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I've been reading a lot of diaries lately about the damage the Republican gerrymanders of 2010 have done to Democrats' chance of winning the House of Representatives - including this good one today, and I decided I would finally post my fair redistricting plan for the country.  This is something I've been working on for a long time.  No, I haven't been slaving over my computer non-stop drawing districts; I made most of these maps back in February and March, and then I took a long hiatus, and then did some touch ups and plotted all the district data in a spreadsheet over the last two months, and now my fair redistricting project is finally done.

Why do we need fair redistricting?  Well, you should click on the video of Ronald Reagan and find out.  I haven't heard any other Presidents talk about gerrymandering and redistricting, other than Reagan.  Although Reagan's discomfort with gerrymandering probably had the same motivation as our discomfort with gerrymandering does - the opposing party controls most of the state houses - he still makes good points.

We've seen a number of fair redistricting initiatives in effect in Florida, California, Iowa, and a few other states.  They all approach redistricting in a different way.  Florida's is pretty weak, and still allowed Republicans to impose a nasty gerrymander in 2010.  California's is more fair with respect to communities of interest, but it focuses heavily on racial gerrymandering to ensure proportional representation of Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans.  Some states have fair redistricting that considers the interests of each party equally - for example, in a hypothetical situation, in Minnesota, a commission like this would create four Republican districts and four Democratic districts.

I did not consider drawing districts proportional to party composition of each state, or drawing districts to represent minorities (in most cases).  The only factors I considered were keeping communities of interest together and keeping county splits to a minimum.  In only three cases - Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana - did I go out of my way to draw minority districts.  Why?  Well, I don't know, just because I feel like these are the most racist states (no offense to them) and they might still need the Voting Rights Act to protect minorities.  But for the most part, I think we're beyond the time when African Americans absolutely can't win elections outside of Black majority districts.  That doesn't mean there won't be majority minority districts outside of AL, MS, and LA - I just won't go out of my way to create them.  Drawing districts to connect minorities have resulted in some of the worst gerrymanders out there.

Now, to begin.  I'll be going in alphabetical order, and you'll see roughly 140 districts redistricted in each of 3 diaries, and the 4th diary will analyze the impact nationwide fair redistricting would have on American politics.  The first diary will go from Alabama to Massachusetts - except I'm leaving California out, because it will take up too much room in the middle of this diary.  CA will be the last state redistricted in the third diary.

Let's go!

Note#1: All race percentages are total population, not just 18+.

Note#2: If you want to see racial data, just click on the image with the Presidential data.  I can't fit the entire thing into this diary without the type becoming too small.

Note#3: I'm not going by the current district numbers.  I'm assuming each seat is an open seat when assigning ratings and district numbers are randomly assigned.

ALABAMA

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As I mentioned, Alabama is one of only two states that will have a racial gerrymander.  The 2nd district, with the arm down into Mobile, is a black-majority district.  The 4th district is now almost entirely in Jefferson County, and would present an opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat.

Note#5: "CS" means "County Splits"

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ARIZONA

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Districts with respect to city limits in Maricopa County.

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There is one 65% Hispanic district in Phoenix, AZ-01, and the district down in Tucson is slightly majority minority.  Two districts are strongly Democratic, but a few more could be picked up from Republicans in a good year.  District AZ-09 is 21% Native American, which may be the highest percentage of any district in the country.

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ARKANSAS

This one was a bit tougher since Dave's Redistricting does not feature Presidential data.  I purposely made no county splits so I could calculate the data easier, which means some districts deviate up to about 4,000 people.  In a real scenario one or two counties would have to be split to equalize the population.

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As you can see, two districts cover the more urban areas of the state, while two more are heavily rural.  AR-01 narrowly went for Republicans in 2008 and 2012, while the rest were strongly Republican.

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CALIFORNIA

Skip!!!!  We'll visit California in another diary.

COLORADO

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The Denver city limits make CO-05 look like a gerrymander anyway, but it only splits one county.  The Denver-centric district and Boulder-centric district are both heavily Democratic, while two suburban districts east and west of Denver are swingier but lean Democratic

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The western Colorado district is all mountain, and Republican leaning.  The eastern district and Colorado Springs district are heavily Republican.

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CONNECTICUT

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I love my Connecticut.  Three districts are entirely within one county and a fourth has no county splits.  Pretty fair, huh?

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FLORIDA

The Sunshine State.

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All of the tiny districts are heavily Democratic, except the one in Miami, which is 71% Hispanic and swingy.  Click on the data table below, there are a lot of minority districts around here.

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Everything in Central FL except Orlando and Tampa-St. Pete is Republicanland, although many of the districts here are just Republican leaning and could possibly be won by Democrats.

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Amazingly, when North Florida is de-gerrymandered, only 3 out of 7 N. Fla. districts are heavily Republican.

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The delegation still leans Republican but there are a lot of toss ups, so Democrats could win a majority of the delegation.

GEORGIA

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Cobb County and DeKalb County get their very own districts.  Three districts around ATL are black majority while the Gwinnett County district is majority minority, only 41% white.

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HAWAII & IDAHO

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Not much to see here, although I did move Idaho's 1st district to the south, and it is now an entirely Boise-centric district.  ID-02 is Idaho's "everything else" district.

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ILLINOIS

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You can see how nicely four districts fit entirely or almost entirely within the city of Chicago.  One of them, on the southside, is 77% Black, and another is 65% Hispanic.  Click on the chart below to see the full racial breakdown.

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Illinois is a strange state when fairly redistricted.  Although it is a heavily Democratic state, it is heavily Republican when redistricted.  After all - it's the only state where Democrats can lose 101/102 counties and still win statewide elections.  I suspect almost all of the Downstate districts flipped to Mitt Romney in 2012.

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INDIANA

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Hmm.  Indiana is kinda boring.

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IOWA

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Iowa gets a Des Moines-centric district.

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KANSAS

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Kansas actually has two districts that are just barely Republican, and would be winnable for Democrats.

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KENTUCKY

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The western part of Kentucky gets less gerrymandered but not much else changes.

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LOUISIANA

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Louisiana has a black majority district that straddles I-49 from Baton Rouge to Shreveport.  Yes, it is the second and final racial gerrymander in this series, but I tried to keep it as clean as possible, splitting as few counties as possible.

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MAINE

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MARYLAND

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Maryland's 2010 gerrymander was one of the worst in the country.  This is an improvement, although it does give Republicans 3 seats.  There are two black majority districts, one majority minority district.  63% of the seats in MD would be won by Dems, which is fairly proportional to the real partisan composition of Maryland.

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MASSACHUSETTS

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THE END!  NEXT TIME... Michigan to Tennessee

If you made it this far, congratulations, and thank you for reading.  Let me know what you think of these maps and of fair redistricting in general in the comments below.

Poll

Which state had the worst gerrymander in 2010?

4%3 votes
25%17 votes
8%6 votes
10%7 votes
50%34 votes

| 67 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, WisJohn
  •  I haven't looked at all of your maps, but there (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stephen Schmitz, BeloitDem

    are a few problems with the states I did look at.

    Georgia: there are currently 4 majority black districts, I don't think that it would be VRA-compliant to reduce that.
    Arizona: there are currently 2 Hispanic majority districts and I don't think it would be VRA-compliant to reduce that.
    Louisiana: I don't know if it would be okay to move the black majority district, though the New Orleans one would probably elect someone who would represent the African Americans there.

    I do like some of your maps, though.  The Arkansas map would give us a safe district in Little Rock.

    ...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 Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 06:21:11 PM PST

    •  I mentioned (0+ / 0-)

      I would be ignoring VRA requirements for most states because the VRA mandates gerrymandering to form some majority minority districts.  That doesn't mean there won't still be many majority minority districts, there just won't be district's like Mel Watt's, Raul Grijalva's, Corrine Brown's, etc.  The second Hispanic district in Arizona does not reflect communities of interest because it goes from Yuma to Phoenix to Tucson, splitting the latter two cities.

      I'm not saying the VRA hasn't been helpful to integration and minority representation in the past, but in 2010, Republicans have used it to pack districts full of black Democrats in every southern state.  North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Louisiana, Texas would all have the opportunity to elect more black Democrats if those districts were unpacked.

      Thank you for the read though, any constructive criticism is welcome.

      •  I think your definition of a gerrymander (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GoUBears

        is pretty liberal, since the courts have used the VRA but not allowed "racial gerrymandering".  Once a VRA district has been established they are very unlikely to allow it to be eliminated in redistricting because you would be weakening minority voting power.

        ...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 Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:36:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As for your poll, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GoUBears

    I actually think the two worst gerrymanders in 2010 were Ohio and Pennsylvania, neither of which were options in the poll.

    Also, I don't think that even a fair redistricting map would put Metairie in a New Orleans-dominated, black-majority district. It would be like combining the north side of Milwaukee with Waukesha County.

    (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), new ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

    by ProudNewEnglander on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 06:30:12 PM PST

    •  where else is there to go? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      psychicpanda

      Without racial gerrymandering.

      19, CA-18 (home), CA-13 (school)
      politicohen.com
      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 Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:06:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Poll (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisJohn

      That poll was just for states in this round of fair redistricting - Ohio and Pennsylvania will be in the next round.  Those were awful gerrymanders, I agree.

      As for Louisiana, I was trying to keep communities of interest together - that was my top priority.  If you wanted a black majority district in New Orleans, you'd have to stretch it up to Baton Rouge - and you would agree Metarie (in the New Orleans Metro) has more in common with Orleans than Baton Rouge, right?

      •  Actually, it is possible (0+ / 0-)

        to create a black-majority district in New Orleans that doesn't go up to Baton Rouge. Just take all of Orleans Parish, Jefferson south of the Mississippi plus Kenner, most of St. Charles, all of St. John the Baptist, St. James, and Assumption, and adjoining black areas of Ascension, Terrebonne, Lafourche, and St. Bernard, and there you go. While it may not look quite as neat, it would have a much higher probability of electing a black Representative.

        Also, Metairie has much more in common with St. Tammany and Livingston Parishes than with New Orleans.

        (-8.38, -4.72), CT-02 (home), new ME-01 (college) "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." -Spock

        by ProudNewEnglander on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:29:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  no, it's possible (0+ / 0-)

        I just drew a map with one, another in Baton Rouge that is around 44% black, and another in northern LA that's 43% black.

        ...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 Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:38:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  OH/PA (0+ / 0-)

      I think the poll is covering the states covered in Part 1 here.

      You're an odd fellow, but you do make a good steamed ham.

      by Samara Morgan Dem on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:30:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fair? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoosierD42, GoUBears, Englishlefty

    I disagree with the premise that drawing districts that fit into visually-pleasing polygrams mean that they are fair and respect communities of interest.

    Take your Louisiana map. You have Shreveport in the same district as the LSU campus in south Baton Rouge. You have Metairie and Kenner in the New Orleans district and leave out heavy AA swaths of the JP West bank and Chalmette in da Parish.

    Pretty districts do not equal fair ones. They also do not denote communities of interest.

    A lot of these maps choose pretty shapes over communities of interest. Connecting the east bank of JP to St. Tammany isn't as pretty but they are a community of interest.

    In Arkansas, I think Jonesboro should be added to your MS River district, but otherwise i like it. In Iowa, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids I think fit in the same district better than apart.

    And I don't think a lot of Illinois districts are COI. Too many take some MS River counties then more inland ones rather than span river counties.

    And squares in Chicagoland also aren't necessarily COI.

    21, Male, LA-02, LA-06 (former), TX-08 (home), SSP: sschmi4

    by Stephen Schmitz on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:51:23 PM PST

    •  The Shreveport to Baton Rogue (0+ / 0-)

      district is actually a VRA district that I think is actually Required, at least more so that Mel Watt, Marcia Fudge, or Corrine Brown's districts. The problem is he doesn't follow VRA with the rest of his map.

    •  agree (0+ / 0-)

      and I may sound like a broken record, but I don't think it makes sense to follow county lines in New England. for instance, the way Cohasset is attached to MA-03 looks a bit off, and the fact that Cohasset is in Norfolk while Hingham, to its west, is in Plymouth is pretty much arbitrary to begin with.

      Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

      by sapelcovits on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 03:04:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Iowa law forbids county splits in redistricting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Allen, GoUBears, NMLib

    Also, counties mean next to nothing in New England, so I don't think they should be a criterium in the maps of those states.

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

    by HoosierD42 on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 08:13:22 PM PST

  •  Arizona (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Allen

    I think that with Arizona, it's not necessarily a good idea to follow county lines with the map, due to the large numbers of Indian Reservations that cross county lines.

    This map also has serious issues with communities of interest, particularly with the Flagstaff district, and the Pima/Pinal one. Mohave shouldn't be drawn in with the rest of Northern Arizona, and Cochise clearly doesn't belong there. Most of Pinal, particularly Apache Junction, is a Phoenix suburb, which doesn't make sense to draw in with Tucson suburbs. There's no reason to not have a competitive district that's Tucson-based in addition to the safe seat. Finally, in Phoenix, Mesa fits much better with Gilbert/Chandler than Tempe. Tempe goes more with Scottsdale.

    You essentially drew a Republican gerrymander- this is very similar to what the legislature there would draw, had they had the chance.

  •  So your proposal so far (0+ / 0-)

    is going from 65 D - 77 R in the 113th to 58 D - 74 R and 11 toss-ups?

    I personally disagree with long narrow districts, like you have in LA and FL.

    •  The only reason (0+ / 0-)

      Democrats lose here is because this round includes Arizona, Illinois, and Maryland, which were the only aggressive Democratic gerrymanders of the cycle.  When you unpack Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia, you get a lot more Democratic seats.

  •  For your poll (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Englishlefty

    of the states you covered, AR, GA, FL and IN have worse gerrymanders than your poll options. The fact that they don't look worse than MD doesn't make them any better, and in fact, I rarely find "pretty" maps rarely use COI.

    Completely disregarding VRA in a "fair redistricting" is a laugh, particularly in AZ and GA. The best ideas from your maps are probably Birmingham and Little Rock-centric districts, and the worst probably 1) giving Baltimore City representation in only one CD and 2) (I may be a bit biased here) your Boise-centric district, in a state where the truly defining thing about a community is its level of Mormonism; the Panhandle, Boise proper and Sun Valley are relatively free, but the rest of the state is 30-90% Mormon.

    ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

    by GoUBears on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 09:37:02 PM PST

    •  ID COI (0+ / 0-)

      About the best COIs that Idaho possesses are "extension of the Canadian Rockies" and "Mormonville":
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      Since there are about 50,000 extra that won't fit in the 2nd,  keeping Ada, Blaine and Clark whole while splitting Elmore is one way to do it. And since one of the districts is primarily Mormon, you get 42% and 28% Obama districts instead of two 35%s. Minnick would have had even odds of holding the 1st in 2010 with this map, and given ID's semi-independent redistricting, he could still be a Congressman next year.

      ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

      by GoUBears on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:32:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  ID does not have independent redistricting (0+ / 0-)

        It has a bipartisan commission in which one of the Dem members voted for the Republican map.

        •  Bipartisan=Independent in my books (0+ / 0-)

          What's harder to get than an agreement between hard partisans? If a commission is evenly split with no tiebreaker (eg Farmer in NJ), you're likelier to get either a fair map or an incumbent protection map (specifically outlawed in ID) than if you just pulled random individuals off the street. I really don't blame Beitelspacher for voting with the GOP; Boise voters just don't care that much about being split into two districts and 92 days was a long enough impasse. It was either break on the congressional map and get a mutual (if awful) legislative map, or throw both to a Republican judge who wouldn't do any better.

          ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

          by GoUBears on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 10:18:23 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  fair map, no (0+ / 0-)

            WA's map was incumbent protection, but beyond that it was a Republican gerrymander, trying to make an open D seat more swingy while creating a new seat that was only mildly D-leaning.

            Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

            by sapelcovits on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 03:07:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sorry, I don't understand (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GoUBears

      Why does Baltimore deserve two districts if its population is less than one district?  Some of this criticism does not make any sense to me.

      I disagree that Georgia and Arkansas have worse gerrymanders than the poll options.  Some of the Atlanta area districts in Georgia are pretty bad, and the "Fayetteville Finger" in Arkansas is bad, but otherwise, they are not as aggressive as my other poll options.  If you mean these did not work out favorably for Democrats, then you are right.  In my opinion, a gerrymandered district is one that you need a GPS to find.

      •  ... (0+ / 0-)

        As for Baltimore, its one of ~20 traditions that I doubt that a nationwide redistricting would be able to cross locals on. It is basically as sacred in MD as keeping the Iron Range whole is in MN. And seeings as the current city limits have been represented by 3-5 congresspersons except for 1789-1803 and 1843-1853 (and even then, it was split in two), it's fairly well set in stone, even without the VRA. That being said, I acknowledge that Baltimore city's population is becoming an ever smaller portion of the state's. At just over 10%, it's down to early 1800 levels, having peaked at just over half the state's population in 1920, so perhaps it's time for this tradition to end, but I doubt it will in the immediate future.

        As for Arkansas, yes it's the ultimate dummymander, but it fostered what was perhaps the greatest popular discontent in the state of any final map for this cycle; it is also a stark departure from the state's previous good gov map drawing whereas Maryland and Florida's are nothing new. As for Georgia and Indiana, they are utter failures at COI; I'm not intimately familiar with their communities, but I remember someone at DKE or SSP wrote up extremely good knockout blows of those two maps in particular.

        ME-01 (college) ID-01 (home) -9.85, -3.85

        by GoUBears on Wed Dec 12, 2012 at 03:02:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Baltimore (0+ / 0-)

        needs all the help it can get in terms of federal assistance/dollars. Its interests are felt all over the state, especially in the nearby counties. Having three representatives help in this regard--it makes a lot of sense.

        NY-14, DC-AL (College), Former SSPer and incredibly distraught Mets fan.

        by nycyoungin on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:50:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Clarification of "communities of interest" (0+ / 0-)

    When I say that, it may be confusing to some, but really I mean communities that are close together in the same region.  The region is their common interest.  Many people have criticized my New Orleans district saying a real "communities of interest" district would include only black areas, and I should put the white areas (Metarie, Kenner) in with the white communities across the lake.  Orleans and Jefferson Parish are adjacent, part of the same Metro area, and both fit into one district, so I see no good reason why they should be split.

    To those who say county lines don't represent community of interest - that may be true for the New England.  However, I did not split any towns when I was redistricting Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut, either.

    One more clarification.  There seems to be concerns that my maps are breaking laws, such as the VRA, or Iowa's no county splits law.  To be clear, I'm ignoring these because this is supposed to be nationwide fair redistricting.  That means all the states are on a level playing field.  I said several times that I was ignoring VRA requirements as far as which counties have to be in a minority district, how many minority districts there have to be, etc.  Because much of the VRA is outdated and makes a mess in redistricting.  The only states I kept the VRA for are AL, MS, and LA, which are still racially polarized enough that minority representation needs to be ensured.

    •  CoI should be based on things like (0+ / 0-)

      shared economic interests IMO. Hence why above I disagreed with you putting Cohasset in MA-03.

      Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

      by sapelcovits on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 03:11:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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