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One of the most vexing things about swing states like Ohio and Florida and light blue states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan is the ability of Republicans to control state legislatures, particularly the Senate in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.  Recently there was some discussion as to whether a commission drawn map of Michigan could result in a Democratic majority in the Senate.  So I decided to give it a try and found out that it is indeed possible for Dems to take the Senate, leading me to conclude that it would be wise for Michigan Dems to try and bring in a commission drawn process.  While I do not know much in depth about Michigan politics, I did look at the 2002 map, the 2012 map, and the Democratic proposal to get a sense of how the districts have traditionally been put together.  Additionally, while this map is a bit optimistic at times, I submit that a commission drawn map would net us a least a couple of seats from Kent, Oakland, and Macomb counties and would be much better than the status quo. In certain districts I did a rough calculation of the Obama/Romney two party vote.

So lets get started:

Wayne County:

District 1 (Blue): 78.7 Obama 08, 66.2 Avg (Average of 2006 Races), 53.1 African American Voting Age Percentage, Population Deviation (can be no greater than 13,004): -5,281
Safe Dem

District 2 (Green): 77.2 Obama 08, 68.2 Avg, 50.8 AA VAP, Pop: -4,713 Safe Dem

District 3 (Purple): 81.1 Obama 08, 73.7 Avg, 51.6 AA VAP, Pop: -193 Safe Dem

District 4 (Red): 82.6 Obama 08, 72.2 Avg, 51.2 AA VAP, Pop: -8,633 Safe Dem

District 5 (Gold): 78.6 Obama 08, 69.1 Avg, 50.6 AA VAP, Pop: 5,361 Safe Dem

District 6 (Teal-Romulus, South Wayne): 61.4 Obama 08, 51.8 Avg, Pop: 6,942, Likely Dem

District 7 (Gray-Livonia, NW Wanye): 53.8 Obama 08, 43.4 Avg, 52.28 Obama 2012, Pop: 6,429 Lean GOP

While Districts 1-5 are messy, that is required in order to get 5 majority AA Senate districts entirely in Wayne County.  Probably in 2020 there could only be 4 in Wayne to be supplmented by perhaps one in Oakland.  But in both the Dem map and the actual one, Detroit is split up.  
District 6 should be fine with Romulus providing a solid base. While District 7 was won by Obama in 08 and by my calculations in 2012, Republicans tend to do better down ticket, so I rated it as Lean R but definitely a district a Dem could win.

Metro Detroit:

District 8 (Slate Blue-Outer Oakland and Macomb):
46.4 Obama 08, 36.9 Avg, Pop -1,472: Safe GOP

District 9 (Cyan-Southwest Macomb):
56.3 Obama 08, 50.3 Avg, 56.65 Obama 2012, Pop 11,916:  Likely Dem

District 10 (Pink-Southeast Macomb):
57.9 Obama 08, 50.8 Avg, 58.24 Obama 2012, Pop 7,018: Likely Dem

District 11 (Chartreuse-Pontiac, Southfield):
73.3 Obama, 08, 63 Avg, Pop -7,145, 42.4 AA VAP: Safe Dem

District 13 (Tan-Southeast Oakland):
58.2 Obama 08, 46.2 Avg, 56.16 Obama 2012, Pop -201: Lean Dem

District 14 (Olive-Outer Macomb, Port Huron):
48.9 Obama, 40.6 Avg, Pop 4,213: Safe GOP

District 15 (Orange-Southwest Oakland):
56 Obama 08, 44.4 Avg, 53.16 Obama 2012, Pop 2,860: Tossup/Tilt Dem

District 19 (Yellow-Green, Outer Oakland):
45.8 Obama 08, 35.5 Avg, Pop -8,329: Safe GOP

One of the decisions that I made was to do a series of north-south districts, leading to 5 seats that should be won by Democrats.  Additionally, by combining Pontiac with Southfield, one gets a majority-minority district that can be won by an African-American and by 2020 could serve as the basis for a majority AA district.  I rated the two districts in Macomb as more secure than the two in Oakland because the Average score indicates that these districts are better for us downticket. Nevertheless, a Democrat should be favored in both the 13th and 15th.

Greater Southeast:

District 12 (Cornflower Blue- Calhoun and Eaton Counties, SW Ingham)
53.3 Obama 08, 45.2 Avg, 50.95 Obama 2012, Pop 6,521: Tossup

District 16 (Light Green-Jackson and Lenawee counties)
50.8 Obama, 40.8 Avg, Pop 44: Likely GOP

District 17 (Light Purple-Ypsilanti, Monroe County)
58.6 Obama 08, 52.8 Avg, Pop -12,487: Likely Dem

District 18 (Yellow-Ann Arbor)
69.7 Obama 08, 59 Avg, Pop -10,893: Safe Dem

District 22 (Brown-Livingston County, Outer Oakland)
43.1 Obama 08, 33.1 Avg, Pop -4,821: Safe GOP

District 23 (Light Blue-Lansing)
67.3 Obama 08, 55.2 Avg, Pop -1,913: Safe Dem

District 24 (Deep Purple-Shiawassee and Western Genesee counties)
57.7 Obama 08, 51.6 Avg, Pop -12,715: Likely Dem

District 25 (Pink-the Thumb)
47.6 Obama 08, 39.6 Avg, Pop 2,628: Safe GOP

District 27 (Seafoam Green-Flint and Eastern Genesee county)
70.2 Obama 08, 62.3 Avg, Pop -11,039: Safe Dem

District 32 (Orange-Saginaw and Bay City)
58.7 Obama, 52.1 Avg, Pop 7,696: Likely Dem

The key districts are 12, 17, and 24.  With 12 a tossup district is created between Kalamazoo and Lansing whose partisan leanings match up really well with the country at large.  So it would probably be a swing district but might trend out way depending on how Lansing grows.  With 17 and 24, I took the remnants of Washtenaw and Genesee, respectively, when done with Ann Arbor and Flint, respectively, and attached them to a nearby county.  It just happens that these nearby counties are light blue, leading to 2 seats than are pretty solid Dem.  I also merged Saginaw and Bay City to create another solid Dem seat.   Additionally, I could maybe see District 16 going our way but we would need a really good year, a good candidate, and incredible turnout from Jackson city.

Lower Michigan and Kent County:

District 20 (Pink-Kalamazoo)
Obama 08 58.6, 48.7 Avg, pop 8,087: Lean Dem

District 21 (Brown-Southern Michigan)
Obama 08 48.5, 40.7 Avg, pop 9,435: Safe GOP

District 26 (Gray-Southeast Michigan)
Obama 08 48.7, 39.4 Avg, pop 2,524: Safe GOP

District 28 (Lilac-Grand Rapids Suburbs)
Obama 08 42.2, 30.8 Avg, pop 576: Safe GOP

District 29 (Light Green-Grand Rapids)
Obama 08 61.2, 47.5 Avg, Obama 2012 59.94, pop 69: Likely Dem

District 30 (Salmon-Ottawa County)
Obama 08 37.3, 26.2 Avg, pop 3,705: Safe GOP

District 31 (Tan-Outer Kent)
Obama 08 44.6, 37.5 Avg, pop 8,109: Safe GOP

District 33 (Blue-Midland)
Obama 08 49.1, 41.9 Avg, pop 7,231: Safe GOP

District 34 (Green-Muskegon and Manistee)
Obama 08 60.3, 49.7 Avg, Obama 2012 55.47, pop -7,900: Likely Dem

District 35 (Purple-Mt. Pleasant, Central Michigan)
Obama 08 50.8, 41.3 Avg, pop 201: Likely GOP

District 36 (Orange-Northeast Michigan)
Obama 08 47.9, 42.4 Avg, pop -3,449: Safe GOP

District 20 could be all within Kalamazoo county, but it needed to take up some population from Van Buren in order to ensure proper population deviation.  In any event, this is a district even in its current form that we should not be losing. 34 is another district we should not be losing.  Even with Newaygo county in its current form, this district is 54 percent Obama 2012. But in this scenario stretching up to Manistee county, which could be arguable from a communities of interest standpoint, the district is made a little bit more Democratic.  But, as I said, we should not be losing 20 and 34, even in their current forms.  As for 29, this is a district that would really be helped by a commission.  While Grand Rapids is kept whole, it has been diluted by outer Kent.  In my map, Grand Rapids and and one inner-suburb, Wyoming, make almost a perfect district population wise, so I put them together.  The result is a district that is strongly Democratic.  But the challenge with these three districts is mostly ensuring high turnout in the urban areas for midterms, which seems to be why the Average from 06 is so low for these three. Additionally, like District 16, I could see us maybe winning 35, but that would also require perfect circumstances, mostly good turnout from Mt. Pleasant and Central Michigan University.

Upper Peninsula:

District 37 (Blue-Traverse City)
Obama 08 48.1, 40.2 Avg, pop -2,021: Safe GOP

District 38 (Green-Marquette)
Obama 08 52.5, 52.7 Avg, Obama 2012 48.82, pop 1,632: Tossup

District 38 is the only district where the Average is above the Obama percentage. I think this shows that local Democrats do better than the top of the ticket.  But this district does seem to be trending away from Dems, demonstrated by the Obama 2012 percentage.  Nevertheless, this remains a very winnable district for the right kind of Dem and would be important for attaining a majority.

Overall, this map would produce 20 seats where the Dem would be favored, 16 GOP seats, and 2 tossup seats.  Given the overall partisan lean of the state, that does not seem to be unreasonable.  However, as I said at the beginning, I do make a couple of optimistic scenarios, specifically with the north-south districting in Oakland and Macomb and my treatment of the 12th, 17th, and 24th districts.  However, these districts do not look gerrymandered and a commission map would simply be better than the status quo.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is a good map (4+ / 0-)

    It is much cleaner than my attempt, and you didn't retrogress. Nice job!

    Is it possible to exchange precincts between the 12th and 23rd and between the 17th and 18th in order to make the 12th and 17th more Democratic? Could you exchange the four townships in Ingham County currently in the 12th for that one more Democratic township just south of Lansing? Or could you exchange the Washtenaw townships in the 17th that border Lenawee County with the townships just south or east of Ann Arbor? Is that possible?

    Either way, this is still a really good map.

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

    by ProudNewEnglander on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:58:33 AM PST

  •  Great Map (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Alibguy, maybeeso in michigan

    I think it's a pretty good representation of what a court might do. (Which is why it's essential that we re-elect Governor Whitmer in 2018, lol). But the fact that Republicans currently have a 2/3rds majority in the state senate in ridiculous.

    The diary could probably do with some more formatting, though, as it's kinda hard to read right now.

  •  I like this! (0+ / 0-)

    I've been fooling around with MI Senate districts on DRA for a while now (haven't posted anything yet), and this is as good as anything I've gotten.

    I particularly like your 11th district. I live in Bloomfield Township, and as long as there weren't too many AA candidates in the primary an African-American could easily win the primary and hence the general.

    Reps don't want to admit it, but Oakland is a marginal/Dem county now, and it's absurd that it has 3 Rep districts to 1 really safe Dem.

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

    This is a great map.

    I think you are a little bullish on district 20. It is pretty similar to the old district 20, and the GOP controlled that seat for the whole decade.

    M, 23, School: MI-12, Home: NY-18

    by slacks on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 12:55:40 PM PST

    •  That reminds me of Senate District 17 in WI (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisJohn, slacks

      A district that is very Democratic at the top, but votes Republican locally.  I do not know if the incumbent is as established as Dale Schultz, but nevertheless in both circumstances these are districts even in their current form which we should really not be losing.

      Social Democrat, WI-05

      by glame on Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 01:28:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  what's with the wild population numbers? (0+ / 0-)

    ...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 Mon Jan 21, 2013 at 03:05:29 PM PST

  •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

    I've finished a State House map with 2012 numbers, but not yet posted it. My Senate map isn't finished, because I'm still working on how to get 5 VRA districts out of Wayne (particularly since trying to recreate the actual districts in DRA doesn't seem to work.) But I would argue that it's possible to achieve the same outcome you did, but with fewer county splits.

    Firstly, you can keep the Livingston-Washtenaw link-up, which reduces problems further along the line. That would preserve one GOP seat, but if you split Ann Arbor (which isn't unprecedented, as the existing map splits Clinton Township in Macomb County unnecessarily) you can create one safe district and one district Obama won in 2012.

    Secondly, if you link Oakland with Lapeer you get the right numbers for five districts. I wouldn't combine Southfield and Pontiac, because it's unnecessary packing. Instead, combine Pontiac with Rochester and Troy, and you have a district that would be securely D but provides minorities with a lot of influence over candidate selection.

    How you draw the other two Dem seats is a matter of choice, but they're safe either way.

    By not crossing the Oakland-Macomb boundary, you can maintain Macomb's link with Sanilac and St. Clair. Removing persistently Republican Sanilac and Lapeer lets you combine the top of the Thumb with Flint, which is much more Democratic than the rural areas are Republican. This then lets you join Shiawasse to Saginaw. Having done that, all you have to do is keep Midland separate from Bay and the latter can anchor a marginally D district.

    The knock-on effects also let you keep Kalamazoo as a district to itself.

    And whilst we're on minor adjustments, why not add Lake County to district 34? It's surprisingly Democratic, possibly because it has an inexplicably high black population for such a rural county.

    Keeping with minutiae, your district 12 could be made slightly better for Dems by taking Delhi township immediately south of Lansing rather than more rural areas.

    Finally, I think it should be possible to get 7 Dem seats out of Wayne County is you split Livonia from Plymouth and Northville, because that way both elements can be overwhelmed by securely blue areas. Have you experimented with this?

    As I say, I found this really interesting. Thanks a lot.

    •  It is indeed possible to make 7 and 12 better (0+ / 0-)

      However, I tried as much as possible to draw it from the perspective of a commission or a court, so including Delhi for 12 or spliting up NW Wayne might be seen as too partisan.  

      Social Democrat, WI-05

      by glame on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 05:38:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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