Thursday, January 12, 2012

Redistricting: Oral arguments = Power Points!

Redistricting MinnesotaThe parties involved with redistricting made oral arguments before the court on Wednesday January 4th. If you haven't seen the action (The Uptake has the videos) you're not missing much, unless of course you're a Power Point presentation aficionado, but odds are you aren't.

In this post I'm going to take a look at the presentation given by the Hippert (GOP) intervenors. The other two parties presented Power Points as well, but I'm more interested in the case made by the GOP in support of their rural Minnesota gerrymander.

Here are the two Power Points submitted by the Hippert (GOP) group.
- Power Point in Support of Plaintiffs Redistricting Plans
- Power Point Opposing Intervenors Redistricting Plans

The Hippert power point presentation in support of their plan is 64 pages long. 35 of those pages deal with the congressional plan and 25 of those 35 pages are spent trying to sell their radical reworking of the three rural districts. They spend, literally, one page discussing districts 2 through 6. Not one page each, but one page.

It's as if the drawing of those five districts is but an afterthought to the much more serious business of gerrymandering northern Minnesota to the sole benefit of the Republican party, all other considerations be damned.

They assert, laughably, that a "least changes" map is not workable, which is simply nonsense. Why is it not workable? According to the Power Point it's because population changes in the last decade require significant changes and making those changes will cause a domino effect. Additionally, redistricting requires a broader view and none of the parties submitted a least changes map.

And while the last point is indeed true, the others don't stand up to scrutiny.

Districts two and six need to lose territory to account for their higher growth and all the districts surrounding them need to add territory to account for their lower growth. So four and five get bigger in the center, eating into two and six, while one and seven get bigger and also eat into two and six.

In actuality, it's because of where the population growth occurred that a least changes map actually makes a lot of sense. This is not to say that a least changes map is necessarily the best way to go, but the argument that a least changes map is "unworkable" simple doesn't hold water.

They also make the argument that their map can accommodate future population changes, as if they somehow know where those future changes will be. Not only that, it's almost a certainty that Minnesota will lose a congressional seat in ten years during the next redistricting cycle. We were on the bubble this year, just barely hanging onto our eighth district. There is almost no way we hang on next time, unless nationwide migration patterns change drastically between now and then.

In that context it's a certainly that whatever map gets drawn this cycle will have to get completely blown up next cycle when we only have seven congressional districts. With that in mind, a least changes map this cycle does make some sense, I mean, why blow up the map in two straight cycles if you don't have to.

The GOP's justification for the configuration of the individual districts is equally as flimsy as their justification for why a least changes map is not workable. Their number one bullet point for why to configure the eighth congressional district in the way they have is; An "Up North" district. Really, that's their most salient reason, an "Up North" district.

What's funny though is that the map of Minnesota they use to argue that Central Minnesota is a distinct region in need of it's own district, clearly shows a delineation between the Northwestern and Northeastern parts of the state, which sort of flies in the face of their whole "Up North" point.

Really the only arguments you can make in support of the rural portion of the GOP's plan are flimsy ones. There is no rational, non-partisan reason for such a radical reconfiguration of those two districts. There are, however, plenty of partisan reasons to try for such a plan.

As I wrote all the way back in May when this plan was working it's way through the legislature:

As it is currently drawn, CD7 is a natural GOP district with an R+5 tilt that is held by a DFLer, albeit a very conservative DFLer, but a DFLer nonetheless. Collin Peterson fits his district rather well ideologically, so from the DFLs perspective it doesn't really matter that he's on the conservative end of the spectrum because the district he represents is conservative.

This is seen in the SILVER scores for the Minnesota delegation. For those who aren't familiar with them, SILVER scores are a measure of how partisan a legislator is in the context of the district they represent. The purpose is to measure the amount of partisan value a legislator provides to a party over or under what would be expected.

Collin Peterson's SILVER score is -.04, about even. He's really conservative for a Democrat, but he represents a conservative district and it all comes out in the wash. But if you move Collin Peterson from his R+5 district to what would be a more liberal district than the current CD8, all of a sudden he becomes an asset for the GOP; a conservative Democrat in a liberal district.

Since the GOP can't beat Peterson in the 7th, they simply move him to a different, more liberal, district and let the DFL deal with it. It's a truly devious little maneuver by the GOP, but unfortunately for them Tom Emmer did not win the Governor's race and I don't see Mark Dayton coming anywhere close to signing onto this plan.

So, to sum up, the vast majority of the GOP's Power Point presentation defending their plan was nothing more than a series of vapid and nonsensical points in support of a vapid and nonsensical plan.

I guess you could say that's par for the course!

No comments:

Post a Comment