| Now that we've finally been able to name a winner in our 2009 predictions contest, we're ready to open up some new frontiers. Check it out:
The Short Version: Redistrict New York state so that your map would likely elect at least 26 Democrats and no more than two Republicans. Post your plan as a diary. Win babka.
The Long Version: Dave (of Dave's Redistricting App) and Jeffmd have been hard at work implementing partisan political data for New York, and the results have recently gone live. So you have from now until Sunday night, January 10th, at midnight Eastern in which to post a diary containing your maps & descriptions. Jeff, who has graciously agreed to judge this contest, will then decide which plan he deems "best." There are a few criteria which I'll detail below, and those have to be met in order for your plan to be eligible. But as far as what constitutes the "best" plan, well... this is going to be something like an art contest, and the judge's sense of aesthetics will rule the day. After all, redistricting is as much art as it is science!
Here are the criteria to follow:
0) Not that we would expect anyone to do otherwise, but you have to use Dave's Redistricting App.
1) You must have 28 districts of equal population size, within ~±1% of the ideal district size of 700,334 (i.e., any district between 693,331 and 707,337 will work).
2) You must draw seats for at least 26 Democrats - 26-2, 27-1, and 28-0 plans are all acceptable.
3) Assume that all current incumbents are re-elected in 2010. You will therefore have to eliminate at least one incumbent's district.
4) Your over-arching goal should be to shore up all Democratic seats which are potentially vulnerable. If you choose to eliminate an incumbent Democrat's district, the trade-off should mean bluer districts for remaining incumbents.
5) Not a requirement, but bonus points for screwing Peter King in some fashion
6) Water contiguity is permitted (bonus points for connecting along bridges).
7) Touch-point contiguity is not permitted. (Touch-point contiguity occurs when two geographical units only meet each other at a single point. Think of the famous "Four Corners" in the American southwest: Arizona and Colorado share touch-point contiguity, as do New Mexico and Utah.)
8) VRA compliance is required. VRA-compliant districts should be centered around the geographic areas covered by the the present-day districts listed below. These districts may be re-numbered and re-shaped however you see fit, so long as your final plan includes districts which meet the criteria below. They may also be combined & re-fashioned, especially in the case of NY-10 and NY-11.
We won't require strict adherence to any particular set of numbers, but these are probably pretty decent guidelines:
• NY-06 area (Jamaica, St. Albans, Springfield Gardens, Far Rockaway): 50%+ African-American
• NY-10 area (Bed-Stuy, Canarsie, East New York, Downtown Brooklyn): 50%+ African-American
• NY-11 area (Crown Heights, Brownsville, Park Slope, Flatbush): 50%+ African-American
• NY-12 area (Greenpoint, Bushwick, Glendale, Lower East Side): 48%+ Hispanic
• NY-15 area (Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Upper West Side, Washington Heights): Majority-minority
• NY-16 area (South Bronx, Morrisania, High Bridge, Port Morris): 60%+ Hispanic
9) All 28 districts must be described in your writeup. Each district writeup must include:
• A list of any current incumbents whose homes are in that district. If more than one incumbent lives in a district, you must describe whom you think the district "belongs" to.
• A brief narrative summary of major counties, cities, towns, and/or neighborhoods encompassed by the district. This list need not - and should not - be exhaustive. It should just hit the high points.
• Demographic information about racial breakdowns by percentage.
• 2008 presidential election results, both for the new district and the old district (to the extent there is a corresponding old district).
• Total population.
10) Your writeup must include maps sufficient to show all 28 districts with reasonable detail. Use zoomed-in maps for densely populated areas. Please make maps no more than 590 pixels wide - any larger and they break the site's formatting on many monitors. But by all means link to full-size images.
11) Your map can be as gerrymandered or as compact as you wish. Bonus points for creativity.
12) Only one entry per user - but you can post your diary at any time during the contest period (again, until midnight Eastern time on Sunday, Jan. 10th).
13) Please email your saved .DRF.XML to Jeff (jeffmd [at] swingstateproject [dot] com). Dave has instructions for locating your file in his help file (scroll down to the section "Saved Files"), for Mac OS, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. Do not post this file online.
If you have any questions or need any clarifications, please feel free to ask in comments. To the winner goes the babka!
P.S. To assist you, a list of each represenative's area of residence is below the fold. If you have more detailed information about any of them, please let us know in comments.
UPDATE: Please put the phrase "Contest Entry:" at the start of your diary title, and please also put the tag "redistricting contest" in your tags.
Also, here's a helpful map of NYC neighborhoods (warning: large PDF).
UPDATE 2: There are special instructions for turning on the political (Obama vs. McCain) data:
To access this new data, you need to check the "Use Test Data" checkbox in the upper right corner of the app before selecting New York State. (Because the data format is different than I have been using, I've separated it into a separate directory on the server.)