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Colorado Redistricting: Maps from the "Kumbaya Committee"

by: larimercodem

Sat Apr 16, 2011 at 2:34 PM EDT

Yesterday afternoon the 12 maps were released by the Joint Committee on Redistricting.  The committee has also been tagged as the "Kumbaya Committee" for it's attempt to bring bipartisanshippyness to the most partisan issue possible.

Of the 12 maps, 6 were brought forward by the Democrats on the Committee and 6 from the Republicans.  All 6 Democratic maps followed a similar pattern of keeping whole cities intact as well as entire rural counties and were appropriately named "city integrity".  The Republican maps all stayed close to the current map, probably realizing that's the best deal they could get at this point.  

Several of the changes from both maps incorporated the wishes of different constituencies in the hearings the committee held all over the state.  The biggest wish "Keep us separate from Boulder."  Other major wishes included putting Grand and Chaffee counties in the 3rd (or at least not in their current 2nd and 5th CDs) and keeping the city and county of Denver whole (which is a shame).  

I've only included 1 map from each side as the other 5 on both sides are similar to them and change only a county or city here and there.  

larimercodem :: Colorado Redistricting: Maps from the "Kumbaya Committee"
City Integrity 1

First, the Democrats map, known as "City Integrity 1."  This is my personal favorite of all the Democratic maps and it's also the "cleanest map" according to Sen. Rollie Heath (D-Boulder), co-chair of the committee.  All of the "City Integrity" maps strived to follow transportation corridors as well as striving for competitiveness.  The 1st, 2nd and 7th CDs are consistent throughout all the Democratic maps.



1st CD:  The 1st CD probably has the fewest changes.  It contains all of Denver County, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village, and Sheridan as before.  It adds Littleton, Greenwood Village, Bowmar, Cherry Creek Reservoir and some surrounding unincorporated areas of Arapahoe County.  The additions to the district are more Republican than the district as a whole, but the changes should be minimal, just making the district somewhat whiter than before.

2nd CD: The 2nd CD has some radical changes, going from it's base in Boulder County (minus Longmont and Erie) west to take in all the north-west corner of the state.  The biggest new addition is Mesa County, one of the most Republican counties in the state and now the 2nd largest county in the district.  Chaffee, Lake and Park were taken from the 5th (as requested by the residents of Lake and Chaffee.  The district now includes all the major ski towns, Aspen, the oil and gas counties and the foothills towns in western Jefferson County.  If nothing else the district is now much more diverse in it's interests and much more Republican.  The party break down is now 31 D, 31 R and 26 U, much more similar to the 7th CD when it was drawn a decade ago to be the most competitive.  We should be thankful Polis has more money than God and can probably hold this district in a non-2010 year.

3rd CD: The biggest disappointment of this map (especially to House Minority Leader Sal Pace of Pueblo) is the new 3rd CD.  It does a great job of keeping together the communities of interest in southern Colorado (despite what Republicans say, the south has more in common than the western slope and eastern plains as a whole).  It still contains all of Pueblo, but also adds Fremont, the rest of Otero, all the rural plains counties south of I-70 and the non-Colorado Springs portions of El Paso county, as well Parker and rural parts of Douglas county.  Overall this makes for a much more Republican district, probably out of reach for Democrats, but if you had to cut one loose, this was probably the district to do it with as several of the blue areas are shifting more and more R every year (San Luis Valley, Pueblo, Las Animas, Huerfano).  It still keeps Rep. Tipton's home in Montrose so he can't be too disappointed.

4th CD: The 4th CD needed to lose population and it did it with the most Republican parts of the district, now ending at Arapahoe/Washington/Yuma rather than taking in all the eastern plains down to the New Mexico Border.  It also loses the western half of Larimer County to the 2nd.  Most of the population lives in eastern Larimer so not much change other than shedding many republican precincts.  It then adds Erie and the eastern portions of Adams and Arapahoe counties, which are republican but not nearly as much as the counties given up.  These changes probably produce a district Obama and McCain were even in, if not a slight Obama win.  It becomes more winnable for Democrats, but still very competitive.  Sen. President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) has to be pleased with this map as it keeps him in the district for a potential run.  Rep. Cory Gardner would not be happy at all with this district, but definitely still won it in it's new configuration and the district keeps his home in Yuma.

5th CD:  Officially the southern I-25 corridor district, the 5th probably becomes even more Republican, adding most of Douglas, while shedding the swingier Chaffee and the blue Lake County.  Maintaining the home of Rep. Lamborn and also maintaing the districts center of gravity in Colorado Springs, the district will be to his liking (except for the absence of Fort Carson, which is now in the 3rd).  This is the beginning of the screwing-over of Rep. Coffman by taking out his best area in Douglas.  

6th CD:  The best change this map makes is the changing of the 6th from a suburban-Republican stronghold to a swingy eastern-suburban district.  While it keeps Coffman's home in Aurora, he's basically screwed in this district.  The extent to which this district takes in parts of Douglas and/or Weld changes between maps, but the heart of the district is the Arapahoe suburbs not in the 1st and most of the Adams Co. suburbs, including all the most hispanic areas.  Obama certainly won this district and in any normal year it would elect a solid Dem candidate.  This is probably the biggest reason this map will never be acceptable to the Republican House (while they have no love for Coffman I can't see them being this willing to give up a safe seat).

7th CD: Another great change is in the 7th CD.  Keeping it's base in Jefferson County, it sheds most of it's Adams Co. areas and all of Aurora.  It then adds all of Arvada, Westminster, Northglenn and Broomfield (formerly in the 2nd).  It also takes in the Ken Caryl and unincorporated Jeffco (sometimes referred to as part of Littleton).  The district probably doesn't change much in it's tilt (maybe a very slight shift to the right), but it does remove the possibility of a Ryan Frasier challenge as he lives in Aurora.  This district makes more sense, while also maintaining it's competitiveness.

Balmer Map 1

The first Republican Map, known as "Balmer Map 1" for it's author Rep. Balmer (R-Foxfield).  It is typical of all the Republican maps, keeping to the current boundaries as much as possible.  The biggest changes are the removal of Chaffee county from the 5th, the rest of Otero county in the 4th and more of Weld into the 2nd and southern Aurora into the 7th.  

The map below has helpful green lines where the current districts are so you can track the changes.



1st CD: Few changes here, but to add population the lines were moved from the county line between Denver to Jefferson (Sheridan Blvd.) to Wadsworth Blvd., all the precincts in between include parts Wheat Ridge and Lakewood and are probably some of the most Democratic precincts in Jefferson county.  The district remains as Democratic as before.

2nd CD: Biggest changes here were putting south-west Eagle County into the 3rd, a sliver of summit into the 5th to balance population there and the addition of Fort Lupton in Weld County.  The meter will be moved very little here either.  

3rd CD: The addition of Chaffee county is the biggest change along with the removal of the rest of Otero.  Little change here, but maybe a smidge in the Democratic direction.  

4th CD: Only the addition of the rest of Otero and the removal of Fort Lupton, doubtful to have much impact on the partisan make up.

5th CD: Removal of Chaffee county and the addition of the rest of Park and the Summit County Sliver, making it just a point or 2 more Republican.

6th CD: While appearing to have little change, the 6th actually has the most radical change in that it removed Rep. Coffman's home in southern Aurora and puts it in the 7th!  Coffman has already reacted to the maps, lashing out at the Democratic maps for not including his home in his current district, when in fact they do...  But he plans to move to Greenwood Village, so he is actually angry at his future home being removed from the district and isn't mad at the Republicans at all for screwing out of a district in their maps.  Gotta love that!

7th CD: Almost no change, except now being the home to Rep. Coffman!  

Likely result

Unless the "Kumbaya Committee" suddenly has a desire to actually work together, looks like neither of these maps or any of the other 10 maps will make it.  The rural Republicans are already screaming about the dividing of the eastern plains and western slope, which they consider to be "communities of interest."  So we're more likely than not to have the issue before the courts.  Lucky for Dems the Colorado Supreme Court is packed with Democratic-appointed Justices and in 2000 they chose the current map, which was proposed by Democrats.  

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Dems did the smart thing in proposing 6 very similar maps
With a 5-1-1 advantage at the Co Supreme Court (Coats and Eid being the only ones swinging right with any regularity), they know throwing it to the Courts means a Dem-leaning map. Not giving the Republicans an "out" with a compromise map was a smart political move.

I'm not a huge Rep. Pace fan, so I'm kinda happy the Dems didn't preference him for their map. Lamborn and Tipton probably stay in Congress for a long time under these maps (though, someone like Sen. Gail Schwartz could make a run at Tipton in this new CD-3, even if it'd be uphill).

CD-2 gives me some pause; I love the idea of Mesa County being represented by a gay Democrat, but this is an opening for Josh Penry to try and move up. I don't think he'd beat Polis, but it'd be closer than we'd like (and remember, Polis only won his "safe" district by 11 in 2008 against Some Dude).

I'm still digesting the maps, but I think something near to Dem Map #1 will be eventually picked by the CO Supremes.  

24, SSP Gay Caucus Policy Committee Chair, Western Democrat; CO-05 (home), CA-14 (law school)

Polis won by nearly 30 points in 2008
And just under 20 in 2010. I think it's safe to say that he's pretty much solid under any of the Dems proposals.


[ Parent ]
Yeah, I thought the 11 thing sounded fishy at first
CNN says Polis won 62-34.

However, in Kretzy's favor, I do recall different numbers on election night (AP error)?

21, dude, RI-01 (registered) IL-01 (college)
please help Japan. click "donate funds" in upper right and then "Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami."

[ Parent ]
Wow, you're right
I remember it being 54-45 Polis-Starin on election night, but apparently that's due to Boulder coming in late.

Should've checked the Post's election page before just going with memory! That night is sort of a blur after Prop 8 passed...

24, SSP Gay Caucus Policy Committee Chair, Western Democrat; CO-05 (home), CA-14 (law school)

[ Parent ]
Pro's / Con's of Proposed 2nd CD
Pro's - Polis can drop $4 mil on the race like most people can drop $400.00, as mentioned the new district has some Dem strongholds to offset some of the strong Republican-leans of Mesa County and the commodity producing counties, if Polis were to lose the Dem bench is deep (i.e. Former State Sen. and Rep./Current Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs)

Con's - Polis has underperformed Udall's numbers in the current 2nd CD (generally speaking), he's unproven in a general election/competitive district, Polis is a bad fit for some of the new parts and will undoubtedly fire up the Grand Junction R's, the GOP also has a deep bench in this district (i.e. former State Sen. Minority Leader/Gov. Candidate Josh Penry), a lot of the counties used to offset Mesa County for the Dems could have been used to make the 3rd District competitive.

My take...this district is a total tossup with a slight advantage to Polis.

31, Blue Dog Dem, Male, DC-AL

[ Parent ]
The Dem map is good, but could be better
As it stands, there are two safe-Dem districts, two safe-GOP districts, one lean-Dem district (which is threatening to become safe-Dem), and two lean-GOP districts.  At first glance, it appears like we've really weakened Polis by having him take in so much rural territory, but most of those counties have very small population and several are actually Dem-leaning.  Boulder should very easily outweigh the influence of Mesa County and it should stay safe Dem.

So by taking Mesa out of the Pueblo-based 3rd, you'd think we'd have a better shot at retaking that district, but instead they dump GOP-strongholds Fremont and Elbert in there in its place and basically assures that it continues to be a lean-GOP district.

I like everything else though.  CO-07 becomes safer for Perlmutter without wasting too many Dem votes, and the real genius move is packing Colorado Springs and Castle Rock (El Paso and Douglas counties) together for one super-GOP district that essentially combines the two safe-GOP districts.

End result, we are favored in four districts, with the distinct possibility of winning two more and having a 6-1 split.

The fact that the GOP map is so tame in comparison is an illustration of how good the current map is for them.

on second thought
It doesn't really look like there is any way to significantly improve our chances in the 3rd district.  By removing Mesa we remove a big chunk of that district's has to get some more somewhere.  There really just isn't anywhere else it can go besides Fremont, Elbert, and parts of El Paso.

The most ideal map should be one that packs GOP voters in a Colorado Springs/Castle Rock district, and makes the other six districts either leaning our way or at least winnable.  I think this map does that.

[ Parent ]
And because the Dem map...
Has much "cleaner" lines, there's a better chance of The CO Supremes drawing a map resembling the Dem map than them drawing a map more like the GOPers' should it be resolved in court.

CO-02 does feel like a gamble, but I guess Dem legislators feel it's a risk that will reward them dearly. I wonder if they pre-cleared it with Jared Polis?

Yes, Virginia, there ARE progressives in Nevada!
24, gay male, Democrat, NV-03 (or 04?)

[ Parent ]
CO-02 really isn't as bad as it looks
10 years ago this district may have been difficult for us but Boulder really has come to be a Democratic powerhouse...Obama won 75K net votes in Boulder, while McCain only netted 20K in Mesa.  Add in blue-leaning counties like Summit, Eagle, Routt, Gunnison, and Pitkin (which together come close to balancing out the other GOP rural counties) and I really don't see any way a Republican wins this district short of a scandal.  They would have to balance out most of Boulder's votes just with Mesa alone.

[ Parent ]
Polis also isn't the only strong Dem from up there
If he gets ambitious (or bored) and decides to do something else, there are folks who can take his place. With the Mesa Cty. Reps and Sens being so far to the right, any reasonable Dem from that area should do fine.  

24, SSP Gay Caucus Policy Committee Chair, Western Democrat; CO-05 (home), CA-14 (law school)

[ Parent ]
should be fine. Many of the new additions to his district like Steamboat Springs, Vail, Aspen etc are extremely liberal and balance out Mesa. I doubt the PVI of his district would even be shifted much under this proposal and it could easily take in more GOP areas.

Let's put it this way: ideally I would have CO-3 take in the ski areas and have Polis take in Mesa and the outlying areas that contain ultra-GOP strongholds thanks to the uranium mining industry. It would obviously be a gerrymander and Polis could have some trouble in a only D+4 or D+5 district. CO-3 however would be R +2 or R+3, easily good enough for Salazar to mount a comeback.  

I've been playing with ways to make CO-03 more favorable
and it really is difficult.  Aside from Pueblo, there just isn't much down there that's really Democratic, and getting that district up to population almost necessitates grabbing some of the mid-size GOP counties.  If not Mesa, nor Fremont nor Elbert, then it has to either start splitting Colorado Springs itself (which I'm sure would be fought), or it could as you suggest sneak up to grab the ski areas, while CO-02 goes around to grab Mesa.  But I think at that point Polis would object, unless his district is able to dip more into Jefferson to balance it, which would throw off the plan to move Perlmutter more towards there so as to draw Coffman out of his Castle Rock district by shifting him towards Aurora.

Long story short, there's not much we can do for CO-03 without either weakening CO-02 significantly, or throwing off the plans to change CO-06 from dark red to light blue.  Would be much easier if they'd just let us divide and spread the wealth in Denver amongst the neighboring districts but that is almost assuredly a non-starter.

[ Parent ]
PVI Shift
According to the Denver Post, the Democrat's proposed 2nd District would be 31%(R)/31%(D)/36%(Undeclared).

The current 2nd District has a PVI of D+11. Going by the Colorado Sec. of State's March #'s the current break down is about 25%(R)/36%(D)/39%(Undeclared)...assuming my math is correct. Obama won the state by 9 points.

So I think it is fair to say the PVI is in for a bit of a shift.  How much, I am not exactly sure.

31, Blue Dog Dem, Male, DC-AL

[ Parent ]
Some Potential Matchups
If the Dem's map were to remain in-tact:

1st District: Rep. DeGette vs. Sacrificial Lamb (R-Cherry Hills Village)
2nd District: Rep. Polis vs. former State Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry (R-Grand Junction)
3rd District: Rep. Tipton vs. no serious opponent...weird that the D's want to give the weakest Republican in the delegation a free pass for a decade.
4th District: Rep. Gardner vs. State Senate President Brandon Shaffer (D-Longmont) an potentially epic match up. I am suprised the D's didn't try to tweak this district further to make it a more even playing field, especially considering Gardner is the biggest threat from a state-wide perspective.
5th District: Rep. Lamborn vs. whomever draws the short straw at the El-Paso County Democrats annual picnic
6th District: Rep. Coffman vs. State Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora)
7th District Rep. Perlmutter vs. Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp (R-Littleton)...While not putting him in imminent danger, the new district does not do Perlmutter any favors either. So this could be a competetive race if it materializes.

Great diary btw on analysis

31, Blue Dog Dem, Male, DC-AL

Again, not sure they could have done much to hurt Tipton
Democratic performance has been stagnating in Pueblo and it's just a bunch of Republican counties around it.  Adding the ski counties would have evened it out for us but Polis needs those to balance out the addition of Grand Junction to his district.  Basically, it looks like a tactical decision was made to go big and dismantle Coffman's safe GOP district instead, as his area has actually shown rapid Democratic improvement.

And by having Tipton's district drop Grand Junction, it allows his district to move further east and eat up other rural counties, allowing Gardner's district to become more Democratic...still light red, but I like our chances here now in a neutral year.  They couldn't make it lean-Dem without aggressive gerrymandering, so they wanted a map that was acceptable to the Supreme Court.

So end result, if the Dem map is accepted, our three incumbents should be just fine.  But now I'd have to say we are favored to beat Coffman, and have a decent chance of beating Gardner as well, taking us back to a 5-2 split.  And hell, the Republicans may still have to work to defend Tipton from time to time as well.  I think it's a great map that might still be acceptable to a non-partisan court.

[ Parent ]
I disagree about Perlmutter
I think the new 7th is rather ideally situated to his geographic base and strengths. What's more, after seeing both Hickenlooper and Bennet get 51+ of the vote in Jefferson County, I have been convinced of it's firm shift into the Democratic leaning column. What's more is that many of the most Republican areas of JeffCo are excised from this 7th, and some of it's swingiest areas, Golden, Littleton, were partially represented by Perlmutter in the State Senate. This is a 56% or so 2008 Obama district, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Obama improve to the 58% range in 2012.  

[ Parent ]
I agree and disagree
You are absolutely right, Perlmutter's base is def. Jeffco. He racks up unheralded numbers and overperforms in the western portion of the current 7th district (which is the most conservative part). That said, he has never represented the new southern chunk of Jeffco (Littleton) added to the district (his old state senate district is primarily Golden, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater).  As far as I can tell I don't think Ed loses any of his current Jeffco precincts.

Also, the most traditionally liberal portions of the current 7th in Commerce City and north Aurora are now gone.  The good news is that Westminster and Northglenn are added to the new district under this map. The bad news, is that in the metro area, Jeffco gets more conservative the the further south you go and the proposed district gives Perlmutter the Ken Caryl and Columbine (i.e. Littleton) precincts which are wealthier areas.  He also, has to take in Broomfield up north, which is historically Republican (but can be won by the right Democrats).

So if I crunched the March 2011 numbers correctly from the CO Sec. of State, the current 7th CD is 37%(D)/28%(R)/35%(Undeclared).  According to the Denver Post, the Dem drawn map would change that to 33%(D)/32%(R)/34%(Undeclared).  That is closer to the percentages Perlmutter first won the district with. So he should be fine with this proposed district but his job got tougher due to the party registration changes and all the new territory he has to win over for the first time.

31, Blue Dog Dem, Male, DC-AL

[ Parent ]
The Democrats don't know how to negotiate.
The whole point of these maps is to start out with an extreme position, so that you end up with something like this through compromise and negotiation.  (see GOP budget)  The Polis district was a terrible idea.  We could just combine Boulder, Fort Collins, and Greeley in 1 extremely liberal district and combine the Eastern Plains and Western Slope (excluding Grand Junction) into a huge GOP vote sink.  We could then just add the ski towns into the 3rd, which would offset Grand Junction and give us one more rural district that would be able to last at least a decade before it goes red, like the Georgia Dems did in 2002 with Jim Marshall, who lasted until 2010 even after the Republicans tore up his district in 2004.

CO-6; socially liberal, fiscally conservative

I don't think so
I think they are putting themselves in front of the Republicans from the getgo and making this the favored example should it go to courts, and it really is rather favorable to Dems.

What's you're describing doesn't really work, and there's no since in making CO-02 a Democratic Vote sink. I'd say this new map practically guarantees 5 Democratic congressmen, with Gardner having a tougher district as well. If current trends continue in Larimer and Weld, Gardner could likely lose in the next few cycles, making this a 6-2 map. I think that's a much better long term situation than what your map is creating.  

[ Parent ]
part of the Dem position
is that their map actually represents communities of interest and constituent desire more than the current one.  Throwing Boulder in with Greeley would start a crapfest similar to the way that Arkansas Republicans hit the roof over slicing out Fayetteville from AR-03.

I know that it is physically possible to draw a map that guarantees a 5-2 split in Colorado, but we are angling for one that will be accepted by the courts (since it doesn't look like a compromise is likely in the legislature).  We want the courts to pick our map, like they did last time.  The Dem maps all guarantee at least a 4-3 split in our favor, while giving us a better shot at 5-2 by removing a bunch of rural counties from CO-04...and the way Fort Collins is going, Obama may very well win this district next year.

But if it goes to court I don't think it's likely we get a map that guarantees 5-2.

[ Parent ]
good points
That makes more sense now, knowing that the courts will likely pick the maps.

CO-6; socially liberal, fiscally conservative

[ Parent ]
The only way to stake out more extreme ground
Would be to split Denver.  I'm 30 and it hasn't been done in my lifetime.  Any older Coloradans on here remember it ever being split.  If it were, I'd drag Perlmutter into North Denver and give DeGette the south metro burbs as far south as Parker (at least).

30, male, Democratic, CO-01

[ Parent ]
That would be a much better way to maximize Denver's influence
Split Denver and Aurora three ways, and then a fourth district taking in Boulder and going out from there, and you've already guaranteed four safe Dem districts out of 7.  If we had Boulder go northeast and eat up Fort Collins and Greeley, and then had a giant rural district snaking around the state perimeter from east of Greeley all the way to Grand Junction, we could have CO-03 just go up from Pueblo to the ski counties and be Dem-leaning as well.  The last district would be Colorado Springs and north up to Douglas County, as in the Dem maps.  But of course this would be too aggressive for a compromise map.

In the current Dem proposal, Perlmutter should still be safe, and the new Aurora-based district should be unwinnable by Coffman in a neutral year, so I like it.  But if we had the trifecta we could have ensured a much more aggressive map.

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure non-metro Dems would've signed onto such a compromise
If we had the trifecta, the House Speaker would be from Pueblo (and with his ambition, he'd want to make CD-3 more competitive) and the Senate Pres. is from Longmont, who wants to run against Rep. Gardner.

Strangely, with Rep. McNulty being from Highlands Ranch, and wanting a district more fitting for him (as a bonus, screwing Rep. Coffman; you're right, he can't hold that district in a neutral year, even Ryan Frazier probably couldn't), makes this map possibly more optimal than we would've had were the Dems in charge of the House as well.  

24, SSP Gay Caucus Policy Committee Chair, Western Democrat; CO-05 (home), CA-14 (law school)

[ Parent ]

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