Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Redistricting Maps! Round Four - Draw the Line Minnesota

Redistricting MinnesotaOn Friday, the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission, a group brought together by Draw the Line Minnesota, submitted it's maps to the Special Redistricting Panel. Here's a statement for the group's chair, Candi Walz:

We’re taking advantage of this opportunity to share what we heard with the judicial panel and to ensure Minnesotans who attended our meetings have their voice heard. We heard from hundreds of Minnesotans that want our state’s Congressional and legislative districts drawn to reflect the lives and needs of our citizens and communities, rather partisan interests of any kind, and that’s what this report aims to communicate.

In response to this, Rep. Sarah Anderson, had a comment of her own:

As best we can tell Draw the Line has ripped apart at least three tribal communities and is carving up almost four times the number of cities they are reporting. Draw the Line’s top principle was to preserve communities of interest, yet they completely disregard city and county boundaries, ignored the Voting Rights Act altogether and disenfranchise thousands of Minnesotans of their equal representation rights.

As we all know, Rep. Anderson has a knack for first-class hyperbole, but this is quite the statement, even for her. First of all, I don't really see how any plan that creates districts of equal population (as this one does) could "disenfranchise thousands of Minnesotans of their equal representation rights," but perhaps Rep. Anderson is using some sort of quantum theory of redistricting where things behave in ways that no one quite understands.

But this is not what really makes Rep. Anderson upset:

It should be cause for great concern that Draw the Line is bringing politics into a process which should be about people. Their process has been run by David Wheeler, who was endorsed for public office by several Democrats including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and State Senator Scott Dibble, and their map was drawn by Linden Weiswerda, a former Obama for America staffer. This flies in the face of any sort of commission involvement and ultimately decisions were made by liberal staff members, not citizens or commission members.

ZOMG, Democrats were on the commission! Fraud!!1!

Here's the thing, if this was a commission packed with Democrats who were trying to advance a Democratic agenda, then they are pretty terrible at drawing maps that advantage Democrats, unless the only goal of the whole thing was to get Chip Cravaack out of the eighth.

While much of the attention will be on the fact that Cravaack gets drawn into the sixth district along with Michele Bachmann; the situation isn't any better for the DFL, as Colin Peterson's Detroit Lakes home gets drawn into the eighth, while almost his entire constituency still resides in the seventh.

Not only that, but every single district except the eighth becomes more Republican than before. Really, the only thing about this map that DFLers will like is that Chip and Michele get drawn into the same district. But is that even a big deal? I mean, Cravaack doesn't even live in the state anymore, does it really matter what district his Minnesota residence is in?

Here's the partisan breakdown of the congressional districts in the Draw the Line map.

Average Democratic Vote Share
CD Old New Diff
1 51.3% 51.0% -0.3%
2 47.4% 47.2% -0.2%
3 49.7% 48.6% -1.1%
4 63.5% 62.8% -0.7%
5 73.5% 71.9% -1.6%
6 45.0% 44.8% -0.2%
7 48.5% 48.3% -0.2%
8 56.6% 57.3% 0.7%
First thing you'll notice is that if you add up the percentages they don't equal zero, but are instead negative. This is because the two districts that most needed to shed voters are conservative districts, so the voters being added to other districts will primarily be conservatives.

The only district that gains in Democratic vote share is the eighth, and this is probably what has conservatives up in arms, along with Cravaack getting drawn out of the district. The downside of course is that the third gets more than a point redder and the second marginally redder, losing conservative areas to the third, but picking some up from the seventh.

The second district has the potential of getting drawn to be pretty swingy if the court decides to keep Dakota county whole and the second sheds some of it's rural fringes. If that were to happen, John Kline could be vulnerable to the same anti-incumbent, anti-leadership sentiment that swept Jim Oberstar out of office. Under this map, John Kline can once again walk to reelection.

Not only that but the third goes from being a genuine pickup opportunity when Paulson runs for senate in 2014, to a seat that will be difficult for the DFL to win, even in an open seat race.

My main point here is that if Draw the Line Minnesota was a Democratic front group than they suck at making maps to benefit Democrats.

Of course, Draw the Line's stated goals were not partisan in nature anyway, unlike the goals that must have been behind the highly partisan maps produced by the distinguished professor of quantum redistricting bullshit, Representative Sarah Anderson.


One of Draw the Lines goals was to create an American Indian opportunity district in northern Minnesota by drawing all the big tribal reservations up there into one district. Here's the racial breakdown of their map:

Percentage of Native Americans
CD Old New Diff
1 0.2% 0.3% 0.1%
2 0.4% 0.4% 0.0%
3 0.3% 0.3% 0.0%
4 0.6% 0.6% 0.0%
5 1.3% 1.2% -0.1%
6 0.4% 0.4% 0.0%
7 2.7% 0.6% -2.1%
8 2.6% 4.5% 1.9%
As you can see, in this regard they succeeded in packing as many Native Americans into CD8 as possible. The question I would have to ask is this; is 4.5% enough of a voting bloc to justify how they've configured the eighth district?

My view is that if 4.5% is the largest share of a minority population that can conceivably be drawn into a district than perhaps you shouldn't be going out of your way to draw that group into a district.

While it may be considered a laudable goal, I just don't think the numbers are there to justify the creation of a district like this.


Here's what the actual districts look like in Draw the Lines' map. (Light green coloring means areas that were acquired by a district, pink means areas that were lost.)


Draw the Line - CD1


Draw the Line - CD2


Draw the Line - CD3


Draw the Line - CD4


Draw the Line - CD5


Draw the Line - CD6


Draw the Line - CD7


Draw the Line - CD8

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