Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Redistricting Maps! Round Five - The Parties' Proposals, Outstate edition

Redistricting MinnesotaFriday of last week was the deadline for parties in Minnesota's redistricting lawsuit to submit their maps. Three groups submitted maps; the Britton, Hippert (GOP) and Martin (DFL) intervenors. On Monday I went over the partisan composition of the three maps and yesterday I went over the five metro area districts. Today I'm going to discuss the way the three outstate districts were drawn.

Before I get into the maps I'll once again recap the partisan numbers with this nifty color coded excel table.

ave Dem% diff

This is a table of the differences in the average Democratic vote %, color coded so that the districts that get the most Republican are redder and the ones that get the most Democratic are bluer.

With that, on to the last of the maps!

For reference, this is the way things currently look:

Minnesota current district configuration


CD1 - Britton
Britton proposal

CD1 - Hippert
Hippert proposal

CD1 - Martin
Martin proposal

The theme of these maps is that the Britton and Martin ones look similar and the Hippert one is a complete departure from the status quo.

With CD1, they all make some fairly big changes though. The Hippert map keeps the current configuration, minus the counties that are lost to CD2 and adds all of the area south of the Minnesota river, which makes for a rather logical natural boundary. Notably in this map, CD1 loses Nicollet county and some parts of Tim Walz home town of Mankato.

In both the Britton and Martin maps LeSueur and Rice Wabasha counties get added from CD2 (the Britton map also adds Goodhue), and CD1 loses a big chunk of it's Western counties.

You can see the reasoning behind these different moves in the partisan numbers, the area south of the Minnesota river that the Hippert map includes is Republican friendly (although not by a huge degree) and the counties from CD2 that the Britton and Martin maps include is Democratic friendly (again though, not by a large degree).

So the Hippert map seeks to weaken Walz, which is why it removes part of Mankato, while the other two plans shore up his district.

In the last redistricting cycle, the judges explained their decision to draw the rural maps the way they did like this:

First, the first congressional district contains the community of interest that naturally arises along a highway such as Interstate 90 and tends to run in an east-to-west direction in southern Minnesota.

Second, Minn. Const. art. IV, states that all districts must be composed of "convenient contiguous territory." In part, "convenient" means that a district must be "within easy reach; easily accessible." Of course, convenience is at times limited in Minnesota, as it is in other states, by the state's shape, the availability of accessible roads in Greater Minnesota, and the need for rural districts to grow in area as their populations shrink. Minnesota's western and northern borders may have roads that traverse them, but we have heard any number of objections to the inconvenience of using these roads and the difficulty a congressional representative would have in representing such districts. Conversely, Interstate 90 makes a district along the state's southern border the most convenient option.

Third, of the new first, seventh and eighth congressional districts, only the eighth district has any population from the counties that are part of the metropolitan statistical area. This population resides in Isanti and Chisago Counties, which include only 12% of the districts population, are not part of the original seven-county metropolitan area, were part of the prior eighth district, and have common interests with counties to the west and north. This configuration of districts, then, best reflects the citizens of Minnesota living outside the metropolitan area.

Those first two points are still true, so that makes me think that the judges might yet again decide that it's best for CD1 to traverse the state, but you don't have to extend CD1 all the way up to the Minnesota river to achieve population equity, especially if you leave Mankato whole and Nicollet county in CD1.


CD7 - Britton
Britton proposal

CD7 - Hippert
Hippert proposal

CD7 - Martin
Martin proposal

Like I said earlier, the Martin and Britton maps look very similar and the Hippert map is a complete deviation. When the Republican controlled Minnesota legislature passed this map earlier in the year, it was the configuration of CD's 7 and 8 that got everyone's attention.

The thinking here is; draw the eighth more liberal and put Peterson in it, that way he's out of the seventh, and Cravaack gets a much easier re-election in friendly territory. At the same time you stick one of the most conservative Democrats in the country into a rather liberal district and force the Democrats to deal with it.

Unfortunately for the Republicans (and fortunately for us), I don't think the judges will buy this configuration simply because last cycle they made a point of saying that north eastern and north western Minnesota are separate communities of interest and have been for a long time and that a horizontal configuration (as opposed to the current vertical one) just wouldn't make as much sense.

But if I'm right about CD1, and it continues to traverse the entire southern portion of the state then CD7 will end up looking like none of these versions and more like it's current iteration.


CD8 - Britton
Britton proposal

CD8 - Hippert
Hippert proposal

CD8 - Martin
Martin proposal

The eighth district isn't likely to change much, it doesn't need to add many people and there is no reason to change it's current configuration. I think that a reasonable case can be made that Isanti and Chisago counties in the south shouldn't be part of the eighth, but then you have to draw in St. Cloud or Bemidji and that might not make sense either.

Additionally, removing those two counties would be highly controversial, because Rep. Cravaack lives in one, and I think the judges would want to avoid that. For those reasons and the reasons cited above in the CD7 section, I don't think the Hippert or Martin maps will fly.

In this case the Britton map may be the closest to the final drawing. There are other way to draw in the additional people required, but that one, adding more of the already split Beltrami county, is as good as any other.

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