Of the states released this past week, two states gained seats in Congress — Florida and Georgia. Since both are pre-clearance states under the Voting Rights Act and both have significant minority populations, the legislatures in the states are merely the first step in the process with guaranteed court fights over whatever lines get drawn up. (In addition, Florida passed changes to the process by a referendum in the last election, and the new governor is not cooperating with submitting those changes to the Department of Justice for clearance which will add to the court fights.)
In Georgia, there are two major questions: 1) How do we carve up the Atlanta area to make room for a new seat; 2) What do we do about the Second District, the Eighth District, and the Twelfth District (three districts that were considered swing districts for most of the decade).
The target population for each seat in Georgia is 692,000.
Three of the existing districts are short on population — the Second in southwest Georgia (by about 60,000), the Fourth (containing some of the eastern suburbs of Atlanta) by about 27,000, and the Fifth (Atlanta and its immediate suburbs) by about 62,000. The easy solution for the Second is to give it some from each of its neighboring district, all of whom are over target. The First (in southeast Georgia)will almost certainly shed its 30,000 excess to the Second. That will leave the Third in western Georgia (125,000 over) and the Eighth in central Georgia (23,000 over) to complete the remainder for the Second. A key consideration in determining what parts of these three districts goes to the Second will be the fact that the Second is currently a minority influence district with a slightly large African-American population than a white population. The Fourth and Fifth also have tiny African-American majorities. Given the geography, the most likely source for additional population for those two districts is the Thirteenth District (90,000 over) which takes in the western and southern suburbs of Atlanta. How the population is shifted between the Second and the Eighth will have a slight impact on how competitive those two districts remain.
As far as drawing the new district, the Third will probably give some of its excess to the Eleventh District (nothwestern Georgia) which is approximately 100,000 over the target. The Eleventh would then give some of its excess to the Sixth District (the northern sububrbs of Atlanta) which is 75,000 over target. The Ninth (in Northern Georgia) which is approximatley 130,000 over target would give its excess to the Sixth and the Seventh District (the northeastern suburbs of Atlanta) which is approximately 210,000 over target. Likewise, the Tenth District (northeastern Georgia) would also give its 46,000 excess to the Seventh District). The new Fourtheenth District would probably be the western part of the current Seventh and the Eastern part of the Sixth. It will also be a safely Republican seat.
The Twelth District (eastern Georgia) should stay almost as is, being less than 1,000 from the target number.
Like Texas, Illinois, and California previously, Florida is a difficult state to discuss without local knowledge. The target size for a district is 696,000. In southeastern Florida, Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Broward County are all multi-seat counties. At 2.5 million, Miami-Dade is entilted to 3.6 representatives. At 1.75 million, Broward County is entitled to 2.5 representatives. At 1.32 million, Palm Beach County is entitled to 1.9 representatives. Currently this area has six whole districts, and parts of two others. It will probably shed the excess from the Twenty-Third and Twenty-Fifth Districts, but it is possible that you might have more partial districts in this area.
On the west side of the state, it seems like the Tampa-St. Petersburg area may also have improved by a fraction of a seat. Pinellas County shrunk a little, but still has approximately 900,000 people. Hillsborough County grew to 1.22 million. The surrounding counties also grew — Polk to 602,000, Manatee to 302,000, Sarasota to 380,000, and Pasco to 465,000. Somewhere in there is probably one of the two new districts, but it is not clear where exactly.
There are a small number of undersized districts in Florida — the Third in northeast Florida is about 33,000 short; the Tenth (containing the suburbs of St. Petersburg) is about 63,000 short; the Eleventh (St. Petersburg and Tampa) is about 23,000 short; the Seventeenth (North Miami and North Miami Beach) is about 40,000 short; the Twentieth (parts of Broward and Miami-Dade) is about 5,000 short; the Twenty-first (parts of Broward and Miami-Dade) is about 3,000 short; the Twenty-Second (parts of Broward and Palm Beach) is about 2,000 short; and the Twenty-Third (parts of Broward, Palm Beach and neighoring counties) is about 12,000 short. For each of these districts, there are neighboring districts with excess population that can be easily shed.
The other new district is probably in the north central part of the state. Looking at the 2010 results, the Republicans had several narrow wins. They are going to have to decide betewwn trying to make some of those seats safer and making the two new districts securely Republican. My hunch is that after 2012, both parties are likely to split the new seats (or the Republicans will find themselves losing one of the current seats that they hold.