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Through the Looking Glass: A GOP Gerrymander of Tennessee

by: Johnny Longtorso

Sun Oct 18, 2009 at 6:13 PM EDT

Thought I'd take a look at the other side of the aisle. Given Tennessee's trend towards the Republicans, here's a GOP gerrymander of the state (I used the Ford/Corker numbers from 2006 as a 50/50 baseline for federal elections) intending a 6-3 Republican map. I thought this might be an interesting exercise, to consider what 2012 may look like in states that are not going our way.
Johnny Longtorso :: Through the Looking Glass: A GOP Gerrymander of Tennessee

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TN-01 (blue, Phil Roe - R) - Didn't change this one much, just reconfigured it to give some of its territory to the Democrats. still uber-safe Republican.
TN-02 (green, John Duncan - R) - Stretches west to take in some Democratic counties from TN-04 and TN-06, but the population remains centered in Knoxville. Will shift the margins for the Republican candidate from the 70s to the 60s, but still a safe seat.
TN-03 (purple, currently open R) - Also stretches out to take some Democratic territory from TN-06, but should remain Republican.
TN-04 (red, Lincoln Davis - D) - Screwed over Lincoln by chopping out most of his district and adding in parts of TN-01 and TN-06. A strong Republican should flip this seat.
TN-05 (yellow, Jim Cooper - D) - One of the two safe Dem seats on the map. Metro Nashville and Robertson County. 58-42 Obama.
TN-06 (teal, Bart Gordon - D) - Again, removed most of the existing district (only three counties of the old TN-06 remain) and added in some Republican territory in the south of the state. As with Lincoln, would probably flip with a strong Republican candidate.
TN-07 (grey, Marsha Blackburn - R) - Didn't change too much, but it did take in a couple Democratic counties. Still safe R though.
TN-08 (light purple, John Tanner - D) - All the most Democratic parts of western Tennessee that aren't Memphis. Tanner should be able to hold it easily, although an open seat might be more interesting.
TN-09 (light blue, Steve Cohen - D) - Memphis! 64% black! 80-20 margins for Democrats!

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I think this is more like a 5-4 GOP map
I think this would perhaps knock out Davis but Bart Gordon has been in the House forever and has never really faced a strong challenge and I think this part of TN is ancestrally Democratic enough (especially with Murfressboro in the district still) to elect a white, Blue Dog Democrat like Gordon.

But it could equally well do the reverse.  The coal counties in the northeast of the 4th (around Pall Mall) actually give Davis his greatest vote margins, so making it more northeastern may help him in particular, though maybe not a generic Dem.

30, male, Democratic, CO-01

[ Parent ]
My thinking is
that adding unfamiliar territory hurts an incumbent because he or she doesn't have any history with the voters, so there's no personal connection to overcome partisan differences. In addition, the counties added to the eastern edge of TN-04 are ancestrally Republican, so a Democrat, Blue Dog or not, is not going to fly there.

[ Parent ]
Blackburn's district is currently packed
with Republicans. There is every reason to think that Republicans will unpack it to try and remove Tanner. Though it's possible that existing Democrats have so much goodwill in their regions that even a 60/40 GOP seat under normal circumstances wouldn't dislodge them. Obama and Kerry only won two districts under the current map. It is conceivable that the Republicans use one of the eastern TN seats to sink some white Democrats.  

I agree
I think all the Democrats are pretty safe and it could cause some trouble to weaken another safe GOP district to risk going after an entrenched Democrat.

[ Parent ]
Incidentally, I think it's pretty amazing
that Harold Ford did as well as he did in 2006.  

I'm a huge fan of your work
but I'm surprised you didn't go further and create a 7R-2D map.

It's certainly possible
and there's every possibility the Republicans do that. However, western Tennessee doesn't seem to be bleeding Democratic support as much as central-eastern Tennessee has been. I don't think Tanner could be redistricted out of his seat nearly as easily as Davis or Gordon, since there's a more expansive base of Republican territory in the eastern edge of the state to draw off of. An open seat, though, would be competitive, either in the current map or with my proposed one.

[ Parent ]
2 West TN CDs, 4 Middle TN CDs would be more reflective
A Republican gerrymander of the Tennessee Congressional Districts would be most effective if you pushed TN-8 into a compact all West Tennessee District; with emphasis on including all of sub-urban Shelby County. That would make this this CD in an open seat scenario at best a toss-up for the Democrats. The ground is shifting out from under the Democrats across rural West Tennessee at a breath-taking pace.

CD-7 no longer needs to remain an abomination, and could be made comfortably Republican for Congressman Blackburn with the remains of CD-8 and portions of CD-4. The rural Middle TN districts that vote Tanner now, could be mitigated and won over by Blackburn, as "yellow dogs" are fewer and fewer by the day.

Population growth and weighting indicates West Tennessee should really only have 2 CDs. All the population growth is in Middle and East Tennessee.

Democrat: TN-8

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