Most folks on here probably know that House Democrats actually won the popular vote in this past election, polling 49% to the Repubs 48%. Yet, due to America's awesome election laws, this guy still gets to be Speaker.
The Democrats lost our state house majority and the Governor's mansion just in time for deciennial redistricting, coughing up the redistricting trifecta just in time for the Republicans to screw up. We also lost Democratic seats in PA-03, PA-07, PA-08, PA-10, PA-11. After a decade of clawing our way back to relevance in PA, we were facing the prospect of playing another decade on Republican turf.
Fast forward to 2012, PA Democrats received 50.2% of all votes cast for House races -- and Republicans received 48.7%. Naturally, Democrats won 5 of PA's 18 seats -- or 27.8% of the seats.
PA relies completely on political gerrymandering for our elections, and I'll admit I dreamt in 2008 of the safe D districts we could draw from under some Republican incumbents. However, I decided to take a stab at drawing a realisticly clean map of PA. My guiding principle was respecting county lines, and where that failed ward/township lines. I actually managed to only break 16 or so of our 67 counties, and achieved pretty good parity of districts (standard deviation is +/- 225 people).
Take a look, and let me know what you think.
PA - 1 - Dark Blue
Obama - 76.3% | McCain 22.9%
VAP - White 48.0% | Black 27.7% | Hispanic 14.9% | Asian/Pacific Islander 14.9%
This district didn't change much from it's current iteration, taking in the entirety of Philadelphia east of Broad Street and the lower Northeast, before jutting out through South Philadelphia and northeastern Delaware County. For lack of a better description, this district is centered on white Philadelphia, and would be a strong hold for current congressman and Democratic city boss Rep. Bob Brady (D). You'll notice that there's a weird hook running up to grab part of West Philadelphia; that's to grab Brady's 34th Ward. Non-partisan or not, Democrat or Republican, no one in Pennsylvania is going to district Bob Brady out of a seat.
PA - 2 - Dark Green
Obama - 94.3% | McCain 5.4%
VAP - White 22.1% | Black 62.4% | Hispanic 7.2% | Asian/Pacific Islander 6.0%
One of the funniest statistics from Election Day in Philadelphia is that Mitt Romney polled exactly 0 votes in 59 precincts in the city. Most of them would be in this district. PA-02 sheds Lower Merion township from its current iteration, and is held strictly in the city of Philadelphia. If PA-01 is white Philadelphia, this is black Philadelphia, and includes most of the impoverished neighborhoods of North and West Philadelphia, but also five of the 'City Six' colleges in the Philly area -- the University of Pennsylvania, LaSalle, Drexel, St. Joe's and Temple. This will be safe for current Rep. Chaka Fattah (D).
PA - 3 - Dark Purple
Obama - 58.0% | McCain 40.9%
VAP - White 82.6% | Black 6.6% | Hispanic 4.2% | Asian/Pacific Islander 5.4%
This is the district in which I would live, and as an organizer I know the area really well, so I pretty much ignored county lines. This takes in the majority of Far Northeast Philadelphia, Lower Bucks County, and southern Montgomery County It is trending strongly Democratic over the past few years, but would not be uncompetative. Currently, this would be the home district for Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R), although with its decided blue tilt, I would see him moving slightly north and running in the reconstituted PA-08. It's also home to current Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D), who may or may not be running for governor in 2014 or Senate in 2016.
With or without Schwartz, this district is home to some enterprising young Democrats like State Sen. Mike Stack, State Reps. Brendan Boyle, Kevin Boyle, and Steve Santarsiero, Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia, Montgomery County Commissioner Josh Shapiro (who probably has his eyes on a statewide office) and others. Former "Rep. "Yes That" Patrick Murphy lives here, but its unclear what his future plans are. Mike Fitzpatrick could make this competative for the Rs, as could a moderate elected like State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, but with a deep D bench, this is a likely Democratic district.
PA - 4 - Red
Obama - 49.3% | McCain - 49.8%
VAP - White 87.1% | Black 4.4% | Hispanic 4.6% | Asian/PI 2.9%
This is a McCain district, stolen from central PA. This starts delving into the area that PA Republicans carved up with a scalpel in this latest round of redistricting, so it bears almost no resemblance to any district that currently exists. The closest is probably the current PA-16. It takes the entirety of Chester County, the eastern half of Lancaster County, and most of Newtown Township in Delaware county.
This district would be home to current Rep. Joe Pitts (R), the other guy from the Stupak-Pitts Amendment. It's also home to current Rep. Jim Gerlach (R). This would set up a nasty cad-fud primary, since the Republican primary electorate here is not as Tea-flavored as elsewhere, and Jim Gerlach is nominally moderate (and moreover perceived to be moderate). Pitts is not, and severely underperformed in 2012 against a weak challenger. A Blue Dog Democrat like State Sen. Andy Dinniman could make this competative for the Ds, but that's not likely. Obama actually overperformed by about 5 points in this district, and while it is trending blue, it probably isn't there yet.
PA - 5 - Yellow
Obama - 61.5% | McCain - 37.6%
VAP - White 79.3% | Black 11.9% | Hispanic 3.5% | Asian/PI 4.2%
This districts bears most resemblance in PA-07 from 2002 - 2010. It is most of Delaware county, and reaches an arm up into Southern Montgomery County. It also takes some of the northwestern wards in It is heavily Democratic, and its Democratic primary electorate will be dominated by working class voters in Delaware County, and upper class Jewish suburbanites in Lower Merion in Montgomery County. Current Rep. Pat Meehan (R) lives here, and is maybe the only Republican who could make this competitive. His current district (PA-7) snakes through six different counties in SEPA, betraying just how badly the Rs had to carve up the map to protect him in a strongly blue-trending area.
For the Ds, this is home to former Rep. Joe Sestak, 2010 candidate and former state Rep. Byran Lentz, State Sen. Daylin Leach, and former State Rep. Mike Gerber. Any of them would be formidable candidates, and all are strong progressives. It takes in several colleges, including Villanova (my alma mater), Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore. So there will be a built in volunteer corps for a Democrat.
PA - 8
Obama - 52.5% | McCain - 46.5%
VAP - White 87.7% | Black 3.8% | Hispanic 2.6% | Asian/PI 5.0%
This is another district that completely ignores county lines. It takes the majority of upper and central Bucks and Montgomery Counties, as well as a few townships in Lehigh County to maintain population equity. This district would be incumbentless, also current Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick could make a run, as he is the current Rep. for PA-8, which is now the entirety of Bucks County and parts of Upper Montgomery County. He served the area from 2004 - 2006, and again from 2010 until now, and previous to that was a long-time Bucks County commissioner. So though he doesn't live here, he is familiar with the turf. The party benches are pretty weak here, as most of the people that get good press in the area tend to be closer to the city.
Obama overperformed this district, but upper Bucks is filled with pro-choice Republicans (particularly women) and former Rep. Patrick Murphy overperformed here in 2006 and 2008 as well, so a Democrat could do well here. That said, the area swung hard to the Tea Party in 2010, the district is older than probably any in my gerrymanger and Bucks is the quintessential swing county in PA.
Lehigh Valley - Philadelphia Ex-urbs
Obama - 49.2% | McCain - 49.4%
VAP - White 85.8% | Black 3.1% | Hispanic 9.3% | Asian/PI 1.0%
This district reverts back to more of its historical forms, taking in the entirety of Berks and Schuylkill Counties. It also takes the vast majority of Lebanon County, and a few townships in Lehigh County. It would be incumbent-less. It is home to former Rep. Tim Holden (D), who just lost a Democratic primary for the current (and much bluer) PA-17, and 2010/2012 candidate Manan Trivedi. There are a lot of Democrats and Republicans that could make a bid here, but Tim Holden would stand head and shoulders above everyone. He was the long-time (and well known) sheriff in Schuylkill County, and represented Schuylkill County and large parts of Berks County in Congress for years. I can tell you personally that most people in Reading thought of Holden as their congressman, irrespective of the fact that the city was split three ways from 2002 - 2010.
Berks is bluing, although Reading is a town that has seen better days and is losing population. The area outside of the towns (Reading, Pottsville, Lebanon, Kutztown) are very red, so this would be a pretty close split.
Safe Holden, otherwise Toss-Up/Lean Republican
PA - 12 - Cornflower Blue
Obama - 57.2% | McCain - 41.5%
VAP - White 78.9% | Black 5.0% | Hispanic 12.3% | Asian/PI 2.6%
This is a Lehigh County-focused district, with the entirety of Northampton County. It also takes in the urban areas of Lehigh County -- Allentown and the suburbs. It also takes half of Monroe County (the Pocono mountains). It is the home to current Rep. Charlie Dent (R), who could probably make a go of this, but might be more inclined to run in neighboring PA-06. 2010 candidate and Bethlehem mayor John Callahan (D) would probably make a run here. Despite the fact that Obama overperformed here by a bit, this area leans Democratic, and with this district would probably get there.
Likely Dent or Lean Democrat
Obama - 56.8% | McCain - 42.2%
VAP - White 88.9% | Black 3.6% | Hispanic 5.4% | Asian/PI 1.2%
This district is centered on the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. It is home to current Rep. Matt Cartwright, and would be a good fit for him. Cartwright is probably the most progressive Democrat from Northeastern PA, and this is probably the most progressive -- and most compact -- district you could draw. It takes the entirety of Lackawana, Luzerne and Carbon Counties, as well as half of each Pike and Monroe Counties.
This district is ancestrally Democratic, and has a history of electing Democrats, despite the apparent close-split nature of the area. Current Rep. and crazy Latino-phone Lou Barletta (R) lives here. He could run in the much more R-friendly PA-17, or the toss-up PA-06. However, with his background as mayor of Hazelton it might be hard to switch areas, but that would make a lot more sense for him. However, the right Republican could make this area competitive.
South Central PA
Obama - 52.4% | McCain - 46.7%
VAP - White 77.6% | Black 9.9% | Hispanic 8.6% | Asian/PI 2.5%
Despite the seemingly gerrymandered nature of this district, I didn't actually start it that way. It just kind of happened due to population equity necessity, and trying to keep PA-09 compact. The district as drawn would be incumbentless. It takes in pretty much all the urban areas that exists in Central PA -- York, Harrisburg, Lancaster. I'm not sure who would run in this district, but we could see newly elected state Sen. Rob Teplitz (D), or incoming State Auditor General Eugene Pasquale (D). This is another district that is probably bluing over the next few years, but right now it would be a toss-up.
PA - 9 - Cyan
Obama - 39.6% | McCain - 59.4%
VAP - White 92.4% | Black 2.4% | Hispanic 2.7% | Asian/PI 1.6%
This district takes in the majority of South Central Pennsylvania, and reflects mostly the current PA-4, and the past PA-9. Incoming Rep. Scott Perry (R) lives here, and the Republican electorate is pretty Tea-flavored. This is going to be a Republican district, and likely for Perry and likely for a long time.
Obama - 39.0% | McCain - 59.8%
VAP - White 93.6% | Black 2.2% | Hispanic 1.7% | Asian/PI 1.7%
This district takes a lot of Central Pennsylvania, and is the first district that starts to take in large swaths of rural Pennsylvania. It takes the entirety of ten counties -- Blair, Bedford, Centre, Fulton, Huntington, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Snyder and Union. It splits Northumberland with PA-17, Dauphin with PA-7, and Franklin with PA-9. Current Reps. GT Thompson and Bill Shuster both live in this district, although Shuster could easily move over to PA-17, which has a lot of overlapping turf to his current district.
This is a Republican district, and will remain so.
PA - 13 - Tan
Obama - 46.0% | McCain - 52.6%
VAP - White 94.6% | Black 3.3% | Hispanic 0.9% | Asian/PI 0.4%
You'll see more detail around the Pittsburgh area, but this district takes in large ancestrally Democratic areas. It takes the entirety of Cambria, Fayette, Greene and Somerset counties, and splits Washington and Westmoreland counties. I said this is ancestrally Democratic, and it is. For example, Fayette and Green counties have voted Democratic in almost all of the gubentarioal elections since time immemorial, and Washington and Westmoreland have been almost as reliable. Democratic candidate Dan Onorato lost all of them in 2010, despite being from nearby Pittsburgh, and Democrats lost every countywide office in Westmoreland County in the last election. If the Philly suburbs are trending blue, the Pittsburgh suburbs and southwest Pennsylvania are trending red just as quickly.
Just defeated Rep. Mark Critz of Johnstown lives in this district, and would be the strongest Democratic candidate we could get. Other than that, this district is probably more of a toss-up that the numbers reflect. We'd need a strong pro-labor Democrat, who is socially moderate to conservative.
Likely Critz or Toss-Up/Tilt Republican
PA - 16 - Neon Green
Obama - 39.4% | McCain - 59.3%
VAP - White 96.2% | Black 1.60% | Hispanic 0.90% | Asian/PI 0.70%
This district is created almost entirely new, and be the whitest district in the state. It would be home to Punxsutawney, famed home of this guy:
PA - 17 - Dark Purple
Obama - 42.0% | McCain - 56.6%
VAP - White 95.1% | Black 2.1% | Hispanic 1.5% | Asian/PI .5%
This district comprises most of what I would call upstate Pennsylvania, running across almost the entirety of the Pennsylvania/New York border. It reaches around the Scraton/Wilkes-Barre metro area, and grabs part of the border with New Jersey north of the Pocono Mountains, and is home to Williamsport, home of the Little League Baseball Hall of Fame. Lycoming County is home to current Rep. Tom "Casino" Marino (R) who defeated Dem. Rep. Chris Carney in 2010. Carney lives in this district as constituted, although it would likely be a lost cause for Democrats.
Rep. Bill Shuster lives in the nearby PA-11 in Centre County, and would likely run in the primary here against the scandal-plauged Marino. And Shuster is a power-house in the House, chairing the Transportation Committee. Fun fact -- Shuster succeeded his father Bud in office, who was also Transportation chair.
PA - 18 - Light Yellow
Obama - 51.3% | McCain - 47.3%
VAP - White 92.4% | Black 4.5% | Hispanic 1.5% | Asian/PI .7%
This district is centered on the town of Erie, and takes in a lot of the Republican-leaning suburbs, as well as some Democratic-leaning boroughs and towns along the Ohio border. This is across the state line from Youngstown, Ohio, and area famously working class that was swept by the Tea Party in 2010. This is similar to the current PA-03, which was gerrymandered to protect former GOP Rep. Phil English in 2002. He was knocked off by Blue Dog Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper in 2008, who was in turn outsed by current Rep. Mike Kelly (R).
Kelly no longer lives in this district, as it shed red Butler County, in favor of the bluer parts of Beaver County. However, both Dahlkemper and English do, as does popular outgoing State Senator Jane Earll (R) and incoming State Senator Sean Wiley, who won in a landslide to replace the retiring Earrl. Dahlkemper in particular has been making noises about running for something else (Governor is the current scuttle-butt), so she would likely make a go here. I would give her the edge.
Likely Dahlkemper or Toss-up/Tilt Democrat
Obama - 52.3% | McCain - 46.6%
VAP - White 89.2% | Black 9.0% | Hispanic 1.1% | Asian/PI 1.7%
This district takes in about half of the city of Pittsburgh (and Allegheny County) south of the Ohio river, and takes the northern half of Washington County. This district is home to current Reps. Mike Doyle (D) and Tim Murphy (R). Since this covers half a city, you'd expect it to be a bit more Democratic. However, this is an area where Obama underperformed by about 4 points, and is trending away from the Democrats a bit. Along with my PA-13, this is the "guns and religion" crowd. Still I'd think this would be a Democratic leaning district, although Tim Murphy is very strong with labor in Pittsburgh.
Pure Toss-Up if Tim Murphy runs, otherwise Lean Democrat
PA - 15 - Orange
Obama - 59.3% | McCain - 39.8%
VAP - White 79.6% | Black 14.4% | Hispanic 1.4% | Asian/PI 3.3%
This district takes in northern Allegheny County, and about half of the city of Pittsburgh. It takes in Southern Beaver County as well. You would think it would be a more strong Democratic district, but the northern and northeastern suburbs of Piitsburgh are very Republican. For instance, Penn Hills gave us the abomination of Rick Santorum.
Still, this is likely a Democratic district, even if incoming Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) were to run.
By my calculus, Democrats win PA-1, PA-2, PA-3, PA-5 (Philadelphia), PA-10 (Scranton), and PA-15 (Northern Pittsburgh).
Republicans win PA-4 (Chester County), PA-9 (South Central Pennsyltucky), PA-11 (Penn State and points south), PA-16 (West Bumblefuck), and PA-17 (New York border).
PA-7 (York/Lancaster/Harrisburg), PA-8 (Upper Bucks/Montgomery), PA-12 (Lehigh Valley), PA-13 (Southwest/Johnstown), PA-14 (south of Pittsburgh) would be competitive.
PA-6 would be a lock for Democrat Tim Holden, or tilting Republican otherwise. PA-18 would be pretty good territory for former Rep. Kathy Dalhkemper, or a toss-up otherwise.
What do ya'll think? This is my first diary; be gentle!