Thursday, January 15, 2009

Redistricting in 2011: Projected Reapportionment and Texas

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?

StateHouse (D-R)Senate (D-R)
South Carolina53-7119-27
It’s pretty clear that Texas is super-important. And also super-important to hold onto the Pennsylvania House and the Indiana House is close enough that it needs to be protected from swinging to the Republicans.

Now what legislatures that Democrats currently control and that will lose or gain seats are close enough to warrant particular attention?

StateHouse (D-R)Senate (D-R)
New York109-4132-29

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.

TotalWhite gainAf-Amer gainAsian gainHispanic 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.

Quick notes:

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.