Draft CA Redistricting Maps VERY Anti-Incumbent
The California Citizens Redistricting Commission (created in 2008 by Prop. 11 and expanded in 2010 by Prop. 20) has now released it’s preliminary drafts of the state’s new legislative districts. In giving the power to draw legislative districts to the CRC, one of the goals was to reduce the influence of legislators in picking their own constituencies. The reformers wanted to avoid another set of maps like those created in 2001, which largely protected incumbents from any serious challengers. The CRC was expressly prohibited from using information about where sitting members of Congress and the state legislature live or information about the partisan makeup of the districts. Instead, the CRC had to first focus on legal requirements (i.e., equal population and Voting Rights Act compliance) and then on respecting “communities of interest.”
After a long summer of traveling around the state to hear public comments about where communities of interest are, the first draft of the maps was released today.
What follows is a quick breakdown of the new congressional maps. I use the political data made available from Redistricting Partners, who use a common voter database to describe each of the districts.
First off, what about the partisan makeup of the House delegation? Currently, California’s delegation is made up of 19 Republicans and 34 Democrats. The partisan balance (if we count leaning districts) for the new maps is 17 Republicans and 36 Democrats. Really, though, those numbers mask the fact that many (though not all) of the districts will now be much more competitive than they have been in the past. The actual numbers after the November 2012 elections could be quite different. Still, the growth in Democratic districts is not surprising given (a) the general trend toward Democratic registrants in the the state and (b) the growth of the Hispanic population (which votes Democratic) in the state.
Here’s where it gets interesting, though. Of the 53 new House districts designed by the CRC, 12 now include at least two incumbents. For example, Rep. Jerry McNerney (D), who currently represents part of Stockton (CA-11), now finds himself in the same district as Rep. Pete Stark (D), who represents much of the East Bay area (CA-13). At the same time, the CRC has created 13 districts that currently have no incumbent.
While there is no requirement that representatives live in the district they represent (see Rep. John Garamendi in CA-10), the combination of (a) packing incumbents into the same district and (b) creating new districts that have no incumbent means that there will be a lot of new people headed to Washington come next January.
So, if you wanted a process that didn’t protect the interests of incumbents, you got it.
As a side note, Stockton (where Pacific is located) comes out much better in these maps than in the last round of redistricting. Rather than having two congressional representatives and more members of the California Assembly and State Senate than will fit on one hand, Stockton is largely kept whole in the new maps. The other cities in the districts change depending on the legislative body, though. In the House district, we’re paired with Lodi. In the Assembly and State Senate districts, we’re paired with Tracy. The reasons for the difference have to do with the Voting Rights Act requirements and the different population numbers required for each kind of district.
- Neighbors for Change – Redistricting (neighbors-for-change.org)
- California Redistricting Commission Releases First Draft of New District Maps (elections.firedoglake.com)
- Calif. incumbents entrenched no more? (politico.com)