The Fix: Mapping the Future

California-size overhaul not likely with Arizona redistricting commission

This is the latest in a regular Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Arizona. (And make sure to check out the previous installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina , Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, New Jersey, Colorado, Minnesota, South Carolina, Oregon,Tennessee and New York.)

Just as California’s redistricting commission wraps up work on a plan that will fundamentally re-order the state’s 53-member congressional delegation, Arizona’s own commission is getting started on a re-mapping plan that could do the same – albeit on a much smaller scale.

Arizona’s independent commission, like California’s, is not supposed to consider where incumbents live when it draws its maps — a mandate that could cause all kinds of political havoc.

“People are going to get stuck together,” predicted Arizona redistricting expert Ken Clark, who supports competitive redistricting. “Population shifts have been significant enough that everything’s up in the air.”

Indeed, two draft proposals — known as “grids” — that were released by the commission over the weekend would significantly re-draw the districts from their current makeup.

“We’re wiping the slate clean, and we’re starting over,” Democratic-appointed commission member Linda McNulty said at a meeting earlier this month.

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It’s redistricting roulette in upstate New York

This is the latest in a regular Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on New York. (And make sure to check out the previous installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina , Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, New Jersey, Colorado, Minnesota, South Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee.)

After former congressman’s Anthony Weiner’s (D-N.Y.) resignation in June, a whole bunch of members of Congress in the New York metro area breathed a big sigh of relief.

The state is losing two congressional districts before 2012;  Weiner essentially sent his district to the gallows, relieving the anxiety of downstate politicians of being targeted. But, when it comes to upstate New York everyone is still holding their breath about where the seat will be removed.

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Tennessee GOP confronts tough choice on targeting Cooper

This is the latest in a regular Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Tennessee. (And make sure to check out the previous installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina , Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, New Jersey, Colorado, Minnesota, South Carolina and Oregon.)

Tennessee saw a wholesale change in its congressional delegation in 2010 as Republicans picked up two open seats and knocked off Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis as well.

Heading into 2012 then, there are only two Democrats in the Volunteer state’s delegation. One, Rep. Steve Cohen, faces no danger from Republicans in his strongly Democratic Memphis 9th district. The other is Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper.

With the GOP controlling all levers of the redistricting process in Tennessee, Cooper’s marginally Democratic Nashville district would appear an ideal target, and it’s plausible that Republicans could increase their 7-to-2 edge in the state’s delegation to 8-to-1.

After all, there’s no shortage of conservative-minded voters in Tennessee, and all three Republican districts around Cooper went easily for GOP candidates last year, suggesting there are plenty of voters to add to Cooper’s district.

But it’s not quite so simple.

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Oregon redistricting gives GOP slight bump

This is the latest in a regular Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on South Carolina. (And make sure to check out the previous installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina , Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, New Jersey, Colorado,Minnesota and South Carolina.)

Oregon’s state legislature has passed a new plan for its five congressional districts, and the new map looks a whole lot like the current one.

Republicans say they feel marginally better about their chances of beating Democratic Reps. David Wu and Kurt Schrader, but neither of their districts are much more GOP-friendly under the new map.

(Check out this great illustration by the state legislature, which allows for easy comparison between the proposed districts and the current ones.)

Observers thought the map in the state was headed for the courts, as it has the last two decades. That’s because the two chambers of the legislature are so evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, including a tie in the state House. (A deadlock in the legislature pushes the map to the courts.)

Instead, last week the legislature worked out the details and passed a map where both sides came out happy. Or, at least, satisfied.

Looking for changes on the new map requires a magnifying glass. (Lucky for you, we have one.)

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South Carolina Republicans struggle to draw new GOP seat

This is the latest in a regular Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on South Carolina. (And make sure to check out the previous installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina , Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, New Jersey, Colorado and Minnesota.)

Republicans in South Carolina may be handing the state’s new congressional seat to Democrats.

That’s if you believe those close to the process in the Palmetto State, where politics is truly a blood sport and the redistricting debate represents yet another characteristically hazardous political battle.

Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature and the governor’s mansion, and they were widely expected to be able to draw the state’s new congressional district – the 7th – as a Republican seat. But internal squabbling is throwing that sure-thing into doubt.

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Conflict over the Iron Range highlights looming legal battle over Minnesota redistricting

This is the 20th in a regular Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Minnesota. (And make sure to check out the previous installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina , Wisconsin, Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, New Jersey and Colorado.)

Freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack pulled off arguably the biggest upset in the country in 2010, knocking off longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar. Whether the Minnesota Republican can do it again rests very much in the hands of a few judges.

With the Republican state legislature and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton unable to find any common ground on redistricting, the matter is headed for the courts. Again.

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Colorado deadlocks on redistricting, with plenty at stake

This is the 19th in a weekly Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Colorado. (And make sure to check out the previous installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina ,Wisconsin,Maryland. Michigan, Louisiana and New Jersey.)

Colorado could very well be the first state to put the drawing of its new congressional districts into the hands of judges.

A nasty war of words between Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature has gone on for weeks now, with the legislature’s bipartisan 10-person redistricting committee unable to work together on a map.

Given the amount of turnover in the Colorado delegation over the last decade — both sides have held five of seven seats at various points — and the distance between the two sides’ proposals, the Centennial State is emerging as a key redistricting battleground, with the next map potentially swinging two or three seats over the next ten years.

And given the stakes, neither side is budging.

With control of the process split — Democrats control the state Senate, and Republicans control the state House — compromise is looking increasingly unlikely. And most involved now say the matter is on a collision course with the courts.

But before we get into the potential legal action, let’s look at where the two sides stand.

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Uncertainty reigns in New Jersey redistricting

This is the 18th in a weekly Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on New Jersey. (And make sure to check out the first 17 installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina ,Wisconsin,Maryland. Michigan and Louisiana.)

The 2002 round of redistricting was a rare moment of harmony in New Jersey politics, with all 13 members of the congressional delegation coming together and agreeing on a compromise map that they all felt had their best political interests in mind.

That was then; this is now.

With the state losing one seat in the decennial re-sorting of congressional districts, there is plenty of consternation about just which area will get the ax.

With no member of the delegation likely to retire and only one statewide office – that of Sen. Bob Menendez (D) – up in 2012, it’s quite possible that all 13 members will be seeking reelection and two incumbents will be running against each other.

As for who those two incumbents will be, it’s really anybody’s guess.

New Jersey is one of six states that has a redistricting commission. Six appointed Democrats and six appointed Republicans – two each from the parties’ chairmen, Assembly leaders and Senate leaders – work together. If a majority of the 12 can’t come to an agreement, a neutral 13th person plays the role of mediator/tie-breaker.

It’s a system that could lead to some middle ground in the process. The question now is where that middle ground will be found.

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Despite GOP control, Louisiana redistricting proves a cruel mistress

This is the 17th in a weekly Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future.” The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Louisiana. (And make sure to check out the first 16 installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina ,Wisconsin,Maryland. and Michigan.)

Redistricting can be a maddening process, even when one party controls all the levers of the process.

That reality is what Louisiana Republicans, who must shrink the state’s congressional delegation from seven to six, are facing right now.

A bill supported by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal was torpedoed by the Republican-majority state Senate at the last minute Tuesday in favor of a Democratic-backed bill that some in the GOP say could cost Republicans a seat.

Multiple sources say Rep. Charles Boustany (R) played a key role in killing the Jindal-backed proposal and passing a plan authored by Democratic state Sen. Lydia Jackson that he sees as more favorable for his 7th district.

Four state Senate Republicans voted against the initial Jindal-backed bill, which fell one vote shy of passing; then seven Republicans crossed over to support Jackson’s bill.

Jindal threatened Wednesday to veto the state Senate bill. But then a committee in the GOP-controlled state House rejected the bill before it could reach the House floor.

Ensue standstill.

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Maxed out in Michigan

This is the 16th in a weekly Fix series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future”. The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Michigan. (And make sure to check out the first 15 installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina ,Wisconsin and Maryland..)

Michigan has the unfortunate distinction of being the only state to actually lose population over the last decade, a shift that will cost it a House seat in 2012.

And given that Republicans control the redistricting process, Demcorats should watch their backs, right?

As it often is with redistricting, it might not be so simple.

Much like in other big states, Republican gains in Michigan in 2010 make it virtually impossible for the party to add winnable seats in 2012 without severely risking the districts they currently hold. That’s in spite of the fact that Republicans control all levers of the redistricting process in the Wolverine State.

In fact, the situation in Michigan is very much like the situation in another blue-tinting state we have looked at previously – Pennsylvania.

While the GOP controls 12 of 19 seats in Pennsylvania, it controls nine of 15 seats in Michigan. In both cases, many Republican-held districts went for President Obama in 2008 and will need to be shored up to ensure GOP incumbents have a chance to win them for the next decade.

And in both cases, the fact that the state is losing a seat means the map could be drawn any number of ways, with Republicans likely aiming to combine two incumbent Democrats into one district. In Michigan, that conversation has centered around two-term Rep. Gary Peters (D), a strong campaigner in a swing district in Oakland County, just north of Detroit.

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New lines in the Old Line State? Maryland Democrats could go after 7-to-1 edge

This is the 15th in an occasional series that focuses on the decennial redistricting process in key states. We call it “Mapping the Future”. The series aims to look forward to how the maps in these states could be drawn and what the best and worst outcomes for each party might be. Today we take on Maryland. (And make sure to check out the first 14 installments: Texas, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, California, Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, Utah, North Carolina and Wisconsin.)

Democratic state legislators in Maryland enacted one of the most effective gerrymanders in the country in 2001, successfully turning a four-to-four split in the state’s congressional delegation into a six-to-two Democratic advantage by 2002.

With Democrats again in charge of the redistricting process in 2011 and with the delegation still at a six-to-two edge for the party, the question now is whether they can rid the state of one of those remaining GOP districts.

It will take some doing, but with Democrats having very few chances (outside of Illinois) to create new winnable seats for their party, Maryland presents a rare opportunity.

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New lines in the Old Line State? Maryland Democrats could go after 7-to-1 edge

(Cross-posted from The Fix.)

Democratic state legislators in Maryland enacted one of the most effective gerrymanders in the country in 2001, successfully turning a four-to-four split in the state’s congressional delegation into a six-to-two Democratic advantage by 2002.

With Democrats again in charge of the redistricting process in 2011 and with the delegation still at a six-to-two edge for the party, the question now is whether they can rid the state of one of those remaining GOP districts.

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