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by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: San Diego

2:28 am in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the last part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on the San Diego region, part of Southern California.


San Diego

The population of San Diego is enough to support a bit more than four congressional districts.

CA-50 (Powder Blue):

Population – 57.1% white, 1.8% black, 27.5% Hispanic, 10.2% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.1% other

The communities north of the city San Diego proper are placed in CA-50. Both the beachside cities and inland areas are relatively wealthy, the inland a bit less so. Perhaps the greatest weakness with this district is that it doesn’t include Oceanside, which has enormous commonality with the coastal cities in the district.

CA-51 (Saddle Brown):

Population – 16.5% white, 8.5% black, 57.4% Hispanic, 14.6% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.7% other

Over-18 Population – 19.8% white, 52.9% Hispanic

CA-51 is the VRA district in San Diego, drawn to be Hispanic controlled. The city Chula Vista anchors the district, which is located on the Mexican border – next to the much larger Mexican city Tijuana.

CA-52 (Olive Drab):

Population – 64.6% white, 4.3% black, 19.8% Hispanic, 6.9% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 3.7% other

This district looks big, covering much more space than the other three districts combined. Don’t be fooled, however – most of that area is empty mountains and desert. The inland suburbs of San Diego are where the people actually live .

CA-52 (Gainsboro/White):

Population – 53.8% white, 4.8% black, 22.8% Hispanic, 14.5% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.6% other

This is basically San Diego city itself.


Final Thoughts

As with Orange County, San Diego is easy to redistrict. The only flaw in this map is that Oceanside isn’t in CD-50, which it should be.

In general, the San Diego area has a strong division between coastal communities and more inland communities. Here there are two coastal-based districts (CA-51 and 53), one inland-based district (CA-52), and one coastal/inland hybrid (CA-50). It would be interesting to see a map with two purely inland congressional districts, although perhaps the population just isn’t there to do that.

And that’s all of California, folks.


by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: the Inland Empire

8:55 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on the Inland Empire.

The Inland Empire is a complex region and fairly difficult to redistrict. In one way it can considered described as the “exurbs” of Los Angeles. Yet the Inland Empire is also it’s own independent region, with populous cities that have exurbs of their own. The main cities are, respectively San Bernardino and Riverside.

San Bernardino and Riverside

CA-26 (Gray):

Population – 30.1% white, 5.7% black, 52.6% Hispanic, 9.3% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.1% other

Over-18 Population – 34.2% White, 47.7% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Hispanic

This district, taking in part of Los Angeles County, is composed of suburbs that flow seamlessly from the Los Angeles area into the Inland Empire. Some of these, such as Pomona, are quite poor; others, such as Upland, are fairly well-off. The district also happens to be Hispanic-majority (somewhat unintentionally), although the white population is still high enough for whites to compose a majority of the actual electorate.

CA-42 (Lawn Green):

Population – 26.3% white, 9.4% black, 55.5% Hispanic, 6.2% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 31.0% White, 49.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Hispanic

Unlike the previous district, this district is intentionally as Hispanic as reasonably possible. It centers around the city of Riverside and Moreno Valley. In general, a 2:1 ratio of Hispanics to whites or blacks is necessary for Hispanic control. This district barely meets the cut, although with better data it can be drawn to be more Hispanic.

CA-43 (Magenta):

Population – 16.9% white, 10.6% black, 63.9% Hispanic, 6.4% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 1.8% other

Over-18 Population – 20.4% White, 59.4% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

Strongly Hispanic, this district is basically the city of San Bernardino, with a few suburbs to its west.

CA-44 (Medium Violet Red):

Population – 46.4% white, 5.1% black, 37.8% Hispanic, 7.6% Asian, 0.4% Native American, 2.6% other

Over-18 Population – 51.2% white, 33.2% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

CA-44 picks up the inner suburban communities around Riverside and parts of San Bernardino. Its odd shape is due to CA-42, which avoids the whiter areas of Riverside to become as Hispanic as possible. Those areas have to go somewhere, however; they end up forming the basis of this congressional district.


Other Inland Empire Districts

There are three other districts in the Inland Empire, which take up the most “exurban” parts of the region.

CA-41 (Light Steel Blue):

Population – 35.5% white, 12.1% black, 45.9% Hispanic, 3.3% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 2.7% other

Over-18 Population – 41.1% white, 40.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

Palmdale and the northern exurbs of San Bernardino belong to this congressional district. The communities do not have much in common, however. The reason why they are forced together is because of decisions made far-away in Central Valley and the Central Coast. The district is also, surprisingly, plurality-Hispanic – a surprise to at least this blogger, who thought it was majority-white all the way until said blogger started writing these words.

CA-45 (Turquoise):

Population – 35.5% white, 3.0% black, 57.0% Hispanic, 2.5% Asian, 0.7% Native American, 1.3% other

Over-18 Population – 42.3% white, 50.0% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Hispanic-Majority

CA-45 takes in the most exurban reaches of Riverside County, separated by the San Jacinto Mountains from the rest of the county’s population. It also takes in Imperial Valley, whose connections to the Salton Sea and agriculture link it most closely with Coachella and Palm Desert in Riverside County, rather than San Diego County. Credit to the Imperial Valley idea goes to the users of swingstateproject.

Interestingly, and entirely accidentally, the addition of Imperial County creates a strong Hispanic majority in CA-45. While probably not enough to form a Hispanic majority in the electorate, Hispanics definitely will have a strong voice in this district.

CA-49 (Indian Red):

Population – 53.4% white, 4.3% black, 31.7% Hispanic, 6.5% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 3.3% other

There are two communities joined together by CA-49, the only white-majority district in the Inland Empire. These are the southernmost exurbs of Riverside and the northernmost suburbs of the San Diego area. While these are not communities of interest, in terms of economics, demographics, growth rates, and political beliefs they have a lot in common.


Final Thoughts

The ugliest district here, by far, is the sickle-shaped CA-44. This is yet another example of VRA districts conflicting with compactness; CA-44′s odd shape is mostly due to the creation of a strongly Hispanic-district which it surrounds. In addition, CA-41 would drop Palmdale and add more San Bernardino exurbs in a perfect world.

Another surprise is the extent of minority – especially Hispanic – growth in this region. In the 2000 gerrymander all but one of these districts were majority-white. In this proposal four districts are majority-Hispanic, one is plurality-Hispanic, one is plurality-white, and only one is majority-white. It’s quite a change.

The next post will take a look at San Diego County, part of the overall Southern California area:


by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: Orange County

5:48 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on Orange County.

Orange County

The population of Orange County is enough to support a bit more than four congressional districts.

CA-40 (Firebrick): Read the rest of this entry →

by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: Los Angeles

5:42 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on Los Angeles.

There are several parts to Los Angeles: the San Fernando Valley, the San Gabriel Valley, downtown Los Angeles, and the Long Beach area.


Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley

The San Fernando Valley has enough population for two congressional districts, while the Hollywood area provides an additional district.

CA-27 (Spring Green):

Population – 45.0% white, 4.6% black, 34.3% Hispanic, 12.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.1% other

Majority-Minority District

This district takes in the western half of the San Fernando Valley. It stretches an awkward arm eastwards, mainly to take in some very white areas. This boosts the Hispanic percentage of the next congressional district:

CA-28 (Plum):

Population – 22.9% white, 3.0% black, 64.4% Hispanic, 7.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.7% other

Over-18 Population – 26.5% white, 59.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

In one of the more shameful episodes of the 2000 gerrymander, the San Fernando Valley split the Hispanic population in two in order to re-elect the two white congressmen representing the region. This district bumps the Hispanic population to 64%, taking in the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley. Redistricting with more detailed data could further strengthen the Hispanic percentage.

CA-30 (Light Coral):

Population – 73.7% white, 3.0% black, 9.2% Hispanic, 10.2% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 3.8% other

CA-30 is the Hollywood district, taking in such landmarks as Santa Monica, University City, and Beverly Hills. Demographically, the district is extremely white and mostly wealthy (one of the whitest and wealthiest districts, in fact, in all Southern California). The Hispanic population doesn’t break double-digits, which is quite shocking when one looks at the rest of the districts in this post. Despite the association of Los Angeles with Hollywood, the district is actually quite unrepresentative in terms of the people who live there.


San Gabriel Valley

The San Gabriel Valley is home to three districts and parts of several others.

CA-29 (Dark Sea Green/Grayish, located at the top left corner of the map):

Population – 42.0% white, 4.8% black, 35.1% Hispanic, 15.1% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.9% other

Majority-Minority District

This district is essentially composed of relatively wealthy suburbs – Glendale and Pasadena – in the less built-up areas of Los Angeles. If Los Angeles can be compared to a giant toilet, than CA-29 would be the somewhat dirty but still relatively clean toilet seat.

CA-32 (Orange Red):

Population – 17.6% white, 2.0% black, 28.4% Hispanic, 50.0% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 1.9% other

Over-18 Population – 25.9% Hispanic, 51.3% Asian

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Asian

CA-32 is a district drawn to be the only Asian-majority district in Los Angeles. It does this by connecting the communities around Monterey Park to those around Diamond Valley, both of which have little in common with each other. The connecting region between the two areas is geographically large but actually has very little population.

CA-38 (Medium Aquamarine, located at the center right of the map):

Population – 19.0% white, 2.3% black, 63.0% Hispanic, 14.1% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.4% other

Over-18 Population – 22.1% white, 58.2% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

The eastern suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley, which tend to be more Hispanic, are grouped together in this district. This is an easy district to draw, as the communities of interest are both obvious and create a VRA district in a very compact manner.


Metro Los Angeles

Metro Los Angeles covers five congressional districts, four of which will be discussed here (the other will be discussed  in the Long Beach section). Another district is located along the west shore.

CA-31 (Khaki):

Population – 1.6% white, 9.5% black, 87.9% Hispanic, 0.5% Asian, 0.1% Native American, 1.5% other

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

This district composes part of South-Central Los Angeles, which used to be primarily black but now has become mostly Hispanic. It is incredibly Hispanic, enough so as to make one uncomfortable; it is quite conceivable that somebody will accuse this of packing Hispanics. A discussion about this problem will be discussed further at the end of this post.

CA-33 (Royal Blue):

Population – 7.3% white, 6.7% black, 67.8% Hispanic, 16.8% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.3% other

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Hispanic

Downtown Los Angeles is a good description of CA-33. Its one weakness is that it splits East Los Angeles with the previous district. This happens only because it was impossible to draw the district within the required population deviation without splitting the city, given the application’s gigantic 20,000 person population blocks. With more detailed data, East Los Angeles would certainly stay within one district.

CA-34 (Lime Green):

Population – 16.5% white, 2.3% black, 68.4% Hispanic, 11.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 1.2% other

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

CA-34 takes in poor, primarily Hispanic communities in downtown Los Angeles. Seeing a pattern here?

CA-35 (Dark Orchid/Purple):

Population – 5.2% white, 40.9% black, 45.6% Hispanic, 5.9% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.2% other

Over-18 Population – 43.2% black, 41.4% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

Don’t be fooled by the Hispanic plurality; this district is drawn to elect a black representative. It takes advantage of low Hispanic turn-out and high black turn-out to ensure that even a Hispanic-plurality district will probably elect a black representative.

Right now there are in fact three black congresswomen representing this area, an relic of the time when South-Central Los Angeles was far less Hispanic and far more black. Given that the black population has absolutely plummeted in the past twenty years, this situation is not sustainable. A black-plurality over-18 district would probably elect a black congressman for the next ten years, even as the black population continues to fall.

CA-36 (Orange):

Population – 47.6% white, 5.2% black, 26.8% Hispanic, 16.4% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 3.8% other

Majority-Minority District

The wealthier western coastline of Los Angeles is home to CA-36. This district divides the Rancho Palos Verdes area in two; it’s impossible to get within the correct population deviation without doing so. This would not happen with more detailed data. More concerning is the fact that it takes in several poor downtown cities that have little in common with the wealthy coastline communities; this happens because those areas are too Hispanic to be incorporated into the previous district and thus have no place to go but here.


Long Beach

There are two congressional districts located in Long Beach.

CA-39 (Moccasin):

Population – 13.1% white, 14.5% black, 57.7% Hispanic, 12.5% Asian, 0.2% Native American, 2.0% other

Over-18 Population – 15.9% white, 15.2% black, 52.9% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

This district covers several more poor, primarily Hispanic communities north of Long Beach.

CA-37 (Dodger Blue):

Population – 46.1% white, 6.5% black, 31.4% Hispanic, 12.6% Asian, 0.3% Native American, 3.1% other

Majority-Minority District

While this district looks compact, it does relatively poorly in communities of interest. Long Beach is a primarily Hispanic, industrial, and relatively poor community. On the other hand, Rancho Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach are primarily white, suburban, and wealthy communities. The trouble is that Long Beach is a large city, but doesn’t have enough population to support its own district. Unfortunately, given the design of this map, there is nowhere else for Long Beach to find more population than Rancho Palos Verdes and Huntington Beach.


Final Thoughts

There were three decisions which formed the basis of the Los Angeles area – the decision to make a majority-Asian district, the decision to make a black-controlled district, and the decision that no district would cross-over the mountains from the Los Angeles metropolis into the Antelope Valley.

These three rational decisions, however, are ultimately responsible for the weaknesses that do occur in the map. The reason Long Beach has to be combined with unlike communities is due to this, for instance.

More troubling is the way in which CA-31 packs Hispanics. CA-31 is located in one of the most Hispanic parts of the entire country, and any district in this area will have a very high Hispanic percentage. Still, the 88% number is quite high. The problem is that there is nowhere for the district to go. The areas to its north, south and east are just as Hispanic, so moving there won’t fix the problem. West of CA-31 is the black-controlled CA-35. However, taking in some less Hispanic territory there would end up destroying the only district designed to elect a black representative in all of California. The only other options would be to run thing, long strips from downtown Los Angeles to the Asian areas of the San Gabriel Valley (destroying a district designed to elect an Asian representative), or alternatively the white areas of Glendale and Pasadena (horrendous in terms of compactness and communities of interest). Once again one runs into the constant trade-offs present with redistricting.

The next post will take a look at Orange County, part of the overall Southern California area:


by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: Central Coast

1:49 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on the Central Coast region. There are four congressional districts covered here.

CA-17 (Dark Slate Blue): Read the rest of this entry →

by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: Central Valley

1:42 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on the Central Valley region.


Northern Central Valley

The Northern Central Valley is home to two congressional districts, along with the parts of several others. It is quite easy to redistrict; both congressional districts fit very neatly within the county boundaries:

CA-11 (Chartreuse/Green):

Population – 35.8% white, 7.0% black, 39.6% Hispanic, 13.8% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 3.4% other

Over-18 Population – 40.8% white, 34.8% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

Since 2000, this district has had the most interesting history in all California. It’s the only district which changed party control since the incumbent-protection 2000 gerrymander; Democrat Jerry McNerney defeated Republican Richard Pombo in 2006. In 2010 Mr. McNerney nearly lost his seat, in an extremely tight race.

The old seat took in parts of the Bay Area and Central Valley. Since the Bay Area’s population growth has lagged behind, this seat now shifts to be entirely Central Valley-based. It also, quite unintentionally, turns from a white-majority district into a Hispanic-plurality one. The main population base is in San Joaquin Valley, centered around the city Stockton. Stockton is both a Bay Area exurb (many people commute there), an independent region of its own, and some of the most productive farmland in America.

CA-18 (Yellow):

Population – 40.2% white, 3.0% black, 47.3% Hispanic, 6.4% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 2.6% other

Over-18 Population – 46.0% white, 41.5% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

This district takes in all of Merced County and most of Stanislaus County. It’s famous for the rich agriculture grown in it. This primarily agricultural district is home, California-style, to several cities – Modesto and Merced – where most of the population resides.

CA-19 (Yellow-Green):

Population – 54.3% white, 2.1% black, 36.9% Hispanic, 2.8% Asian, 1.5% Native American, 2.4% other

This district is the enormous yellow-green district at the far-right of the first map, stretching from the Lake Tahoe to San Bernardino County. Part of the district is home to national parks amid sparsely populated desert and mountains: Yosemite, Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, and the Mojave Desert. The majority of the people, however, actually live in agricultural Tulare County.


Southern Central Valley

CA-20 (Pink):

Population – 22.8% white, 3.7% black, 68.1% Hispanic, 3.4% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 1.5% other

Over-18 Population – 26.9% white, 62.7% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; Majority-Hispanic

Here is the first majority-Hispanic district in the proposal, with many more to come. This district is drawn to have as many Hispanics as possible, while at the same time deliberately not entering the cities Fresno or Bakersfield. This rural district is home to some of the richest agriculture in America – yet also some of the poorest communities in California. 

Ironically, despite being two-thirds Hispanic, this district may still not represent the Latino population adequately. This is because the Hispanics here are disproportionately young, poor, and undocumented (the undocumented ones often work as fruit-pickers). Indeed, the electorate might actually be majority-white. The ratio of Hispanics living in CA-20 to Hispanics actually voting in CA-20 might be the most skewed in the entire nation, with the exception of South Texas. It is therefore quite possible that a VRA challenge might be attempted here, with the argument that this district ought to take in areas with higher rates of Hispanic voting (i.e. the cities). Such a hypothetical district would be highly gerrymandered, which is why it is not done here.

CA-22 (Sienna/Dark Brown):

Population – 42.8% white, 5.5% black, 44.9% Hispanic, 3.7% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 48.3% white, 39.6% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District; New Majority-Minority

CA-22 takes in the whole of the city Bakersfield (which previously was split into two pieces by the 2000 gerrymander). It then includes all of Kern County. While the district is plurality-Hispanic, whites almost certainly compose a large majority of the actual electorate.

CA-21 (Maroon):

Population – 34.7% white, 6.0% black, 44.9% Hispanic, 11.5% Asian, 0.6% Native American, 2.3% other

Over-18 Population – 40.3% White, 40.1% Hispanic

Majority-Minority District

In the 2000 gerrymander the city of Fresno was chopped up into multiple congressional districts. This proposal remedies that by placing the entirety of Fresno into one congressional district. Credit for this idea goes to the users of swingstateproject.


Final Thoughts

It is possible that this entire region might be subject to a VRA challenge. Hispanics compose strong plurality of this entire region, and one would therefore expect that the plurality or majority of congressmen elected in the Central Valley to be Hispanic. However, it is quite possible – given low Hispanic participation and ability to participate – that every single elected congressman would be white. Even the 2/3 Hispanic district could quite conceivably elect a white congressman who would act contrary to the interests of the Hispanic population (e.g. by announcing strong opposition against the numerous undocumented Hispanic immigrants living in the district, constituents whom said congressman would speak for rather than attack in an ideal world).

This is the trouble with redistricting; drawing congressional districts according to communities of interest and compactness usually hurts minority representation dramatically. A less pretty map could probably send 2 to 3 Hispanics to Congress. On the other hand, it would probably result in spaghetti-style districts that rip apart communities of interest. Thus the conundrum.

The next post will take a look at California’s Central Coast.


by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: the Bay Area

3:30 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is part of a proposal outlining one possible way to redistrict California.

This post will concentrate on the Bay Area.

The North Bay

CA-6 (Teal):

Population – 68.4% white, 1.9% black, 21.4% Hispanic, 4.7% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 3.1% other

California’s sixth congressional district is barely changed from its previous incarnation. As in the past, it consists of a Marin County-based district which then stretches north into Sonoma County. It is also surprisingly Hispanic. The wealthy, somewhat rural communities here have a distinctive nature: if one is on a quest for hipster companionship, California’s 6th congressional district is probably the place to go. Read the rest of this entry →

by inoljt

A Proposal to Redistrict California: Northern California and Sacramento

3:45 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

Right now states across the nation are engaging in congressional redistricting, as mandated by law after the 2010 Census. Most redistricting is in the hands of politicians and thus heavily corrupted; the political party in control of the process is now busily gerrymandering districts to ensure it stays in power.

California is an exception to this rule; it is undergoing a unique experiment with a citizen’s redistricting committee. This committee has drawn districts according to communities of interest rather than political expediency.

This post, and the ones following it, will outline one possible way to redistrict California. It uses the program Dave’s Redistricting Application, which allows anybody to draw congressional districts. Credit should be given to the many users on, whose maps of California provided much of the basis for this drawing. Particular inspiration was taken from the maps of users DrPhillips androguemapper (whose maps everybody should look at too).

Because California is such a big and complex state, the proposal will be divided into eight regions:

1. Northern California and Sacramento

2. the Bay Area

3. Central Valley

4. Central Coast

5. Los Angeles County

6. Orange County

7. the Inland Empire

8. San Diego

Each region will be the subject of one post. I also sent this proposal to the California Redistricting Committee before it completed redistricting.

In drawing these districts, several factors have been considered. These are outlined below, in order of importance:

Equal Population – Congressional districts must have equal population, to the exact person. This proposal puts each congressional district to below 1,000 people of the target. This is actually a hard barrier to meet, since the voting districts of California are incredibly large (some have over 100,00 people) and difficult to deal with.

The Voting Rights Act – The Federal Voting Rights Act (VRA) mandates the creation of majority-minority districts under certain circumstances and regulates the use of race in drawing congressional districts. It is an incredibly complex piece of legislation, with numerous court cases, and something I admittedly don’t fully understand. This proposal attempts to follow the VRA as best as possible, by not regressing current majority-minority districts (easy to do, given the growth of California’s minority population). It also draws new majority-minority districts where reasonably possible – a very subjective thing, true, but so is the VRA.

Communities of Interest – Drawing congressional districts that put together like communities is an extremely important part of this proposal. Too often California’s politicians have gerrymandered together unlike communities for their own political ends (which is the reason California now has an independent redistricting commission). This proposal attempts to stop that.

Compactness – No more weirdly shaped, spaghetti-style congressional districts. Unfortunately, compactness and the VRA do not go together – drawing majority-minority districts often leads to less compact districts. Since the VRA is supreme by federal law, it takes precedence; here compactness is sacrificed several times to the VRA’s mandate. Nevertheless, compactness is still a priority.

County and Town Lines – Town lines are useful indicators of communities of interest, while county lines aid compactness. This proposal attempts its best to respect both.

Partisanship – Actually, this proposal does not consider the political leanings of a community; it was drawn entirely without political data. Speculation of how these districts would vote is entirely absent from this proposal.

Now, let’s begin with Northern California and Sacramento:

Northern California

CA-1 (Blue):

Population – 59.6% white, 1.5% black, 27.3% Hispanic, 7.0% Asian, 1.6% Native American, 3.1% other

This district ranges from the vineyards of Napa Valley to the marijuana groves of Mendocino County. It covers a lot of space, but almost all the people live in the medium-sized towns and cities along the coast and dotted throughout the rest of the district (interestingly, it’s a lot less white than I initially expected). Perhaps the biggest problem with this district is that it divides the city Napa in two, the consequence of decisions made elsewhere in the map.

It is possible to advocate for a coastal district stretching from upper Sonoma County to the top of the state. This proposal decided not to do that for the sake of compactness; nevertheless, such a district would be well worth considering.

CA-2 (Green)

Population – 78.0% white, 1.4% black, 11.8% Hispanic, 2.4% Asian, 2.9% Native American, 3.6% other

This enormous district covers the northern-most portion of California. Like CA-1, there’s a lot of land covered here – but most of it is just empty space. Most of the population actually lives along the coast and in Redding.

CA-4 (Red)

Population – 79.1% white, 1.0% black, 11.9% Hispanic, 4.2% Asian, 0.8% Native American, 3.0% other

This district is composed of two entities. First are the exurbs of Sacramento, located in Placer County and composing the about half of the district’s population. They are joined by the communities in the mountainous Sierra Nevada, too small by themselves to form a single district.


Sacramento County is populous enough to support about two districts.

CA-3 (Purple)

Population – 57.3% white, 7.7% black, 16.3% Hispanic, 13.4% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 4.8% other

CA-3 previously constituted a very gerrymandered district connecting suburban Sacramento with a bunch of unrelated communities. Since suburban Sacramento’s population has grown so much, it shrinks rapidly to compose only the eastern and southern suburbs of Sacramento.

CA-5 (Gold)

Population – 38.6% white, 12.3% black, 26.8% Hispanic, 17.2% Asian, 0.6% Native American, 4.6% other

Majority-Minority District

A wonderful example of California’s amazing diversity, CA-5 takes in downtown Sacramento itself. Whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians are almost equally distributed – with whites composing a plurality despite being just 38.6% of the population. Moreover, this area is one of the most racially integrated in the United States; the district does not lump together a bunch of 90% white, 90% black, 90% Hispanic, and 90% Asian communities in one (as too often happens elsewhere). Rather, each people of different races actually live in the same neighborhoods.

The next post will take a look at the Bay Area.


by inoljt

Packing Blacks

9:12 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the first part in a series of posts examining how to create super-packed congressional districts of one race. The other posts in this series pack Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and whites.

Packing Blacks

In drawing the districts that will elect America’s congressman and state legislatures, race is of paramount importance. This is because of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), a complicated piece of legislation which regulates how race is used in congressional redistricting. The VRA is supreme to almost every other consideration in redistricting, except the stipulation that districts must have equal population.

The VRA prohibits packing minorities. For instance, an 80% black district that weaves through unrelated areas, taking in only the black-majority parts, is illegal.

Let’s pretend, however, that the VRA doesn’t exist. For curiosity’s sake, what is the blackest district you can possibly make in the United States?

This post will answer that question, using Dave’s Redistricting Application – a tool which allows anybody to create congressional districts.

It is both easy and hard to create an extremely black congressional district.

The easy part is that blacks live in extremely segregated areas. In a completely integrated society, every congressional district would be no more and no less than 12.6% black, since blacks compose 12.6% of America’s population.

In reality, however, segregation has left many areas more than 90% black, while their surroundings are 90% white. Take Cleveland:

It is relatively easy to pack all these blacks into a cohesive unit:

It took less than five minutes to draw this. This district is 90.9% black.

Here, however, comes the hard part. Notice how there are only 247,777 residents of the district. Each congressional district in Ohio needs to have 721,032 residents. To achieve adequate population, the district must add more than 470,000 people. As the picture makes obvious, adding people from outside the black parts of Cleveland will heavily dilute the district’s black percentage (it may end up less than 50% black as one begins adding 95% white precincts).

The solution is to run the district to other highly segregated black parts of Ohio. Unfortunately, doing this involves going through 95% white areas. This will inevitably dilute the black percentage.

One encounters similar troubles with most inner-city areas that have a substantial black population. Once one runs out of 90% black precincts, the black population dwindles fast.

Concentrated populations of blacks are, of course, not just found in inner-cities. A number of Southern states – places like Mississippi – contain substantial black populations. Unfortunately for a mapmaker, however, many Southern blacks live in rural areas – and these rural areas are much more integrated than places like Cleveland. In Alabama, for instance, the most black a district can get is about 81.5%. In many cities, moreover, the black population is dwindling; in Los Angeles nowadays it is simply impossible to create even a black-majority congressional district.

If only there existed an extremely segregated city like Cleveland, except with enough 95% black precincts to fill an entire congressional district…

Well, welcome to Chicago:

In Chicago it is (barely) possible to create a congressional district composed of only the dark blue precincts in this picture:

For a clearer view, here is the northern part of the district:

Here is the southern part:

This monstrosity is a 94.8% black congressional district, linking together almost all the blacks in Chicago. It is possible to get a ~93% black district without linking the South Side to the Lawndale area; one would simply start adding more 70 and 80% precincts in the suburbs south of Chicago. However, linking the two together makes the district slightly blacker.

It is an interesting exercise to guess how this district voted in 2008. Nationally blacks gave 95% of the vote to President Barack Obama. However, blacks tend to be more Democratic in more segregated areas, so the black vote was probably more Democratic in Chicago than nationwide. Moreover, the non-black vote also tends to be extremely Democratic in inner-cities; in Washington, for instance, 86% of whites supported the president. Finally, given Mr. Obama’s roots in Chicago, individuals of all races would be even more likely to vote for him than otherwise would be the case.

My guess is that this district voted 99% Democratic in 2008. (Edit: Presidential data for Illinois has been released, and it turns out that my guess was right; it voted 98.8% Democratic.)

Blacks, of course, are not the only race which can be packed into congressional districts like these. It is possible – and even easier – to do the same with Hispanics. The next post will examine how to pack Hispanics.

by inoljt

Analyzing Obama’s Weak Spots – Part 1

5:17 pm in Uncategorized by inoljt

This is the first part of three posts analyzing the congressional districts President Barack Obama underperformed in. The second part can be found here.

Congressional Districts

By most accounts, Senator Barack Obama dominated the 2008 presidential election. He won an electoral landslide, winning Republican-leaning states such as Indiana and North Carolina which his campaign targeted. Compared to 2004, the nation shifted almost ten points more Democratic.

Mr. Obama improved from Senator John Kerry’s performance almost everywhere. He did better in the vast majority of counties and 45 out of 50 states (by margin). As for congressional districts: more than 90% of them voted more Democratic than in 2004.

Yet this means that at least several dozen congressional districts were more friendly to Mr. Kerry than the Illinois Senator. Using the amazing information found on swingstateproject and Dave Leip’s election atlas, I have mapped these districts below:

(Click here for a much better view of the map).

There is a clear pattern here: Republican-shifting congressional districts are found along a diagonal line stretching from Louisiana and Oklahoma to southeastern Pennsylvania, roughly along the Appalachian mountains. This is not exactly startling news; ever since the primaries, Mr. Obama’s weakness in these regions has been well-noted. The five states that shifted Republican from 2004 – Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia – are all located here.

The exceptions to this pattern, however, constitute items of considerable interest. Some of these have fairly simple explanations. Arizona’s 1st district voted more Republican, for instance, mainly because Arizona was Senator John McCain’s home state.

Other districts, however, go against commonly-held political wisdom. Take LA-2: a black-majority, inner-city district located in New Orleans (represented, ironically, by Republican congressman Joseph Cao). While LA-2 strongly supported Mr. Obama, black depopulation in the aftermath of Katrina made this support less than that in 2004.

Another example can be found in the northeast:

Republicans do better in five Massachusetts districts and one New York district.

This movement stands in contrast to the narrative of Democratic dominance in the northeast. Most in the beltway have ignored this trend, or dismissed it as simply the loss of Mr. Kerry’s home-state advantage. Whether this is true or not, there is quite a lot of interesting stuff to be said on these districts. The next post will be devoted solely to exploring this pattern.