Another week down, another bunch of interesting states in the mix.
I’m going to put Hawaii to the side. It had two districts before. It still has two districts. Both should stay Democratic barring the Republicans finding the right candidate (e.g. Linda Lingle).
Alabama has seven seats. It also has a significant African-American population — up to 28% of the total population. The question for Alabama is the concentration of the minority vote as there are enough African-Americans for two or three minority influence seats. (This may be the same problem that Louisiana has. On actual number crunching and attempts at line drawing in Louisiana, there are just enough African-Americans in northern Louisiana to make it difficult to draw two favorable districts in the New Orleans/Baton Rouge corridor). Most of the counties lost population (mostly rural counties, but including Jefferson County where Birmingham is). Because of the way that the previous lines were drawn, there may not be much of a shift as, in almost all of the districts, there were some counties that gained and other counties that lost. It looks like the 6th district will have to shrink some and the 7th (the only Democratic seat) will have to grow by about 70,000. The remainder may have to move 5-10,000 people around (close enough that Alabama could opt to make no changes at all). There may be ways to make shifts in the area around Montgomery to increase the African-American population in the 2nd (the Census Numbers show that the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd district currenlty have between 25% and 32% African-American populations). The lines might not end up looking particularly pretty, but there might just be enough to support some type of claim for a bit more concentration into one of the three districts.
Like Alabama, Colorado stayed even on seven seats. The key minority group in Colorado is Hispanic residents. However, there does not seem to be an area that qualifies as having a concentration of Hispanics. The numbers show that the 6th needs to lose around 90,000 people with about 45,000 going to both the 1st and the 7th districts. Given that the 1st and 7th are safely Democratic and the 6th is safely Republican, the redistricting should have little impact on the balance of power in Colorado unless they make major shifts in all of the lines.
Nevada gained a seat. Clark County (Las Vegas) is now large enough to have almost three districts (about 70,000 short). Currenlty, all three of Nevada’s districts take in part of Clark County. In the new map, you will probably see a safe Republican seat in the Northern part of the state. The question will be which surrounding counties will be added to Clark and what parts clark get taken to give the Republicans a second safe seat. It seems likely that the final result in Nevada will be to lock in a 2-2 split for the decade (as opposed to the current 1-1-1 with Republicans currently holding the swing seat). Given the Hispanic population in Clark County, one of the three Clark County seats may have a Hispanic majority, but this will require looking closer at the data.
Oregon stayed even at 5 seats. The 1st district (which may soon be looking at a special election) in the northwest is too large and the 4th district in the southwest is too small. A shift of about 30,000 people is needed, but the 5th district (int he west) is in the middle. So some will go from the 1st to the 5th and some from the 5th to the 4th. All three of these districts lean Democrat, so there may be some effort to move Democrats from the 2nd (the very safely Democratic area around Portland) into the 1st and 5th with Republicans from the 5th going into the 2nd. If Democrats could lower the number of Democrats in the 2nd and improve the numbers in the 1st, 4th, and 5th, the Democrats have otherwise done a very good job (with help from geography) of packing the Republicans into the 3rd (the eastern half of the state).
Utah is to a large extent the opposite situation from Oregon. Utah picked up a seat and it will almost certainly go Republican. The goal of the Utah legislature is likely to be an attempt to make all four seats Republican. The question is whether or not Democrats are concentrated enough to make it difficult to crack them. My hunch says yes based on the areas of strength in 2010 (a little bit better in the northeast and in the immediate area around Salt Lake City), but it’s not going to be easy to keep a Democratic seat.
The last of the states from last week is Washington. Washington picked up a seat. Growth was pretty uniform throughout the State making it very difficult to pick out a region to be the core of the new district. My hunch says that the King-Snomish-Pierce-Kitsap area is large enough for 5 complete districts with the other five spread around the state. Currently, the 2nd (taking in part of Snomish) and the 6th (taking in part of Kitsap) poach into this area with 4 districts being composed of the remainder of these 4 counties. The lines in Washington are very competitive and are likely to remain so with the last cycle having 4 swing seats. My hunch says that the new seat will likely also be a swing seat.
This next week has five states on tap. Two (Delaware and Wyoming) are single seat states. The remaining thee should be intersting — Nebraska (do we have enough population near Omaha to get a Democratic seat), Kansas (any chance to improve our situation in the KC suburbs), and North Carolina (lots of Voting Rights issues).