With no final districts yet drawn in Texas for the 2012 election, with Texas's 2012 primary date still unknown, and with ongoing legal wrangling in multiple different courts about multiple different sections of the Voting Rights Act, about Congressional, State House, and State Senate redistricting in Texas, you might think that there would be enough going on to keep a political junkie busy.
But you would be wrong. There's just not enough going on. We need more! So, what is a political junkie to do?
If you guessed, "forget all of that, let's start thinking about 2020," then you are correct! In fact, I am not the first person to write a diary about 2020 redistricting in Texas. If you like this diary, you'll also like wwmiv's diary. Read it if you haven't already. The main difference between my diary and wwmiv's is that wwmiv tried drawing a Republican map, and ended up with something that would probably elect about an even D-R delegation. I drew a Democratic gerrymander that aims for no less than 29 Democratic seats (out of 40 total), with 17 districts intended to be Hispanic opportunity districts, most of which are two-thirds or more Hispanic. Admittedly, Hispanic voters will probably not singlehandedly control the weaker of those districts right away, without greater registration and turnout.
I made my own 2020 precinct level population projections, loaded them into Dave's Redistricting App, and drew the map based off of that. I started by taking 2020 statewide population projections by race and subtracting 2010 Census numbers from 2020 projections to get the projected statewide growth for each racial group. Then for each racial group, I assigned 2010-2020 growth (or loss) in proportion to each county's share of the 2000-2010 growth. For example, about 25% of the statewide white population gain from 2000-2010 occured in Williamson County, so I assigned 25% of the projected statewide white population gain for 2010-2020 to Williamson County. Then for each racial group, I distributed the population gain among precincts in proportion to the current distribution of each racial group in each precinct.
This methodology is similar to the methodology used for population estimates in Dave's Redistricting App prior to the 2010 census. It suffers from the same sorts of problems. It is certain to understate suburban growth and overstating urban growth, which is to the Republican's advantage. On the other hand, it understates the degree to which the minority population is dispersing into the suburbs, which is to the Democrats advantage. The greatest inaccuracies will be in the largest counties (Harris and Dallas, especially).
To be clear, this is fantasy redistricting. Republicans are essentially certain to control the Texas State House and State Senate in 2020, so even if a Democrat won the Governorship, we're not about to see a Democratic gerrymander until at least the mid 2020s, when it might start becoming theoretically possible for Democrats to re-take the state legislature. However, it's fun to see what might be (theoretically) possible, and instructive to look at how Texas's changing demographics might translate onto the level of individual districts. But population projections are just that - projections, and are sure to be incorrect. Growth could easily slow or speed up unexpectedly for any number of reasons, and all sorts of things could turn out to be different. I am making any number of assumptions which may or may not turn out to be actually true; basically I am assuming that with the exception of demographic change, everything else stays pretty much the same politically. I frequently assume that if I draw a district that Obama barely won in 2008 or that McCain even won slightly in 2008, that if it has rapidly changing Demographics, it will probably be at least lean Democratic by 2020. So with the caveat that this is all highly hypothetical, here's how the 2020 population projections using that methodology look statewide and in the major counties:
Overall, the population estimates I used are a bit higher. Other than that, they are comparable to the proximityone estimates. If you think I have the Hispanic population along the border too high, go ahead and imagine that one of my border Hispanic districts isn't there. Actually, while you're at it, go ahead and mentally switch one seat each in Dallas, Houston, and Austin to the GOP as well. Then we're looking at a 25-14 Democratic delegation. So even if you think the projections I am using are too high, the demographic and political change is enormous.
One of the striking things to notice is that both Dallas County and Harris County become majority Hispanic. It's not a question of whether Texas looks like this demographically, but when it will. 2017? 2020? 2023?
But enough with that, lets get on to the districts. Note that while I will reference the Obama/McCain results from 2008, they are only of limited value in projecting forwards as far ahead as 2020. Generally, I assume that where the minority population is growing, Democrats will outperform Obama '08 in 2020.
As much as I was tempted to let TX-16 get in on the action of diluting rural West Texas, I let it remain basically as it is - a compact, overwhelmingly Hispanic and Democratic district.
However, TX-11 definitely does get in on that action, in an epic way. TX-11 is sucked into El Paso, where it picks up about 200,000 people, nearly all of whom are Hispanic. Then it heads to Midland/Odessa, where it picks up all the most heavily Hispanic precincts in those two cities. By the way, with these population projections, Ector County (Odessa) is 65% Hispanic - wow. Then it turns north and covers the entire length of the New Mexico border, all the way to Oklahoma (making a detour through the most heavily Hispanic precincts in Amarillo). Finally, it turns east all the way to Canada... No, wait, I mean the town of Canadian, Texas. That's most of the way from El Paso to Oklahoma City.
The end result of this maneuvering is a district which is 75.4% Hispanic, but which voted in 2008 for John McCain over Barack Obama 60.3% to 39.7%. The Hispanic population was definitely lower in 2008 than it will be in 2020, but why did this district vote so strongly for McCain? Is Hispanic turnout just that low? Are Hispanics here more Republican than in the rest of Texas? Or is it that the white voters here are even more Republican than white voters elsewhere? Or a combination of all of those? I don't know the answer to that question for sure.
Consider Deaf Smith County, which was 67.3% Hispanic in 2010 and is 78.7% Hispanic in my 2020 projections. It voted only 26.5% for Obama in 2008, with very low turnout. On the precinct level it is clear that the most heavily Hispanic precincts are the most Democratic - and also have the most abysmally low-turnout. Again on the other hand, Spanish surname voter registration is 48.3%.
Maybe this district doesn't make so much sense, but I went ahead and drew it, rather than just giving up and stranding so many West Texas Hispanics in super-Republican white dominated districts. Hopefully demographics are enough to push it up from 40% D in 2008 to 51% D in 2020. Also, the dem average is a bit higher - 43%. But this is the weakest of all the 29 districts that I am optimistically calling "Democratic."
TX-28 is similar in style to TX-11. It stretches from Larado up the Rio Grande and Pecos to Midland/Odessa, where it picks up all the least Hispanic precincts (to stop them from going into TX-11. Even though we're only talking about less than 140,000 people, those white Republicans hurt TX-28 a lot. Without them, the rest of the district is 56.1% Obama. With them, it's 44.4% Obama. But I had to have TX-28 eat them... so that then it could go on to Lubbock and eat up the increasingly Hispanic rural counties nearby as well as all the juiciest urban Hispanic precincts.
Overall, the district is 74.7% Hispanic in 2010 with 54.7% Spanish surname voter registration right now. Despite the 2008 Obama percentage, I really do think demographics would probably be enough to go blue, especially for a conservative Hispanic Dem like Henry Cuellar, but it probably wouldn't be a cake walk. But oh, how much I would prefer to put those Permian Basin Republicans in the TX-13 vote sink!!! Unlike their Hispanic neighbors, they actually vote, and vote unanimously GOP.
In retrospect, maybe that's how I could have given TX-16 something to do (other than just sit there smugly in the corner talking to it's friend, New Mexico, and looking compact).
TX-34 is a new Fajita strip district that starts in Mission in Hidalgo County. And it is indeed a district on a mission - to pick up some more Hispanics in rural West Texas. To accomplish this, it stretches up through what seems like a lot of Larado. But don't be fooled - it's mostly just desert included in order to make the district be contiguous. It goes north and takes in all of San Angelo and nearby (increasingly Hispanic) rural counties. It even sticks an arm into Abilene to pick up a few succulent Hispanic precincts.
Overall, we're looking at a 76.1% Hispanic (2020), 55.6% SSVR (2010), 47.1% Obama (2008) district.
A 75.4% Hispanic fajita strip stretching from McAllen all the way to Lagrange; 54.7% Spanish surname voter registration right now.
A new fajita strip district that runs from Harlingen, through Victoria, all the way to Wharton. 74.4% Hispanic in 2020; 54.0% Spanish surname voter registration right now.
TX-27 is broadly similar to the current TX-27. It goes from Cameron County up to Corpus Christi. 76.5% Hispanic in 2020, with 55.1% Spanish surname voter registration even in 2010. It should be Democratic; Blake Farenthold is a fluke.
TX-23 no longer stretches to El Paso to San Antonio, and instead stretches from Hidalgo County to San Antonio's western suburbs. Appearances are a bit deceptive here - 74% of the people live in Bexar county, and 61% of them are Hispanic - this really is a Bexar Hispanic district. 83% of the other 200,000 people appended onto the district are Hispanic, making it clock in overall at 67.2% Hispanic (2020 numbers). It's 46.3% SSVR right now, but should easily be over 50% on that metric by 2020.
TX-20 is sitting pretty at 67.3% Hispanic (2020), 45.8% SSVR (2010). Again, that latter number will go up.
Now is the time when we must stop and shed a tear for poor Lamar Smith, whose beautiful district has mysteriously become 66.5% Hispanic (2020), 45.3% SSVR (2008). It even voted by a few hundred votes for Obama in 2008. What is a Lamar to do? Perhaps move to Fredericksburg and try his hand in TX-19, perhaps?
With the assimilation of TX-21 accomplished, every single person in Bexar county will now live in a Hispanic opportunity district.
Next is our Austin Hispanic district, TX-35. And it really is our Austin Hispanic district now, not our Austin-San Antonio Hispanic district. Yes, it does include a bit of Bexar county, but only 65,000 people (who are only 48% Hispanic). Like an overly excited toddler on an easter egg hunt, TX-35 swoops up all the most popular growing Hispanic precincts along the I-35 corridor, making stops in Seguin, New Braunfels, San Marcos, and Lockhart. But the real fun is to be had in Travis County proper, which makes up a little bit less than half of the district and which is 73.2% Hispanic.
Overall, the district is 62.4% Hispanic (2020), 32.1% SSVR (2010). Although that number will go up, the relatively low SSVR is largely a symptom of the fact that more Hispanics in Austin are recent immigrants than are Hispanics in San Antonio and on the border. Although Hispanics will definitely have a lot of influence and may well elect their candidate of choice in this district, they are not necessarily guaranteed of fully controlling either the Democratic primary or the general election. However, I don't see that as an excuse to not at least give Hispanics a district where they have as much influence as possible, and that certainly doesn't justify dividing Hispanics higgledy-piggledy among numerous separate districts.
We'll see more of the same issue as we get to Houston and Dallas. My general approach was to draw a Hispanic district wherever there was a large concentration of Hispanics. Not all will "perform" right away, and there will be Gene Greens, but the more opportunities you create, the more you will start actually seeing Hispanics getting elected in Texas' metropolitan areas.
TX-25 is a white liberal district for the much beloved Lloyd Doggett. It is bleached of Hispanics by TX-35 and is 62.5% white. Nonetheless, it voted 55.5% for Obama in 2008. TX-25 also performs a useful task, diluting most of heavily GOP Comal County. I would love to see Lamar Smith even try and run in this district (against Doggett).
Poor John Carter. His perfect suburban Republican district gets sucked into Austin and becomes a white liberal district. 61.3% white (2020), 50.1% Obama (2008). Admittedly, this district still has some suburban swing in it, and it may not necessarily be impossible for a Republican to win here. Obama did outperform the Dem average by a lot, and this part of Austin is not diversifying as fast as other parts.
But there does seem to be a correlation between development being hemmed in by geography (the hills of West Austin, in this case), and the existence of white liberals.
Poor Mike McCall. He's even worse off than John Carter. McCall doesn't even live in what is (nominally, anyway) his district - he lives over in TX-25 with Lloyd Doggett.
TX-10 is now just 45.6% white (2020), and voted 48.5% for Obama (2008). This district is anchored by two rapidly diversifying areas - Pflugerville in Travis county and Killleen in Bell County. Life is simply difficult for Republicans in Austin area districts which are less than 50% white. Even though McCain won in 2008, there's just no way a Republican wins here by 2020.
Moving up I-35 from Bell County, we come to McClennan county. We find ourselves in uncharted territory - we're briefly in TX-17, one of the 11 GOP Superfortresses. However, as we come to Waco, we get a pleasant surprise. It turns out that a thoughtful representative from Dallas has swooped down and liberated 140,000 people in majority-minority precincts. Who could be so thoughtful? Why, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, of course! In a way, it's a return to childhood for her, because she was born in Waco. She is probably liberating relatives and long lost childhood friends. So she is only too happy to lend a helping hand.
As we go a bit further north, it turns out that Eddie Bernice Johnson has also liberated the the entireties of Navarro and Ellis counties. That's a bit more of a hostile liberation, as most of the people being liberated probably would have preferred Joe Barton.
Then TX-30 enters Dallas county, where it picks up all the premier African American majority precincts. And I do mean (pretty much) all of them. But after that, Congresswoman Johnson's district is still easily plurality African American, but she still needs more population... What's a Congresswoman to do?
She decides to stop by Highland Park, University Park, and Preston Hollows to try her hand at representing all those wealthy white Republicans. After all of this liberation, TX-30 has a (bare) 34.2% African American majority. No worries though - African Americans will easily form a supermajority of Democratic primary voters. As far as teh General Election is concerned, the district voted 58.6% for Obama in 2008, and the minority population has only gone up since then. After a hard day's liberation, the Congresswoman looks wistfully to the east at Tyler, and realizes she forgot to liberate the African Americans there. Oh well, one can only do so much.
TX-05 contracts into Dallas County and becomes 57.4% Hispanic (2020), and the current SSVR is only 17.7%. That's not enough for Hispanics to really control the district, so my characterization of this as a Hispanic opportunity district is questionable. In reality, I suspect it might be a bit above 60% Hispanic in 2020, because a lot of Dallas' Hispanic population growth is taking place in Garland and the eastern suburbs. However, the black population is 17.8% and the white population is 19.5%, so it could actually even elect an African American democrat. Regardless, TX-05 is easily safe Dem.
TX-33 is my premier DFW Hispanic district, registering at 72.4% Hispanic (2020), which is pretty close to as high as you can get. The SSVR is only 28.8% now, but that number will go up. Although it's by no means impossible that another of the DFW districts to elect a Hispanic representative, this district is the most likely to "perform."
TX-38 is a new Tarrant County Hispanic district. It achieves more or less the highest possible Hispanic share within the county (60.6%), and SSVR right now is 22.7%. You can make a case that I should have tried to draw two Hispanic districts in DFW rather than three. From a partisan perspective, that would probably actually be good for Democrats, because it would allow TX-24 and TX-32 to become more heavily majority-minority.
Earlier, when I said that Eddie Bernice Johnson picked up all the premier African American precincts in Dallas... Well, I lied. There are some left over for TX-06, which starts in Cedar Hill, runs along the irregular boundaries of TX-38 through Arlington, and ends up in downtown Fort Worth. Nobody is less happy about all of this than Joe Barton.
TX-06 is a coalition district with a 39.1% white plurality. However, most of the white voters are Republicans, and the 27.0% African American population probably determines the winner of the Democratic primary (and then the GE). TX-06 voted 52.7% Obama in 2008, and is only getting more Democratic.
Currently there is only one Democratic district in DFW (TX-30). Republicans led by Joe Barton have been fighting tooth and nail in court to avoid creating a second one. I have already drawn 3 Hispanic Dem districts, 1 African American Dem district, and one Coalition Dem district. Surely there can't be room for a 6th Democratic district...
But, oh, there is! You will have to figure out what species of Octupus most closely resembles TX-24's shape, but I'll go ahead and tell you that it's a 41.4% plurality white district (2020). It voted 49.1% for Obama (2008), and includes parts of Dallas and Tarrant counties as well as carefully selected precincts in Denton County. Obama outperformed the Dem average here by 10 points, so it might be shaky, but eventually demographics prevail.
We're not done yet. Remember how Eddie Bernice Johnson liberated Highland Park, University Park, and Preston Hollows? Well, that means that they can't be in TX-32 any more, much to Pete Sessions' chagrin. Even with two Hispanic districts and TX-24 hoovering up Democratic and minority voters, there are enough Democrats left over in North Dallas to create one more Democratic coalition district. This requires some very careful precinct selection in Collin County. I will call this district the "Walk like an Egyptian" district for its shape. It's 40.6% White (2020) and 49.2% Obama (2008). Like TX-24, it may not be a slam dunk immediately, but is definitely trending Dem.
If you thought that 7 Democratic districts in DFW was aggressive, shield your eyes as we turn towards the 9 Democratic districts I drew in Houston. The first of those on our tour is TX-29, which is 81.5% Hispanic (2020) and 49.7% SSVR (2010). With all these Democratic districts to choose from, Gene Green probably wouldn't run here (if he hasn't retired by 2020). That makes a Hispanic Democrat the prohibitive favorite here.
TX-18 moves out further into North-East Harris County, but TX-18 remains African American controlled. It actually has a 41.3% Hispanic plurality, but the 36.3% African Americans are the bulk of the district's voters.
TX-37 is a new North/West side Hispanic district. It is 76.0% Hispanic (2020) and 38.1% SSVR (now). By 2020, SSVR will probably be approaching majority status, and despite low Hispanic registration and turnout, one suspects that this district would probably end up electing a Hispanic representative, although that's not certain.
Let's do a math problem. After drawing an 81.5% Hispanic district, a 76.0% Hispanic district, and a plurality Hispanic African American district, are there enough Hispanics in the Houston area left over to draw a third Hispanic district?
Yes there are! By connecting the most heavily Hispanic precincts in South-West Houston, Rosenberg, and increasingly Hispanic sections of Western Harris County, we can draw a 61.8% Hispanic (2020), 24.0% SSVR (2008) district. The shape required to accomplish this feat makes TX-22 Texas' answer to IL-04.
The SSVR will be higher than 24.0% in 2020, but pretty clearly not a majority, so like in TX-05, this district electing a Hispanic representative is probably a dubious proposition. African Americans are 15.3% of the district and Whites are 13.7%, so this district could end up actually electing an African American representative.
Of course, from a partisan Dem perspective, if you would rather not draw this district and would rather more evenly divide minority voters among TX-02, TX-07, and TX-22, that would only make TX-02 and TX-07 more solidly Democratic, so I would only be too happy to oblige...
TX-07 is carved out in between TX-37, TX-9, TX-18, and TX-22 from what is left over. It is 42.8% white (2020) and 47.1% Obama (2008). Like the Dallas coalition districts TX-24 and TX-32, this could be somewhat shaky. But after the minority population reaches a certain threshold, it just starts to get tough to be a Republican. As mentioned, TX-07 would love to trade a few precincts with TX-22...
TX-02 is an attempt to carve out one more additional Westside Houston Dem coalition district. It is 38.2% White (2020), but only 38.6% Obama, making it one of the weakest districts I drew (along with TX-11 in West Texas). However, the pace of demographic change in this part of Houston is faster than just about anywhere in Texas. Is the pace fast enough to turn this district blue? If not so immediately, one can imagine a Republican winning for an election or two and then getting swept out.
TX-09 is Houston's second African American district. I diluted the African American plurality down to 29.6% in order to help TX-14, but realistically Al Green has nothing to worry about.
The Lampsonmander stretches along the coast from Beaumont through Galveston and down to Freeport, then up into Pearland and NASA. When I originally drew the district, the 2008 Obama vote was only in the mid/high 40s, so I traded some (heavily African American urban Houston) territory with TX-09, knocking TX-14 up to 49.7% Obama. This district is 37.2% White.
The GOP Superfortress
The GOP Superfortress consists of 11 utterly safe Republican seats. On average, the 11 GOP Superfortress districts are 66% white (2020), whereas the 29 Democratic districts are on average 28% white (2020). On average, the 11 GOP Superfortress districts voted 28% for Obama in 2008, whereas the 29 Democratic districts voted 52.5% for Obama in 2008. Despite the fact that the 11 GOP Superfortress districts make up only 27.5% of the statewide 2020 population, they cast 44.1% of the statewide 2008 presidential votes. That tells you something both about minority turnout and about the scale of Demographic change in Texas. It's also interesting that the Democratic zone and the GOP Superfortress are both nearly geographically contiguous. The only reason they are not entirely contiguous is that I cut TX-17 through 1 precinct across I-35. The GOP Superfortress rivals the Democratic zone in land mass, but not in population.
TX-36 is made of the most Republican parts of Galveston County, Pasedena, Kingwood, and rural SE Texas. Ted Poe, Pete Olson, and whoever ends up winning TX-36 in 2012 get to arm wrestle for this district.
No worries for Kevin Brady. Any district based in Montgomery County will be safe Republican forever.
Bill Flores is safe here. The district is a bit more centered around Bryan/College Station now, which should make him happy. It is a shame about the wasted Democrats in B/CS. :(
This long, thin rural east Texas district stretches from the Dallas exurbs to the gulf coast. I guess Jeb Henserling probably goes here, rather than face certain doom in Dallas County.
Louie Gohmert is safe. His district is only 56.8% white though, so maybe I could have made it competitive for a Blue Dog with some creative line drawing. There are some untapped sources of strength around like Texarkana and College Station.
If Ralph Hall is somehow still in Congress in 2020, he will be very old. Either way, he or his Republican successor is very safe.
Likewise, with Sam Johnson and TX-03. Either he or another Republican is safe. Maybe Pete Sessions or Kenny Marchent runs here rather than try to be a hero in their more Democratic districts.
Safe GOP for Michael Burgess or maybe for Kenny Marchent.
Maybe Joe Barton ends up running here in a GOP primary against Kay Granger. Obviously safe GOP...
A safe rural GOP district. Perhaps we see a Lamar Smith vs. Mike McCaul vs. John Carter primary struggle.
The three West Texas GOP districts are pretty much condensed into this one. Shattered fragments of Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene, plus rural areas and Wichita Falls. Mike Conaway vs. Randy Neugebauer vs. Mac Thornberry royal rumble, unless one of them wants to try and win a 3/4 Hispanic district.