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Most of the maps of Texas I have seen here have been either Democratic gerrymanders, to illustrate what Democrats could do if they were in control of redistricting, or Republican gerrymanders, to guess on what the legislature might do. But as it turned out, the map used for 2012 was sort of a joint effort between the Republican legislature, which gave the basic idea, and some judges, who made sure the map complied with the VRA. So my thought was: What would an ungerrymandered map of Texas look like? What sort of map would judges draw if they put VRA compliance above all other factors, and had compactness as their second most important factor? That was the sort of map that I set out to create.

While making this map, I tried to put political considerations aside and simply try to draw more VRA districts without them looking too ugly, and to make the lines as neat as possible where no VRA districts could be drawn. I drew this map with complete disregard for the homes of the incumbents, because I feel that’s what a court would do.

The results were, to sum it up in one word, intriguing. Follow me over the fold to see the map and the districts.

Here is a map of the entire state:

District 1 (blue): Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon)
2008: 76-23 McCain
This vast, heavily Republican district contains the entire Texas Panhandle and includes Amarillo and Wichita Falls. It is one of the most heavily Republican districts in the entire country, and it may have voted as much as 80% for Mitt Romney in 2012. It is 66% white, 6% black, and 25% Hispanic VAP (all racial statistics below are in VAP), but only 17% SSVR. Thornberry is completely safe, one of the safest incumbents in the nation. SAFE R.

District 2 (green): Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock)
2008: 72-27 McCain
This also-vast district takes in a large swath of the central part of West Texas, and it includes Lubbock and Abilene and goes east to Mineral Wells. It is 65% white, 6% black, and 26% Hispanic, but only 20% SSVR. Neugebauer (of “baby killer!” fame) is totally safe. SAFE R.

District 3 (purple): Mike Conaway (R-Midland)
2008: 76-23 McCain
This large district takes in the oil-producing areas of West Texas, including Midland and Odessa, and then goes east to include San Angelo and much of the Texas Hill Country. It is 65% white, 3% black, and 30% Hispanic, but only 20% SSVR. Conaway is completely safe. SAFE R.

A note about the first three districts: I almost always draw those three districts the same way in every Texas map that I make, regardless of whether the map is a Democratic gerrymander, a Republican gerrymander, or somewhere in between. I feel that since West Texas is so monolithically Republican, the districts there do not need to be gerrymandered, even if every other district on the map is heavily gerrymandered. Despite the fact that the Hispanic population is increasing in all three of the West Texas districts, it will be a very long time before a Democrat even has a prayer of winning there.

District 4 (red): Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso)
2008: 65-34 Obama
This district is basically El Paso. It is one of the least gerrymandered (and gerrymanderable) districts in the nation, and it has the smallest deviation (-1) of any district on this map. It is 17% white, 3% black, and 78% Hispanic VAP, and it has 66% SSVR. This is the first VRA district on this map. Newly-elected Rep. O’Rourke will be safe in any general election here; his only danger is being primaried by a Hispanic politician. SAFE D.

Here is an inset map of the San Antonio area:

District 5 (dark yellow): Pete Gallego (D-Alpine)
2008: 59-41 Obama
This district is similar to Gallego’s current district, except that it ditches some of its mostly-white areas to the 3rd and 11th, and gains some more Hispanic areas in San Antonio. The old district included some ultra-conservative, mostly-white suburbs of San Antonio that voted heavily Republican, while this district gets rid of them in order to put Hispanics firmly in charge of who this district elects. The district is 24% white, 4% black, and 71% Hispanic, and it is 63% SSVR. Since Gallego was able to defeat a Republican incumbent in a district that Romney won, this district should present no problem for him. SAFE D with Gallego, LIKELY D generic D vs. generic R.

District 6 (teal): Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio)
2008: 58-41 Obama
This district is basically the Central and West Sides of San Antonio, and is similar, in both location and partisanship, to Castro’s current district. The district is 27% white, 5% black, and 63% Hispanic, and is 52% SSVR. This number may seem low, but the name Castro is golden in San Antonio (where Joaquin’s twin brother Julian is the mayor), and Castro will have no problems. Additionally, most (if not all) of the state legislators who represent this area are also Hispanic, so even if Castro were to retire then Hispanics would still have an excellent chance of electing his successor. SAFE D.

District 7 (gray): Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo)
2008: 61-38 Obama
This district stretches from Laredo to the eastern and northeastern suburbs of San Antonio. The Bexar County portion of the district is relatively racially mixed, but the rest of the district, especially Laredo, is almost completely Hispanic. For example, there are fewer than 100 non-Hispanic white children in the entire public school system of Laredo (population 236,000). The district is 21% white, 8% black, and 69% Hispanic, and is 57% SSVR. Cuellar is safe in a general election, though since he is a Blue Dog he might be vulnerable in a primary. SAFE D.

District 8 (slate blue): Open Seat
2008: 57-42 Obama
This district is one of those bacon-strip districts that stretch from South Texas to northeast of San Antonio. These districts are forced to be drawn by the VRA, because a district entirely in Hidalgo County would be overpacking Hispanics. This district includes Mission, McAllen, and Pharr in Hidalgo County, and then includes some other heavily-Hispanic counties and goes north all the way to Seguin and San Marcos. The district is 23% white, 2% black, and 74% Hispanic, and is 63% SSVR. A Hispanic Democrat would easily get elected here; after all, Cuellar and Hinojosa were easily re-elected even as Bush carried their districts in 2004 (something which will probably never happen again). SAFE D.

District 9 (cyan): Ruben Hinojosa (D-Mercedes)
2008: 57-42 Obama
This district is the second of the bacon-strip districts that are required by the VRA. This one includes Edinburg, Alamo, and Weslaco in Hidalgo County, and then goes north to include Alice, Beeville, and Caldwell County. Now, some might say that this district looks too much like the Austin-to-McAllen district that the SCOTUS declared was unconstitutional, but there is one key difference, and that is that this district does not include the Hispanic community in Austin. This district has a whopping two precincts of Bastrop County and only one precinct of Travis. The district is 25% white, 3% black, and 71% Hispanic, and is 63% SSVP. Hinojosa would be very safe here. SAFE D.

District 10 (pink): Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville)
2008: 60-39 Obama
This district is a smaller version of Vela’s current district. It includes all of Cameron, Willacy, Kenedy, and Kleberg Counties, and then the majority-Hispanic areas of Corpus Christi and Nueces County. The result is a strongly-Democratic district that is 19% white, 2% black, and 77% Hispanic, and is 68% SSVR. Vela will be very safe here. SAFE D.

Here is an inset map of the Austin area:

District 11 (light green): Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio)
2008: 66-33 McCain
This district includes the white parts of San Antonio, and then parts of the corridor up to Austin and Williamson County. The district is 72% white, 3% black, and 22% Hispanic, and only 14% SSVR. This district is relatively unremarkable; Smith will easily win here. SAFE R.

District 12 (cornflower blue): Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin)
2008: 66-33 Obama
This district takes in most of Bastrop County and a large chunk of Travis County, including the most Democratic parts of Austin. A judge would not slice and dice Austin like the legislature did; instead a judge would keep Austin mostly whole, which is what this district does. This district is 57% white, 7% black, and 30% Hispanic, but is only 16% SSVR. Doggett would be completely safe here. SAFE D.

District 13 (salmon): John Carter (R-Round Rock), Michael McCaul (R-Austin)
2008: 53-46 Obama
This district takes in northern Travis County and most of fast-growing Williamson County, and is about half in each county. The Travis portion leans Democratic, while the Williamson portion leans Republican, and the result is a fairly balanced district. The district is 57% white, 9% black, and 25% Hispanic, and is 13% SSVR. It is unclear whether McCaul lives in the 12th or the 13th district here, but he is more likely to run here than in the 12th. However, Carter, who is in the Republican leadership in the House, also lives here, and the district is more Carter’s than McCaul’s. While it is possible that McCaul could still win a primary (since he is very rich), McCaul could carpetbag over to the open 28th, which includes most of the areas of Houston that are in his current district. As for the Democrats, any state legislator who represents this area would be a solid candidate. Since the 2008 numbers are pretty much identical to Obama’s nationwide numbers, it’s hard to call this district anything but a TOSSUP.

District 14 (olive): Open Seat
2008: 59-41 McCain
This compact Central Texas district is based in Bell and McLennan Counties, home to Killeen and Waco respectively. The district also includes Fort Hood. The district is 60% white, 17% black, and 18% Hispanic, and is 11% SSVR. No incumbent lives here, but Bill Flores (who lives in Bryan) could run here so as to leave the 15th for Blake Farenthold. On the Democratic side, our best candidate would be Chet Edwards, and even he would face an uphill climb trying to win this seat. SAFE R without Edwards, LIKELY R with Edwards.

District 15 (orange): Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi), Bill Flores (R-Bryan)
2008: 69-30 McCain
This district stretches from Corpus Christi all the way north to Leon and Freestone Counties. This district was originally supposed to be more compact than it turned out, but constraints from other districts (mainly the 9th) forced it to take its present shape. The district is 66% white, 9% black, and 22% Hispanic, and is 15% SSVR. Although this is more Flores’ than Farenthold’s district, Flores could move over to the 14th, seeing as that has Waco, and leave the 15th to Farenthold, who really doesn’t have any other options. Either way, this district is heavily Republican, and whichever of the two wins the Republican primary will also win the general. SAFE R.

District 16 (green): Joe Barton (R-Ennis), Roger Williams (R-Weatherford)
2008: 74-25 McCain
This district contains the southern and western exurbs of the DFW Metroplex. Unsurprisingly, these areas are mostly white and heavily Republican; in fact, the western counties in this district gave Romney more than 80% in 2012. Barton, who lives in Ellis County, would be very happy with this district, although that obviously was not my intention. Barton would easily defeat Williams in a primary, seeing as Williams is a freshman while Barton has been in Congress for a while. Also, the district has more population in the southern suburbs of the Metroplex (Barton’s area) than in the western suburbs (Williams’ area). SAFE R.

Here is an inset map of the Dallas-Fort Worth area:

District 17 (dark blue): Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth)
2008: 64-35 McCain
This district, entirely in Tarrant County, is the C-shaped district that results from the creation of the VRA-protected 18th district. It includes the white parts of Fort Worth and Arlington as well as some northern and western suburbs. The district is 72% white, 7% black, and 15% Hispanic, and is 9% SSVR. Granger will be very safe here. SAFE R.

District 18 (yellow): Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth)
2008: 63-36 Obama
This district takes in the minority-heavy areas of Fort Worth and Arlington. Unlike Veasey’s current district, this district is entirely in Tarrant County, and leaves the heavily-Hispanic Dallas County areas in Veasey’s current district to the 19th. This district is 33% white, 24% black, and 36% Hispanic, and is 18% SSVR. Since most of the whites in this district are Republicans, this district will consistently nominate black candidates such as Veasey, and the district is Democratic enough so that the Democratic nominee will always win the general. SAFE D.

District 19 (yellow-green): Open Seat
2008: 57-42 Obama
This district takes in most of Grand Prairie, all of Irving, and some heavily-Hispanic areas of Dallas. This district has the greatest chance of electing a Hispanic representative of any district in the DFW Metroplex. It is 29% white, 13% black, and 49% Hispanic, and is 27% SSVR. This may seem like a very low number, but look at it this way. Most of the whites are Republicans (since most of Dallas’ white Democrats are in the 20th), and 13% probably isn’t enough for a black candidate to defeat a well-organized Hispanic candidate in the primary. 57% Obama in the Metroplex isn’t quite enough for a district to be safe for the Democrats, but it’s close. LIKELY D.

District 20 (light pink): Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas)
2008: 71-29 Obama
This district, based in South Dallas, was for a while the only VRA district and the only Democratic district in the Metroplex. It’s still the blackest and most heavily Democratic district in the Dallas area. It takes in all of South Dallas, the four mostly-black suburbs south of it, and then the mixed and whiter areas of central and northeast Dallas, so that the 21st can be a VRA district as well. The district is 35% white, 37% black, and 24% Hispanic, and is 9% SSVR. EBJ would cruise in this district. SAFE D.

District 21 (maroon): Open Seat
2008: 59-40 Obama
This is a new district based in east and northeast Dallas County. It includes some areas of East Dallas, Balch Springs, Mesquite, most of Garland, and parts of Richardson. The district is 33% white, 23% black, and 37% Hispanic, and is 15% SSVR. These demographics are very similar to those of Marc Veasey’s district, and so it is quite likely that this district will elect an African-American. Jeb Hensarling lives either here or in the 20th, but he wouldn’t want to run in either, so he might carpetbag to the open 27th, or just retire. SAFE D.

District 22 (brown): Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell), Michael Burgess (R-Lewisville)
2008: 66-33 McCain
This district is based in the heavily Republican northeastern areas of Tarrant County, and it also includes Flower Mound and Lewisville in Denton County and Coppell in Dallas County. The district is 71% white, 6% black, and 14% Hispanic, and is 7% SSVR. While both Marchant and Burgess live here, the district contains most of Marchant’s base in northeastern Tarrant County, and Burgess could simply move up to the open (and just as Republican) 24th district and run there. SAFE R.

District 23 (aquamarine): Pete Sessions (R-Dallas), Sam Johnson (R-Plano)
2008: 60-39 McCain
This district is based in North Dallas and the northern suburbs of Dallas, and includes most of Richardson and all of Plano and Allen. The district is 66% white, 8% black, 13% Hispanic, and 12% Asian, and is 5% SSVR. Both Sessions and Johnson live here, and if Burgess takes the 24th, then neither have any better place to run. However, Johnson is very old (he’s 82), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he retired and let Sessions take the seat. SAFE R.

District 24 (dark purple): Open Seat
2008: 65-34 McCain
This district takes in the far northern suburbs of Dallas and Fort Worth, including Denton, Frisco, and McKinney. The district is 71% white, 8% black, and 15% Hispanic, and is 7% SSVR. This is just another monolithically Republican Metroplex seat, and although it is open, Michael Burgess might claim it since it has considerable overlap with his current district. Either way, it is SAFE R.

District 25 (magenta): Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall)
2008: 71-28 McCain
This district contains the counties north of Dallas that border Oklahoma, as well as some outer eastern suburbs of Dallas. It includes the cities of Denison, Sherman, Greenville, and Rockwall. The district is 80% white, 7% black, and 10% Hispanic, and is 5% SSVR. Hall, the oldest member of the House ever, lives here and would run here. If he were to retire or die, there are plenty of Republicans who would fall over themselves to run here. SAFE R.

District 26 (dark gray): Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler)
2008: 69-30 McCain
This district contains the two cities of Tyler and Longview, and then, unlike Gohmert’s current district, goes north to pick up Mount Pleasant and Texarkana. However, this doesn’t really change the partisanship of the district much. The district is 70% white, 17% black, and 11% Hispanic, and is 4% SSVR, the lowest of any district in the state. Gohmert is (sadly) totally safe here. SAFE R.

District 27 (pale green): Open Seat
2008: 69-30 McCain
This district is a true rural East Texas district. It contains no major cities and all or part of 18 counties. It basically contains everything east of the Trinity River, south of Tyler, and north of Montgomery County. The district is 71% white, 16% black, and 12% Hispanic, and is 4% SSVR. No incumbent lives here, but Jeb Hensarling might carpetbag down here, as some of his district is included here. Democrats might have been able to compete here ten years ago, but not anymore. SAFE R.

Here is an inset map of the Houston area:

Here is a map of my new, changed Houston area:
District 28 (lavender): Open Seat
2008: 50-49 Obama
This district contains some fast-growing, increasingly-diverse western suburbs of Houston, as well as most of Waller County. The district is 33% white, 18% black, and 41% Hispanic, and is 19% SSVR. However, don’t let those numbers deceive you; the whites here are extremely Republican, and most of the Hispanics don’t vote. Even with high black turnout and more white support than usual, Obama only barely won this district by fewer than 1,000 votes. Hopefully, the suburbs here will get more diverse, and thus, more Democratic. No incumbent lives here, however this district might be Michael McCaul’s best option since McCaul represents some of this area now. Democrats should not leave this district unchallenged, and a state legislator (of any race) would be a good candidate here. LEAN R.

District 29 (green-gray): John Culberson (R-Houston), Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land)
2008: 60-39 McCain
This district contains most of the white areas of Houston. It then goes down to Fort Bend County to take in the whitest areas there. The district includes both the liberal white areas, such as Montrose, and the conservative white areas, such as Cinco Ranch. However, clearly the latter outweighs the former. The district is 66% white, 6% black, 17% Hispanic, and 10% Asian. This is basically Culberson’s district, and he would easily win here. Olson is pretty much screwed under this map; his district is split in four pieces, each of which is either heavily Democratic or already has a Republican incumbent. SAFE R.

District 30 (pink-red): Al Green (D-Houston)
2008: 62-37 Obama
This district takes in the very diverse Southwest Houston, as well as adjoining areas in Fort Bend County, including Rosenberg and Stafford. The district is 19% white, 24% black, 40% Hispanic, and 16% Asian, and is 18% SSVR. This district is quite compact and is very safe for Green. SAFE D.

District 31 (khaki): Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Houston)
2008: 80-19 Obama
This district takes in the very diverse remainder of Fort Bend County as well as some heavily-black areas of Houston. This is one of the districts that I am the most iffy about, because I am concerned that I may have overpacked this district. It is 16% white, 47% black, and 28% Hispanic, and is 12% SSVR. I have thought about ways to give some of the blacks in this district to the 30th in order to make them more similar, but any means of doing that would make both districts much uglier. As the district is, it is completely safe for Jackson-Lee. SAFE D.

EDIT: I made some changes to this district. Parts of (mostly black) south Houston are taken out, and mixed areas northwest of downtown are added. The result is that the black percentage falls to 41%, and Obama's 2008 percentage falls to 75%. This district is still safe for any black Democrat, however.

District 32 (dark orange): Gene Green (D-Houston)
2008: 62-37 Obama
This district is the Hispanic district in Houston. It contains North Houston, Southeast Houston, and parts of Pasadena. It is 16% white, 14% black, and 66% Hispanic, and is 46% SSVR. Since the Hispanic community in Houston seems to like Green, he doesn’t need to worry in either the primary or the general, but it is quite likely that he’ll be replaced by a Hispanic when he retires. SAFE D.

EDIT: This district also changed. I added some Hispanic areas in Pasadena from the 34th, and gave some of the mixed areas (with <20% SSVR) to the 31st. This district is now 50.4% SSVR, and 63% Obama 2008.

District 33 (light pale blue): Randy Weber (R-Pearland), Steve Stockman (R-Friendswood)
2008: 67-32 McCain
This district takes in suburbs south and southeast of Houston. It includes the entirety of Brazoria County as well as mostly-white parts of Galveston and Harris Counties. The district is 64% white, 8% black, and 21% Hispanic, and is 13% SSVR. The odd shape of the district in Galveston and Harris Counties is to accommodate a new VRA district, the 34th. Weber would probably beat Stockman in a primary here. SAFE R.

District 34 (lime green): Open Seat
2008: 56-43 Obama
This district includes most of Jefferson County, excluding only the whitest bits, and also Galveston and Texas City in Galveston County. It then goes north to take in Baytown and parts of southeast Houston. This district is the most gerrymandered district on the map, and this is because I was trying to draw one more district that could elect a minority. This district is 36% white, 25% black, and 35% Hispanic, and is 19% SSVR. Since Obama did worse than most Democrats do in Jefferson and Galveston Counties, a Democrat should be relatively safe here. The most likely Democratic candidates are ex-Rep. Nick Lampson and St. Rep. Craig Eiland (who are white) and St. Rep. Joe Deshotel (who is black). LIKELY D.

EDIT: I made some important changes to this district. It lost Hispanic areas in Paasadena to the 32nd, and gained black areas in south Houston from the 31st. The result is that this district is now 33% black, and up to 63% Obama 2008. This district is now safe Democratic, and more likely to elect a black Representative.

District 35 (dark orchid purple): Ted Poe (R-Humble)
2008: 75-24 McCain
This district stretches from Orange County at the Louisiana border to the northern half of Montgomery County, including Orange, Nederland, Kingwood, and Conroe. These areas are some of the most Republican areas in the nation, and this is the 3rd most Republican district on this map (after the 1st and 3rd districts). The district is 77% white, 6% black, and 14% Hispanic, and is 7% SSVR. Poe would be completely safe here. SAFE R.

District 36 (orange-yellow): Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands)
2008: 72-27 McCain
This district is in the northwest suburbs of Houston, and contains The Woodlands and other unincorporated areas south and west of it. These are relatively new, white-flight suburbs and they are very conservative. The district is 68% white, 7% black, and 17% Hispanic, and is 9% SSVR. Kevin Brady is very safe. SAFE R.

So in total, there is:


9 Hispanic districts (1 El Paso, 2 San Antonio, 1 Laredo, 3 Valley, 1 Dallas, 1 Houston)
6 Black districts (1 Fort Worth, 2 Dallas, 2 Houston, 1 Beaumont/Galveston)

Comments, questions, concerns, or thoughts are all appreciated.


Which state should I redistrict next?

23%10 votes
2%1 votes
16%7 votes
19%8 votes
23%10 votes
4%2 votes
2%1 votes
7%3 votes

| 42 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    (-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 Jan 01, 2013 at 05:00:08 AM PST

  •  I hate what the VRA does to Texas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Allen

    with the tendrils coming out of McAllen.  But good job on the map, though.

  •  so it looks like I get Lloyd back (0+ / 0-)

    couldn't really tell without looking at the precinct level in north-central Austin. But if I get my congressman back -- and Michael McCaul & John Carter have a primary battle, that would be great

  •  I'm not sure if your black districts are (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    VRA compliant. Your Houston districts in particular could be much more even. I usually try for 35% black rather than 25% or 45% since that's probably around 50% CVAP in Houston or Dallas thanks to low Hispanic citizenship; you can easily get two in both metro areas. Gene Green's district should probably be over 50% SSRV too. I do like that you added another fajita strip VRA seat though.

    NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

    by sawolf on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 12:24:59 PM PST

    •  I'm glad you brought that up (0+ / 0-)

      I was trying to create three black-opportunity VRA districts in Dallas. Marc Veasey was elected in a district that is only 17% black VAP, which is lower than both my 18th and 21st. Veasey would have no problem winning my 18th, and since the 21st is only 15% SSVR, and most of the whites are Republicans, black voters would dominate a Democratic primary, and the district is Democratic enough so that the winner of the Democratic primary will win the general.

      As for Houston, some areas of the city have more non-voting Hispanics than others, and Al Green's district has a particularly large number of non-voting Hispanics. For example, there is a cluster of precincts in Southwest Houston that together has 36,000 adults, 27,000 of whom are Hispanic, but has only 7,500 registered voters and, even less, only 2,500 SSVR. Precinct clusters like this artificially inflate the number of Hispanics and make it seem like Hispanics have more influence on a district than they really do. Al Green's district is still solidly controlled by blacks.

      You are right about Gene Green's district. I will try to make some changes, but I don't know if I'll be able to bring the percentage over 50%.

      (-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 Jan 01, 2013 at 12:58:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I made some changes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KingofSpades, Englishlefty

        to the Houston area. I changed the 31st, 32nd, and 34th.

        Basically, I moved Hispanic areas from the 34th to the 32nd, moved black areas from the 31st to the 34th, and moved mixed black/Hispanic areas (with <20% SSVR) from the 32nd to the 31st.

        The 31st went down to 41% black, and now voted 75-25 for Obama in 2008. It is 14% SSVR.

        The 32nd is now up to 50.4% SSVR, and now voted 63-36 for Obama in 2008.

        The 34th had a big change, due to the replacement of Hispanics with blacks from Houston's south side. It's now 33% black, only 15% SSVR, and all the way up to 63% Obama 2008. Under this new scenario, the 34th is now safe D, and there's an increased chance that it will be represented by an African-American.

        (-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 Jan 01, 2013 at 05:51:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  just a note (0+ / 0-)

    You probably cannot encroach upon Travis County (Austin) in any of the Valley districts to be VRA compliant.

    There are some other problems:

    1. Corpus Christi's entirety should be placed in a single district, as opposed to Brownsville, this will really only budge the numbers by a few percent.

    2. San Antonio's "strippiness" should be removed entirely. There should be a "core" district there, and then the 23rd should take in most of the south and west sides, the 21st the north side, and the Cuellar district the far south and northeast sides.

    3. Beaumont and Orange really should be place together, and neither should be connected to Houston at all.

    4. I'm not a fan of what you've done with Western Houston's Republican districts bacon-stripping them into suburban counties.

    5. Don't try for three AA districts in Dallas. Try for two and bump the SSVR to 25 or 30% in a better working Hispanic district. What should happen is that you'll get a Hispanic district that stretches from Fort Worth to Dallas and an AA district just south of it that also stretches from Fort Worth to Dallas that Veasay can run in. Then use the rest of the AA population in Dallas for the other AA district.

    6. I disagree with sawolf on the 35% rule, as even the state hasn't bothered with that given that they've allowed Al Green's to be below that iirc (29%?).

    23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

    by wwmiv on Tue Jan 01, 2013 at 11:31:25 PM PST

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

      Is one precinct in Travis really a big deal? The only other option I have is to replace that one Travis precinct with several (much less Hispanic) Bastrop precincts. That would, albeit slightly, reduce the influence that Hispanics have on the district. However, if there must be no connection between Travis and the Valley districts, then I could do that.

      1. I am curious as to why you say this. Nueces County has several mostly white areas, and I don't see why they should be in a Hispanic VRA district. It seems that Cameron County, which is more uniformly Hispanic, should be the county kept whole, not Nueces.

      2. There is only one "strippy" district in San Antonio, the 5th. Also, the judges who drew the current map disagree with you, seeing as the district they drew for Castro is quite similar to my 6th. My goal with drawing the 5th and 7th the way I did was to have both of their portions of Bexar County be majority-Hispanic, so that their SSVRs were both significantly over 50%. However, I could redraw those two so that their SSVRs are both around 60%, but those changes would make the portion of the 5th in Bexar County even more "strippy". Your approach would probably work, but I don't see why it's any better than my approach.

      3. Putting Orange County in with Beaumont would eliminate any chances of the 34th being a VRA district. Certainly I could add the black areas of Orange to the 34th, but since the 34th is already 33% black I don't really think that's necessary.

      4. I'm not sure what bacon-stripping you're talking about. If you're referring to Waller County, then here's the thing: The three precincts of that county in the 36th are similar demographically and politically to the rest of the 36th, while the part of the county in the 28th is similar demographically and politically to the rest of the 28th. As for the 29th, the district needed more whites to complete it, and the only place it could go was Fort Bend. The 28th is designed to become a VRA district sometime in the next ten years.

      5 and 6 in my next comment.

      (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:46:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  5th v. 23rd (0+ / 0-)

        I wasn't paying attention to your numbering...

        The district is the 23rd in real life.

        1. Communities of Interest reasons exist for this. Nueces County is basically a single community (Corpus Christi), whereas Cameron County is two very distinct blotches of population (Brownsville and Harlingen). It makes it MUCH easier to split Cameron than Nueces and that's why this is historically the route that has been taken. There's also the fact that both Brownsville and Corpus Christi are port cities, whereas Harlingen is not.

        2. What are you talking about?! Just because you have one district which might be facially similar to what a court drew does not mean it is the same. Also, the court only partially modified the legislatively drawn map here, switching a few precincts with the 23rd on the southside and the southwest. The only modification that should happen from that map is to remove the northern Bexar County portions from the 23rd in favor of part of either the southside or the westside, and not a huge slither into downtown (which has absolutely nothing in common with either the rest of the Bexar County parts of the district OR the rest of the district outside of Bexar County either) and further into Alamo Heights, Terrell Hills, and Windsor areas (I can't really tell just based on your images because you didn't take screenshots with the map underneath).

        3.  The court cannot legally do this without someone alleging a requirement in court to do it. As the minority communities involved are not sufficiently compact, there is no legal justification to require that a map have such a district. Because any person or group filing suit to force such a district to be drawn would be on VERY shaky legal footing, I doubt a court would venture to solve such a problem.

        4. No court would be justified in creating a district "designed to become a VRA district in the future". They either have to be currently or not at all. Furthermore, the areas of Fort Bend that you've included would be much better placed in a district with Bay City, Angleton, and Port Lavaca and parts of Galveston County like Port Jackson. You seem to have gone out of your way to make your map entirely different from any legislatively drawn map because you have a preexisting conception of southern Republicans as wholly racist wholly the time. That couldn't be further from the truth insofar as the "wholly the time" part (and partially false for the other half). There are good CoI reasons for some of the districts that the legislature drew and that the courts didn't mess with. Respect that.  

        23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

        by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:45:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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

          3. The court has to go through lots of hoops to legally enforce a true coalition district, which is what your Beaumont to Houston district is. It would not perform for any particular race in any event, which is even more reason why a court wouldn't draw it. At least in the case of the Veasay district, there were good arguments for it being a Hispanic performing district.

          23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

          by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:03:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  I see what you're saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          however I'm not sure I agree with all of it.

          1. My map does not take "historic routes" into account. My map was made solely based on how cities and demographics are now, and not how they used to be. I'm sorry if you disagree with this, but that's just how I made the map.

          2. My 5th district (Pete Gallego's district) does not include either Alamo Heights or Terrell Hills. Those are both in Lamar Smith's district. Would it be preferable if the 5th dropped its arm into the NE suburbs and instead took a chunk from the 6th, and then the 6th gained the arm into the NE suburbs? It seems that that would be the best solution, since I believe that can be done in a way that doesn't change the demographics or the partisanship of either district.

          3. I see your point. I will admit that the 34th is the district least likely to actually be drawn by a judge.

          4. I'm not sure where you got the assumption that I think all southern whites are racist. I don't think that. Certainly many of them are, but not all, and not that many in west Houston. The reason I drew these districts the way I did was 1) I wanted to keep Brazoria County whole, and 2) I wanted to otherwise keep the urban/rural mixing to a minimum. That's why I included all of Fort Bend and Waller in Houston-based districts, because those counties are fast-growing suburban counties that I felt should not be put in a mostly-rural district like the 15th. Also, the 28th was largely drawn that way because it looked compact, and its creation did not violate the VRA in any way. Remember, compactness was second on the criteria that I used to make this map.

          (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:19:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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

            1. Even ignoring the Historic Routes argument, the same argument about how easiest to split counties still holds... Especially if a court is drawing the map.

            2. This is basically what I was getting at in my first critique.

            3. Fort Bend: but the suburban portions are all in other districts. The non-suburban ones should be placed mostly with other non-suburbs. And besides, even if you do it like the legislature did it, you're still going to end up with a suburb heavy district because it necessitates including parts of Galveston County (and this is done by keeping Brazoria County whole).

            Just FYI, because I think this piece of knowledge is important while reading my language: Compactness is actually a legal criteria for the VRA insofar as it means that the district looks compact, but also that within the district itself the minority community is compact (I.E. does not constitute multiple distinct units).

            However, in the case of the 28th (for others: Al Green's district), just looking compact is not a rationale to take it down to 25% AA.

            23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

            by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:39:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You write your responses faster than I do (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              1. We may just have to agree to disagree on this one. It seems to me that Harlingen and Brownsville have more in common with each other than central Corpus Christi has with Annaville or Nueces County's portion of Padre Island.

              2. I made the requisite changes to the 5th and 6th, and I will admit the map does look neater now. Both the 5th and 6th are 58-59% Obama and >50% SSVR. So it looks like we've resolved our differences about San Antonio.

              3. My theory, based on how Texas suburbia has expanded very quickly, is that in a decade or two, there won't be any non-suburban areas of Fort Bend County. Also, you can't both keep Brazoria whole and include parts of Galveston in a district with Fort Bend suburbs, unless you're creating another VRA district, because the areas in Harris between Fort Bend and Galveston are mostly non-white.

              Also, the 28th on my map is not Al Green's district. His district is my 30th. Would you support making Al Green's district blacker by giving Rosenberg to SJL and Green adding black parts of Missouri City?

              (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:06:43 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ugh (0+ / 0-)


                I'd have to see what the demographics are after those changes for Green and SJL.

                23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

                by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:29:30 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

                In this case, I think the rapidity of my responses has to do with my familiarity with these subjects having lived in Texas and been involved in Texan politics and having a minority politics concentration in my grad degree, with the VRA as something of a specialty when further narrowed.

                23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

                by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:33:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

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

        Travis County, refer to LULAC and the Cleo Fields caseload for this.

        In this case, you're removing what was considered a performing compact Hispanic district (though not hugely strong one) from DFW and replacing it with a non-compact district. And even if you changed the map to recreate the DFW district, you've still got the fact that SCOTUS has repeatedly said that non-compact minority districts are not required. Therefore, a court would not create it. And yes, the one precinct in Travis County matters because it is hugely Hispanic and separated from other pockets of Hispanics in the district by a substantial white portion.

        If, instead, the district were Hispanic throughout (though with differing levels of Hispanics - say from 35% to the 90% precincts in the Valley), then it'd be fine. But that's not true.

        What I'm saying is that this map would not be drawn by a court. If you were publishing this under the idea that it could be a bi-partisan compromise, I'd have different sets of argument (most of my other points would still stand), and that'd be all fine and dandy. But a court would never draw this.

        23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

        by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:15:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh? (0+ / 0-)

          I'm not trying to be mean here, but I'm really confused now. Are you trying to say that Veasey's current district is a "performing compact Hispanic district"? I'm sorry, but Veasey's district is neither compact nor performing (if performing is defined as electing a Hispanic, since after all that was its goal). You are right that non-compact minority districts are not required, and Veasey's current district falls into this category.

          What I have done is taken away this noncompact, nonperforming district and replaced it with two districts (the 18th and 19th on my map, both of which are much more compact than Veasey's current district). One of them, the 18th, is designed to elect an AA, and would most likely do so by electing Veasey. The other is designed to elect a Hispanic, and would have a relatively good chance of doing so. You mentioned Rafael Anchia; he would be a good candidate for my 19th.

          It seems like you have put forth a convincing argument for doing exactly what I did.

          P.S. I'll see what I can do about the Travis precinct.

          (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:46:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

            But this district actually is compact in both meanings of the word. And it was drawn to perform. It only narrowly didn't because, like I said, Veasey is an extremely strong politician. If it had been any other candidate they would have fallen mightily to any Hispanic candidate.

            23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

            by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:53:20 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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

              The problem with the district is not that it includes Fort Worth and Dallas, the problem is that it included the African American portions of Fort Worth. This both enabled Veasey to run (as that is his base) AND allowed in principle an African American to run. Removing them by transferring them to a district of their own is the best solution, not by removing Hispanics from a district where they are best suited.

              23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

              by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:06:33 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I'm not sure what you mean by (0+ / 0-)

              "compact in both meanings of the word". Veasey's current district is not compact in the sense that it's not anything like a circle or a rectangle. The district is almost like two hands on each end of something long and thin. And as for the other meaning of compact, since when did the district's amount of physical area mean anything?

              (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:10:22 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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

                the other meaning of compact has nothing to do with physical area, but with concentrations of minorities within a district. And that is the underpinning of LULAC and the Fields cases (though the Fields case also relies on traditional compactness).

                Anyway... The Veasey district almost certainly is compact by court standards. Not everything has to be a neat circle or square to be considered compact. In this case, you have to consider the "totality of circumstances" when you draw. Are there reasons to include the areas that you did include? And is it generally compact looking in those circumstances? The answer here is yes.

                23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

                by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:32:00 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  Responses continued (0+ / 0-)

      5. My goal was to not have any districts stretching from Fort Worth to Dallas. These districts would be just as "strippy" as the ones you complained about earlier. They are also unnecessary, because my Hispanic district in Dallas is already 27% SSVR, so it fits your criteria already. I was trying to keep my VRA districts from looking too ugly, and except for the 34th, I think I've largely succeeded. And actually, the third AA district in Dallas was largely an accident; after I drew the 20th, I tried to put all the remaining mostly-non-white precincts in one district, and the 21st was the happy result.

      6. Al Green's real district probably is below 35% AA, and certainly Marc Veasey's district also is.

      (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:55:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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

        5. Strippy works in some places and does not work in others. In this case, these strips would actually work from both a racial standpoint that satisfies the law and the current jurisprudence AND satisfies community of interest logic. There is absolutely no reason why not to strip them, unlike for the reasons I outlined above with regard to San Antonio.

        6a. Marc Veasay is an exceptionally skilled politician who had a very very good challenge from a Hispanic lawyer that ended up a run-off for the Democratic nomination that, when the votes came in, he won by a smaller margin than did Gallego (who, mind you, was facing a former congressman). The reason? Because the district was drawn for a Hispanic, just a district weak enough for a Hispanic that it stood a chance of not performing some of the time. It happens that the right person at the right time made it not perform. If, say, Rafael Anchia had run for this seat, he'd have destroyed Veasay in a primary 60-40.

        6b. Al Green is able to consistently win reelection because the AA% is much higher in his district than in Veasay's AND because the Hispanic CVAP is abysmally low. In fact, because of the CVAP being low here, the electorate is probably something like 45% African American, and much higher in the Democratic primary.

        6c. Veasay's district is about 15% African American and probably no more than 25% African American after adjusting for CVAP. In the Democratic Primary that's probably split evenly between Hispanics and African Americans. Either way, Hispanics did not get their candidate of choice, so the district did not perform and should be altered so that it can as opposed to trying to get three districts which can elect an African American in a misguided way.

        23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

        by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 09:53:27 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  More responses (0+ / 0-)

          5. You may have skimmed over this line, but I said, "My goal was to not have any districts stretching from Fort Worth to Dallas." Both are major cities and they should not have to share their Representatives. It would be like creating a Denver-to-Pueblo Hispanic district in Colorado, or having a Kansas City-to-St. Louis black-majority district in Missouri. Not a good idea.

          6. First of all, his name is Marc VeasEy. Second of all, I'm not sure you understand what I have done in the Metroplex. I'm trying to make it so that it can elect three AAs AND a Hispanic. Could I increase the Hispanic percentage of my 19th? Yes, but I could probably only bring it up to 30% SSVR at the most. Since Veasey has another district he can run in, my 19th is more likely to elect a Hispanic, and since there are enough blacks (even after drawing the 19th) to draw three black VRA districts, one for Veasey in FW, and two in Dallas, then why not?

          (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:29:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  5... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I did not skip over it. I in fact addressed it head on. Fort Worth and Dallas are a single metropolitan area and are 15 minutes apart. It would not be like having Kansas City and St. Louis share a district or like Pueblo to Denver. Another reason why is because in those cases, there are substantial populations of whites that separate two distinct black communities. It would be racial gerrymandering, which is illegal.

            In this case, that is not true. You have continuous bands of minorities stretching from one major population area to another major population area completely, or almost completely, unbroken and the two population areas are within 15 minutes of each other. Even better is that this is true both of the African American population and Hispanic population, which are remarkably distinct from each other in location with the African American band almost exactly just beneath the Hispanic band. The map literally draws itself here.

            6. But only one of these is a VRA district: EBJ's. The others are not AND you've probably illegally retrogressed her district's AA% (which was in the mid-40s, just fyi) far enough that a court would not do. Then you've really got districts which are coalition, not VRA for AAs, which a court would not be legally required to draw. BTW - I know you were drawing a Hispanic district, but that was really immaterial to my critique, which was primarily about the AA districts.

            You seem to think that courts draw maps from scratch. They don't. They rely on previously drawn maps as guidance. In this case, they'd simply draw Republican leaning districts splitting the excess of minorities because they couldn't constitute VRA required levels in others. However, if you limit yourself to wanting only a second AA district in addition to the Hispanic district, the map really does begin to draw itself.

            A note on names: yes, I know, and it really is a bad habit of mine the way I spell it. I need to consciously remind myself instead of letting habit take over. :)

            23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

            by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:49:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  One more note (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the retrogression in EBJ is mostly because you haven't also create an ability district for AAs, if you retrogress slightly at the same time as creating a new ability district for AAs it'd be fine.

              23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

              by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:51:50 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  The thing is, (0+ / 0-)

              I did create an AA ability district. That's the 21st. It's 23% AA and 37% Hispanic, but since it's only 15% SSVR, the AA percentage of the district's electorate is significantly higher. Because of that and also because AAs have higher turnout rates in primaries than Hispanics (and because most of the whites are Republicans), there are enough AAs there so that the winner of the Democratic primary is very likely to be an AA. And since the district voted 59-40 for Obama in 2008 (and probably also in 2012, because Dallas County did not swing toward Romney), the Democratic nominee should be pretty much assured of victory in the general election.

              Also, the 20th still has more AAs than whites, so it is still safe as a VRA district.

              As for the drawing maps from scratch, when enough minorities move into an area so that a new VRA district is required, then the rest of the districts do need to be drawn from scratch, because they have to be substantially modified. After all, the map that a court drew for New York was drawn from scratch.

              (-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 Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:47:37 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That really isn't ability (0+ / 0-)

                The point is to create a district where the electorate is near or above majority after you take into account CVAP. 23% Is not. That district would most likely elect a moderate white.

                23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

                by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 11:52:31 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

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

        6. I didn't really read your diary descriptions. I eschewed that in favor of simply looking at the maps (I know Texas well enough given that I live, breath, and work politics here). 25% AA is simply not enough. I may disagree with sawolf on the exact number, but that is way too low. You need at least 30%, preferably higher, AND it depends on the distribution of the rest of the ethnicities and races. I.E. the totality of circumstances doctrine weighs heavily here.

        23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

        by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:05:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Notice (0+ / 0-)

          Green's district was 29% AA before redistricting. It was probably bumped up a bit in the new lines.

          23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

          by wwmiv on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:08:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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