It's a concept you may or may not have heard before: the enlargement of Delaware to become the state of Delmarva by federating with the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia. The Delmarva Peninsula, the name of which is a portmanteau of Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia, is often considered to be a culturally distinct region, with some ambivalence toward the inclusion of Delaware's largest and most racially heterogeneous city of Wilmington in the definition (I include it).
This diary examines the effects on redistricting of a hypothetical (and entirely improbable) federation of this peninsular region into a single state ahead of the 2012 election cycle.
Here it is, the great state of Delmarva. This state is comprised of the entire state of Delaware, as well as Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties from Maryland and Accomack and Northampton counties from Virginia. At just under 1.4 million residents, it has two congressional districts, gaining one in addition to Delaware's original at-large district at the expense of Minnesota's 8th congressional district. I'll get to that later.
DE-01 (blue): Rep. John Carney (D) - 64.9% Obama, 33.4% McCain
This very blue district contains all of liberal New Castle County and all of conservative Cecil County, as well as most of Kent County (MD) and parts of Queen Anne's County and Kent County (DE). (Obviously something would have to be done about those two Kent counties.) Ultimately, it comes out to one of the bluest non-VRA districts in the mid-Atlantic. Carney, who lives in Wilmington, would romp here. Safe Democratic.
DE-02 (green): OPEN - 46% Obama, 52.9% McCain
Due to Delmarva's concentration of population in the urbanized north, this southern district is considerably larger, including most of the Eastern Shore taken from Maryland and all of Virginia's portion of the peninsula. Southern Delaware and the Middle Shore are famously conservative, though their red tinge is tempered somewhat by liberal population centers in Somerset and Wicomico counties, as well as the state capital of Dover. It still ends up being a district in which Republicans would be slightly favored, but the area is also ancestrally Democratic and not averse to electing Blue Dogs. Frank Kratovil Jr. might want to take a run here. Lean Republican.
But you didn't think I'd make a Delmarva diary without showing its consequences in other states, did you? There's much, much more!
Obviously, with the Eastern Shore cut away, Maryland's redistricting process would look quite a bit different. As the Eastern Shore makes up less than 8% of Maryland's population, the state doesn't actually lose a district, holding steady at eight.
MD-01 (blue): OPEN - 59.8% Obama, 38.6% McCain
This renumbered district flips across the vertical axis of the state to become a Western Maryland plus western Montgomery County district. Rob Garagiola, who is currently running against Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, would probably run here if the Eastern Shore were suddenly to merge with Delaware and this map was adopted. Bartlett doesn't live here, and Republican strength in the Panhandle is diluted to ineffectual nothingness by sapphire Montgomery County communities. Safe Democratic.
MD-02 (green): Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D) - 57.1% Obama, 41% McCain
This Baltimore-area district wraps around the northern and western sides of the urban region and dips into mostly white neighborhoods in north Baltimore City. It puts Ruppersberger in pretty good shape, though he would have to do some campaigning. Working in the Democrats' favor here as in the rest of the state is that Maryland's bench of top-flight Republicans is pretty much entirely depleted. Likely Democratic.
MD-03 (purple): Rep. John Sarbanes (D) - 57.1% Obama, 40.7% McCain
Sarbanes is in a pretty similar situation to Ruppersberger. Due to the reconfiguration of the state absent the Eastern Shore, this district stays north of the Patapsco River, instead extending gummily into white ethnic parts of Baltimore and up to Towson, where Sarbanes lives, from its base along the western flank of Chesapeake Bay. It provides a good mix of constituents and special interests for Sarbanes to prep for a statewide bid, even if it doesn't provide the...ahem...geographic coverage that his redrawn district under the official new map does. Likely Democratic.
MD-04 (red): Rep. Donna Edwards (D) - 79.6% Obama, 19.4% McCain [51.7% black majority]
How great a guy am I? Not only did I limit Edwards's unfamiliar new acquisitions in Anne Arundel County, I gave her a little slice of Montgomery County. She doesn't deserve it after complaining about Gov. Martin O'Malley's map last month, but I guess her alternative wasn't really any worse for Team Blue on the numbers (transparently self-serving though it was), and it never really had a shot at being adopted anyway. No hard feelings, or whatever. Not much to say about this district other than that you might need to scroll up to get a better look at it. Oh, and it actually borders Maryland's other black-majority district, which I don't think I've seen on a Maryland map before. Safe Democratic.
MD-05 (yellow): Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) - 63.2% Obama, 35.7% McCain
Hoyer doesn't get College Park or other such areas close to Northwest Washington, but he does get the most Democratic non-VRA district in the state, and it includes the state capital of Annapolis. This district will likely trend bluer and become less white over the course of the decade, and Hoyer is really set for life here. Safe Democratic.
MD-06 (orange): Rep. Andy Harris (R) - 60.8% Obama, 37.5% McCain
In the immortal words of Nelson Muntz, "HA HA!" Harris has nowhere good to run under these lines, but this is where he lives: an all-new district anchored in the strongly Democratic triangle of Laurel, Columbia, and Olney. With the Eastern Shore attached, it's not easy to draw a district that acknowledges this tri-county community of interest. But with Maryland sitting alongside the state of Delmarva, it makes a lot of sense. I would expect a Democrat from either Laurel, Columbia, or Olney to run here and stomp Harris, if Harris even bothered to seek reelection. Safe Democratic.
MD-07 (cyan): Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) - 72.8% Obama, 25.8% McCain [52.7% black majority]
This district goes south out of the black inner city of Baltimore and its poorer suburbs to take in many of the more conservative suburbs, some of them rather well-heeled, in Anne Arundel County. It ends up being blacker than Edwards's neighboring Washington-area district, yet markedly less Democratic. Of course, that's all relative, and this district remains totally safe for Cummings or any Democratic nominee in any year. Safe Democratic.
MD-08 (magenta): Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Roscoe Bartlett (R) - 58.4% Obama, 39.8% McCain
With my apologies to Bartlett, he's even more screwed under these lines than he is under the official new lines. The major differences are that he would face Van Hollen, the former DCCC chair and super-committee member, instead of Garagiola in the general election, and that he wouldn't have Republicans in the Panhandle to help prop him up. Van Hollen would crush Bartlett here, and as Frederick becomes increasingly liberal and diverse, this district will only get bluer. Safe Democratic.
So losing the Eastern Shore is great news for Maryland Democrats, who are now able to draw an effective 8-0 that shouldn't upset anyone except for Republicans in any meaningful way. In fact, there's really no excuse for a Republican vote sink at all. But Maryland's southern neighbor is another story.
I do expect the Democratic Party of Virginia to hold onto the State Senate, and I think Democrats can force either a court-drawn congressional map or a bipartisan compromise map. This is the result of that expectation applied to this scenario in which Accomack and Northampton counties bugger off to federate together with Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
VA-01 (blue): Rep. Rob Wittman (R) - 42.5% Obama, 57.5% McCain
This district drapes much of Virginia's Chesapeake Bay coast, extending all the way up from Newport News to Stafford County in NoVa. The area it takes in is predominantly conservative, resulting in a district that is basically unwinnable for Democrats. Wittman would do very well with this map. Safe Republican.
VA-02 (green): Reps. Scott Rigell (R) and Randy Forbes (R) - 47.6% Obama, 52.4% McCain
While Forbes has been around for more than a decade and has been Teflon since winning a tough 2001 special election against Louise Lucas, Rigell is a freshman, knocking off then-Rep. Glenn Nye in the general election last year. This district, which is concentrated in white parts of the Hampton Roads region in southeastern Virginia, would tend to favor Republicans, but a Democrat would probably prefer to face Rigell than Forbes. It would be a delightful primary battle to watch, as Forbes is an evangelical culture warrior and Rigell is an establishment-type Republican who actually donated to Lucas back in 2001. Safe Republican with Forbes, Likely Republican without Forbes.
VA-03 (purple): Rep. Bobby Scott (D) - 67.9% Obama, 32.1% McCain [47.1% black plurality]
It's not possible to get this district up to majority black (and certainly not in terms of VAP) with the Eastern Shore gone without a racial gerrymander up into the Richmond area. Scott should still be fine in a primary, with black Democrats likely to dominate the vote, and this urban Hampton Roads district is solid for Democrats in the general election. Safe Democratic.
VA-04 (red): Rep. Robert Hurt (R) - 41% Obama, 59% McCain
Aside from him beating then-Rep. Tom Perriello last year, I really have nothing personal against Hurt, who seems like a decent enough guy as congressional Republicans go. Anyway, he's redistricted to a very safe district here that doesn't include Perriello's old stomping grounds in Charlottesville. It's actually considerably more "Southern" than his current district, which should suit him just fine. Safe Republican.
VA-05 (yellow): Rep. Eric Cantor (R) - 47.9% Obama, 52.1% McCain
The (shudder) House majority leader isn't as fortunate as Hurt, by the simple nature of geography. In fact, he might be unlucky enough to face a comeback bid by Perriello, which would set up a marquee (and totally awesome) matchup between one of the baddest of bad guys and one of the bravest of good guys. This district takes up most of the central part of the state, with its eastern fringe brushing up against Richmond and its northern part pushing into the outer edge of NoVa. Lean Republican.
VA-06 (orange): OPEN - 41.2% Obama, 58.8% McCain
Nobody's home incumbent-wise, but this is nominally the district of Rep. Bob Goodlatte, whose home in Roanoke is outside the district under this map. Goodlatte or whoever else runs here for Team Red should cruise in this Shenandoah Valley district. It won't be an interesting race. Safe Republican.
VA-07 (magenta): OPEN - 63% Obama, 37% McCain [48.9% white plurality]
It's not quite possible to get a black-plurality district just based in the Richmond area, but a minority-majority district is downright likely. I fully expect either a court-drawn map or a legislative compromise map to include a district like this; in fact, that may explain Cantor's decision to start listing his residence as Culpeper instead of the state capital. There is no incumbent for this district, but it strongly favors Democrats. Safe Democratic.
VA-08 (chartreuse): Rep. Jim Moran (D) - 66.8% Obama, 33.2% McCain
This district is contained to inner NoVa, which has become strongly Democratic over the past decade or so. Moran, who lives in Arlington, is a solid bet for reelection here, and Democrats should not have to worry about this seat at all. Safe Democratic.
VA-09 (cornflower): Reps. Morgan Griffith (R) and Bob Goodlatte (R) - 42.7% Obama, 57.3% McCain
With Salem and Roanoke actually bordering one another, both Griffith and Goodlatte wind up in this western Virginia district. I expect Goodlatte will move north, leaving Griffith unopposed in the Republican primary. He should romp to reelection in a district like this despite his freshman status. Safe Republican.
VA-10 (cyan): Rep. Frank Wolf (R) - 55.5% Obama, 44.5% McCain
Wolf will probably keep getting reelected until he calls it quits, but this district is D+1 and trending bluer, much unlike western Virginia. A Democrat should replace Wolf once he finally throws in the towel, and a vigorous challenge could unseat him, but the story of the district is ultimately the same as the story of any district where Wolf runs. Likely Republican with Wolf, Lean Democratic without Wolf.
VA-11 (brown): Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) - 57.4% Obama, 42.6% McCain
Connolly had quite a scare last year, and this district gets just a little bit safer for him. He won't enjoy the same turnout machine that exists for Ruppersberger and Sarbanes in their Baltimore-area districts, which voted for then-Sen. Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election by similar margins, but if he survived 2010 in a swingier district, he should survive future election cycles. Likely Democratic.
A 4-6-Wolf map appears to be the outcome of this Virginia redistricting. But in order to know the full effects of Delmarva's incorporation, I had to map the state that loses a district as a result.
Minnesota surprised political observers by pipping North Carolina at the finish line last year, denying it a widely expected 14th congressional district and holding onto its 8th congressional district. But if Delmarva were created, Minnesota would decline to seven districts, and at least one of its members of Congress would be out of luck. As Republicans control the legislature while Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton occupies the statehouse, it's eminently likely that redistricting will be done by the courts. This is my envisioning of that scenario under a seven-district format. You'll notice I went back to the default colors as I think Minnesota looks quite nice in them, though I flipped gray and teal.
MN-01 (blue): Rep. Tim Walz (DFL) - 50.6% Obama, 47% McCain
This district becomes a little more compact, losing its territory along the South Dakota border and expanding north toward the Twin Cities. In terms of partisan balance, it changes very little, which is decent news for the popular incumbent Walz. He should be able to win reelection here without too much trouble, as he is a good fit for the district. If he retires, though, it could be a battle to retain. Likely DFL with Walz, Tossup/Tilt Republican without Walz.
MN-02 (green): Reps. John Kline (R) and Erik Paulsen (R) - 50.5% Obama, 47.7% McCain
Well, Kline might not love this. The ultraconservative Republican's district gets a couple points bluer, and although Kline is probably the favorite here, he would have to fight for reelection most every cycle, as well as in a primary with Paulsen, who is redistricted here, unless Paulsen moves. Geographically, the district wraps more tightly around the southern perimeter of the Twin Cities, shedding a lot of rural territory in the southern part of the district in favor of swingy suburban areas. Lean Republican with Kline, Tossup/Tilt Republican without Kline.
MN-03 (purple): Reps. Betty McCollum (DFL) and Michele Bachmann (R) - 60.8% Obama, 37.3% McCain
What? Nelson Muntz, is that you again? Everyone's favorite crazy-eyed Republican is pretty much screwed here, with her district dismembered and the pieces given to substantially less Republican districts nearby. I don't even think Bachmann would attempt to run here. She might just rather get a spot on FOX News or host her own radio show. McCollum would decimate her if she did run in this Ramsey County-based district, of course. Safe DFL.
MN-04 (red): Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL) - 70.6% Obama, 22.4% McCain
Ellison's district is contained almost entirely within Hennepin County under this map, taking in both the city of Minneapolis and a number of its inner suburbs, including Edina and Bloomington, out to the eastern shore of Lake Minnetonka. It's a very blue part of the state, and Ellison would be fine here under any circumstances. Safe DFL.
MN-05 (gold): OPEN - 46.8% Obama, 51.3% McCain
This district is bereft of an incumbent, but it is demographically pretty similar to the district currently held down by Rep. Collin Peterson: namely, it is Republican-leaning, with a chance for a populist Blue Dog to win here and become a beloved institution. Paulsen would probably run here, perhaps facing an entertaining primary challenge from Bachmann, and while the Republican nominee would be favored, a Peterson-type DFLer from left-leaning St. Cloud could be competitive in the general election. Likely Republican.
MN-06 (gray): Rep. Collin Peterson (DFL) - 46.6% Obama, 50.9% McCain
And here's Peterson, with a district now extending straight down Minnesota's spine from the Canadian border to the interstate border with Iowa. Peterson is basically the DFLer equivalent of Frank Wolf, and he will keep getting reelected until the sad day when he doesn't run and a Republican takes over his seat (probably). Likely DFL with Peterson, Likely Republican without Peterson.
MN-07 (teal): Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) - 51.3% Obama, 46.3% McCain
Accidental Congressman Cravaaaaaaaaack faces a tough reelection bid next year, and though the Delmarva-induced reduction to seven districts is helpful to him in terms of the redder territory he picks up in central Minnesota to balance out the heavily unionized Iron Range and the DFL stronghold of Duluth, he's still an underdog here. Obama is generally understood to have underperformed in this part of the state, and a local DFLer with strong labor ties should pick this seat up. Lean DFL.
So Minnesota comes out to a 2-2-1-Walz-Peterson map here, probably good for a 5-2 split if Walz and Peterson (especially Peterson) don't retire and 2012 isn't awful.
Time for some math, which is not my strong suit.
112th Congress: Delaware 1D-0R, Maryland 6D-2R, Virginia 3D-8R, Minnesota 4D-4R. Total 14D-14R.
113th Congress: Delmarva 1D-1R, Maryland 8D-0R, Virginia 4D-7R, Minnesota 5D-2R. Total 18D-10R.
This has been a fun little experiment, if nothing else. If it gets a good reception, I might try this with other states as well (Wisconsin + Upper Peninsula of Michigan, for example).