Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where Gerry meets Dummymander

States are currently doing redistricting for congressional seats. In states where one party has control, they’re trying to gerrymander the districts to get as many seats for their party as they can. A new term is floating about, the Dummymander. A dummymander is when a party creates a district that they’ll win and then they lose it within the next election or two. Thus, they’ve created a district for the other party, not their own.

After redistricting in 2002 most of the country’s congressional districts had a similar number of people. Now, ten years later, 116 of the 150 most populated congressional districts are represented by Republicans in congress. Ninety-one of the 135 least populated congressional districts are represented by Democrats. This is remarkable and couldn’t happen by accident.

Democrats dominate urban city districts, while Republicans dominate more rural districts. In the last ten years there’s been a mass exodus from northern cities. The 50 districts with the smallest number of people includes four in Chicago, five in Northern Ohio (Cleveland), two each in Detroit, Northern New York (Buffalo-Rochester), Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Providence. There are also districts in Kansas City, Cincinnati, New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, and Flint. These districts aren’t just represented by Democrats. Seventeen of them are represented by African-Americans.

So, there’s been an exodus of Democrats, especially African-Americans from mostly northern mostly urban areas. Where have they gone? Thirty-nine of the 50 most populated congressional districts are in 9 states. Twenty-one of those are in Florida and Texas. All 3 districts in both Nevada and Utah are among them.

Besides growth from northern Democrats, some of it is from Hispanics. They tend to vote Democratic. It’s likely that these 50 districts have a lot more Democrats than they used to be. That means that while the district may be represented by a Republican now, the addition of Democrats may change that. In Utah and Texas this is probably not a big deal. An R+16 can become more Democratic and still be safe Republican.

The biggest potential trouble for Republicans is in California, Florida, and Nevada. The GOP doesn’t control redistricting in California and Nevada, but they do in Florida. Fair Districts Florida may restrict how Republicans can draw the districts, but they’d be wise to make sure that they draw a nice compact district with lots of Democrats in Central Florida, because if they dummymander they’ll lost more seats than the one they might save now.

The flip side of all those Democrats moving into Republican areas is that there are now less Democrats in Democratic controlled districts. Many of those districts are heavily Democratic, but there are ten districts that would be opportunities. Because these districts have lost so much population, six of them are in states that’ll lose seats. While that might limit the opportunities, there’ll be districts that cover these areas. There may be opportunities there.

Of course the population shifts will impact Senate and Presidential campaigns. Thus, Nevada, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona are likely going to become tougher for Republicans to win. Texas would be a big linchpin, but I think it’s too Republican now to move over to the Democratic side.

While those states maybe tougher to win, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Iowa should become easier. The two groups have roughly the same number of electoral votes. The big question will be then, which states will flip soonest.

No comments:

Post a Comment