The process here is fairly straightforward. Whether Democrats hold their current monopoly in 2010 or lose the governor's mansion (the state legislature seems locked-in), incumbent protection will be the name of the game, aimed especially at solidifying Democratic Reps. Betsy Markey and John Salazar (most pointedly the former). Democrats would be foolish to try for a 6-1 majority and no one seems to think they'll try it.
My map definitely solidified Markey without hurting DeGette, Polis, or Perlmutter, but it didn't go as far as I hoped in protecting Salazar (my 3rd remains quite rural and is more of a swing district, but far from strongly Dem-leaning). Given the need to dole out favorable Denver suburbs to Polis, Perlmutter, and Markey, there's little Denver-area turf left to give Salazar. What to do?
District 1 - Diana DeGette (D-Denver) -- all of Denver and 19% of Arapahoe preserves a solidly liberal district.
District 2 - Jared Polis (D-Boulder) -- it may look rural and Rocky-heavy on the map, but the population anchors are Boulder County, which is kept whole, and Adams County, of which 35% is included. Less strongly Dem than before, but still plenty safe, with a moderate-liberal bent.
District 3 - John Salazar (D-Manassa) -- my disappointment is that I only moved the needle a couple points in Obama's direction here. It's still very rural, and competitive in an open seat situation. There are big pockets of population in Grand Junction, Pueblo, and Jefferson County.
District 4 - Betsy Markey (D-Fort Collins) -- New and improved for enhanced Democratic performance! 100% of Larimer, 65% of Adams, and 53% of Weld make for a safe district.
District 5 - Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) -- meant to pack Republicans tightly.
District 6 - Mike Coffman (R-Littleton) -- ditto in that this low-elevation "Colokansas" district packs GOP votes efficiently. I did cause some mischief by putting Coffman's home in the 7th.
District 7 - Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) -- decidedly Democratic suburban Denver seat comprising half of Arapahoe and 80% of Jefferson.
This is the first state for which I drew two maps, one a Dem gerrymander and the other a bipartisan compromise map. Since Minnesota is expected to lose a seat for a new total of seven, there were some key differences in how I handled the dropped district (as well as how I drew the urban/suburban Twin Cities seats). Collin Peterson's new 6th and Jim Oberstar's new 7th are configured similarly in both maps, with Oberstar's diluted a bit and Peterson's shored up a tad to create two mildly Dem-friendly rural districts (though Peterson's is still tough, especially with its geographical identity changing as population loss forces it to leech toward the Iowa border!).
I will run through the bipartisan map first since Republicans currently hold the gov's mansion:
District 1 - Tim Walz (D-Mankato) vs. John Kline (R-Lakeville) -- honestly, Walz vs. Kline was the only logical, not-too-awkward bipartisan incumbent showdown I could seem to configure. This district would be more or less evenly divided in partisan performance and evenly weighted in population between Walz's southern base and Kline's exurban territory.
District 2 - Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) -- this map being the bipartisan variation, Paulsen gets a clearly more Republican district comprising Anoka County, 35% of Hennepin, and 26% of Carver.
District 3 - Betty McCollum (D-St. Paul) -- anchored in Ramsey County, safely Democratic.
District 4 - Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) -- 65% of Hennepin County, and that's it, for a mostly urban Minneapolis district.
District 5 - Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) -- I wanted to soak up all the Republicans I could find (and Bachmann will need them if she keeps up this way).
District 6 - Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) -- how to protect Peterson without giving Oberstar an untenable district? Knowing the district would have to extend south, I tried to improve the PVI a bit by taking some rural Dem counties from his neighbor, but not move the needle too dramatically as that would jeopardize the esteemed Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman.
District 7 - Jim Oberstar (D-Chisholm) -- more of a swing district than before; Oberstar would be safe but Dems would have to fight for this as an open seat. Is it worth shoring up Peterson's seat at the cost of making this one equally swingy? I'm no longer convinced.
Overall summary: two safe Dem seats (McCollum and Ellison), two relatively safe GOP seats (Paulsen and Bachmann), two swing seats that would remain safe for their current Dem incumbents (Peterson and Oberstar), one battleground (Walz v. Kline in the 1st).
And now, the hypothetical Democratic gerrymander should luck break our way in the governor's race (and that certainly didn't happen in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, or 2006, but I suppose the DFL is overdue for some good fortune in this given area):
The two North Country districts certainly don't look much different, but the other five, I think, would be quite altered under a Democratic plan.
District 1 - Tim Walz (D-Mankato) -- this version mostly steers clear of the Twin Cities area and is heavier in small towns and southern counties that know and like Walz. I can't knowledgeably estimate the presidential numbers here, but assume Obama would have still won, as I pointedly tried to avoid weakening Walz for other Democrats' benefit.
District 2 - John Kline (R-Lakeville) vs. Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater) -- yay, a chance to eliminate Bachmann! Except that, based purely on factors of geography, media coverage, and name recognition, Bachmann would have a good fighting chance in a Republican primary here. Oh well, at least it's an eliminated GOP seat.
District 3 - Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) -- given how hard it will be to shore up Collin Peterson land without undermining Oberstar's Iron Range seat, you can bet the Democrats would milk the Twin Cities for every vote they're worth, and that means messing with Paulsen. Here his district comprises 58% of Anoka, 20% of Dakota, and 42% of Hennepin, for a moderately Dem-leaning/Obama-friendly suburban seat.
District 4 - Betty McCollum (D-St. Paul) -- Give and take, give and take. So the 4th gets diluted a bit as it suburbanizes; it's still plenty solid, but doesn't waste votes as before.
District 5 - Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) -- extends into Anoka County to hurt Paulsen but remains liberal and overwhelmingly Democratic.
District 6 - Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) -- not a heck of a lot different than in the bipartisan map.
District 7 - Jim Oberstar (D-Chisholm) -- ditto.
This map only includes one super-safe GOP seat, two very safe Dem seats, three swing seats that would be strong for their Dem incumbents (Walz, Peterson, Oberstar), and one swing seat that would be vulnerable to ousting its GOP incumbent (Paulsen).
Thoughts on either state are much appreciated!