Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, June 10, 2011

California Redistricting Commission

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) released its first draft of 2011 maps based on the 2010 census at The result has been described as a political earthquake at politico. Some analysis suggests the maps favor a Democratic pickup of 4 seats statewide. This suggests that the result is not all that different from what the legislature would do... except that specific powerful incumbents got dealt some powerful blows. That would not be likely in a legislative arena. It is interesting that the fears expressed on this blog that the CCRC maps would favor Republicans are, at this point, unlikely to be the case. Given the large Democratic registration advantage statewide and the surging Latino population, a map not explicitly gerrymandered could well lead to a larger number of mildly Democratic districts rather than a smaller number of very safe districts as we have today. I have not seen analysis of the new State Assembly and Senate District maps. Given that Dems are presently 2 assembly and 2 senate seats away from a 2/3 majority of both houses, Democratic pickups are a fascinating prospect.


boba said...

I have not seen analysis of the new State Assembly and Senate District maps.
Therein lies the rub. I do not believe there is a requirement for the Assembly and State Senate districts to be modified. House representation is a federal requirement, keyed by the changes in population volume. State representation on the other hand would only need to be modified if particular districts changed significantly. Unless there was an exodus from or influx to any given district, I do not know if there is a California Constitution requirement to reallocate district representation.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Yes, actually, there are maps for Assembly or state Senate districts drawn because the CCRC is required to redraw them decennially. The LA Times had a new article yesterday expanding the original analysis to predict a pickup of up to 5 assembly seats to the Dems. Because there are 80 assembly members, 40 senators, and 53 representatives, the sizes of the districts are all in the 450,000- 900,000 population range with similar problems/considerations for all of them.

Raised By Republicans said...

My fears that redistricting by a bipartisan commission rather than by the Assembly would lead to more Republican seats was based in large part on a naive (and false) assumption that the population distribution would stay roughly the same.

Of course that isn't the way the world has worked out. The population of California has redistributed itself. Even if it is growing much slower than in the past, it is is still shifting around a bit. Areas that used to be largely white, rural and conservative are not increasingly Latino, urban and somewhat more progressive in their outlook (on many if not most issues).

In effect, my concerns were based on an underestimation of two things: First, I underestimated how heroic the district maps would have to be to save many Republicans. Second, I underestimated how risk averse many incumbent Democrats are. The old process was prone to redistricting to create the safest seats possible for incumbent Democrats (which may have a side effect of creating safe seats for Republicans). This current approach seems (at least with the Congressional districts) to be imposing risks on both but in an environment where Democrats have some inherent advantages resulting from the way in which the population has moved around within California.

The Law Talking Guy said...

It wasn't just you, RBR. EVERYONE thought what you did, which is why Gov. Schwarzenegger (R) pushed the redistricting commission and the Dems quietly opposed it. It's an interesting lesson in testing hypotheses. We presumed, all of us, that the gerrymandering was of the form often described in theory: uniformly spreading Democrats' statewide advantage thin over broader territories to make more Democratic districts. Turns out that a lot of what was happening was, as you suggest, a lot of creation of "safe districts" and that sort of divide-and-conquer gerrymandering was more limited. Of course, what has happened is likely less safe districts for all incumbents, which means a lot of potential for surprise.

Dr. Strangelove said...

It was well known that the gerrymandering in California was somewhat unusual in that it was designed to protect incumbents in safe districts rather than to maximize seats for the majority party. Nevertheless it is still surprising to see the potential for a swing of four seats--I did not expect that.