There have been many fantastic maps drawn that highlight the potential extremes of gerrymandering, from both political parties. I humbly submit my attempt at making a safe 5-2 map in Colorado that will endure even in bad years for us. Now, I know that either a compromise map or a court-picked one is likely due to the split control in the Colorado legislature, this is purely a what-if scenario if Democrats ran the process and were very aggressive.
Also, this is my first time using Dave's redistricting app and I would appreciate comments and helpful criticism.
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.
I had several goals here:
1. Knock out either Gardner or Tipton
2. Keep a district that Perlmutter can continue to hold relatively easily.
3. Make Coffman have to actually campaign, at the very least.
4. Create a district that Salazar or another moderate Dem can win and continue to hold.
District 3 (Purple): This is currently represented by Scott Tipton, but he lives in the new 4th, and would probably much rather try to primary Gardner than hold this marginal seat. The seat is now Pueblo-based and adds all the liberal ski towns from the 2nd district. It does add conservative Park and Fremont counties from the 5th, but its loss of all the heavily GOP counties on the Western Slope more than offsets that. It has a little arm reaching back to nab Grand Junction in order to meet population equality. My best guess is this goes from its current R+5 rating to around R+1 or R+2. Salazar probably would have won re-election if he had this in 2010 and could easily win in any other year. Other possible candidates include State House Minority Leader Sal Pace of Pueblo.
Likely D if Salazar runs; tossup otherwise
District 4 (Red): This GOP vote sink manages to combine both Cory Gardner, who lives in Yuma in northeast Colorado, and Scott Tipton, who lives in Cortez in southwest Colorado. It contains all of the heavily GOP counties on both the Eastern Plains and Western Slope. In addition, it loses both Fort Collins and Greeley, resulting in perhaps the most Republican district in the state. It could be anywhere from R+15 to R+20.
District 1 (blue): This is Diana DeGette's Denver-based district. Other than adding a few Arapahoe County precincts for population equality, not much of a change here. It's currently D+21
District 6 (teal): This is Mike Coffman's suburban district, currently R+8. However, it sheds extremely wealthy and conservative Douglas Country, as well as rural Elbert County, and the rural eastern part of Arapahoe County. It adds a bunch of suburban areas in slightly D-leaning Jefferson and Adams Counties. Although Coffman could probably still be able hold it, this would become a toss-up if he vacates the seat. This is probably between R+3 and even PVI.
Lean R for Coffman, Tossup if open
District 7 (gray): This is the other suburban Denver district, currently held by Ed Perlmutter. It basically just trades parts of Adams County for Jefferson County, which is pretty much a wash, and is probably still around the current D+4, but after dismantling Fraiser by 11% in 2010, he's definitely safe.
Likely D for Perlmutter, Lean D if open
District 2 (green): Jared Polis' Boulder-based district sheds the ski towns, but adds liberal Fort Collins and Greeley to remain safe. Probably unchanged much from the current D+11.
District 5 (yellow): This incredible GOP vote sink, held by Doug Lamborn, takes in Colorado Springs and a bunch of extremely wealthy parts of Douglas County: Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Lone Tree, etc. It sheds liberal Lake County and swingy Chaffee County to the 3rd, as well as conservative, prison-filled Park and Fremont Counties. It is probably even more Republican than its current R+14, and could be approaching R+20.
So, here's a recap:
District 1: Diana DeGette, Safe D
District 2: Jared Polis, Safe D
District 3: likely D for John Salazar, tossup otherwise
District 4: Cory Gardner/Scott Tipton, Safe R
District 5: Doug Lamborn, Safe R
District 6: Mike Coffman, Lean R for Coffman, tossup otherwise
District 7: Ed Perlmutter, Likely D for Perlmutter, lean D otherwise
We've got three more states' worth of Census data dump to look at today, and instead of a random collection today, it's thematically consistent: the three medium-size light-blue states of the west. First off the bat is Colorado, which stays at seven seats; its target population is 718,457, up from an average of about 615K in 2000. (Remember, the "deviation" is how many seats the district will need to gain or shed in order to conform, not a raw number reflecting loss or gain. You can calculate raw gain/loss by working off the 2000 target, if you're curious.)
The redistricting solution here seems pretty simple: CO-01 (Denver proper) and CO-07 (Denver's northern suburbs) will need to shift southward to accommodate the large growth in CO-06 (Denver's southern suburbs), while the rest of the state stayed pretty stable. Interestingly, despite CO-07 lagging the state growth-wise, the state's strongest Hispanic growth was in CO-07, which since 2000 went from 20% to 28% Hispanic.
Oregon stays at five seats, having just barely missed the cut for #6. Its target population is a beefy 766,215, up from about 684K in 2000.
Several Oregon districts are going to have to shift north, where the state's growth was centered in Portland's western suburbs in OR-01. The smallest gains happened in OR-04, which is Eugene and the economically-hard-hit timber country to its south. OR-05, which is sandwiched between the 1st and 4th in the mid-Valley also needs to pick up population; the 5th is the state's most Hispanic district, going from 10% to 15% Hispanic since 2000.
Finally, here's Washington, which barely made the cut, and got its tenth seat. Its target is 672,454, up from 655K in 2010. (Interestingly, if you divided Washington by 9, you'd wind up with a lower target than Oregon, at 747,171. There's a lot more to the reapportionment formula than that sort of purely mechanical calculation, of course, but that ought to raise a few eyebrows in Oregon.)
The two main nodes of growth in Washington are WA-08 (Seattle's eastern suburbs) and WA-03 (Vancouver, which is really Portland's northern suburbs). However, there was almost as much growth in WA-04, east of the Cascades, which means that any new configuration is going to have two-and-a-half districts east of the Cascades, with (unlike now) one district traversing the mountains. The 4th is also by far the most Hispanic district in the state, growing from 27% to 34% Hispanic since 2000. One other interesting tidbit: in three of the state's nine districts (1st, 7th, and 8th, all in the Seattle area) the largest non-white group isn't African-Americans or Hispanics, but rather Asians.
The Dems came extremely close to controlling the redistricting trifecta in CO, losing the state house of reps by a single seat. If the Dems had won that house seat last year, or if they could somehow convince one of the Republicans in the house to switch parties or support a Democratic redistricting plan, here is one way the Democrats could draw a reasonably compact 5-2 map of Colorado.
Now that it's 2011, the redistricting games will soon begin in earnest, with more detailed Census data expected in February or March and some states holding spring legislative sessions to deal with drawing new maps. Long ago I planned to do state-by-state rundowns of the redistricting process as soon as 2010 election results and Census reapportionment were clear. Now that time has arrived, and it's time to look at California, Colorado, and Connecticut.
To follow up the series of posts on Colorado, I've posted a few recent presidential elections in the state (courtesy of the New York Times). Each map comes with some brief analysis.
Boosted by a Democratic National Convention held in Denver, Senator Barack Obama wins a thorough victory in the ultimate swing state of 2008. The Democratic candidate does especially well in the Republican-leaning suburbs of Denver - winning several outright and dampening margins in Douglas County and Colorado Springs.
By winning one race by only 157 votes, Republicans control one house of the Colorado State Legislature so Democrats do not hold the trifecta in Colorado anymore. So instead of a possible Democratic gerrymander where they could retake the 3rd and 4th districts, the Democrats will probably end up with a bipartisan incumbent protection which is more favorable to the Republicans. The new Republicans may feel vulnerable because many of the new ones are in marginal districts they won in a very Republican year so the Democrats might work out a deal at protecting those Republicans in exchange for controlling congressional redistricting. That is not very likely though and I drew this map assuming it is a bipartisan deal. Ed Perlmutter (D) of Colorado's 7th district is strengthened as well as newly elected Scott Tipton (R) of Colorado's 3rd district and Cory Gardner (R) of Colorado's 4th Congressional district. In 2002, Colorado was 5-2 Republican and in 2008, it shifted to 5-2 Democratic. The Republicans have the majority in the delegation now though with 4-3. Although Republicans came back a bit in 2010, I still think Colorado is trending Democratic due to Democrats moving into the Denver area from California. This movement could make districts such as the 6th competitive in the future, but for now, all incumbents will be much safer. Now, here are the maps:
Pundits always say that when election day is really close, some candidates start pulling away from the opponent. In West Virginia, we are seeing that. Joe Manchin (D) was in a close race with John Raese (R) but Manchin retrieved his lead when Raese made some gaffes such as looking for "hicky" people in an ad and then the controversy of his house in Florida (his wife is not even registered to vote in West Virginia.) Not all tossup races though have an incumbent pulling away in then end. In Pennsylvania, Toomey is leading by about 3 and his seems to have stopped Sestak's surge. Sources on the ground in Philadelphia though tell me that the GOTV operation there is in full swing for Sestak and if a larger than expected turnout occurs in Philadelphia, Sestak will be much closer and maybe win. Races though that have stayed as pure tossups include Illinois, Colorado, Washington and Nevada. In Illinois, Mark Kirk (R) seems to be gaining a few points but the Obama rally may have woken up the base enough to beat him. Colorado has an interesting race where Michael Bennett (D) is winning because he is pushing a woman's right to choose as a big issue and it seems to be working. Ken Buck (R) leads heavily among men while Bennett has a big lead with women. The race that should shock the pundits though is Nevada. All polls show a small Angle lead but what I see is a dead heat. The early voting in Nevada presents good results for the Democrats and people on the ground have mentioned how all the Democrats there are planning to vote.
There is one race though the Republicans must pick up to win the Senate. West Virginia and California both look stronger for the Democrats so if the Republicans want to win, they MUST win Washington State. Patti Murray (D) has put up a strong fight against Dino Rossi (R). Rossi has run statewide twice before and he lost both times. His 2004 run for Governor against Christine Greigoire (D) went into a recount. Washington is a high turnout state and some polls even suggest Republicans have less enthusiasm than Democrats. Also, cell phone only households are common in the heavily Democratic Seattle and many pollsters do not poll cellphone users. In Oregon's Gubernatorial race, it made a difference when John Kitzhaber (D) lead by 8 points with all phone users but 4 points with landlines only. Anyway, these Senate rankings here are my last ones before election day. Races such as California and West Virginia shift more towards the Democrats while Illinois shifts towards the Republicans (but it is still tossup in my book.) The Republicans are looking to pick up 7-9 seats because I do not see Rossi winning. Also, the names in parentheses are the names of the candidate from the incumbent party. Bolded races mean the race may switch parties. Anyway, here are the rankings:
Safe D (6 seats)
Delaware (Chris Coons) Has O'Donnell ever had a shot here?
Hawaii (Daniel Inoyue) He has been in Senate since 1962 and he is staying.
Maryland (Barbara Mikulski) No problem in this heavily Democratic state.
New York A(Charles Schumer) I do not think anyone can beat him.
New York B (Kristen Gillibrand) A few polls showed a tight race in September but not anymore.
Vermont (Patrick Leahy) Another easy Democratic hold.
Likely D (1 seat)
Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal) Linda McMahon (R) is spending like Meg Whitman but Blumenthal is leading in the polls.
Lean D (3 seats)
California (Barbara Boxer) Polls showed a tightening race but Boxer's strong campaigning keeps it Democratic.
Washington (Patti Murray) She seems to have her lead back but will it stay?
West Virginia (Joe Manchin) After proving how out of touch he is with West Virginia, John Raese (R) is slipping in the polls.
Tossup (3 seats)
Colorado (Michael Bennett) PPP showed Ken Buck (R) up one point, showing how this race is a DEAD HEAT.
Illinois (Alexi Giannoulis) Polls show Kirk leading by 4 but Chicago has strong GOTV.
Nevada (Harry Reid) Polls show Angle with a small lead here but early voting looks good for Reid.
Lean Republican (5 seats)
Alaska (Joe Miller) The extremist Joe Miller (R) is slipping but write in Lisa Murkwski Murkowski (R) looks like she will win instead.
Kentucky (Rand Paul) Jack Conway (D) is a strong candidate but the Aqua Buddha ad sent him down.
New Hampshire (Kelly Ayotte) New Hampshire has been trending towards the Democrats recently but now it is shifting towards the Republicans.
Pennsylvania (Joe Sestak) Democrats were hoping for a surprise pickup here but polls show Toomey with a 5 point lead. GOTV probably cannot narrow that gap.
Wisconsin (Russ Feingold) Wisconsin always seem to come home to its Democrats but Feingold was too independent for the base.
Likely Republican (8 seats)
Arizona (John McCain) Rodney Glassman (D) is another good candidate in a bad cycle.
Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln) The South keeps trending Republican and John Boozmen (R) should be Arkansas's next Senator.
Florida (Marco Rubio) Saying he will caucus with the Democrats if elected has not saved Charlie Crist (I) against Marco Rubio.
Indiana (Brad Ellsworth) Ellsworth could have been a strong candidate and the NRA endorsement probably will not save him against Dan Coats (R)
Louisiana (David Vitter) Charlie Melancon (D) did well with the oil spill and Vitter saw D.C Madam but family values are not a big issue this year.
Missouri (Roy Blunt) Robin Carnahan (D) is a good candidate but Obama's unpopularity here is bringing her down.
North Carolina (Richard Burr) No Senator has held this seat for more than one term since 1976. Elaine Marshall (D) cannot continue the tradition.
Ohio (Rob Portman) At least Lee Fisher (D) knew he would not win so he gave $300,000 to Ohio Democrats.
Safe Republican: (8 seats)
Alabama (Richard Shelby) Was this race ever on your radar? It was not on mine.
Georgia (Johnny Isakson) Michael Thurmond (D) is a reasonable candidate in the wrong year.
Idaho (Mike Crapo) Not much to say here.
Kansas (Jerry Moran) Democrats can win here but definitely NOT this year.
North Dakota (John Hooeven) Democrats who are popular with constituents can win easily in North Dakota. So can Republicans.
Oklahoma (Tom Coburn) People talk about conservatives overrunning the Senate this year. This one is already in.
South Carolina (Jim DeMint) The Democrats nominated the worst candidate possible against the teabagger king.
South Dakota (John Thune) No challenge at all.
Do you agree or disagree with the rankings? Do you have any you want to share? Feel free to comment.
This is the last part of a series of posts analyzing the swing state Colorado.
Colorado is much like the previous state analyzed in this series: Virginia. Both states were seen until recently as Republican strongholds and rightfully so; President George W. Bush handily won both states in 2004 and 2000.
Yet in 2004, both states showed signs of shifting Democratic. Virginia barely moved Democratic even as the South swung heavily against Senator John Kerry. As for Colorado - it actually shifted 3.7% more Democratic, against the national tide. Indeed, in 2004 Mr. Kerry performed better in Colorado than he did in Florida.