Thursday, January 6, 2011

Redistricting: How we can expect the districts to change

Now that we know Minnesota will be keeping all eight of it's districts we can begin to look at what those districts might look like.

The Census Bureau has released population and apportionment information by state, Minnesota's population is 5,303,925, but have not released the more detailed data that will further brake down where those 5.3 million people are distributed in the state.

The ideal district size is achieved by dividing 5,303,925 by 8, which is 662,990.625. Since you can't have .625 of a person in one district the actual district sizes will end up being 662,990 and 662,991.

Although we don't have the official data from the Census Bureau yet, we do have good data from the Legislative Coordinating Commission's Geographic Information Services. Their 2009 Statewide Population Estimate came in at 5,300,942, which gives us ideal district sizes of 662,618.

These numbers are so close that I don't think it's necessary to try and extrapolate what the actual 2010 Census district sizes will be, I'm just going to use the LCC GIS's estimates, those are (difference from ideal size in brackets):

CD1: 635,429 [-27,189]
CD2: 737,324 [+74,706]
CD3: 664,528 [+1,537]
CD4: 623,879 [-38,739]
CD5: 618,292 [-44,326]
CD6: 755,489 [+92,871]
CD7: 615,742 [-46,876]
CD8: 649,438 [-13,180]

The most likely outcome is that the districts stay largely intact, with their borders adjusted to account for population growth disparities. If that's the case this is where you can expect to see most of the action.

Image Hosted by

Districts two and six will have to shrink and all the others except three will have to grow. But because of district five's position, sandwiched in between three and four, it's likely that three will have to change slightly as well to allow room for five to grow. That is unless they draw the northern tip of five further up into Anoka.

Additionally the parts of districts two and six that border district seven are some of the most conservative parts of the state. What this means is that congressional district seven is likely to get more conservative and districts two and six less so.

Given the realities of which districts will have to change the most and in what ways it seems like trying to make a deal with Governor Dayton might actually be in the GOP's best interests.

They currently hold the most closely divided district in the state according to Cook PVI in district three, and district eight is already among the national Democrats top targets for 2012. If that wasn't enough their two strongest districts will likely lose some of their most conservative voters to other districts.

The Democrats may decide that they want to deal as well. Despite the current 4-4 split in the delegation the Democrats occupy what for all intents and purposes should be a GOP seat in district seven.

At some point Colin Peterson will retire and when that happens that seat instantly becomes a tilt GOP seat, almost regardless of the actual candidates. The Democrats therefore may decide it's in their best interests to work out an incumbent protection deal.

If you wanted to, you could draw more Democrats into districts one and seven and not lose the most conservative voters from districts two and six. One way of achieving this would be to draw St. Cloud into CD7.

The big sticking point though will likely be district eight. It will have to get bigger, although not by much, and the easiest way to do that is to eat into the top of district six. The GOP will surely want to draw in some conservative voters to help their newly elected congressman win again in 2012.

Likewise the DFL will want more liberal voters drawn into the district. If a deal can be made on drawing district eight, then more than likely a deal can get done for the whole map. But I suspect district eight will be where the showdown takes place.

No comments:

Post a Comment