Friday, August 28, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
- Expand the number of districts so that the tool could be used for state legislatures; or better yet, support state legislative redistricting more fully by showing existing districts' shapes.
- Make this an open source project that could perhaps become an Open Redistricting Project as written about by Heather K. Gerken. The idea here is to enable citizen activists or commissions to do "shadow redistricting" and thus pressure the powers that be into staying in line.
- Have an option to color according to existing districts as a starting point.
- Add political data for districts. This may be difficult to do for some states.
And a couple of my own ideas:
- Figure out a way to get rid of the extra Windows app to make JPGs.
- Port from C#/Silverlight to Java/Flash and add in Google Maps.
What do you think? Thanks a lot.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
- Select state and number of congressional districts (CDs)
- Use mouse to sweep across map and assign block groups to CDs (block groups usually contain about 4 voting districts; using the larger size makes things more manageable)
- Save/Open your work in XML (saved in isolated storage)
- Use 2000 census numbers or updated census estimates
- Show/Unshow city, county and old CDs
- Create area maps of zoomed in areas
- Save state and area maps in XML (Separate Windows app can read this and produce JPGs; Silverlight won't allowing saving as JPGs directly; an app is available for download; XML schema also is available)
- Requires Silverlight 2.0 (runs on Windows and Mac)
- To get JPGs you have to run a separate Windows-only tool, due to limitations in Silverlight. Check the help page for more details.
- Loading data for a state from the server is slow, because the data is large, but after that the app is fast and does not go back to the server.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
(1) No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate In the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory. (2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.The largest deviation any districts has from the average size is 699 people, which is a little more than .1%. Not bad, especially using the larger census block groups. Now, here's what the current districts look like (National Atlas PDF). There are so many differences. Since I do not have voting data for the census block groups, I can't do a more precise analysis on how this would change the congressional makeup, but here are a few comments on areas where my new map is very different and may open up more competetive opportunities: -- CD 3 is entirely in Duval County, the Jacksonville area, instead snaking all the way down to Orlando. Should still be a safe Dem seat. -- Tampa area: currently there are 2 Reps (old CDs 9 and 10) and 1 Dem (old CD 11, which is packed with both the heart of St, Pete and Tampa. In my more sensible districting, St. Pete and Clearwater are have 1 district (CD 13) and most of Tampa is in another (CD 12), both of which would likely be Dem. -- Around Orlando, Seminole County is within only 1 district. Then Orange County is split between 2 districts. Dems have 2 of the districts in that area already (old CDs 8 and 24); perhaps this would give us an opportunity to get another seat (new CDs 6, 8 and 9). -- Around Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach, the new map keeps counties and cities much more together. Reps have 3 districts (old CDs 18, 21 and 25). Mostly likely the new map does not help Dems with at least 2 of those (new 24 and 25), but could facilitate picking up 1 seat in the area. -- Note on Hendry County: it looks odd because the census block groups is very large in area. With the finer grain of voting districts, this could be smoothed out. In any case, though, there are not that many people in that county. Now, I have to admit that the language in the petition is vague enough that those in control will still be able to bend the process in their direction. So, we won't necessarily see maps as straight forward, and non-partisan, as this. But it will be a lot better than what we have now. I expect to have my app available within a month, with a lot more states, so you can try this on your own. That's all for now. Thanks.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.And the main text is actually short and very readable.
(1) No apportionment plan or individual district shall be drawn with the intent to favor or disfavor a political party or an incumbent; and districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate In the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice; and districts shall consist of contiguous territory. (2) Unless compliance with the standards in this subsection conflicts with the standards in subsection (1) or with federal law, districts shall be as nearly equal in population as is practicable; districts shall be compact; and districts shall, where feasible, utilize existing political and geographical boundaries.A key point here is that the legislature is still responsible for producing a plan; no commision. But they will be much more constrained than before. From my perspective, there is still a lot of flexibility and therefore opportunity for the legislators to play favorites. However, there will be a lot less opportunity than there is today. If this passes and passes any legal challenges, I'm sure we'll see challenges to whatever plan the legislature comes up with in 2011.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
I've generally thought that the current state of redistricting skews the balance between Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives. But how much and in whose favor? And how do we measure?
To get an "expected" value, I took the 2008 vote totals (from The Green Papers) for each House race and totaled them by state. Given those totals, how many Democrats and how many Republicans would be elected from each state if statewide proportional voting were used? And then how many do we actually have? Also, I looked at, for each state, the average victory margin for Democrats and Republicans.
|State||# CDs||Expected # Dems||Expected # Reps||Actual # Dems||Actual # Reps||Avg Dem Victory Margin||Avg Rep Victory Margin|
The table shows all states with at least 10 House seats. What's interesting is that the actuals for all of the states except Florida and New York are within 1 of the expected, using the "proportional voting" measure.
Now, about the methodology, this is admittedly a crude measure, because people often vote for individuals and may vote a different party if the individuals change. Also, a number of states had races with no opposing Democrat or Republican: California had 6 Dems and 2 Reps who had no opposition from the other major party; Texas had 2 Dems and 6 Reps unopposed; Florida, Georgia, New York and Virginia each had 2 Dems unopposed; Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania each had 1 Dem unopposed; and Massachusetts had 6 out 10 Democrats unopposed by Republicans!!! These races can obviously skew the results. (Note: Florida reported no vote totals for the 2 unopposed races, so I counted them as 100,000 votes for the winning Dem.)
I've included in the table the average margin of victory for Dems and Reps in each state. To compensate for races where a party faced no opposition from the other major party, I capped the margin at 75 points. Most states races with candidates from both parties did not show margins greater than 75 points. However, New York was an exception, where CDs 10, 11, 12, 15 and 16 all had greater margins (88, 87, 80, 84 and 93 points, respectively). The interesting thing to note is that in every one of these states, the Democrat's average margin of victory was greater than the Republican's. This would indicate that, overall, gerrymandering is still favoring Republicans.
Looking at individual states, it jumps out to me that Florida is most egregious in favoring either party, and the favored party is the Republicans. By the total vote count, we would expect a split of 12D-13R, but we have 10D-15R. In addition the Democrats average margin of victory is 41 points, while the Republicans is 21 points. As mentioned above, 2 Democrats ran unopposed, so we counted their margins as 75 points, but the other 8 Democrats had Republican opponents. Of those 8, 4 won by 40 points or more (40, 43, 55 and 64, respectively). The others won by 4, 9, 16 and 24 points, respectively. For the Republicans, 11 of 15 races were decided by 25 points or less, and only 1 of those was less than 10 points (FL-25), so most of their wins were in that comfortable, but not wasteful 10-25 point range. Efficient. (Here's the district map.)
New York is interesting because by the total vote count measure, it would seem to favor Democrats pretty heavily. Yet, the average margin of victory for Democrats was 48 points, to the Republicans 25 points. As I noted above, in 5 seats, all in the NYC area, Democrats beat Republicans by more than 75 points. In 2 other seats, no Republican ran (which we counted as 75 point wins). Democrats won the 2 closest races (NY-29 by 2 points and NY-24 by 4 points). Both of those districts have traditionally been Republican, as has NY-20, which Kirsten Gillibrand won by 24 points. So Democrats won 3 traditionally Republican seats fair and square (i.e. by running great candidates). It's hard to see how districts could be drawn upstate to be more fair and still favor more Republicans. (See the map here.) One could make districts 26 thru 29 more compact, but Democrats won those NY-27 and NY-28 by 53 and 56 points, respectively, some the modifications would more likely make NY-29 safer for Democrats and give them a better shot at NY-26. I would also argue that NY-25, NY-22 and NY-19 are districts Republican should have a legitimate shot at, but they have not done well there in the last 2 cycles.
Downstate it's hard to find a way to give Republicans more seats without serious gerrymandering. Of course, they only just this cycle lost NY-13, but they lost it by 29 points in an open seat race. They have some significant voter concentrations out on Long Island, but they lost NY-1 and NY-2 by 17 and 34 points respectively. They won NY-3 (Peter King) by 28 points, but when King moves on, we would expect a much closer race (i.e. not necessarily Republican votes to spare). Except for NY-1 and NY-3 on Long Island and NY-19, which stretches from north Westchester County up to Poughkeepsie, Republicans could not muster 100,000 votes or a closer margin than 28 points in any downstate district. Thus, "fairer" districts would not legitimately give them more seats. Republicans got about 2 million House votes in New York, to the Democrats 4.2 million, But upstate Republican votes are fairly spread out among the districts. They lost the 2 closest races and have competed poorly in traditionally Republican districts update. The best conclusion for New York is that gerrymandering is not costing them seats. They simply have failed to compete effectively (or one might say, have turned voters off) in the last couple of cycles.
California: given the total vote count, it seems pretty much in line with what's expected. But look at the average margin of victory (Dems 55 points, Reps 22 points) and it looks like Democrats should expect more seats. Overall the state is very good at incumbent preservation. Out of the 53 seats only 7 had victory margins of 15 points or less, and of those Republicans won 6 of them. Two of those 7 are in the northeast (CA-3 and CA-4), 1 near the Bay area (CA-11), and the rest in southern California (districts 26, 44, 46 and 50). (See the map here.) To me the Republicans should have nothing to complain about. Perhaps they could take CA-47 if it were carved different, but CA-46 next door is carved for them. Down in San Diego, CA-53 is strongly Democratic, but making it more compact could make CA-50 more competitive. Also, more aggressive Democratic district-making would threaten Republican's CA-52 by swapping some areas of it with CA-51. California districting does not look like it's unfair to Republicans.
And what about Texas? Looking at the total vote count, the split is close to what you would expect. Interestingly, the average victory margin for Republicans is pretty close to that for Democrats (44 points vs. 42 points). Like California, there are few competitive seats. Only 6 out of 32 hard victory margins of 15 points or less. Democrats won 2 of those (TX-17 by 8 points, TX-23 by 14 points). The Republican wins were in districts 7, 10, 22 and 24 by 14, 11, 7 and 15 points, respectively. Even though Democrats lost 5 seats after the 2003 Tom Delay honorary gerrymandering, it's hard to see how Democrats can make significant gains through more compact redistricting, although 1 or 2 seats would be possible. Of course, as noted previously, Texas will probably get 4 more seats, and the population increase is 2/3 Hispoanic. And one last note: what's the deal with TX-29? The total vote count was barely over 100,000 whereas most other districts had close to 200,000 voters. (Here's the map.)
Looking at the rest of the large states, the number of Democrats vs. Republicans is fairly in line with expectations. In Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina, Democrats should not expect more from fairer districts. In all 3 states there are slightly more Dems than the total vote count would predict and the difference in victory margin between Democrats and Republicans is less than 10 points. In Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia and Illinois, Democrats possibly could get an extra district in each thru fairer districts, but I have not studied the maps in those states. In those states the differences in victory margin are 12, 17, 21, 13 and 34 points, respectively.
In summary, in the largest states we see lots of safe districts for both parties; no surprise there. Overall the balance between Democrats and Republicans is not far from what we would expect if we had proportional voting. But looking at the difference in victory margins, Democrats could expect to get a handful of additional seats if districts were fairer.
Thanks for reading.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I looked it up and it failed in the senate by only 3 votes.Well, it's baaack. It was reintroduced on January 6th as District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2009. It's to be debated tomorrow in the Judiciary Committee (as mentioned by Kagro X in This Week in Congress). It would add 2 new congressional seats, giving 1 to DC.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the District of Columbia shall be considered a Congressional district for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives.After the 2010 census, the additional seat would be apportioned along with all of the other seats. For the 111th (current) and 112th Congresses, whichever state (which would have to be Utah) gets the additional seat would elect that representative at large.
the additional Representative to which the State identified by the Clerk of the House of Representatives in the report submitted under paragraph (2) is entitled shall be elected from the State at largeAnd the result? If this bill passes, there is one more seat to go around, so looking at last week's post you can see that it becomes more likely that Washington State could get a 10th seat. There are still numerous possibilities. For example, North Carolina and Oregon could get new seats and California retain all of its seats, with Washington still barely losing out. So, for the next 2 years, don't tell your friends it rains all the time in Seattle. We want them to move here just in time for the census. Then they'll discover the rain and move back.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
|Seat #||2000 – 2008||2004 – 2008||2005 – 2008||2006 – 2008||2007 – 2008|
|430||FL - 27th||PA - 18th||SC - 7th||SC - 7th||PA - 18th|
|431||CA - 53rd||SC - 7th||TX - 36th||PA - 18th||CA - 53rd|
|432||PA - 18th||TX - 36th||PA - 18th||TX - 36th||SC - 7th|
|433||TX - 36th||OR - 6th||OR - 6th||NY - 28th||NY - 28th|
|434||NY - 28th||NY - 28th||NC - 14th||NC - 14th||TX - 36th|
|435||SC - 7th||FL - 27th||NY - 28th||OR - 6th||OR - 6th|
|436||OR - 6th||NC - 14th||WA - 10th||CA - 53rd||WA - 10th|
|437||WA - 10th||CA - 53rd||CA - 53rd||WA - 10th||NC - 14th|
|438||NC - 14th||WA - 10th||MN - 8th||MN - 8th||MN - 8th|
|439||MN - 8th||MN - 8th||FL - 27th||LA - 7th||IL - 19th|
|440||MO - 9th||MO - 9th||MO - 9th||MO - 9th||MO - 9th|
|441||IL - 19th||IL - 19th||IL - 19th||IL - 19th||FL - 27th|
Some of the margins are the closest ever observed since Election Data Services, Inc. began doing apportionment studies nearly 30 years ago. For example, using the 2006 to 2008 trend analysis, Oregon would gain a 6th seat (and the last one issued, number 435) with just 2 persons to spare. Using the same trend analysis, California would lose a seat (its 53rd) by a margin of only 18 people.And look at that, Washington Staters, given the “Mid” and “Short” trends, Washington State is in the running for getting another district!!! Bottom Line: it’s likely to be very close, and you can expect some states will be complaining that the Census Bureau wasn’t counting right. A recount? Maybe Norm Coleman can use his experience to sue for Minnesota, if his current contest is over by then… Seriously, it looks to be very close between California, Oregon, North Carolina, New York, Washington, South Carolina, Texas and Minnesota. And throw in Pennsylvania and Florida, with a chance of changing the current projection. 5 of those 10 states will get the last 5 seats. The table below shows the difference in seats gained or lost from 2000 if they get one of those seats or not:
|Seat Gain/Loss from 2000|
|State||Doesn't get 1 of last 5||Gets 1 of last 5|
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Congressional districts will be reapportioned among the states after the 2010 census. Current projections for gainers and losers look something like this: This article by DavidNYC references EDS’s projections using 5 different models. For most states, the result is the same with all of the models. The biggest gainer will be Texas, with a likely 4 seat gain. Arizona looks to gain 2 seats and Ohio to lose 2 seats. Florida might gain 2 or maybe only 1. Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah will all gain 1. A number of states will likely lose 1. Interestingly, Oregon may gain 1 and California may lose 1.
So, what happens in 2011? Each state with more than 1 congressional seat will have to adjust the boundaries of its congressional districts. And all the states must adjust their legislative district boundaries. The process varies from state to state according to each state’s constitution and laws. In most states the legislature in responsible for drawing the new districts, but some states have commissions responsible for the job. Here's is an overview from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Interestingly, some states have commissions for the legislative districts, but still direct the legislature to draw the congressional districts. Only 6 states have commissions for congressional districts. Here's a chart. None of the big states are on the list, but Arizona, which will likely gain 2 seats is. Also, New Jersey, which will lose a seat, has a commission. NCSL has produced a draft document Redistricting Law 2010 that serves as a guideline for the states going into this round or redistricting. I haven’t waded thru the entire thing, but there’s an appendix on redistricting principles, which is interesting as it lists the redistricting principles gleaned from each state’s laws. In some cases, there is very little to those principles. Another appendix listed the authority for redistricting in each state. Except for the 6 states with commissions, for congressional districts it’s always the legislature who has the authority.
So who controls the legislatures after the 2008 elections? Overall Democrats made gains in 2008. Here’s an interactive map where you can see the legislative breakdown for a selected state, pre- and post- election. And this page allows you to select pre- and post-election maps for all the states together.Many of the states that matter most (have the changes in number of congressional seats) are still Republican controlled or split. For example, Texas, who stands to gain the most, is still Republican controlled. So are Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, who will gain 1 (or maybe 2 for Florida). Ohio (which will lose 2), and Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Michigan (which will each lose 1) all have split legislative control. And Missouri (which will lose 1) is Republican controlled. So, these are all states where the 2010 legislative battles are important. Out of those, though, which are close enough so that a small swing in seats could make a difference?
|State||House (D-R)||Senate (D-R)|
Now what legislatures that Democrats currently control and that will lose or gain seats are close enough to warrant particular attention?
|State||House (D-R)||Senate (D-R)|
Louisiana is the only one that’s tenuous, but the next legislative elections are in 2011. Otherwise there’s not much that is likely to change.
What about Texas? The 2008 election gave us this result, which is a nice gain. But both chambers of the legislature and the governorship remain Republican. Recently, the speaker of the Texas house, Tom Craddick, was deposed, which is a nice win, but it’s unclear what effect that will have.
But the really interesting aspect about Texas is the demographic changes. Crisitunity over at Swing State Project shows us these really interesting numbers from his July 21st post. This is population gain between 2000 and 2007.
|Total||White gain||Af-Amer gain||Asian gain||Hispanic Gain|
So, Hispanics represent 2/3 of the total, Whites about 1/6 and African-Americans and Asians making up the remaining 1/6. In Crisitunity’s August 4th post he looks at Texas in more detail.
As you can see, there is a huge concentration of Hispanic growth in Harris County (Houston and its closest suburbs), to the extent that even if Republicans solely control the redistricting process they may have to concede the creation of a new Hispanic-majority district in central and south-west Houston (probably accompanied by pushing the current 7th further out into the western suburbs to maintain its strong Republican lean). There also looks like the possibility of a Hispanic-majority district in Dallas, particularly if it's a barbell-shaped district that takes in western Dallas and the central part of Fort Worth with a strip of suburbs in between (accompanied by pushing the 24th and 32nd further north into Collin and Denton Counties, fast-growing conservative exurbs to the north of Dallas). If Republicans control redistricting, they might not want to concede this district as well, but the population numbers might pave the way for a Voting Rights Act vote-dilution lawsuit that could force the creation of the district anyway.
So, it’s possible that, even with Republicans controlling the process, Hispanic voters could get 2 majority districts out of the 4 new seats. Democrats, of course, must take nothing for granted, but we would hope those districts would send Democrats to Congress in 2012. Let’s all keep watching this and Burnt Orange Report is a great place to do that.
- Wanted to point out a DailyKos diary from November with a prediction on the upcoming redistricting and some good comments.
- A friend just pointed out this Slate article from Tuesday about mathematicians discussing redistricting. It’s a fun read and they have a slide show on their Most Gerrymandered Districts. I don’t necessarily agree that these are the worst, but they are pretty bad.
In future posts I'll try to dig into the Texas numbers a little more (pointers to resources welcome). And also share some thoughts on how many Dems and Repubs would we expect to come from each state, given recent voting patterns, and how far off are the states now. Enjoy.