If there's anyone out there who thought that the next state to wrap up the redistricting process would be Oregon -- a state that got to a later start than some and where neither party controls the trifecta, thanks to the state House being split 30-30 between the two parties -- rather than one of the ones who've been working on it for a long time and where one party controls all the three levers (like South Carolina), please raise your hand!
Hot on the heels of the surprise announcement that the legislature had agreed on a legislative map for the next decade, now today comes the even more surprising announcement that they've also agreed on a Congressional map. (The courts had to draw the map in both 1991 and 2001, and most observers expected the same thing this year.) Apparently the path of least resistance was to make as few changes as possible, and that's exactly what they did. If you looked at the map zoomed out statewide, you probably wouldn't even notice any differences from the old map; when you look at Portland and Corvallis with a magnifying glass, you start to notice the changes.
Few of the districts needed to change very much as a result of population growth; OR-01 was the only one that needed to shed a lot (36K), and it did so by giving much of Portland west of the Willamette River (most notably, the downtown area) to OR-03. Since NW Portland is about as solidly Democratic a bunch of white people as you'll ever see, the effect will probably be to make David Wu's district (currently 61% Obama) a point or two less Democratic. OR-05 also gives up part of its small portion of Portland to the 3rd, giving up most of its triangular-shaped share of affluent SW Portland, although it does gain a small bit of SE Portland in exchange; this too may also make Kurt Schrader's district (54% Obama) a smidgen less Democratic.
Since shoring up Earl Blumenauer (currently in a 71% Obama district) isn't exactly a good use of Democratic votes, some of you may be wondering where the "compromise" part comes in. That comes with OR-04, which needs to pick up the most people of any district (26K). It accomplishes that by picking up all of the college town of Corvallis, which previously was halved between the 4th and 5th in a weird-looking micro-gerrymander that was predicated on the idea of keeping U of O and OSU in separate districts. Now the 'gown' as well as 'town' parts of Corvallis are in Peter DeFazio's 4th, giving this swingy district (currently 54% Obama) a little bit of a blue boost. (As for eastern Oregon's GOP stronghold of OR-02, it only needed to shed 4K people, and its lines barely changed at all.)
Leadership from both parties have approved the deal, but the chambers still need to vote on it (and Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber needs to sign off on it), so we can't count this a done deal yet. Given how uncontroversial the whole thing looks, I'd expect smooth sailing, though. UPDATE: Here's a link to a (very large) pdf of the whole new map. Helpfully, it includes overlays of the old boundaries.
UPDATE A DAY LATER: As predicted yesterday, the map flew through the legislature today, clearing the Senate 24-6 and the House 58-2; it heads to Kitzhaber for his signature. You might also check out Kari Chisholm's take at Blue Oregon, for a more detailed analysis of what Portland neighborhood goes where.