Home > San Joaquin Valley > Final Draft Redistricting Maps Out, Still Very Anti-Incumbent

Final Draft Redistricting Maps Out, Still Very Anti-Incumbent

The California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission released the final draft of its proposed legislative redistricting this week and will be voting on the maps today. While there have been some changes here and there to the maps, they remain as anti-incumbent as the preliminary maps. In the following analysis, I rely on the data provided by Redistricting Partners in their analysis of the proposed maps and I focus just on the congressional district maps. In a future post, I’ll look at the state legislative districts, which some observers think create the possibility of Democrats controlling 2/3 of the Senate and Assembly.

The Redistricting Commission was created because people were tired of legislators in Sacramento “choosing their own constituents.” The hope was that by giving the Commission control of the process, there would be fewer safe seats and more competition between the parties (and, hopefully, more compromise as a result). As part of its mandate, the Commission was not allowed to consider partisanship or where incumbents currently reside when drawing the maps. Instead, the Commission had to focus on meeting legal requirements, such as the Voting Rights Act, and then “communities of interest”–areas defined by a common geography, culture, industry, etc. (Considerable time was spend on trying to create a definition for that term.)

The baseline for the comparison is the current California House delegation. Right now, there are 19 Republicans and 34 Democrats who represent California in the House (assuming the Democrat, Janice Hahn, wins the special election in CA-36 later this summer). There are no real competitive seats in the current maps. Only one seat, CA-11, which contains Pacific, changed party hands in the ten years between redistrictings, and for the last two election cycles, incumbent Democrat Jerry McNerney has won reelection pretty easily.

Under the final draft maps, it appears that 14 seats would be either solidly Republican or lean Republican, 37 seats would lean Democratic or be solidly Democratic, and just two seats would be true swing seats. So potentially, depending on the election, Democrats could pick up five seats in the delegation.

As in the preliminary maps, there are a number of districts that currently have no incumbent. The preliminary maps had 13 open districts, the final version has 16 open districts. At the same time, the Commission created several districts that have more than one incumbent currently living in them–there are eleven districts with two incumbents and one (Merced) with three incumbents.

In terms of our local district, which the Commission has called San Joaquin and contains Lodi, Stockton, Lathrop, and much of the surrounding area this side of the Altamont Pass, the incumbent Jerry McNerney was drawn into a Bay Area district with incumbent Pete Stark. While there was some speculation that Stark would retire (he’s 80), allowing McNerney to take over the district, that doesn’t appear to the be the case. McNerney announced this morning that he will be moving into San Joaquin County and seek reelection in the district, which voted 56-41 for Obama in 2008 and 51-42 for Brown in 2010. Right now, if no other Republican throws their hat in the ring, he’ll face a political neophyte in Ricky Gill.

One of the key controversies that has animated the redistricting process is the representation of ethnic minority groups under the Voting Rights Act. Because California has in the past acted to dilute the representation of both African Americans and Latinos, the state is required to maximize representation of these groups in its congressional delegation. In the final draft maps, there are nine majority Latino districts and no majority African American districts, although there are a couple districts that can still elect African-American members.

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