Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Updated hPVI by House district

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI conclude the roll out of the 2011 hPVI's with the House edition. If you missed them or just want to go back and see them again, here are the county and Senate versions.

Some of this post may sound like a repeat of the Senate post from last week and that's because, as most of you know, House districts are nested within Senate districts, meaning any changes in the partisan makeup of the Senate districts has a direct effect on the makeup of the corresponding house districts.

This means that all of the same stuff applies that was discussed last week; the DFL leaning House districts are top heavy, and the GOP leaning districts are middle heavy. The DFL has almost thirty districts with a D+21 tilt or greater, while the GOP has only 20 such districts. The GOP, on the other hand, has 38 districts with leans between five and twenty while the DFL has only 15. For those of you not doing the math as we go; that's 58 R+5 and greater districts for the GOP, to only 44 D+5 and greater districts for the DFL.

Before we get too much further let's take a look at the seat graph:

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Population Change by Senate District

Last week, with the release of the block level census data, I broke down how much each congressional district was going to have to adjust. For the state Senate districts I considered just posting a list with their deviation from ideal population, but that's not as cool as a map. Before the fun begins though, we'll need to go over some background info to help understand what these maps mean.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThere are three maps below that I'm calling "rural," "burbs" and "cities." They are loosely grouped as follows; the rural districts that need to gain population, the suburban districts that need to lose population (some of which could be considered rural), and the city districts that need to gain population (some of which are suburban).

The maps are than labeled like this; first is the Senate district number, followed by the district's hPVI, and finishing with the districts deviation from ideal population size. Population numbers in black are overage, those in red with parenthesis are population underage. Said another way, districts with black numbers will need to shrink, and districts with red numbers will need to get larger.

Unlike US Congressional districts, Minnesota legislative districts don't have to have exactly equal populations between them, they only need to be equal within 10% of each other. This means that the district with the largest population can't have more than 10% of the population of the district with the smallest population.

Ideal district size therefore, is arrived at by taking the state population, 5,303,925 and dividing it by the number of Senate districts, 67. That comes to 79,163. With the 10% spread allowance that gives us population parameters of approximatively 75,000 on the low end and 83,000 on the high end. This means if a particular district is already within the +/- 4,000 range it doesn't have to change at all. Of course this doesn't mean it won't change.

Which brings us to the maps!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Updated hPVI by Senate district

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLast week I began rolling out new hPVI's with the county edition, this week the Senate districts are up.

Way back in November of 2010 Nate Silver wrote an article about the recently concluded elections entitled "2010: An Aligning Election," where he laid out the case that the 2010 midterms were a correction of Democratic gains in Republican territory in 2006 and 2008.

The same case can be made about the 2010 Minnesota legislative elections.

Below is a graph of the Senate district hPVI's, those colored red are held by GOPers and those colored blue are held by DFLers.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The curious case of Tim Pawlenty

Tim Pawlenty finds himself in an interesting place right now, a place where few have managed to emerge victorious. The pundacricy loves him, but the voters don't know who he is, and the one's who do know who he is don't really like him that much.

For instance, Larry Sabato, the political Svengali at the University of Virginia, tells us:

Pawlenty has a strong team. It is well respected and in some respects envied by the other candidates. It's really one of his hidden advantages. He's not a front-runner. He's relatively unknown. But because of his team he's well positioned. He could easily become one of the finalists for the Republican nomination.

The linked article mentions many of the members of his team, some coming from Bush's political team but others coming from Mitt Romney's failed campaign. One problem, if he has such a great team, how do you explain this?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Minnesota Census Data Released

The long wait is over, the Census bureau today released the comprehensive state level data for Minnesota. Right now I'm just going to go over the congressional numbers and will dive further into the weeds in later posts.

Way back in January I used 2009 estimates to breakdown how the districts will have to change. Now we have the real numbers. To refresh your memory, the total population of Minnesota was counted as 5,303,925 for an ideal district size of 662,991 (there will be three districts with one less person).

Here's the official Census populations of the districts [difference from ideal size]:

CD1: 644,787 [-18,204]
CD2: 732,515 [+69,524]
CD3: 650,185 [-12,806]
CD4: 614,624 [-48,367]
CD5: 616,482 [-46,509]
CD6: 759,478 [+96,487]
CD7: 625,512 [-37,479]
CD8: 660,342 [-2,649]

The biggest difference between these numbers and the ones I used in that January post are in CD's 3 and 8. It had looked like CD3 was going to be the closet district to ideal but it turned out to be CD8. In fact, looking at these numbers CD8 looks to be the district that will experience the least amount of change.

The numbers released today brought some of the districts closer to ideal than the estimates were expecting, CD's 1, 7 and 8, while the rest got further away. CD's 2 and 6 gained more than expected while CD's 3, 4 and 5 didn't grow as fast as estimated.

What this means is what everyone already knows, the Twin Cities and Western burbs are growing more slowly than the exurbs. The real news from these numbers though is that CD8 is less likely to be the point of contention that was previously expected.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wisconsin Senate Recall Polls

DailyKos commissioned their polling partner, PPP, to poll the eight potential recall elections in Wisconsin. In all eight of the polls they matched the incumbant Republican with a "generic Democrat," so the number to pay attention to is the incumbents re-elect number.

PPP (3/14, no trend lines):
Dan Kapanke (R): 41
Generic Dem: 55

Randy Hopper (R): 44
Generic Dem: 49

Luther Olsen (R): 47
Generic Dem: 49

Rob Cowles (R): 45
Generic Dem: 43

Sheila Harsdorf (R): 48
Generic Dem: 44

Alberta Darling (R): 52
Generic Dem: 44

Mary Lazich (R): 56
Generic Dem: 34

Glenn Grothman (R): 60
Generic Dem: 32

No information yet on sample size and margin of error which will be posted tomorrow morning at DailyKos

Wisconsin Democrats need to win three of these seats to take back control of the Senate and what do you know, there are three incumbents trailing against a generic Democrat. Additionally two more incumbents are below 50% against a generic Democrat.

Before a recall election can happen though, Wisconsin Democrats have to collect the requisite number of signatures. In that regard things are looking good, as Chris Bowers at DailyKos posted about earlier today, with over three quarters of the time remaining Democrats claim to have almost 50% of the required signatures.

Of course the first 50% is easier than the second 50% and what's more Wisconsin Democrats will surely want to collect more than the bare minimum of signatures to guard against the inevitable legal challenges.

All of which means if you can donate any money or time to help your cheese-head neighbors next door, now's the time.

Updated hPVI by County

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be rolling out the new hPVIs, starting today with the counties and then moving on to the Senate and House districts. Because of redistricting the Senate and House hPVIs will be mostly irrelevant as soon as a new map is approved, but they will nonetheless provide some interesting information on partisan trends within the state.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about; hPVI is a bastardization of The Cook Political Reports PVI metric. PVI (which stands for partisan voting index) is simply the average margin of victory of a parties presidential candidate in a congressional district.

Here is the explanation from Cook's website:

A Partisan Voting Index score of D+2, for example, means that in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, that district performed an average of two points more Democratic than the nation did as a whole, while an R+4 means the district performed four points more Republican than the national average. If a district performed within half a point of the national average in either direction, we assign it a score of EVEN.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This Week in Redistricting 3/11

The big news this week is that Justin Morneau played baseball for the first time since July 7th, going 1-2 with a double in a spring training game.

There was some redistricting news as well.

  • The Census Bureau is taking it's sweet time to release the detailed Minnesota population numbers, but the Strib reports that those numbers will finally come next week.

  • A slew of big name former politico's, including Walter Mondale, have been making a push for an independent redistricting commission to take over the line drawing authority from the legislature. The idea is to create a panel of retired judges to draw the lines, thereby removing politics from the process, because, as we all know, judges don't have a political bone in their body and are always super objective and ultra knowledgeable about geography and regional communities.

    Under the proposal, each of the four legislative leaders in the House and Senate would select one member of the commission. Those four would then pick the fifth member. No prospective judge could have received party endorsement for a political position.

    If lawmakers reject their first map, the judges could draw second and third maps. Only after the Legislature turns down three maps could lawmakers draw new district lines on their own.

    So what's not to like about such an idea? Well, if you're Republican Party of Minnesota Deputy Chairman Michael Brodkorb, everything:

    The Minnesota Constitution clearly lays out a fair process and procedure for redistricting, and we are not interested in any process that takes away the constitutional responsibility of the Legislature and the courts. Elected representatives should be involved in the redistricting process, not an unelected panel of retired political appointees.

    It's not often that I will say this, but I agree with Brodkorb. As fraught with conflict of interest as having politicians draw the lines of their own districts is, often times the representative of a district knows more about where the lines should be drawn than some random judge or panel of judges.

    That's not to say that there isn't a redistricting commission approach that can work, I'm just not a huge fan of the retired judges model. Such a plan assumes that judges, for whatever reason, are the best qualified for such an assignment, which they are not. Additionally having the legislative leaders of the two parties select the judges to be on the panel only serves to inject politics right back into the equation.

    Such a commission, if one were to be formed, should certainly have citizen representatives as well as elected officials as it's members. If judges must be included than so be it, but a panel made up exclusively of judges is not very representative of the state as a whole.