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A lot of the complaints about the electoral college and the Senate can be traced back to the fact that we have states that are wildly different in population. If they weren't, a lot of the structural imbalances wouldn't completely disappear, but be much diminished.

This diary series takes a look at how the United States might look if the States were restructured so that the continental US (including DC, but excluding Hawaii and Alaska) is divided into 100 equally large states. Every state would presumably have 5 Congressional Districts (which increases the house size to 503, assuming that Hawaii stays at 2 and Alaska at 1), but I'm not dealing with that for now.

Why 100 states? Well, mostly because I've looked at a version with 50 in the past (although I don't think that I've diaried it here), but you could also make an argument that large states could be correlated with dysfunctional governments and that smaller states might be functioning better. There's definitely a strong correlation between gubernatorial approval ratings and state size, for that matter.

With a population of about 3 million, states would also be much more cohesive than they are right now-- what does Miami have to do with the Florida panhandle, after all?

This diary will deal with the first 8 states, covering the territory of what currently is Florida and some of Georgia.

I don't really have witty names for the states, but I'd be happy to get some suggestions in the comments.

Miami

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Demographics:

60% Hispanic
21% White
17% Black

59.7% Obama in 2008 (all political numbers are two-way unless otherwise specified)
62.7% Obama in 2012 (2012 Obama numbers are estimated from county-level results, but with high accuracy)
65.1% Nelson in 2012

This is probably the most obvious state to draw and a very easy one to start with, given that it is largely cornered by the ocean.

This would be the first solidly majority-Hispanic state in the nation, with over half of these Hispanics being of Cuban descent. This state is solidly Democratic to begin with and trended heavily blue in 2012. The Democratic primary here would be absolutely fascinating, with different power bases being mainly Jewish Democrats, non-Cuban Hispanics, Cuban Democrats, which are growing in number, African-Americans and Haitians.

At the same time, Cubans at the local level are still fairly Republican and with non-Cuban turnout in local elections being low, a lot of the local government here could still be dominated by Republicans.

Rating: Lean D against Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, at least Likely D against everyone else, especially if Democrats nominate a Cuban.

Palm Beach

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Demographics:

62% White
17% Hispanic
17% Black

61.1% Obama in 2008
59.3% Obama in 2012
64.4% Nelson in 2012

Encompassing most of Broward County, almost all of Palm Beach and then some of the smaller counties north of these two giants, this state is politically not terribly interesting. It would almost certainly elect a Democrat, probably someone like  Debbie Wasserman-Schultz if she's interested. If she's not, Ted Deutch or possibly someone like Palm Beach State Attorney and former State Senator Dave Aronberg would do just fine.

Rating: Safe D

South Central Florida

Demographics:

74% White
15% Hispanic
8% Black

45.4% Obama in 2008
43.1% Obama in 2012
49.4% Nelson in 2012

You could probably dub this region the Florida Heartland. Most of the population lives along the coast in Cape Coral, Naples, Port Charlotte, and some smaller cities, with another, smaller concentration in the Lakeland area. Most of the area of the state though is made up by the swamplands of rural South Florida.

The state reaches, to get to its allocated 3.08 million people, into some southern exurbs of Tampa. That's hard to avoid. It also cuts out the Puerto Rican community in Osceola County, which I feel fits in much better with the state centered on Orlando.

This area is conservative, and Republican-- not always the same in the South, but in this case this area has been Republican for a while and doesn't tend to have terribly much sympathy for local moderate Democrats either. Bill Nelson's 2012 performance is probably the high water mark for Democrats in Florida, and he lost this area.

Connie Mack could try to finally get to the Senate from here, although it is doubtful that Republicans will just let him pass through the primary after his dismal 2012 campaign.

Rating: Safe R

Bay Area

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Demographics:

74% White
13% Hispanic
9% Black

51.1% Obama in 2008
49.6% Obama in 2012
57.9% Nelson in 2012

This might well be the only Gore-Bush-Obama-Romney district in the nation-- I'm not sure it went for Gore, although I guess I could calculate that if anyone's interested-- Gore underperformed Obama in Hillsborough and Pinellas, but did better than Obama in even 2008 in all areas north of Tampa-- winning Pasco County in the process.

In drawing this state, there was a hard boundary in the East given that Orlando shouldn't be split, so you have to move further North to fill up population, creating a mini Florida in the process that has Dixiecrats, African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, and even Cubans in some areas of Tampa. However, this version of Florida is slightly Whiter and thus a point more Republican than the currently existing version.

Kathy Castor would be the marquee Democratic candidate here, while someone like Dennis Ross or Gus Bilirakis could be candidates on the Republican side.

Rating: Lean R in mid-term cycles, toss-up in Presidential years.

Orlando/Space Coast

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Demographics:

65% White
18% Hispanic
12% Black

52.1% Obama in 2008
50.7% Obama in 2012
57.7% Nelson in 2012

Having placed the Bay Area and all of South Florida, the logical next state is located in Orlando. But Orlando and its surrounding areas don't have 3 million people, so it's merged with Cape Canaveral and the surrounding areas in Brevard County and reaching up further to almost Jacksonville-- an area that adds about a million people to the mix and prevents the state from being reliably Democratic.

I could well see the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party being fought here between Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman-elect Alan Grayson, and the outcome of that primary would largely determine whether the Senator from this seat would be a Democrat or a Republican.

Rating: Likely D with Nelson, Likely R with Grayson, Toss-Up otherwise.

North Florida


Demographics:

66% White
23% Black
6% Hispanic

46.2% Obama in 2008
45.0% Obama in 2012 

Yay, the first state that crosses old state lines! This state, which is about 80% old Florida, 20% old Georgia, would have been reliably Democratic locally up until 1994, and Clinton would have won it twice. Now, it is solidly Republican on a federal level, drowning out liberal strongholds like Gainesville and Tallahassee in giant masses of Southern Whites. Although we can't say for sure for obvious reasons, I do believe that Senator Nelson would have defeated Connie Mack in this state, but in an open seat race without incumbency this would definitely favor the Republican, especially since we have basically no incumbent Dixiecrats left anywhere in this area to try and pull this off. A John Barrow clone would probably be competitive.

Steve Southerland would probably be a strong candidate here. For Democrats, I imagine we would do okay with Alvin Brown, the mayor of Jacksonville, but I doubt he could pull it off.

Rating: Likely R with Brown, Safe R otherwise.

Low Country

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Demographics:

59% White
34% Black

49.8% Obama in 2008
49.2% Obama in 2012 

Much like North Carolina now, this would be a quintessential state in the slow trend of the Deep South back towards the Democrats-- a trend that will take many, many decades in most states, but has culminated already in Virginia, North Carolina, and now this state along the Low Coast of Georgia and South Carolina that would have voted by the narrowest of margins against President Obama twice, but solidly against other Democrat since 1964 whose last name doesn't start with a C.

It's hard to say where this area will go from here. On the one hand, the black population in this area has actually been shrinking. On the other hand, black turnout has been rising (and I don't believe that this effect can be completely explained by President Obama's race), and this area is getting more Hispanic and Asian-- currently 6%, although probably at best 2% of voters-- but that will rise.

Locally, it really depends on what we do here. At 34% African-American, this state is right at the edge between being expected to select a white or a black candidate in the primary-- there would probably be a lot of national pressure from the DNC/DSCC to select John Barrow here, which would make the race probably a shoo-in for Democrats, but I would be surprised if he didn't face strong opposition from an African-American Democrat from, say, Charleston in the primary, who would have a harder time to get elected in the General.

Rating: Likely D with Barrow, Toss-Up with someone else in a Presidential year, Lean R with someone else in a mid-term.

Atlanta

EDIT: I edited this due to some suggestions in the comments and over on RRH about the handling of the suburbs. The exurbs would be completely fuming if thrown in with Alabama, so the state retracts a bit from the exurbs-- other than the parts which are already majority-minority or likely will be by 2020-- and expands more into some commuter towns south of Atlanta.

Old version:
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New version:

Demographics:

Old:

42% White
40% Black
11% Hispanic
6% Asian

63.8% Obama in 2008
62.7% Obama in 2012 

New:

44% Black
38% White
11% Hispanic
6% Asian

67.5% Obama in 2008
66.3% Obama in 2012

This state would easily elect African-American Democrats, which is absolutely fascinating to me, because I imagine it would bring some political rifts and factions in that community more to the foreground. African-Americans get usually treated as one united voting bloc-- and that's usually not too far from the truth, so elections in a state where they would be the dominating political faction promise to be very interesting.

Rating: Safe D

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Comment Preferences

  •  but.... (0+ / 0-)
    A lot of the complaints about the electoral college and the Senate can be traced back to the fact that we have states that are wildly different in population.
    but isn't that part of why we have the electoral college? to lessen the electoral disadvantage of states with small populations?
  •  Splitting Hillsborough County won't go over well (0+ / 0-)

    Should the Tampa Bay area extend into Sarasota and Broward Counties?

  •  Fun thought experiment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisJohn, dufffbeer

    I look forward to the rest of the series.

  •  typo (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twohundertseventy

    you've got "Bill Grayson".

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:53:05 AM PST

  •  Wouldn't it be politically easier... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, bumiputera

    ...to just invade 50 adjacent countries and make each one a state? That way we wouldn't have to change existing states. And it would be more in keeping with our history.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 09:53:24 AM PST

  •  I like this. (0+ / 0-)

    Looking forward to the next parts!

    Farm boy, 20, who hit the city to go to college, WI-03 (home, voting), WI-02 (college), -6.75, -3.18, "Everyone's better when everyone's better"- Paul Wellstone

    by WisJohn on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 10:24:09 AM PST

  •  This is a very interesting idea (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, bumiputera

    I've attempted it myself awhile back, though my idea was to have Senate districts that crossed state lines due to the problem of state identities and continuity of state governments. I do have two suggestions when you get to the Upper South and Midwest, and several more in general:

    1. Tennessee is already divided into three parts officially. Counties in the Eastern Time Zone are East Tennessee, counties in Central Time but east of the west arc of the Tennessee River are Middle Tennessee, and counties west of the Tennessee River are West Tennessee. East Tennessee (Capital: Knoxville) is Appalachian and belongs with other regions of Appalachia, though it can easily be split. Middle Tennessee (Capital: Nashville) belongs with non-Appalachian regions of Kentucky (especially cave country and the Bluegrass) but not with Alabama if possible. West Tennessee (Capital: Memphis) can be combined with other low-lying areas on the Mississippi River, but especially the Delta regions of Mississippi and/or Arkansas.

    2. The Driftless Area should be its own state, even though it is currently spread over four states. It roughly corresponds to the current WI-02, WI-03, IL-17, IA-01, and MN-01, though it does not include southwestern Minnesota and stretches north at least to Northfield, MN. Its capital is probably Madison, but could be Dubuque or Davenport.
         Eastern Wisconsin is also the right size for a state. Its capital would be Waukesha or Green Bay even though Milwaukee is bigger. This would be one of the more culturally German states in the Union. In any case, thou shalt not place Madison and Waukesha in the same state at the size of state you're envisioning, nor place Milwaukee in a state not including the entirety of Waukesha, Washington, Ozaukee, and Racine Counties. If you need to split a county, Jefferson County can be split freely.
         Any leftover parts of Northern Wisconsin go with the Iron Range and Upper Peninsula.

    3. All states need capitals. Here are the ones that I'd suggest:

    Miami: Miami
    Palm Beach: Fort Lauderdale
    South Central FL: Cape Coral?
    Bay Area: Tampa
    Space Coast: Orlando
    North Florida: Tallahassee
    Low Coast: Charleston
    Atlanta: Atlanta

    4. That bit of Fulton County you didn't include is actually trying to secede from Fulton County anyways.

    5. Maybe you should allow 10% deviation to not split counties, but that's your perogative. Splitting Hillsborough is a community of interest violation.

    Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison)

    by fearlessfred14 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 10:26:10 AM PST

    •  I like the way you think on 1) and 2) (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      fearlessfred14, bumiputera

      Good suggestions. I remember I did 2) pretty much like that when I looked at this with 50 states (I'm not sure I have the data/single state pictures for that still around, but the full stitched-together version looked like this:

      http://imageshack.us/...

      I basically ended up with your Tennessee suggestions.

      3) Sounds good, although I wonder if the people in North Florida would want to have the government in comparatively liberal Tallahassee. Especially if the people in Georgia not really having the precedent, they might end up doing it in Jacksonville. All others are common sense.

      5) Yeah, but how to best -- or least bad-- split counties is half the fun :) Allowing for deviations that large would definitely speed things up, but I'm enjoying the nitty gritty "which Broward town do I place in Miami and which don't I?" or "which precincts near Ocala should go into the Tampa Bay one so that it isn't that weird" part of this best.

      •  Tennessee looks great on that map (0+ / 0-)

        and that Wisconsin split looks alright for 50 states, but just splitting those Upper Midwest states in two would not be the best for a 100-state map. Most notably, Green and Lafayette counties belong with the rest of the Driftless Area, and Dane and Waukesha Counties should be in different states if possible.

        Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison)

        by fearlessfred14 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 12:01:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, I agree. (0+ / 0-)

          This is why I like looking at states or regions with different numbers of districts. They always allow for different considerations and you always face different trade-offs of what you have to pair that isn't a perfect match.

  •  Well, the combination of (0+ / 0-)

    ND, SD, MT, WY and ID is certainly going to be one big ass state.

    But so it goes, I suppose.

  •  Suggestion (0+ / 0-)

    Put the populations in the rest of your diaries.

    Cool idea though, I'll be following.

    VA-03 (current residence) NC-07 (home)

    by psychicpanda on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:44:32 AM PST

  •  Thought provoking but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fearlessfred14

    Not gonna happen. Too much local history, state pride, other parochial concerns at stake.

    And you have tortured the maps to get the states of equal population. So what you gonna do in 10 years, after the next Census? Redistrict the 100 states?

    Better to live with larger differences in the population, give more important to keeping history and communities of interest.

    Breaking counties creates really nitty gritty problems. In the old days, county courthouses were where they kept the land records. Everything else was built on that, who owned what. Well, guess what? Nothing has changed. Determining who owns what is a major role of government now as ever. So it would be a huge mess to chop up the land records from half of Fulton County, to take one example.

    So politically and practically, it all seems a non-starter to me.

    But I recognize the problem you are grappling with.

    Perhaps you should chew on it from the other end.

    The nine largest states have half the country's population. They are the ones cheated the most by the assignment of two senators (and two bonus electoral votes) to each state.

    What is the smallest number of changes you would need to bring most of the states into a much narrower band of population size?

    As of the 2010 Census, California had 37,253,956 residents; Wyoming had 563,626. The 50-state+D.C. pop was 308,745,538, divided by 51 + 6,039,000.

    I'd suggest 1) Bay Area California, 2) Southern California, 3) Central Valley-Sierra Nevada, 4) around San Diego, and 5) Sacramento and the far northern area.

    Texas, 1) West Texas taking everything west of that Texas-Oklahoma line extended down to the Rio Grande (or maybe a line to the east of that, taking in San Angelo and Abilene), 2) around Houston, 3) around Dallas, and 4) around San Antonio down to the Valley. (Dallas would get Austin and the capitol building, since San Antonio has the Alamo, and H-town has the San Jacinto Battlefield.)

    New York, 1) Upstate, and 2) Downstate, sliced by taking the CT northern border line across to the PA northern border line.

    Florida, 1) around Miami-Dade/Ft Lauderdale, 2) around Orlando/Tampa-St Pete, and 3) northern-Panhandle.

    Illinois, 1) ChicagoLand, and 2) Downstate.

    Pennsylvania, 1) east of the Allegheny ridge, and 2) west of it.

    That gets you to Ohio and Michigan, #s 7 and 8, and it becomes very difficult to chop them up while maintaining communities of interest and pop balance. Maybe and east-west line in each, south of Cleveland in one case, north of Detroit in another. Or, 'Nevermind'.

    Well, that makes 11 new states. Hmmmn.

    Add District of Columbia for 12? Or merge it, restore it, to Maryland?

    And what about Puerto Rico? Hmmmn.

    So consolidate a few states?

    The smallest, Wyoming with Montana AND Idaho.

    Vermont with New Hampshire AND Maine.

    The two Dakotas with Nebraska ALSO.

    Rhode Island with Connecticut.

    Delaware with Maryland.

    That subtracts 8 states.

    About 53 states ranging from about 3 million to something over 7 million. (Excepting Hawaii and Alaska, very special cases.) Not perfect, but a lot better.

    Well, never gonna happen.

    But it was fun.

    ;-)

    Oh, I'm ready to accept Puerto Rico as a state whenever they get clear on what they want to do. I'd take Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica as Commonwealths en route to statehood (as P.R. is today, mas o menos).

    And after that? Free peoples determining their destiny in free elections.

  •  I'll be curious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fearlessfred14

    I'll be curious to see how you slice and dice the NYC, Chicago, and Los Angeles areas...

    Detroit is fairly easy. Take the Detroit-Warren-Livonia MSA, subtract St Clair, Lapeer, and Livingston counties, then as much of northern Macomb and northern and western Oakland as necessary to shrink it to fit, and you're there.

    I'm sure the folks excluded from Detroit would be happy to be rid of it (since they're primarily pretty right-wing Reps).

  •  Re: Atlanta (0+ / 0-)

    As you'll see from my new sigline, I've also been participating in the thread on RRH regarding this diary. Now that I think about it, you really should modify your State of Atlanta.

    As a commenter there said, the white exurban areas of Cobb and Gwinnett would not like being in an Atlanta-dominated state. That's true, but he was optimistic in saying those areas would 'depopulate' as if it were a passive process. The combination of political uncertainty, racial tension, and continued minority migration to the Atlanta area would make ideal conditions for blockbusting the white-flight exurbs in the State of Atlanta. Now, the Fair Housing Act is intended to prevent blockbusting, and does so in the following two ways:

    - Prohibiting real estate agents from claiming that house values will decrease due to minorities moving to the area

    They wouldn't have to do that in this situation. Rush Limbaugh would do that job for them at least as soon as a Democrat from either county gets a committee chairmanship in the legislature (particularly if that Democrat is black or Latino).

    -Prohibiting racially discriminatory pricing

    They wouldn't have to do this either if the old owners were scared enough to sell at fire sale prices. These are big homes that could be subdivided if necessary.

    The bottom line is that slumlords would probably blockbust most of Cobb and Gwinnett Counties before Congress would have time to act. It would be a complete gold rush of profiteering, fraud, corruption,and racial antagonism, probably with at least one outright race riot mixed in. So for the purposes of preserving racial harmony in this country, it would be best to include as few red exurbs as possible in the State of Atlanta.

    Male, 22, -4.75/-6.92, born and raised TN-05, now WI-02. "You're damn right we're making a difference!" - Senator-Elect Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), RRH: MadLib

    by fearlessfred14 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 04:47:41 PM PST

  •  Pretty sure I saw Mike Grimm in Penn Station. (0+ / 0-)

    Amtrak in the northeast is a great place to spot government people...

    Registered in NY-02, College CT-01, Spent most of the rest of my life on the border of NY-08 and NY-15

    by R30A on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 05:48:33 PM PST

  •  Are these 8 the states (0+ / 0-)

    Which would then each get 5 congressional districts?

    Pretty cool idea overall.

    24, Practical Progressive Democrat (-4.75, -4.51), DKE Gay Caucus Majority Leader, IN-02; Swingnut. Defeat Wacky Jackie for 2014!

    by HoosierD42 on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 04:09:41 AM PST

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