Now that it's 2011, the redistricting games will soon begin in earnest, with more detailed Census data expected in the coming weeks 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 Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, and New Hampshire.
Since Obama managed to win Nebraska's second congressional district 3 years ago I've been wondering just how Democratic a district it is possible to make in Nebraska. With the new census data becoming available, now seemed as good a time as any to find out! As Dave's Redistricting App doesn't include partisan data for Nebraska I tabulated each precinct by hand.
57% Obama 43% McCain, 71/11/12 W/B/H
The Democratic district stretches predictably enough from Omaha to Lincoln and on into Saline county. While it certainly isn't the most Democratic congressional district going around it is pretty darn blue for Nebraska and the right kind of Democrat could do very well here.
39% Obama 61% McCain, 90/2/5 W/B/H
The non-CD1 parts of south-east Nebraska.
CD3 Dark magenta
30% Obama 70% McCain, 85/1/11 W/B/H
Of the states rolled out in this week's Census 2010 releases, North Carolina is by far the most interesting one. North Carolina narrowly missed out on a 14th seat, so it's staying at 13; its target is 733,499, up from about 619K in 2000. Unsurprisingly, the big gains come in the Charlotte and Raleigh metropolitan areas, with NC-09 in Charlotte's suburbs and NC-04 in Durham and Chapel Hill both well past the 800K mark. (The 9th is represented by GOPer Sue Myrick, although the state's district that shifted the sharpest to the left from Kerry to Obama, while the 4th belongs to Dem David Price and is the bluest white-majority district in the state.) NC-01 on the coastal plain, one of the nation's few truly rural African-American-majority seats, gained the least, followed by the three mostly-rural Appalachian-flavored seats (NC-05, NC-10, and NC-11).
How this shakes out for redistricting is complicated, because Republicans control the process for the first time ever and will want to undo a pretty Dem-friendly map from 2000... but without getting too greedy. What may be their first task, shoring up newly-elected Renee Elmers in what's currently a swing district, may be made easier by the fact the mostly-suburban/exurban 2nd will probably need to give a lot of its African-American population in Raleigh proper to the next-door 1st in order to preserve the dwindling 1st's black-majority VRA status. But since the 2nd didn't grow that fast, it'll then need to look elsewhere to grab some enough white votes to replace them... and since the GOP probably won't want those to be liberal transplants in the Research Triangle area, they may need to reach south into the 3rd or 7th instead.
I could see that in turn pushing Dem Mike McIntyre's 7th further west into Fayetteville and south central rural counties, keeping his district swingy, while also pushing Larry Kissell's 8th further west too, probably giving him a heaping helping of dark-red Charlotte suburbs and making him the likeliest Dem to get targeted for extinction. But the GOP has many, many ways to play this (see the Aaron Blake article linked above), and this isn't the only scenario.
The other two multi-district states are much more clear cut and present similar profiles: in both Nebraska and Kansas, the big empty western districts need to expand greatly, and the urban/suburban districts need to shed population. The GOP controls the processes in both states; the only real intrigue might be whether they try to get fancy and crack the only-slightly-red Omaha-area NE-02 and Kansas City-area KS-03 to make them safer Republican seats. The target in Nebraska is 608,780, up from 570K in 2000. (Notice how low that is... Nebraska seems right at the top of the list for a lost seat in 2020.) In Kansas, the target is 713,280, up from 672K in 2000.
State Sen. Tom White filed papers today to form an exploratory committee to run for congress in Nebraska's second district as a Democrat against Republican Lee Terry. He sent out an email to supporters and posted a diary at DailyKos announcing the filing, putting an emphasis on health care reform and jobs. Senator White was previously mentioned here on SSP which seems to have caught White's attention - it's the first post listed in his candidate website newsroom, followed by stories from Roll Call, the Omaha World Herald, and the progressive blog New Nebraska Network (where he also posted an announcement diary today).
Note From Diarist: This diary is primarily about the Presidential campaign. I wrote it for Daily Kos but didn't feel it got the exposure I was hoping for. It's very much inside baseball politics so I thought it might have some fans around here, but it is about the Presidential campaign which I know is no longer the focus of the website. If the moderator wishes to delete it, I'll understand.
Democratic Nebraska Senate candidate Scott Kleeb outraised former Bush Administration official and governor of Nebraska Mike Johanns in Q2. Johanns raised nearly $683,000 while Kleeb raised nearly $700,000.
This is huge news for Kleeb. Johanns has a head start since he started campaigning in September and Scott only got in the race in February but since February Scott has raised more then Johanns. Still those almost five months gave Johanns close to 2 million dollars and it's important to close the gap. Scott is a great candidate and if we want to get to 60 seats and get stuff done in 2009 then we're going to need to win this race. Nebraska native Mike Lux has made that case well.
This is a key race that is winnable but Kleeb needs all the support we can give him. He's very close to the $1,000,000 mark. Let's put him over the top. We've got to stand with those who stand with us.
The Omaha World-Herald takes stock of the potential Democratic candidates for the Nebraska Senate race -- all two of them. Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and '06 3rd District nominee Scott Kleeb won't shut the door on a run just yet:
The party has no candidates at this time and their best contender, Fahey, is less than enthusiastic about running a statewide race. The Omaha mayor said that he was not ruling it out but that he has lots of work to do in Omaha.
Fahey has taken an active and high-profile role in trying to keep the College World Series in Omaha. His work in that arena may make it easier for him to rebuff Democratic efforts to recruit him into the race. [...]
Fahey said he will decide over the next 30 days whether to run.
"To call it an inconvenient time is an understatement," he said.
Kleeb, who lost a congressional bid to U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith in western Nebraska last year, also may be a hard sell. [...]
He said that he was disappointed in Kerrey's decision and that he would wait to see what Fahey decided.
If Fahey stays out of the race, Kleeb said, he would consider running.
"It would have to be sooner than later. These campaigns these days take a long time," said Kleeb, who has about $70,000 left in his congressional campaign committee.
It's no doubt a daunting decision to go up against a formidable GOP foe in Mike Johanns. Frankly, I'm surprised that Fahey is still thinking about it, even hesitantly. However, if one of these two guys get in the ring, and if Bruning bloodies up Johanns, there's still an outside chance that this race could become interesting.
With popular former Gov. Mike Johanns (R) in the race, and Kerrey's months of indecisiveness clearing the field of other potential challengers, it's not hard to imagine Democrats putting up only token opposition in Nebraska next year.
Eric Kleefeld over at TPM writes that "an inability to win this seat would essentially end any hopes by Democrats of reaching 60 Senate seats this cycle". I'm not convinced that 60 seats was ever really in reach in the first place, even with a hypothetical Kerrey candidacy. Too many variables would have to break in just the right way in order for Democrats to even come close to such a broad sweep. Perhaps, with Kerrey's decision, a sense of normalcy will return to prognosticators who are openly hyping the magical 60 mark as some kind of benchmark for DSCC Chair Chuck Schumer's success next year.
(And yeah, count me down as another guy who's more than happy not to have to deal with the Liebermanesque statements of the week that a Bob Kerrey campaign would produce.)
With Johanns jumping in and Kerrey backing out, I think I know what the early polling looks like. Personally, I'm willing to get a LOT more excited about a Scott Kleeb or someone else, who will probably also lose, but can get Nebraska Dems excited and working hard.
Beutler and Svoboda advance to the general election on May 1. This is the most important race in Nebraska this year. The mayor's office in Lincoln is in Democratic hands right now, but the current mayor Coleen Seng has come under a lot of fire and has generally been ineffective. Beutler's got a long progressive history in the Nebraska legislature, and getting him elected mayor of Lincoln will be a big step for Democrats in Nebraska. Today was a huge step in that direction.