so large that true representation becomes impossible?
The thing that keeps eating at me is that it's not just Barney Frank leaving, it's a lot of Democrats. I am wondering if we are looking at the end of the Democratic Party, to be supplanted with a far more liberal party. You know, kinda sorta like what the Democratic Party used to be. 2016 is not that far off, as election cycles go, and by then, there really could be a viable party. Potentially led by representatives of the unions, and ex-members like Frank and Russ Feingold, and potentially current members of the Progressive Caucus. Thus 2016 would be a 3-party race, and we'd see what was left afterwards.
Put all together, it is possible that unless the progressive Democrats form another party, and take positions from the row offices through the Congress, the left will lose what's left of its voice.
The Democratic Governor's Association is running a petition about the unfairness of what Pennsylvania Republicans are doing about the redistricting process. It appears they're stealing Democratic seats. And it turns out, they are, those related to 129 precincts. Since the process is virtually completely opaque, there's no way to tell which precincts are involved.
The 5- member Reapportionment Committee accepted the US Census figures on 17 August, starting a 90 day clock during which time they need to have a draft map prepared, and then another 60 days to finalize. If you live in Pennsylvania and want to see what little you can see, public hearings have been scheduled for 7 September in Allentown and 14 September in Pittsburgh. Notice that there is nothing in Philadelphia, nor even in Harrisburg, which is the state capital and currently considering bankruptcy.
Remember that this committee is comprised of 2 Democrats, 2 Republicans and a chair chosen by the 4 members. Since they couldn't agree, it went to court, and (no surprise) the chair is a Republican judge. Anyway:
The two Democratic minority leaders on the panel voiced concern about apparent errors in some data provided by a contractor that has been refining the numbers down to the precinct-level. Their Republican counterparts said the 129 districts in question represent only a small fraction of the more than 9,200 precincts and that such issues are sometimes open to interpretation.
There is supposed to be a web site where people can see progress of the committee's work. It was supposed to be approved at the Wednesday meeting. I don't know whether they did or not, because they didn't publish their minutes, nor their findings, nor the address of the supposed web site. I'll keep looking.
While Pennsylvania limps along with the redistricting process, it looks like the same names who ran in PA-6 last year will likely do it again next year. In 2010, there was a bitter Democratic primary between Doug Pike and Manan Trivedi. Manan won by 714 votes, and went on to lost to Jim Gerlach by 14 points. Manan has already started raising money (he sent a letter), and Doug is leaning towards running (I asked him).
Can both of them run against Jim? Maybe. The 6th district was created in 2001 FOR Jim Gerlach. Back in March, I posted on the current map, the census data, and the likelihood that the sole PA district that wouldn't change is Bob Brady's district, as no one messes with Bob Brady. You'd think the state would have made some progress since then, but this is Pennsylvania. The redistricting committee is always made up of two Democrats, two Republicans, and a chair selected by the four. As usual, they couldn't agree, so it went to court. The committee, with its court-appointed chair, is supposed to come up with a plan by 11 August.
As of this writing, the most likely outcome is that Mark Critz's district (Murtha's old district) will be the one to go away. From a census perspective, it's the most reasonable. This redraw will pit Jason Altmire (CD 4) and Mark Critz (CD 12) in a primary. The GOP committee (and it is) will try hard to also force Allyson Schwartz (CD 13) and Chaka Fattah (CD 2) into a primary. However, it's likely that Tim Holden's area (CD 17) will grow to include Scranton, and become a more safe Democratic seat. This in turn will shore up the Republican pockets Lou Barletta (CD 11) needs.
Meanwhile, the GOP wants badly to increase their holds of the 6th and 7th. The 7th was Joe Sestak's, but is now Pat Meehan's. I haven't heard that Joe is thinking of running again. The eastern parts of these districts would have to move to force the Schwartz-Fattah primary. If the 6th moves north, and the 7th moves west, Manan would be in the 6th (he lives in Birdsboro). Jim would be in the 6th (West Pikeland), but Doug may well be in the 6th, as he lives in Tredyffrin (which was part of the 7th until 2001). So a primary re-match is a maybe, but Jim will certainly be challenged. If you're having trouble with what's where, click on the map to see a larger version. It's hard, I know, as some of the numbers are across the state from one another.
We'll have to wait a while to find out where Manan and Doug will run, and it would be great if they could run without having to re-fight that primary, which was ugly. Both are solid candidates, and without having to spend time, money and resources on a primary would have a good shot against both Jim and Pat. There is a lot of animosity against both of the incumbents from long term Republicans who feel that they, especially Jim since he's been there longer, have abandoned Republican ideals for their sell-out to the teabaggers. Thus, Democrats running on what will likely be a bring back Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid platform will perform well. Remember, demographics in this area skew old.
I'll be back with a more detailed look after the districts are drawn next month.
Since California neither gained nor lost Congressional seats in the 2010 census, you might think that redistricting wouldn't be a big deal. Sure, some districts have gained population and others have lost, so the lines would have to shift around a bit, as tmess2 discussed back in March.
But that was before the Californian voters resoundingly passed Proposition 20, the "VOTERS FIRST Act for Congress." That act gave the responsibility for redistricting to a non-partisan commission.
Last Friday, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission released their first draft of the state's new Congressional districts. And it is clear they took their job seriously. The districts look like something a rational human being would draw, rather than the usual gerrymandered mess. But that also means the districts bear little resemblance to the districts of the past. The Los Angeles Times has produced a nifty zoomable map of the proposed changes.
Such sweeping changes would mean that there will be few true incumbents in 2012--almost every Representative will be introducing themselves to many voters who were not in their previous districts, and in some cases two incumbents will find themselves facing off against each other. The elections statewide should be unusually wide open, and should see a lot of turnover.
Quoted in this story in the LA Times, the House editor of the Cook Political Report thinks the redistricting alone will result in a net gain of two to five seats in the California delegation.
A little reflection shows why this should be so: California has trended Democratic over time. But until this year, Congressional districts were gerrymandered to protect incumbents. So the districts in effect "froze in" the political leanings that California had decades ago. But now fair districts let the distribution of Representatives catch up to the changes in the political leanings of the voters, and will result in a net gain for Democrats. If a similar procedure were followed for big states that have trended red (maybe Georgia?), then presumably that would favor Republicans.
The California districts are not yet settled. There is a public comment period, and then the inevitable lawsuits. But no one seems to doubt that the districts in 2012 will look very different than they did in 2010, and that the difference will work to the advantage of Democrats--not because the lines are biased, but because they are fair.
To finally wrap up the two month long review of the census numbers is New York.
After the 2000 census, New York had 29 representatives. The first four districts were all located on Long Island in the counties of Suffolk and Nassau. The Fifth District included parts of Queens and Nassau. The next eleven districts were entirely within New York City. The Seventeenth District included parts of the Bronx and Rockland County. The other twelve districts headed gradually north and west through "upstate" New York with the Eighteenth and Nineteenth being the immediate suburbs, the Twentieth, Twenty-first and Twenty-second being the next ring out, the Twenty-third being northeast New York reaching the Canadian border, the Twenty-fourth being central New York, the Twenty-fifth being the area around Syracuse, and the other four districts composing the western part of the panhandle of New York.
After the 2010 Census, New York has lost two seats and is down to 27 representatives. The new target number is 718,000.
At a quick glance, Nassau and Suffolk are going to be about 39,000 short of an even four representatives. So instead of being wholly in Nassau, the Fourth will not take in part of Queens or Brooklyn. The Five Burroughs of New York City combine for a total population of 8,175,133 which works out to just over 11 representatives with 277,000 excess. In other words, after giving 39,000 to the Fourth District, the last complete New York City district will be the Fifteenth, and the excess 238,000 will be going into the Sixteenth rather than the Seventeenth.
Looking at the current map, districts six through twelve are all wholly contained within Brooklyn and Queens with district 13 being split between Brooklyan and Staten Island, and district fourteen being split between Queens and Manhattan. With the new numbes, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, have a little over seven representatives combined with 178,000 left over. That means that after dumping the extra 39,000 into the fourth, the last whole district withing Queens, Staten Island, and Brooklyn will now be the Eleventh rather than the Thirteenth. Bottom line -- one of the two representatives to be dropped is coming from Queens and Brooklyn.
For the remainder of the state, the numbers do not make for an district that is being cut. Rather it will be a case of a slow adjustment heading out of New York City and the far Western side of the state. Of the thirteen current districts wholly or partially in upstate New York, they range in size from the Nineteenth (just under 700,000) to the Twenty-eighth (around 612,000).
As best as I can guesstimate, the new Sixteenth and Seventeenth will be composed of the northern Bronx plus Rockland and Westchester Counties (basically the current Seventeenth and Eighteenth with some minor adjustments). There will be an excess 63,000 to go into the new Eighteenth. Likewise, the old Nineteenth (composed of the remainder from Rockland and Westchester, plus part of Orange, Putnam, and Duchess County) will be the new Eighteenth. There will be 115,000 excess from part of Orange and Duchess to go into the neighboring district.
From this point on is where things get tricky. Currently the excess from Orange and Duchess is split between the Twentieth and the Twenty-second. Both districts (and the Twenty-first) also contain other partial counties. Schenactady (in the Twenty-first) and Saratoga (in the Twentieth) were among the faster growing counties in New York). My hunch says each of these districts bumps a little bit northward and westward.
Michigan is unique among the 50 states in that it is the only state that actually lost population during the past decade. Despite this fact, it only lost one congressional seat.
About half of the counties in Michigan lost population. Wayne County (home to Detroit) continued to lose population as Detroit itself declined by 25%. This continues a trend, as in 1960, Wayne County had about 3 million people. Today, it has about 1.8 million people. A good chunk of that decline is people leaving Wayne County for the suburbs.
In Michigan, the target population is 706,000. Of the 15 current districts, only two districts are over target. The Eighth District -- -- is just barely over target and should be left pretty much intact. The other, the Tenth District -- the eastern part of the "thumb" stretching from the northern suburbs of Detroit along the Canadian border to Lake Huron -- is about 14,000 over target. Other than losing some voters, it should stay mostly intact.
The other thirteen seats are all short, ranging from the Thirteenth Disrict at approximately 520,000 to the Second District at just under 700,000. If you were looking at raw number of voters, the two most vulnerable would be the Thirteenth at 520,000 and the Fourteenth at 570,000. However, in this case, the answer is not so fast. The Thirteenth and the Fourteenth are the only two African-American majority districts in the state, and, while Michigan is not a pre-clearance state, the requirements of the Voting Rights Act with regards to vote dilution still apply. As Michigan is about one-quarter minority (and 15% African-American), they should be required by the courts to keep two minority majority districts. That means that the likely targets for elimination will be one of the other four districts in which the minority population is over 10% -- the Fifth, the Ninth, the Twelfth, and the Fifteenth
With about a week to spare, the Census Bureau completed its statutory obligation to release redistricting data to the states before April 1, 2011. In this post, I am going to cover the "smaller" states -- Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and West Virginia -- leaving Michigan and New York for a separate post.
Maine stayed at two representatives. The target population for each district is 664,000. In Maine, both seats are relatively safe Democratic seats. Currently, the First District covers the central and southwestern coastal region and the Second District covers the remainder of the state. With the current lines, the First District is about 9,000 residents larger than the Second District, but that represents about a 1% deviation from the target. Even with the Tea Party controlling the Governor's mansion in Maine, I would be shocked at any significant changes to the lines.
Massachusetts lost one representative to go down to nine members. After the last election, all ten of the current seats were held by Democrats, though the Tenth barely stayed Democratic in an open election. From a numbers standpoint, there is no obvious seat to save or seat to cut. The gap between the smallest district (the First in western Massachusetts) and the largest district (the Third in east central Massachusetts) is less than 20,000. Even the Third is about 63,000 short of the target populaton of 728,000. As the numbers do not lead to any district that stands out as an obvious cut or an obvious keep, that leaves local politics, geography, and the concerns about keeping all nine seats safe as the factors driving redistricting.
A natural candidate for cutting (when you have ten incumbents of the same party) would be the newest member. That would Bill Keating who won the Tenth in 2010. The Tenth is also the most marginal of the district with Mr. Keating winning by only 4% (and with less than 50%) of the vote. The argument against carving up the Tenth is geographic. The Tenth is in southeastern Massachusetts and only borders two districts. From a geographic standpoint, Geographically, something like the Seventh (the area to the north and west of Boston) would be easier to splice up as it borders four districts). However, Ed Markey is the senior member of the delegation having been around since 1977. What the folks in Boston would like to see is one of the ten volunteer for the task of taking on Scott Brown allowing their district to be carved up and keeping the other nine members of the delgation happy.
Of the states released this past week, two states gained seats in Congress -- Florida and Georgia. Since both are pre-clearance states under the Voting Rights Act and both have significant minority populations, the legislatures in the states are merely the first step in the process with guaranteed court fights over whatever lines get drawn up. (In addition, Florida passed changes to the process by a referendum in the last election, and the new governor is not cooperating with submitting those changes to the Department of Justice for clearance which will add to the court fights.)
In Georgia, there are two major questions: 1) How do we carve up the Atlanta area to make room for a new seat; 2) What do we do about the Second District, the Eighth District, and the Twelfth District (three districts that were considered swing districts for most of the decade).
The target population for each seat in Georgia is 692,000.
Three of the existing districts are short on population -- the Second in southwest Georgia (by about 60,000), the Fourth (containing some of the eastern suburbs of Atlanta) by about 27,000, and the Fifth (Atlanta and its immediate suburbs) by about 62,000. The easy solution for the Second is to give it some from each of its neighboring district, all of whom are over target. The First (in southeast Georgia)will almost certainly shed its 30,000 excess to the Second. That will leave the Third in western Georgia (125,000 over) and the Eighth in central Georgia (23,000 over) to complete the remainder for the Second. A key consideration in determining what parts of these three districts goes to the Second will be the fact that the Second is currently a minority influence district with a slightly large African-American population than a white population. The Fourth and Fifth also have tiny African-American majorities. Given the geography, the most likely source for additional population for those two districts is the Thirteenth District (90,000 over) which takes in the western and southern suburbs of Atlanta. How the population is shifted between the Second and the Eighth will have a slight impact on how competitive those two districts remain.
As far as drawing the new district, the Third will probably give some of its excess to the Eleventh District (nothwestern Georgia) which is approximately 100,000 over the target. The Eleventh would then give some of its excess to the Sixth District (the northern sububrbs of Atlanta) which is 75,000 over target. The Ninth (in Northern Georgia) which is approximatley 130,000 over target would give its excess to the Sixth and the Seventh District (the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta) which is approximately 210,000 over target. Likewise, the Tenth District (northeastern Georgia) would also give its 46,000 excess to the Seventh District). The new Fourtheenth District would probably be the western part of the current Seventh and the Eastern part of the Sixth. It will also be a safely Republican seat.
With one week of releases left, this week saw the data from nine states released -- Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Tennessee. This week's states fall into three groups.
The first group -- Alaska, Montana, and North Dakota -- are states that only have one representative in Congress. As such, the data will have no effect on congressional redistricting. However, like many of the other states that we have seen, these states did have some rural population loss and a "significant" increase in the number of Hispanic residents, at least in terms of a percentage increase.
The second group -- Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Tennessee -- stayed even on the number of representatives. As such, for these states, redistricting will be about the population shifts within the state.
The third group -- Florida and Georgia -- gained seats in Congress. For these states, the issue will be where to new districts should be located.
Putting the first group to the side, first up is Kentucky. Kentucky has six seats. Based on the census, the new target seat size is 723,000. The current split is 4 Republican seats, 1 Democratic seat, and 1 swing seat (currently held by a Democrat). On the western side of the state, you have two Republican seats 00 the First District and the Second District. The First is about 37,000 too small and the Second is about 37,000 too big. In other words, a very small shift in the lines.
The Third District (Louisville area) is technically too small, but only by about 1,000. As such, any shift will be minimal and will not change this seat from being a safe Democratic seat.
That leaves the east side of the state. The Fourth District (the northeast part of the state) is about 18,000 over while the Fifth District (the southeast part of the state) is about 53,000 short. That leaves the Sixth District (in the central part of the state around Frankfort and Lexington) about 36,000 over. The Sixth District is the swing district which means that the exact location of what part is taken from the Sixth to put into the Fifth is crucial. My hunch is that the most logical new lines will make the Sixth slightly more Democratic, but there are no guarantees.
Minnesota has eight seats. The target size for the new districts is 663,000 residents. In Minnesota, two districts (the Republican-held Second and Sixth Districts) are way too large, and the remaining districts are significantly too small, though the Third and Eighth are technically close enough to be left intact without changes.
The First District is a lean Democratic district in the southern part of the state along the Iowa Border. It is 18,000 short. It is bordered to the northwest by the Seventh District and to the northeast by the Second District. The Seventh District is a safe Democratic seat which is about 37,000 residents short and covers most of the western and northwestern parts of Minnesota. The Second District is a safe Republican seat which about 70.000 too large and covers the southeastern part of the state (reaching the exurbs of the Twin Cities. Given the geography, part of the excess from the Second will have to to to the First. The real issue will be how much of the excess from the Second will go to the Seventh and how much will go to other districts. It will probably be easier to transfer excess from the Sixth into the Seventh than from the Second into the Seventh.
Earlier this week, I posted on several of the individual states from this last week's releases -- California, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and Arizona. Three other states were release this past week -- Connecticut, Idaho, and Wisconsin.
Connecticut stayed even with 5 seats. The new target number in Connecticut is 715,000 residents. Growth was a little faster on the eastern side of the state and a little bit slower on the western side of the state. The largest district (and the only one significantly above the target size) is the Second District which is about 15,000 over the target. The smallest district is the Fourth District which is 8,000 under the target. Nothing major is required, but if the Democrats want to move some Democrats out of the First and Third into the Fourth and Fifth and some Republicans out of the Second into the First and Third, they could do so. No major changes are likely to happen which will leave the Fourth and Fifth as lean Democrat seats and the other three as safe seats.
Idaho is a two district state which leaves very few options when it comes to redistricting. For this cycle, Idaho needs to move about 60,000 people from the First into the Second to get back to balance. It is likely that the redistricting will take the First out of even theoretical reach.
Like the other two states, Wisconsin stayed at the same number of representaives (8). The new target number in Wisconsin is 711,000. Three of the districts are over that number (the First, Second, and Third) and the other five are under that number.
The First District (solidly Republican represented by Paul Ryan) is in the southeast corner of the state, reaching the southern part of Milwaukee County. It has about 17,000 too many people. To its immediate north is the Fifth District which covers the western and northern suburbs of Milwaukee.
Like the First, the Fifth is a solidly Republican district with a long-time representative. The Fifth is only marginally under target (around 4,000), but it could take excess from either the First or Second, and then shed some to neighboring districts.