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Redistricting Michigan: Take 2

by: Menhen

Sat May 23, 2009 at 11:05 AM EDT


Lately there has been a lot of Debate over the number of Democratic Congressional Districts that Democrats could gerrymander out of the state of Michigan if they had complete control (right now they hold the Governorship and State House.  They stand a good chance at taking control of the State Senate while the Governor's race is a tossup).  A few people, namely IHateBush, have said that it is possible to succesfully draw a map that would yield 12 Democratic seats and only 2 Republican seats.  I've been trying for several weeks to draw a 12-2 map, meanwhile protecting endangered incumbents (specifically Schauer) and I've determined that a 12-2 map would be far overeaching and in a neutral or Republican leaning year might end up 9-5 or worse. I think the best Michigan Democrats could do is create 11 safe or Democrat leaning districts and 3 strongly Republican districts.  I've drawn a map that I think does just that, although I still am not entirely confident that we could hold both of my "Thumb" districts in a Republican year.  But without further ado, here's my map.
Menhen :: Redistricting Michigan: Take 2

District 1 (Bart Stupak D):  Since this is my home district, and I couldn't face the specter of Tom Casperson or some other Republican becoming my Congressman when Bart Stupak retires, I've gone to pretty great lengths to make this one safer.  I added the remainder of Bay County, Isabella County (home to CMU) Clare County, and Roscommon County, all counties that President Obama won.  I took out the Republican leaning counties of Charlevoix, Antrim, Crawford, Oscoda, Otsego, and Montmorency.  Overall Obama's performance in this district goes from about 50% to about 53%.

District 2 (Vern Ehlers R) this is probably the most gerrymandered looking of all of my new districts, but it has to be if we are going to have a Democrat leaning district in Western Michigan.  It takes in the Dem leaning Counties of Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, Lake, Mason, and Oceana along the Lake Michigan shore, the Strongly Democratic County of Muskegon, and then tentacles into Kent County and picks up the cities of Grand Rapids, Kentwood, East Grand Rapids, and Wyoming.  Barack Obama won this district 57.2-41.1 giving it a nice, healthy PVI of D+4.3. Vern Ehlers likely would not be reelected to this district.

District 3 (Fred Upton R + TBD [successor to Pete Hoekstra] R) I've combined the old 2nd and 6th districts to form this heavily Republican District.  It takes in Ottawa, Allegan, Van Buren, Northern Berrien, and suburban Kent Counties.  Whoever succeeds Pete Hoekstra next year would probably be favored in a Primary against Upton, who is somewhat too moderate for this very conservative district.

District 4 (Dave Camp R) another one of my heavily Republican districts, this one takes in some of the rural and conservative Counties in Northern and Central Lower Peninsula, but it is based in Midland and Traverse City (Grand Traverse County) Barack Obama only won 2 counties in this new district, Gratiot and Clinton.  Dave Camp's home in Midland is preserved in the new 4th.

District 5 (Open, leans D)  The new 5th district is the one that I would be least confident of us holding in a Republican year, but still in a neutral year it favors us. It has a PVI of about D+2-3 and it includes the Democratic County of Saginaw, about 2/3 of staunchly Democratic Genesee county (minus the city of flint) the Dem leaning Shiawassee County, sparsely populated Republican Counties in "the Thumb" and Tossup St. Clair County. Luckily former Democratic Congressman James Barcia's home in Bay City is not in this district, for we really could get a more progressive Congressperson from this district. (State Sen. John Gleason, perhaps?)

District 6 (Mark Schauer D) I increased the Democratic performance in this district by drawing strongly Democratic Kalamazoo County out of Upton's district and into this one.  I also added tossup county Cass and the Democrat leaning portions of Berrien County.  I took out Jackson and Lenawee County as well as the portion of Washtenaw that was in this district.

District 7 (Open, Democrat) It's high time that Lansing is put into a Democratic district again, and that's just what I've done.  This new district is L shaped and contains Ingham, Jackson, Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties.  Barack Obama won all these counties, except Hillsdale. Obama won the district 56.4-41.9 giving it a 2008 PVI of D+3.5.  If I had to guess what Democrat might win this district, I'd say State Rep. Barb Byrum (daughter of 2000 candidate Diane Byrum), State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (distinction of being the "most liberal" Senator), or Lansing mayor and Former state Senator Virg Bernero.

District 8 (Gary Peters D) I've made this one a bit more Democratic by removing the cities of Rochester and Troy while adding Berkley, Southfield, and the rest of Waterford Township.  Removing the city of Troy also removes a potential future challenger to Peters, State Rep. Marty Knollenberg (son of Joe Knollenberg).  This district should be safe for Peters or a future Democrat if he runs for higher office.

District 9 (Candice Miller R + Dale Kildee D)  In 2002, Republicans drew David Bonior's (D) Congressional District http://factfinder.census.gov/s... much more Republican, forcing him to retire or face certain defeat at the hands of their preffered candidate, Secretary of State Candice Miller.  It's payback time.  I've drawn the most Democratic parts of Macomb County, including Miller's home, into a district with exurban Republican Lapeer County, as well as the 90-10 Obama city of Flint, and other staunchly Democratic portions of Genesse County.  This includes Dale Kildee's home, but he'll be in his eightees by 2012 so he probably won't be the one running against Miller, if Miller runs at all.

District 10 (Mike Rogers R) The last Republican district that I drew, the 10th includes fast growing and largely Republican Livingston County (home to Mike Rogers), Northern and Western Oakland County, and Shelby township in Macomb County. I considered drawing Livonia (Thad McCotter's home) into this district as well, but I don't want there to be any chance that he returns to Congress

District 11 (Sander Levin D) This distric largely reverts to it's pre-2002 boundaries.  It now would contain all of Sterling Heights, Warren, Troy, Clawson, and Royal Oak, along with the most Democratic south Oakland Suburbs.  This district would be safe for Levin's successor (hopefully state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton).

District 12 (Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrict D) Doesn't change much except that it moves farther south and includes all of Dearborn.  It's still majority African American and very strongly Democrat.  The only problem with the configuration of this district is that John Dingell lives in Dearborn.  If he is still serving in 2012 (which I doubt) a tendril can be drawn from the 14th District to pick up his home so that he wouldn't be drawn into Kilpatrick's district.

District 13 (John Conyers D + Thad McCotter R) Contains all of Northern Detroit and also reaches all the was west to include Redford Township, Livonia, Northville and Plymouth.  There's no way Thad McCotter could win this majority African American Detroit District.  Safe for Conyers and his successors.

District 14 (Open D) This one looks very much like Lynn River's old district http://factfinder.census.gov/l... and would probably elect an Ann Arbor Democrat (State Sen. Liz Brater, fmr. State Rep. Chris Kolb, who would be the first openly gay congressman from Michigan, or maybe even Rivers if she wants to get back into politics.) Also includes a large portion of Suburban Wayne County taking in the Democratic cities of Canton and Westland. If John Dingell is still serving and runs for re-election in 2012, then a tendril will have to be drawn to include his home in Dearborn, but when he finally retires it will probably elect someone more progressive.  Obama won this district 64.5-32.6.

What does everyone think of my map? Suggestions, corrections, questions, comments? I want to hear them.

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Number the CDs on the map
Im trying to read through this but I cant really figure out which districts are which in all honesty....

Done


16, Male, MI-01

[ Parent ]
I think that
Upton might just jump over and run against Schauer, after all, that 6th is much of the territory he's represented the past 22 years and he really is too moderate to win against an Ottawa incumbent, so your plan would possibly be disastorous for Schauer. I would have merely made a Calhoun-Ingham based district, and given Rogers the Livingston territory.

I like what you did for the first. I had trouble with Michigan. I tried to replicate jeffmd but I just couldn't figure out how he did any of it. It took me a long time to even find precinct data but the worst part is there are no maps so I was shooting in the dark. With MI-01 I basically had to go to wikipedia and look at a dot on the county, then compare that to the current districts lines and count to figure out how much population of Bay County is currently in MI-01, and what the electoral data of that is. But after that point, when I move to places like Kent County with hundreds and hundreds of precincts, just pages and pages of scrolling list and no maps, it became unreasonable so I gave up trying to be precise. Nor could I make one of those, "Average Democratic performance" maps. Maybe he could instruct me on it, cause I'd like to improve my methods, and I could, quite frankly, seriously use some help, lol.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus


Perhaps, but I was more or less
trying to prove a point with this map, that 12-2 could not be drawn.  (IHateBush is commenting on my map http://www.dailykos.com/story/... here) I made the most Democrat leaning districts out of the state that I could.

16, Male, MI-01

[ Parent ]
Nice to see ...
... that IHateBush is getting along with the folks at Kos about as well as he was with people here until he got banned yesterday!

[ Parent ]
Whoa, really?
I had a feeling that would happen, especially after the fight he had with ArkDem.

As to Menhen's map, good job overall. However, I do agree with ArkDem re Schauer and Upton.

BTW, Menhen, could you post a link to the current MI map, just so some of us can have a comparison.

Also, what computer program are you guys using to get these maps? I've been thinking about doing one for Ohio, but I don't know how to do it.


[ Parent ]
I've got the same problem.


Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
Same here for California


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28, New Democrat, Female, TX-03 (hometown CA-26)


[ Parent ]
Map
http://www.antrimdems.org/user...

and the only program I use is paint.  I use the census factfinder when I need to find out where townships, cities are located and then I draw them in by hand on paint.  I wish there was an easier way, and it would certainly be much harder for a bigger state like California.

16, Male, MI-01


[ Parent ]
For mine for Minnesota
which Im seriously going to finish soon, well it's taken me a good couple months because I'm not doing it with a program, I'm doing it in an excel spread sheet.  MN is REALLY awesome in that I can look up everything at the SoS's website so for vote getting simple.  There is also a great map at the legislature's website of performance based off of precinct so I've been going through and picking out them, and then doing what ArkDemRC does and use wikipedia to find that precinct/city/township and yeah, it's a REAL bitch but I've put so much time into it, I cant wait for it to be done.

As for population, I use county projections and then city projections when possible for like Hennepin county where I'm breaking them up.  And then I broke it down by state house seats when necessary for big pop counties that are getting divided up, that made total vote easier plus and I can be like, ok after subtracting out Minneapolis, there are like 20 state house seats, they are all pretty similar in growth so divided it up.  When I have to do by cities, do a percentage of what the pop was in 2000 and project its growth and giving the whole area a blanket growth.  When I ever had to do that, it was dividing up really low pop. counties so the error there doesn't make much of a difference at all so I'm glad I never really had to apply that to larger cities.

It's imprecise at times and has what has taken me so long, is perfecting the pops because I always see something I could do better, go back, f it up, and then end up with a night full of shifting.  Or I stopped working on it when I realized I now had 80,000 less people than when I started....

But yeah, that's how mine is about to be done, it's been my real semester long project instead of my school ones.  It'll be worth it, I know so much about Minnesota and the way it votes and the trends.


[ Parent ]
he did get banned yesterday?
I wasn't sure. But I can't say that I'm too sorry about it, lol.


Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
I predicted that he would
He was just completely out of step with what makes SSP - thoughtful and reasoned debate. Most here are pragmatists, and most here do not hate entire regions of the country (and that discussion IMO, had no place here). I hope he finds a good home in kos.

onto the subject, I definitely like the idea of taking Lansing out of Roger's hands, and instead combining his remaining sections into more GOP western Michigan. Although I wouldn't be too worried about MI-01 or Bark Stupak (or his successor) as the UP seems to be more Democratic than the '04 Kerry/Bush numbers suggest (only narrowly going to Kerry), but overall a good job, and not a complete overkill.


[ Parent ]
Bark Stupak?
Now, he may be a little wooden at times, but that's no reason to say he's made of bark. ROFL.

[ Parent ]
lol


Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
well that area is
kind of like the south, more Democratic on a local level. A more moderate Democrat with roots to the district would definitely outperform the presidential numbers.  

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
Sort of similar to the south
because we tend to vote more democratic on the local level, and are somewhat more socially conservative, but different from the south because we're nowhere near as socially conservative, nor are we trending more republican.  And a lot of the reason why we vote Democratic is because of the very strong union presence that the south Doesn't have.  And the fact that the area is so ethnically diverse (I don't mean racially, but ancesterally and there are a lot of native Americans) here's a map showing ancestries by township its very diverse  http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi... we don't tend to be racist or predjudiced against people who are "different"

16, Male, MI-01

[ Parent ]
I bet you freeze your butts
off in the winter too, lol. Blizzards all the time. But yeah, the UP part is one of the most interesting parts of the US, rural, fairly isolated, just really interested in it.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
You Betcha
and I live right next to one of the inland lakes, so when you're walking to/from school and the cold snowy wind is blowing in your face off the lake, its brutal.  Have you ever heard a "yooper accent?" Probably not because it's unique to the northern and western part of the UP, but they're hillarious.  A lot of people think it's the same as the "Fargo" accent or the Canadian accent, but it's not, it's strongly influenced by our finnish culture and can even be difficult to understand if your not familiar with it.

16, Male, MI-01

[ Parent ]
What area do you live in?
Marquette County?

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
I always felt the UP was the most similar to
The Iron Range of Minnesota, and the areas of Northern Wisconsin. Very white, a lot of ethnic tradition (Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, etc.), rural with a few small cities, strong labor/union roots, and locally more democratic than some of its results suggests; and unlike the South, these areas actually significantly increased its margin for Obama (rather than decrease).

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I live in Marquette County


16, Male, MI-01

[ Parent ]
lol,
that was just a guess. I just through something out. Marquette's the most populous and Democratic, so I though it'd be a good place to start. haha

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
I'm interested in the area too.
I'd like to visit, though I don't think I could handle the winters there either.

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28, New Democrat, Female, TX-03 (hometown CA-26)


[ Parent ]
The winters are bad,
but it was 94 degrees here last Wednesday.  I was born and raised here, but I haven't lived my entire life here, so I've seen "the outside world" and I've got to tell you it's a lot different.  For example a lot of the people here have camps or "Deercamps." They're usually on a lake or river and people spend most of their summer weekends there.  Not just wealthy people, but all people (we used to have one, but we sold it about 5 years ago.)  And a lot of people have saunas in their house.  By the way, Sauna rhymes with COW-na, not dawn-a.  It's heresy to pronounce it Sawna around here.  Not too many years ago they used to close down the schools on the first day of deer season. They don't anymore but almost half of the students (boys and girls) don't come to school anyway.  By that weekend you can't drive around a residential neighborhood without seeing gutted deers hanging from the trees in backyards.  People brag about getting a "six pointer" or an "eight pointer"  And people talk about "Minnesota Nice?"  It should be called "Upper Peninsula Nice" because people literally say hi to complete strangers on the street.  They'll wave to each other in restaraunts, and if you're ever pulled over, you can bet that someone will stop and see if you need a jump.

16, Male, MI-01

[ Parent ]
GOP eastern Michigan* areas
I like the dynamic of putting 2 western GOP and 1 eastern GOP district, as it doesn't overextend too much into currently existing districts. Our new western MI district is basically our bonus district from redistricting, as its existence doesn't hurt any existing incumbent. Infact, I think you did a pretty good job overall of not harming Democratic incumbents, or at least, the Democratic nature of those incumbent seats.

[ Parent ]
i'll post mine
how do you insert a picture again? there's a site and then something else, i forgot both.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
Hmm
you have to use ancient html I believe.

img src="(link to your picture here)"

plus with opening and closing html brackets on each side to start and end it (usually shift comma and shift period) (I'm not sure how to post it without making it a picture). Also, if you're using an image site like Photobucket, they often have html code to post your image.


[ Parent ]
danke


Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
How about another R pairing
Instead of putting Ehlers in with Hoekstra's successor, why not draw his district more or less as you did, minus a chunk of Grand Rapids where he lives added in with Camp.  That's two more moderates duking it out.  Make Ehlers' old stomping ground mildly Dem-leaning as you did, but force him in a Camp-leaning district.

30, male, Democratic, CO-01

[ Parent ]
I didn't put Ehlers with Hoekstra
I gave Ehler's his own district.  Just one that he could never win.  Although your idea might be worth a try as well.

16, Male, MI-01

[ Parent ]
Never is a pretty big word
While the underlying dynamics of Grand Rapids / Kentwood / Wyoming favor Dems because of their increasing urbanization, there continues to be room for centrist candidates from both parties.  Like it or not, true or not, that is how Ehlers is perceived.  

In 2008, he won this part of Kent county by 24,000.

Meanwhile in the 2nd where Fred Johnson ran hard, the dials still had trouble moving.  The result, is that the district as drawn will draw centrist R's out of the Kentwood/Grand Rapids area. Examples of this dynamic would include Sen. Bill Hardiman (SS-29) and County Commissioner Dean Agee (EGR).  And in three years, Dave Schaefer (current City Commission candidate, First Ward).  


[ Parent ]
Any chance Ehlers might retire
rather than face a tough fight? He'll be 78 years old in 2012.

[ Parent ]
Oops
I meant Upton and Hoekstra's successor.  Still, rather than give Ehlers a district he MIGHT win, why not force the issue and have either him or Camp bite it.  That's one less of them.  I'd hope Ehlers would be the one to survive.  I think he's the most moderate Gooper in the Michigan delegation.  Camp appears to get the honor of most conservative.  I was almost sure it was going to be Hoekstra then Miller.

30, male, Democratic, CO-01

[ Parent ]
Don't let a PhD in Physics fool you
Ehlers is not terribly moderate.  Of the Michigan delegation, Upton is the one with the most moderate leanings -- at least in the west.  Ehlers and Camp are both pretty reliable back benchers.  

Is Camp the most conservative?  Only since we got rid of Walberg -- now there was a whacko.  On the east side, McCotter is the one in everybody's sites, with good reason.  He's good on autos, but elsewhere, he's been sluggin' down the kool aid.  

And as frightening as this sounds, Hoekstra is actually moderate relative to the Ottawa County party, the likely source of his replacement.  E.g. State Rep David Agema is one of the real pieces of work out there.   And alas, there are more.


[ Parent ]
Camp's ranking member on Ways and Means
That gives him visibility, which forces him to take a more conservative line. Which is not to say that he's a moderate anyway, but this Congress he's had more reason to make a noise.

[ Parent ]
Dave Camp is also a member
Mainstream Republicans or whatever, and have you seen what Hoekstra would say on national security issues? He was one of the worst members of that delegation as far as being outspoken.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
I'm as surprised as you folks
But this is what Progressive Punch is telling me based on lifetime record.

30, male, Democratic, CO-01

[ Parent ]
I never trust
it much, it seems really different than National Journal and even skews many moderates Democrats way to the right.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
National Journal
skews way too many votes to the left.  It's rating of Kerry as the most liberal Senator in 2004 was total crap and they even admitted that after the election.  Unfortunately, it was too late.

[ Parent ]
kerry was the most liberal senator
becuase he was campaigning and the only votes he made it to were most votes so of course he would have been unanimously voting with the Dems, there would be no other reason to go to the senate, that's what was left out in the Republican attacks, convienently and the public didn't have enough of an understanding how the Senate worked to realize this and it really hurt Kerry.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
Nice work
You've struck the balance between a map that's ambitious yet pragmatic and won't crumble in a wave, which isn't easy.
The one thing I'd suggest is weighing this map against a more competitive recent election than Obama-McCain. While you're right that Michiganders are obviously open to voting for Democrats by at least a 16-point margin, Republicans who are actually campaigning in the state can whittle that down a little.  

22, Democrat, AZ-01
Peace. Love. Gabby.


I was surprised
when I heard that McCain was pulling resources from Michigan, a state that was probably winnable for him if he played his cards right.

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28, New Democrat, Female, TX-03 (hometown CA-26)


[ Parent ]
He didn't have enough cards:
his resources were quite limited.

[ Parent ]
I never did say
very nice job.  This is a really great map and very passable if we had the trifecta.  Even if it turns out to be 10-4, that's damn good and nothing looks too gerrymandered.  You seem to really make the most out of the Detroit Dem areas.

Nice attempt
Maybe spreading ourselves a little thin, but a good map nevertheless. I particularly like the demolition job you've done on Miller.

Scahuer would prolly lose those
cuase Upton would be more inclined to run in that district cause he's not conservative enough to win the other.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
I'd agree
That's my main gripe - although getting two Democratic seats out of Western Michigan would be difficult at the best of times and at least that district frees up space in the east for packing and cracking.

The other gripe is the northern Thumb district. I just feel that with some clever juggling of precincts that could be strengthened. Having done the input for a lot of the Pres-by-CD results there, I saw enough massively Democratic areas that I'm convinced that could be strengthened.


[ Parent ]
True enough
But Kildee's area (and that where I'm assuming you are focusing) might be hemorraging people.  It might not be possible for him to give up as much as we'd like to Miller AND McCotter.

30, male, Democratic, CO-01

[ Parent ]
that's why I consider elimating it
but oh joy, how nice it is to go on Dkos, write a thoughtful, moderate, nice diary talking about how you have become pro-choice over the years and rip apart the pro-choice movement, and then have a Dkos poster come to you and say "Fuck you" for reasons you're still not quite sure about although they appear to have something to do with saying you didn't support abortion as a form of contraceptive. Ah Dkos. 45 comments criticizing you over the use of the word many instead of some in a passing statement that was irrelevant to the point of the whole piece and what you were saying.

God I don't know why I even try their anymore. SSP is so much better period, even without the room for any policy discussion.

Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus


[ Parent ]
rip the pro-life movement i mean


Call no man happy until he is dead-Aeschylus

[ Parent ]
I know how you feel.
I too used to be a Kossite, but got fed up when they started badmouthing California over our latest budget deal. Yeah, a lot of blame for the mess we are in does rest on us, but it doesn't help that we are a huge donor state, and a lot of the receiver states, mainly the deep south, inner west, and Alaska whine like babies about being "overtaxed" and that they can "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps", yet they never try to actually do so.

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28, New Democrat, Female, TX-03 (hometown CA-26)


[ Parent ]
I hear you
On the one hand - DKos feels like a clique with a whole bunch of groupies, wanna-bes, and hangers-on.

On the other hand - I've seen more than one frequent dweller of the Rec List state that writing daily diaries there has really taught them how to write well, to write good tight pieces.

Personally, I don't have the need to express myself in a daily diary format.  But I can see how that site can be a vicious school-of-hard-knocks.

I've also become less interested in them lately...there's a lot of meta going on, and a lot less beef.  And one of the FPers seems to spend a lot of energy on unnecessary personal attacks in the diaries...I can only come across so many of those before I lose interest.  (Kudos to DavidNYC and JamesL for using their editorial licenses to keep the tone here civilized.)


[ Parent ]

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