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Redistricting Michigan 2012

by: Menhen

Sat May 23, 2009 at 11:26:57 AM EDT


(Fun with maps! - promoted by rich)

Crossposted at Swing State Project http://www.swingstateproject.c...

Lately there has been a lot of Debate over the number of Democratic Congressional Districts that Democrats could gerrymander out of the state of Michigan if they had complete control (right now they hold the Governorship and State House.  They stand a good chance at taking control of the State Senate while the Governor's race is a tossup).  A few people have said that it is possible to succesfully draw a map that would yield 12 Democratic seats and only 2 Republican seats.  I've been trying for several weeks to draw a 12-2 map, meanwhile protecting endangered incumbents (specifically Schauer) and I've determined that a 12-2 map would be far overeaching and in a neutral or Republican leaning year might end up 9-5 or worse. I think the best Michigan Democrats could do is create 11 safe or Democrat leaning districts and 3 strongly Republican districts.  I've drawn a map that I think does just that, although I still am not entirely confident that we could hold both of my "Thumb" districts in a Republican year.  But without further ado, here's my map.

Menhen :: Redistricting Michigan 2012

District 1 (Bart Stupak D):  Since this is my home district, and I couldn't face the specter of Tom Casperson or some other Republican becoming my Congressman when Bart Stupak retires, I've gone to pretty great lengths to make this one safer.  I added the remainder of Bay County, Isabella County (home to CMU) Clare County, and Roscommon County, all counties that President Obama won.  I took out the Republican leaning counties of Charlevoix, Antrim, Crawford, Oscoda, Otsego, and Montmorency.  Overall Obama's performance in this district goes from about 50% to about 53%.

District 2 (Vern Ehlers R) this is probably the most gerrymandered looking of all of my new districts, but it has to be if we are going to have a Democrat leaning district in Western Michigan.  It takes in the Dem leaning Counties of Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, Lake, Mason, and Oceana along the Lake Michigan shore, the Strongly Democratic County of Muskegon, and then tentacles into Kent County and picks up the cities of Grand Rapids, Kentwood, East Grand Rapids, and Wyoming.  Barack Obama won this district 57.2-41.1 giving it a nice, healthy PVI of D+4.3. Vern Ehlers likely would not be reelected to this district.

District 3 (Fred Upton R + TBD [successor to Pete Hoekstra] R) I've combined the old 2nd and 6th districts to form this heavily Republican District.  It takes in Ottawa, Allegan, Van Buren, Northern Berrien, and suburban Kent Counties.  Whoever succeeds Pete Hoekstra next year would probably be favored in a Primary against Upton, who is somewhat too moderate for this very conservative district.

District 4 (Dave Camp R) another one of my heavily Republican districts, this one takes in some of the rural and conservative Counties in Northern and Central Lower Peninsula, but it is based in Midland and Traverse City (Grand Traverse County) Barack Obama only won 2 counties in this new district, Gratiot and Clinton.  Dave Camp's home in Midland is preserved in the new 4th.

District 5 (Open, leans D)  The new 5th district is the one that I would be least confident of us holding in a Republican year, but still in a neutral year it favors us. It has a PVI of about D+2-3 and it includes the Democratic County of Saginaw, about 2/3 of staunchly Democratic Genesee county (minus the city of flint) the Dem leaning Shiawassee County, sparsely populated Republican Counties in "the Thumb" and Tossup St. Clair County. Luckily former Democratic Congressman James Barcia's home in Bay City is not in this district, for we really could get a more progressive Congressperson from this district. (State Sen. John Gleason, perhaps?)

District 6 (Mark Schauer D) I increased the Democratic performance in this district by drawing strongly Democratic Kalamazoo County out of Upton's district and into this one.  I also added tossup county Cass and the Democrat leaning portions of Berrien County.  I took out Jackson and Lenawee County as well as the portion of Washtenaw that was in this district.

District 7 (Open, Democrat) It's high time that Lansing is put into a Democratic district again, and that's just what I've done.  This new district is L shaped and contains Ingham, Jackson, Hillsdale, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties.  Barack Obama won all these counties, except Hillsdale. Obama won the district 56.4-41.9 giving it a 2008 PVI of D+3.5.  If I had to guess what Democrat might win this district, I'd say State Rep. Barb Byrum (daughter of 2000 candidate Diane Byrum), State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (distinction of being the "most liberal" Senator), or Lansing mayor and Former state Senator Virg Bernero.

District 8 (Gary Peters D) I've made this one a bit more Democratic by removing the cities of Rochester and Troy while adding Berkley, Southfield, and the rest of Waterford Township.  Removing the city of Troy also removes a potential future challenger to Peters, State Rep. Marty Knollenberg (son of Joe Knollenberg).  This district should be safe for Peters or a future Democrat if he runs for higher office.

District 9 (Candice Miller R + Dale Kildee D)  In 2002, Republicans drew David Bonior's (D) Congressional District http://factfinder.census.gov/s... much more Republican, forcing him to retire or face certain defeat at the hands of their preffered candidate, Secretary of State Candice Miller.  It's payback time.  I've drawn the most Democratic parts of Macomb County, including Miller's home, into a district with exurban Republican Lapeer County, as well as the 90-10 Obama city of Flint, and other staunchly Democratic portions of Genesse County.  This includes Dale Kildee's home, but he'll be in his eightees by 2012 so he probably won't be the one running against Miller, if Miller runs at all.

District 10 (Mike Rogers R) The last Republican district that I drew, the 10th includes fast growing and largely Republican Livingston County (home to Mike Rogers), Northern and Western Oakland County, and Shelby township in Macomb County. I considered drawing Livonia (Thad McCotter's home) into this district as well, but I don't want there to be any chance that he returns to Congress

District 11 (Sander Levin D) This distric largely reverts to it's pre-2002 boundaries.  It now would contain all of Sterling Heights, Warren, Troy, Clawson, and Royal Oak, along with the most Democratic south Oakland Suburbs.  This district would be safe for Levin's successor (hopefully state Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton).

District 12 (Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrict D) Doesn't change much except that it moves farther south and includes all of Dearborn.  It's still majority African American and very strongly Democrat.  The only problem with the configuration of this district is that John Dingell lives in Dearborn.  If he is still serving in 2012 (which I doubt) a tendril can be drawn from the 14th District to pick up his home so that he wouldn't be drawn into Kilpatrick's district.

District 13 (John Conyers D + Thad McCotter R) Contains all of Northern Detroit and also reaches all the was west to include Redford Township, Livonia, Northville and Plymouth.  There's no way Thad McCotter could win this majority African American Detroit District.  Safe for Conyers and his successors.

District 14 (Open D) This one looks very much like Lynn River's old district http://factfinder.census.gov/l... and would probably elect an Ann Arbor Democrat (State Sen. Liz Brater, fmr. State Rep. Chris Kolb, who would be the first openly gay congressman from Michigan, or maybe even Rivers if she wants to get back into politics.) Also includes a large portion of Suburban Wayne County taking in the Democratic cities of Canton and Westland. If John Dingell is still serving and runs for re-election in 2012, then a tendril will have to be drawn to include his home in Dearborn, but when he finally retires it will probably elect someone more progressive.  Obama won this district 64.5-32.6.

What does everyone think of my map? Suggestions, corrections, questions, comments? I want to hear them.

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I'd love to have Bart Stupak as my Congressman... (0.00 / 0)
Putting Isabella County into the first Congressional district is basically the same thing as the giant C that was created to put us in Alan Cropsey's state Senate district.

Nice map, by the way.

Among the Trees


We'd love to have ya. (0.00 / 0)
putting a more liberal college county into the first in exchange for taking out some really conservative rural northern LP counties might push Stupak's voting to the left, too.

[ Parent ]
That would be great. (0.00 / 0)
Giving Bart a little nudge to the left.

The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson


[ Parent ]
menhen (0.00 / 0)
I'd welcome a cross post on West Michigan Rising, maybe with a bit more emphasis on your districts 2, 3, 4, 6.  -- Phil


Steve Pestka for Congress

Let's keep things fair. (0.00 / 0)
Gerrymandering was a disaster to Michigan's GOP.  Let's not follow their lead.

I just responded to your similar post on DKos (0.00 / 0)
I said that the Republican gerrymander actually worked out pretty well.  They managed to get rid of Rivers, Bonior, Barcia, while making the 8th district safe for them, and we still haven't won the 6th district.  Gary Peters probably would have won no matter how they configured that district, because of how drastically left Oakland County moved last year.  The only "failure" was the 7th, and the blame mostly rests with CFG on that one.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I saw it. (0.00 / 0)
I also responded.  If we're going to debate this, I'd rather do it here.  I hate responding twice.

Media backlash aside, there's also the point that we'd be major hypocrites for even discussing the idea.  How many times did we complain about the gerrymandering in this state?  I can think of a half-dozen diaries done on just that subject.  We ridiculed Saul when we got audio of him saying that gerrymandering was the only thing that saved him in 2006 (it didn't save him in 2008).


[ Parent ]
We may complain, but that's how politics works. (4.00 / 2)
The party in control gets to make the rules.  That's part of Democracy and there's no reason we should do "fair redistricting" if we control all three braches of the State Government.

[ Parent ]
Yeah.... (0.00 / 0)
we wouldn't want our politicians to work for the votes of the people.

[ Parent ]
Democrats did work for the votes of the people (0.00 / 0)
Against a Republican gerrymander as you said, and now their in control.  That's how politics has worked for the pas 200 years.  If our maps overreach and we lose a few like the Republicans did in 2008, we'll at least have created a few new seats and protected a vulnerable incumbernt or two, so bringing up Peters isnt a very good arguement.

[ Parent ]
Make the districts fair.... (4.00 / 1)
so they'll have to work for the votes of the people.

You're acting like we don't have states that do this.

You can say whatever you want, but I'm not a hypocrite.  I don't support gerrymandering when the Repugs do it, and I'm not going to support it when our party does it, either.


[ Parent ]
I wonder if, on balance, we don't end up with more (4.00 / 1)
dysfunctional government as a result of gerrymandering. When you pack as many of the opponent's voters into a few districts as possible, you end up with more extreme candidates defeating more moderate ones in those districts in the primary. Then you end up with a legislature, or a Congress, that is extremely polarized, as we have seen.

If you went with the most compact possible districts, which had the potential of swinging one way or the other, then you would end up with some members actually in the middle. Fred Upton is seen as a moderate, which he is ONLY in comparison to the other Republicans in Congress. If all the states were not gerrymandered, I believe we might have more genuine bipartisanship in Congress, and  the state legislatures.


[ Parent ]
Following MI (4.00 / 2)
Menhen, are you following the provisions of MCL 3.63 (PA 221 1996), often known as the Congressional Redistricting Act?  First, the principle of "least cost" holds throughout, and states that municipalities should be incorporated within districts if the population of a municipality is smaller than the size of an average Congressional District. Secondly, populations for Congressional districts must not fall outside of the 95% to 105% range of the average district size (MCL 3.63d). Finally, the preservation of municipal and county identity is encouraged, and district lines should be drawn on municipal or county boundaries (3.61g). This law was already held up by the Michigan Supreme Court in 2002, and I doubt that even with a Dem controlled court would overturn it.

Since this law is on the books, I doubt that districts 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, and 11 would withstand a court challenge, just because they reach into municipalities that could be gathered from a nearby county.  Hence, dividing up Kent County would likely be challenged to some extent.  I'm assuming that Michigan's population in 2010 will be 10,287,460, with each of the fourteen districts would have a population of 734,818.

Also, are you using the presidential numbers only?  Or have you thought about using some of the baseline (Board of Education) numbers as well?  Obama's victory in certain districts hides the deep seated GOP strength.  But, a good map, and I'm eager to see what others put out.


The only municipality that is split is Detroit (0.00 / 0)
And redgarding the 2nd, it's no worse than the old 8th.  The 11th is almost identical to the 1992-2002 12th, and better than the modern 12th.  Macomb is too big for it's own district, so it mus expand, and splitting Genesee between the 5th and 9th doesn't seem any different from splitting Bay County between the 1st and 5th that we have now.  Re: the 6th, All of Berrien county could easily be put into the 6th, I only just left the northern portion in the 3rd because it contains Upton's home in St. Joseph.  I calculated the populations, yes, they may not all fall within 105% - 95%, but they're close and modern redistricting technology or skilled map drawers could clean the districts up a bit to make them fit.

[ Parent ]
Well done! (0.00 / 0)
What I would like to know are some details on how to do this sort of thing. What GIS do you use? What population numbers are you using? Do your population numbers go to individual precinct, of just to municipality? How close are you to exactly equal populations?

Gerrymandering (0.00 / 0)
Menhen, you've done an admirable job with your map!  As for gerrymandering, look at what we have now:  the city of Dearborn has two CD's 14, 15), next-door D. Heights has two (11,15)[their pop's are 98,000 and 58,000, resp.]; city of Sterling Hts has two (10,12-pop 124,000); Orion Twp has two (8,9--pop 34,000); city of Royal Oak has two (9,12--pop 60,000); Waterford twp has two (9,11--pop 73,000).  And that's just in metro Detroit!  It doesn't look like you break any city or township lines, which is a vast improvement over the current situation (all rose in last redistricting, I believe).  How's a resident to know who their Congressperson is in these split siutations?  City/twp officials have to deal with two Congresspersons if they have a federal question/request, etc.

As a Grand Rapids resident (0.00 / 0)
I think this is brain-dead.

What it would mean is that the ag and rec interests would be perpetually represented by Grand Rapids. Similar charges could be made through many of the other districts.  What is gained by electoral "winning" is surrendered in representation.

A nasty gerrymander like #2 would pass if the counties actually shared common economic interests.  But they don't. And that's a problem.

The second large problem for Dems would be that it would create barriers internally in Kent County for cooperation.  Again, that seems wildly counter-productive.  


Interesting map (0.00 / 0)
It's a good map for hypotheticals, and the first one I've seen in detail.

The real question is if we lose 1 or 2 seats, and what the population number per district would be. I don't know if this map would survive the municipal breaks rules, but that is all premature because of the population numbers.

I think that Ehlers (who run ahead of everybody in GR) and Miller could survive those maps. The new fifth would elect a populist but not a social liberal. Shiawassee, rural Saginaw County, Tuscola County and South Genesee all ticketsplit. That will depend on the candidates.

In the other seats, I can see the Ehlers seat going either way (Scripps v Van Woerkm?) and the Miller being tougher but still possible IF Kildee is out I can't see Lapeer or Macomb supporting a Jack Minore or one of the Clacks. I think Bonior would win it easily however.

Stupak will be tough to beat as long as he doesn't gave a major screw up. North Michigan has one of the highest proportion of ticket splitters in the country. Stupak has one of his best years when Bush won the district by a large number. At the same time, they voted for Sheltrown and McDowell in conservative districts. Outside of Otsego, Alpena, Marquette, or Ironwood, anything inland or sunrise I can see going either way in any given year unless either the GOP or the dems screw up and run someone from Harbor Springs.

Overreach has killed both parties in the past, most recently us in Pennsylvania and Michigan. I didn't like the Knollenberg seat from the start because he conceded friendly fast growing territory to Rogers or McCotter than wasn't needed. Knollenberg depended on ticketsplitters too much, and the straight ticket option at the top of the ticket (which should be banned for rewarding laziness) did him in. I still can't believe they gave him Royal Oak and then deny him Oxford and the Clarkston area.

The state house districts overreached. I thought those were safe, but not. Irony is that I thought the State Senate districts were a gift to the dems (Even Bob Emerson liked it), but that stayed in the GOP even after 06.

The question in 2011/12 are these:
1. If the dems take full control, will they go full partisan, or mostly partisan with pre-primary fights. One district of ours had one, and it may have helped Gary Peters.

2. If there is split control, will the courts decide, or will there be a compromise "incumbent protection" type of plan. For example, Schauer could be made almost 100% safe if all of Lansing is added. That also benefits Mike Rogers.  

"He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security" - Benjamin Franklin

Opinions are my own and not that of LCRP


A bit of clairifcation (0.00 / 0)
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that all congressional districts within a state must have equal populations, overriding the Michgan law that states legislative districts must be within the 95-105% of the population average.  Therefore if Michigan's population is 10,287,460 (as a previous poster has suggested) there would be 8 districts that would have exactly 734,819 and 6 districts with a population of exactly 734,818.  Since it would be impossible to draw district lines in a compact fashion and maintain those exact numbers, there would be 13 municipal boundaries split ("breaks") between the 14 districts just as there are currently 14 municipal breaks between our 15 congressional districts.

"I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell." -- Harry S Truman


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