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Note to readers - this is just a DK Elections "Fantasy Redistricting" Diary. This is just a hypothetical theoretical exercise, for (possibly a perverse sort of) "fun." That is all.

This also illustrates the ridiculous power of gerrymandering. I can draw a map of Texas with safe 31 GOP seats and only 5 Democratic seats.

At the same time, in a previous diary earlier this year, I drew an extreme Democratic gerrymander of TX (using rough 2020 population projections) which had only 9 safe GOP seats.

The extraordinary difference between the two outcomes stems solely from gerrymandering.


The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the case of Shelby County v. Holder, a case which challenges the constitutionally of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

So, I decided to see what Texas's Congressional Districts might look like if there were no such thing as the Voting Rights Act to restrain Republicans in Texas.

Accordingly, no holds are barred in this map when it comes to disenfranchising minority voters. This is of course not because I think that minority voters ought to be disenfranchised, but rather is because I wanted to see what Republicans might do, if there is nothing to stop them. So this map is a nightmare, rather than an ideal to strive for.

So, how bad could things get if there were no Voting Rights Act?

Very bad.

This map draws 31 safe Republican seats, which are all at least R+10. There are 5 packed Democratic districts - one in El Paso, one in South Texas, one in San Antonio, one in Houston, and one in Dallas. In keeping with Republican redistricting traditions, Austin is split into multiple districts and disenfranchised, and an attempt is made to get rid of Lloyd Doggett. But unlike previous Republican attempts to get rid of Lloyd Doggett, this attempt would almost certainly be successful, because all four districts containing any part of Travis County are R+10 or R+11. Doggett's only option would be to either retire or to try and win a primary in TX-20, which is entirely in Bexar County. And because Doggett is from Austin rather than San Antonio, he would almost certainly lose that primary. There are also a number of "Fake Hispanic" districts which have large Hispanic populations and are meant to make it appear that Hispanics are voting for Republicans. But in reality, all of these R+10 Fake Hispanic districts are R+10 because of White voters, not because of Hispanic voters.

By Texas standards, I think most of the districts are fairly compactish and cleanish. That's not to say that they actually are either compact or clean, but just that they are compactish and cleanish by Texas standards - and that's a whole different set of standards.

First of all, here are the stats for all the districts (using sawolf's DRA template). Again, you can clearly see that all 31 Republican districts are R+10 or higher, while there are only 5 Democratic districts (which range from "only" D+14 all the way to D+34). The population figures shown are for the Voting Age Population, so the minority populations are actually higher than shown for the total population:

And here's what the statewide map looks like:

First of all we'll take a look at the districts which are not in South Texas, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort-Worth, or Houston. Then we'll look at districts in each of those areas close up.


Very Safe GOP District based in Amarillo and Wichita Falls. R+30!!!


Safe GOP Lubbock district, which stretches to Denton to get enough population (and ensure that those pesky UNT College Dems votes are drowned out).


Now we move to El Paso. This is the 1st Democratic district we have come to. 1 down, 4 to go... It just consists of all the most heavily Democratic precincts in El Paso.


TX-11 is the first Fake Hispanic district. The VAP is 56.9% Hispanic and the total population is 61.1% Hispanic. In addition, 46.5% of the registered voters in TX-11 have Hispanic surnames. Nonetheless, this district is R+16 because the white voters are so overwhelmingly Republican. This district is based in Midland/Odessa, but also includes the part of El Paso not in TX-16. In addition, it reaches down the Rio Grande and includes half of Laredo.


A heavily Republican rural district in Central Texas. R+17.


Louie Gohmert maintains his base in Tyler, but moves north a bit to pick up Texarkana. In any case, it is R+23, so unfortunately he's not going anywhere.


TX-35 includes Jefferson County (Beaumont) as well as parts of rural east Texas to the north around Nacogdoches. Although the "Dem Average" is supposedly 45.1%, and although a Democrat could have won here 10 years ago, there is no possible way this district will elect a Democrat today.

South Texas


This is the one Democratic district conceded in South Texas. It is 91.6% Hispanic VAP and D+21. It is not terribly compact, but instead tries to gobble up all the most Democratic precincts in the area.


TX-28 is another one of those Fake Hispanic districts. It is 57.6% Hispanic VAP, but is also R+12. It starts in Rio Grande City, heads north through half of Larado, and ends up hundreds of miles to the north in the outskirts of Abilene.


Another Fake Hispanic district. Are you noticing a pattern here? That's right, it is 55.4% Hispanic VAP, but is also R+10. Hispanics in the Edinburg/McAllen area are outvoted by White voters in the San Antonio suburbs and rural areas to the north.


Blake Farenthold Paradise. Another Fake Hispanic district. 53.0% Hispanic, but also R+12. It includes many Hispanics in Cameron and Hidalgo counties, but Democrats and Hispanics are cut out in Corpus Christi and put into TX-14. Only the White Republican parts of Corpus Christi are included in TX-27. Then TX-27 heads further up the gulf coast to add more White Republicans, for the purpose of ensuring that the Hispanic votes cast for Democrats do not count.

So, all in all, South Texas has 1 actual Hispanic district and 3 R+10 or more Fake Hispanic districts.


Next up is the Houston area!


As we were saying, TX-14 starts in Corpus Christi, where it picks up all the Democrats in Nueces County. Then it heads north through rural areas and into the south Houston exurbs, and finally ends up in Galveston. R+12. Although it probably is not enough to really qualify as a Fake Hispanic district, it is also 42.4% Hispanic VAP.


TX-18 is the only Democratic district in the Houston area. It is outright majority African American and is D+34, making it the most Democratic district in Texas. It is an extremely effective Democratic vote pack district.


Tom Delay's old district in Fort Bend and Galveston Counties remains Safe R - R+13.


It's not only South Texas that has Fake Hispanic districts. There is also a Fake Hispanic district in Houston - TX-29!!! This district is 49.7% Hispanic VAP, but is R+12 because all the Hispanics are attached to some extremely Conservative white voters.


TX-2 combines heavily Republican whites with some minority voters. Surprise, surprise, the Republican whites win, and the minorities are disenfranchised. R+16.


TX-36 includes a very large number of minority voters in North Houston. But then it heads north through Montgomery county and into heavily Republican rural East Texas. Again, the White Republicans' votes count more. R+14.


TX-8 is based in the Woodlands in Montgomery county, but extends two arms down into different parts of Harris County to ensure that minority votes do not count. R+14.


TX-7 is the most compact district in Houston. Unfortunately, it is also safe Republican - R+12.


Diverse South-West Houston is cracked primarily by this district, which in real life is drawn very differently and is heavily Democratic. In this evil alternative universe, Southwest Houston is combined with White Republicans in Katy and Cypress, who ensure that this district remains GOP. R+13.


This last district includes lots of Republicans in Cinco Ranch and Montgomery County. As we are about to see, it stretches over to Austin and dilutes Democratic voters there, using the Republicans in the Houston area to outvote the Austin Democrats. R+11.

Austin & San Antonio

(TX-10 continued) As you can see below, TX-10 includes most of eastern Travis County. But the Republicans in the Houston area outvote the Austin Dems. Republican incumbent Mike McCaul will be happy, except I think I probably drew his house out of the district. Oh well. R+11


Lamar Smith gets only a small part of South Austin. Most of the district is in Hays/Comal Counties and San Antonio. R+10.


Moving for a moment into San Antonio, TX-20 is the Democratic Vote Sink. D+18.


TX-23. Did you think we were done with the Fake Hispanic districts? If so, you were WRONG! TX-23 is redrawn to resurrect Quico Canseco from his defeat at the hands of Pete Gallego. Canseco gets a safe Republican district entirely within Bexar County. It has a fairly large (43.6%) Hispanic VAP, so it is at least somewhat a Fake Hispanic district. Since only 32% of the voters have Spanish surnames and because the district is R+10, it is clear that White Republican voters really pull the strings.


TX-25 includes a large chunk of central Austin. But then it ties that chunk of heavily Democratic Austin to Abilene and heavily Republican rural areas nearby. The result is R+11. Apologies to Lloyd Doggett and to Austinites in general.


TX-33 completes the great cracking of Austin. It includes much of northern Travis County, but then heads north through heavily Republican rural areas all the way to Weatherford. R+10.


TX-31 is essentially just Williamson County plus Bell County. R+10 and safe GOP.


Finally we arrive in our last region - DFW.


TX-30 is our fifth and final Democratic district. It includes all the most Democratic precincts in Dallas County. D+30. It's all Republicans from here on out...


Unfortunately, this district will just do nothing but keep electing Jeb Hensarling. R+13.


TX-04 includes the growing Hispanic population of Garland, and then ensures that said Hispanics' votes do not count by combining them with heavily R rural areas. R+14.


Based in North Dallas, but now also extends into Collin County. R+15...


Hispanics in Irving and Farmers branch are outvoted by the parts of Collin County not included in TX-32. R+14


Democrats in Grand Prairie and Duncanville are outvoted by white Republicans in Southlake and other nearby north Tarrant County suburbs. R+13


Republicans in TX-06 are spread around in Ellis County, northern Tarrant County, and west Arlington. But combined, they outvote the Democrats in eastern Arlington and Fort Worth. R+12.


TX-26 is based in the suburbs of southern Denton County. Then it sticks an arm down into the middle of Fort Worth to disenfranchise the minority voters there. R+13.


TX-12 includes all the remaining people in Tarrant County, plus Johnson County. R+12.

And there we have it.

This is what Texas's Congressional districts could look like if there were no such thing as the Voting Rights Act, and if Texas Republicans were freed to stomp on minority voting rights untrammeled.

This is a solid 31-5 Republican map, with all 31 Republican seats sitting at least at R+10 (using 2008 results). With 2012 results, most of these districts will have if anything moved further to the right. Even the Fake Hispanic districts probably did not get more Democratic in 2012, because as Hispanic voters moved to Obama, White voters moved to Romney. Minority voters are packed into 5 districts and other than that are disenfranchised. Austin is split very effectively between 4 unwinnable safe Republican districts. None of the 31 GOP seats are really winnable for Dems, although maybe a few of the Fake Hispanic seats could eventually get shaky (but probably not before 2020).

I don't think this a dummymander. It is an evil-mander.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Clarence Thomas (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dc1000, MattTX, WisJohn, Taget

    I expect that Justice Thomas and a few others on the Supreme Court would approve these lines. Will he get the four more votes he needs to restore the Jim Crow era to the ex-Confederacy?

    •  Kennedy & Roberts (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Englishlefty, Woody, Taget, andgarden

      Seems fairly obvious that they are the potential swing voters.

      The argument will presumably be that Obama was elected with strong minority voter support. Ergo no need for the VRA any more.

      I think they realize what overturning the VRA would mean. Strictly, my understanding is that the case is just challenging Section 5 specifically, so it's not quite the same as overturning the entire VRA. But even if the decision were technically narrow, I don't think it would be interpreted as narrow in that sense.

      Kennedy has shown in other cases that he seems to get the importance of the VRA.

      The interesting thing about Roberts is that the Health Care decision showed he has some realpolitik in him. Given the GOP's problems with minority voters in 2012, is Roberts going to really want to make them worse? On the other hand, maybe from a realpolitik view, you can say that the GOP's best hope is voter suppression.

      Redistricting doesn't normally cause a backlash in subsequent electoral votes because it is so much inside politics.

      But if Republicans did something like this map, it seems to me that if anything could cause a backlash, it would be something like this.

      •  Roberts has a history (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Woody, Taget, andgarden

        of expressing obliviousness about racial issues - see his comments that "it's a sordid business, this divvying us up by race" and "the way to stop being prejudiced about race is to stop being prejudiced about race" regarding affirmative action. He seems to have the cluelessness of a typical unreflective white person for whom structural racism is invisible. I don't have much hope for him.

  •  Wouldn't the general laws against (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Englishlefty, Chachy, MattTX, KingofSpades

    racial gerrymandering still be standing? I thought the court case is only about the pre-clearance process. Elimination of pre-clearance would not stop lawsuits against a map after the fact.  

    (-2.38, -3.28) Independent thinker

    by TrueBlueDem on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:48:11 AM PST

  •  Scary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisJohn, fearlessfred14, MattTX

    They'd so do this too.

    And then they'd probably claim they've connected with hispanics because now they represent all these minority-majority districts.

    •  They'd find some Hispanic Republicans (0+ / 0-)

      to run for the South TX districts in particular. However, the Hispanic Republicans might not get through the Republican primary. White Republican Primary voters often seem to have a problem with voting for people with Hispanic surnames. But on the other hand, Ted Cruz did win the GOP Senate primary.

      •  I would love to see an analysis (0+ / 0-)

        of Cruz's performance vs. Romney's. Cruz definitely did a fair bit better with Hispanics - his losses were 6, 13, 7, and 21 (!) points less than Romney's in El Paso, Cameron, Hidalgo, and Webb counties, respectively. But on the other hand, his statewide margin was within 0.1% of Romney's statewide, so presumably he did worse than Romney with whites. Is that because he's hispanic? Or because Obama is black? Or both? Or maybe it's just his ideological positioning?

        •  my guess (0+ / 0-)

          1) a bit of it was race.  But probably not too much.
          2) More willingness to ticket split for statewide races than for Presidential in the Blue Dog areas.
          3) Sadler is far more moderate than Obama, and Cruz more conservative than Romney, so again more appeal to Blue Dogs for Sadler.

          19, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)

          Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
          UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.5.38, -3.23

          by jncca on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 07:08:35 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Regardless of the scope of the current case (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MattTX, Englishlefty

    This is why we shouldn't gripe about being forced to pack Democratic districts in purple and blue states by Section 2 (most blue states aren't Section 5 anyways outside a few oddball counties). We probably couldn't tear up Gutierrez' earmuffs and JJJ's district to eliminate Roskam and Hultgren in Illinois; black and Latino legislators would revolt, and with good reason. But not only could Texas Republicans draw this map, they probably would. So would Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina Republicans, costing us a seat in each state (and maybe two in Georgia if they were aggressive).

    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 Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 09:56:45 AM PST

  •  I felt sick reading this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Also scared.

    Great diary.

    British guy with a big interest in US politics; -1.88, -4.05. A liberal, a moderate and a conservative walk into a bar. The bartender says "Hey Mitt".

    by General Goose on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 11:35:06 AM PST

  •  Yup (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fearlessfred14, MattTX, andgarden

    People who complain about the VRA don't realize it actually protects a fair number of our seats in GOP-controlled states.  Can't believe Houston can be cracked to only allow one Dem seat, that's just amazing.

    •  What is doubly amazing about Houston (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chachy, Englishlefty

      Is that in this map, a large part of the Houston exurbs is ALSO simultaneously used to crack Austin (TX-10) AND Corpus Christi (TX-14). I did have to extend one or two districts a (TX-36 and TX-02) a bit into rural East TX, but not very far.

      And Harris County is a county of 5 million people that voted (narrowly) for Obama in both 2008 and 2012!!! The reason it is possible is that turnout is so low among non-Black minorities.

    •  It doesn't hurt us anywhere (0+ / 0-)

      In places where voting is not racially polarized (to a sufficient degree), you don't have to draw minority-majority districts.

      Ok, so I read the polls.

      by andgarden on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 05:55:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  what? (0+ / 0-)

        it clearly hurts us everywhere but the South.

        19, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
        Socially libertarian, moderate on foreign policy, immigration, and crime, liberal on everything else.
        UC Berkeley; I think I'm in the conservative half of this city. -.5.38, -3.23

        by jncca on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 07:09:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's a zombie idea (0+ / 0-)

          You can unpack districts in the north. See Page v. Bartels:

          In this case, plaintiffs claim essentially that the Bartels plan violates the Voting Rights Act because it disperses African Americans and Hispanics " `into districts in which they constitute an ineffective minority of voters.'" Voinovich v. Quilter, 507 U.S. 146, 154, 113 S.Ct. 1149, 122 L.Ed.2d 500 (1993) (quoting Gingles, 478 U.S. at 46 n. 11, 106 S.Ct. 2752). The Supreme Court has made clear that such dispersion is not a per se violation of § 2. Indeed, the Court stated in Voinovich that "Section 2 contains no per se prohibitions against particular types of districts ... Only if the apportionment scheme has the effect of denying a protected class the equal opportunity to elect its candidate of choice does it violate § 2." 507 U.S. at 155, 113 S.Ct. 1149.

          Although the plaintiffs advocate that Bartels should have accepted the Republican plan, which retains the three majority-minority districts from the 1991 plan, § 2 by no means requires creation (or retention) of majority-minority districts where it is possible to do so. The Court has pointed out the detriments and benefits of majority-minority districts: "On the one hand, creating majority-black districts necessarily leaves fewer black voters and therefore diminishes black-voter influences in predominantly white districts. On the other hand, the creation of majority-black districts can enhance the influence of black voters." Voinovich, 507 U.S. at 154, 113 S.Ct. 1149.

          In Johnson v. De Grandy, the Court emphasized that majority-minority districts are not always necessary to ensure that minority groups be able to elect the candidates of their choice:

          If the lesson of Gingles [discussed below] is that society's racial and ethnic cleavages sometimes necessitate majority-minority districts to ensure equal political and electoral opportunity, that should not obscure the fact that there are communities in which minority citizens are able to form coalitions with voters from other racial and ethnic groups, having no need to be a majority within a single district in order to elect candidates of their choice.
          512 U.S. 997, 1020, 114 S.Ct. 2647, 129 L.Ed.2d 775 (1994).

          The Supreme Court's clear instruction that the fact of the existence or dissolution of majority-minority districts does not constitute a per se violation of § 2 requires us to look at the factual circumstances surrounding the adoption of the 364*364 Bartels plan and the likely effect of the plan on minority representation. Section 2(b) of the Voting Rights Act provides that we must consider "the totality of circumstances" in assessing whether a districting plan violates § 2. However, in Thornburg v. Gingles, 478 U.S. 30, 106 S.Ct. 2752, 92 L.Ed.2d 25 (1986), the Supreme Court set out three threshold requirements that a plaintiff must prove before a court need consider the "totality of the circumstances": 1) "the minority group must be able to demonstrate that it is sufficiently large and geographically compact to constitute a majority in a single-member district"; 2) "the minority group must be able to show that it is politically cohesive," i.e., that it votes as a racial bloc; and 3) "the minority must be able to demonstrate that the white majority votes sufficiently as a bloc to enable it — in the absence of special circumstances, such as the minority candidate running unopposed — usually to defeat the minority's preferred candidate." Gingles, 478 U.S. at 50-51, 106 S.Ct. 2752 (internal citations omitted). If a plaintiff does not prove the three "Gingles factors," the § 2 claim fails as a matter of law, as does the plaintiffs' claim here.

          Ok, so I read the polls.

          by andgarden on Fri Nov 16, 2012 at 08:45:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Exactly (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The only reason that northern districts are not unpacked to a politically useful degree is because either Democrats are afraid to do so (Maryland), Republicans find it convenient to pack minorities (as Democrats) into as few districts as possible (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin), or Democrats otherwise did not have control (New Jersey, New York).

            22 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); Intern w/ Gallego for Congress; Office Personnel at CCA.

            by wwmiv on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:42:43 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  WI-04 is a special case (0+ / 0-)

              for several reasons:

              1. It's a plurality white coalition district, not black majority. No black majority congressional district can be drawn in Wisconsin. So it might not be VRA anyways.

              2. Racially polarized voting is present, particularly if you extend a district containing black voters into the Ring of Fire. Were you to split the north side of Milwaukee, the black population would not have equal opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.

              3. That said, the district can be unpacked with little reduction in the black VAP percentage, and in a compact manner as well. But it's probably a community of interest violation to do so.

              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 Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 07:11:18 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

          •  Fun Fact (0+ / 0-)

            Larry Bartels, the defendant (as the nonpartisan member of the New Jersey commission which drew the lines), is a renowned political scientist.

            22 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); Intern w/ Gallego for Congress; Office Personnel at CCA.

            by wwmiv on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 05:46:16 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Great work. (0+ / 0-)

    Very important to understand that without the VRA this is a far likelier outcome than a D gerrymander of Georgia.

    27, Dem, Dude seeing a dude, CT-04(originally), PA-02/NY-14 (formerly PA-02/NY-12).

    by Xenocrypt on Sat Nov 17, 2012 at 01:45:52 PM PST

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