Court Created Texas Redistricting Map (Not As Good As Mine!)
The three member court panel that is in charge of creating the new congressional districts in Texas (because Republicans overreached), issued its interim map yesterday, which is slightly nicer to Democrats than the previous one. But as this post will demonstrate, it could be much, much nicer to Democrats if they had control of the process and hired me to draw the lines. Picture below is the current map:
This map was created by Tom Delay in his infamous mid-decade partisan gerrymander, which set out to remove as many veteran Democrat congressman as possible (which it did, except for the persistent Lloyd Dogget and until 2010, Chet Edwards). This map has typically yielded around a 22-10, 23-9 congressional delegation in favor of the Republicans. Then the census data for 2010 showed the state was to gain 4 seats, and Republicans greedily tried to make all of them Republican, upping their advantage to 27 to 9 (in a state that voted 44% for Obama). So because of several consolidated court challenges to the proposed map, the court drew this one:
Now, it is certainly better than the previous one, but Republicans would still get a minimum of 21 of the 36 districts (if Dems gain every tossup and two lean R districts), but will likely collect about 24 on average. Pictured below is the map I drew, and though it can have a population deviation as large as 1200, most are fairly close (within+/- 200). This map has several wonderful qualities:
1) It limits safe/solid districts all around to just 19 districts, leaving 17 lean/tossup districts. The increase in district competitiveness should lead to more moderate, pragmatic legislators. These legislators are the glue in the traditional American political system, but have been disappearing as incumbent gerrymanders and party primaries lead to more radically polarized lawmakers.
2) It helps the Democrats! Though the Dems will have to win swing districts, they could potentially win 21 of the 36 districts (the exact opposite of the so-called wonderful court map). These Democrats may be moderates, but several of them should carve out a niche within each district, which in conjunction with population growth, should make some of the swing districts become lean/safe D over time.
3) This is all accomplished with very few odd shaped districts. Though some districts are enormous and some are tiny, they are normal shapes without any apparent partisan gerrymandering taking place (even though this is a Democrat gerrymander).
Here is a breakdown of Obama’s percentages in the current districts, the legislative version, the court version, and my version:
Even though this is a Democratic gerrymander, it is still essentially a fair map in that it has 14 Republican districts, 14 Democratic districts, and 8 tossups.
For more calculations and for replicability, here is a spreadsheet of these calculations: