Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Minnesota Redistricting: The Democrats' Proposal

In Minnesota, the Democrats picked up the Governorship in 2010 with Mark Dayton (D) beating Tom Emmer (R). Despite performing well at a statewide level, the Democrats lost both houses of the state legislature. Besides giving Republicans the power to put initiatives before the voters such as marriage equality, the Democrats and Republicans have split control in redistricting. In the past though, the courts have drawn Minnesota's maps when the Democrats and Republicans had split control because the Republicans and Democrats could not agree on a plan. Although a court drawn map appears very likely, the map I drew here is a suggestion for the Democrats' proposal for Minnesota's congressional map. The map's main objectives were to weaken Chip Cravaack's (R) 8th district and weaken Erik Paulsen's (R) 3rd district. There are a few parts of this plan that may appeal to some Republicans though. For example, Michelle Bachmann's (R) 6th district is strengthened by the removal of Democratic leaning St. Cloud. The Republicans will probably not agree to this plan but this is a suggestion for what the Democrats should propose. This map contains 3 Safe Democratic seats, 1 Likely Democratic seat, 1 Lean Democratic seat, 1 Toss Up and 2 Safe Republican seats. Anyway, here are the maps:

Minnesota's 1st District Tim Walz (D) Blue
Obama 182,461 51.8%, McCain 161,245 45.8%
Old District's Presidential Election 2008: Obama 51%, McCain 47%
Average 2006-10: Democrats 52.1%, Republicans 47.9%
Demographics: 5.0% Hispanic, 89.0% White
Demographics 18+: 3.8% Hispanic, 91.3% White
Status: Lean Democratic

Although Tim Walz (D) won in 2010, a very Republican year in a swing district that voted for both Bush and Obama, I strengthened the 1st district a bit so a very strong Republican challenger in a very Republican year cannot unseat him. I removed five counties in the western part of the district which combined voted 52%-46% for McCain. To compensate for that population loss, I added Democratic leaning Rice County which voted 55%-42% for Obama and Democratic parts of Goodhue County. Although Walz is not completely safe in this district that contains Red Wing, Waseca and Rochester, he is much safer than before.

Twin Cities

Minnesota's 2nd District John Kline (R) Green
Obama 163,538 45.3%, McCain 190,484 52.7%
Old District's Presidential Election Data: Obama 48%, McCain 50%
Average 2006-10: Democrats 44.6%, Republicans 55.4%
Demographics: 4.0% Hispanic, 87.6% White
Demographics 18+: 3.1% Hispanic, 90.0% White
Status: Safe Republican

Kline is a popular incumbent who is already safe in his district. He won in the Democratic years of 2006 and 2008 with 56% and 57% of the vote respectively. Under the new lines, his district becomes more Republican with the removal of Democratic leaning Rice County and Democratic leaning Eagan. The district gains all of heavily Republican McLeod County and Sibley Counties while gaining parts of Republican Meeker and Wright Counties. The addition of the Republican counties and the loss of the Democratic areas help make the 2nd district more Republican.

Minnesota's 3rd District Erik Paulsen (R) DarkMagenta
Obama 217,112 55.4%, McCain 168,438 42.9%
Old District's Presidential Election Data: Obama 52%, McCain 46%
Average: Democrats 52.7%, Republicans 47.3%
Demographics: 7.9% African American, 6.6% Asian, 5.4% Hispanic, 77.4% White
Demographics 18+: 6.6% African American, 6.2% Asian, 4.2% Hispanic, 81.3% White
Status: Toss Up

Paulsen has won in the 52% Obama district in 2008 and 2010 but with the district now voting 55% for Obama, he may face a tougher race. The 3rd district loses conservative areas near Maple Grove and gains the Democratic leaning towns of St. Louis, Burnsville, Eagan and Cottage Grove. Although Paulsen's district contains most of his old territory, he may not be entrenched yet because he has represented the district for less than four years. The district's shift toward the Democrats could attract a strong candidate who can beat Paulsen. State Senator Ron Latz (DFL) from St. Louis and Ashwin Madia (DFL), Paulsen's 2008 challenger may consider running in this district.

Twin Cities Core
Minnesota's 4th District Betty McCollum (D) Red
Obama 232,896 63.3%, McCain 127,572 34.7%
Old District's Presidential Election Data: Obama 64%, McCain 34%
Average: Democrats 62.3%, Republicans 37.7%
Demographics: 9.2% African American, 9.7% Asian, 7.2% Hispanic, 70.6% White
Demographics 18+: 7.9% African American, 8.0% Asian, 5.7% Hispanic, 76.2% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 4th district mostly retains its current boundaries and expands to keep the population deviation equal. The 4th district gains Stillwater in Washington County which is Michelle Bachmann's (R) home. Bachmann will not win in a 63% Obama district so she should not challenge McCollum who will continue to have a strong Democratic district.

Minnesota's 5th District Keith Ellison (D) Yellow
Obama 262,448 71.0%, McCain 99,476 26.9%
Old District's Presidential Election Data: Obama 74%, McCain 24%
Average: Democrats 70.4%, Republicans 29.6%
Demographics: 14.7% African American, 5.6% Asian, 8.3% Hispanic, 66.7% White
Demographics 18+: 12.4% African American, 5.2% Asian, 6.7% Hispanic, 72.4% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 5th district becomes less Democratic with the loss of the heavily Democratic suburb of St. Louis. To keep equal population deviation with other districts, the 5th gains marginal Coon Rapids. The 5th remains the most Democratic district in Minnesota though by containing of all Minneapolis.

Minnesota's 6th District Michelle Bachmann (R) Teal
Obama 153,831 42.6%, McCain 199,737 55.3%
Old District's Presidential Election Data: Obama 45%, McCain 53%
Average: Democrats 43.6%, Republicans 56.4%
Demographics: 2.5% Asian, 91.4% White
Demographics 18+: 2.3% Asian, 93.0% White
Status: Safe Republican

Although the Democrats dislike Bachmann, she gains a safe district under this map. Her district gains more Republican areas in order to strengthen Democratic chances in the 3rd and 8th districts. The 6th district loses swing areas including St. Cloud, Coon Rapids and Stillwater (Bachmann's home.) The 6th district also gains Republican Isanti and Chisago Counties from the 8th district and Republican Maple Grove in Hennepin County from the 3rd district. These changes raise the McCain percentage in the 6th district from 53% to 55% and make the district more Republican.

Minnesota's 7th District Collin Peterson (D) Gray
Obama 162,485 47.5%, McCain 171,203 50.1%
Old District's Presidential  Election Data: Obama 47%, McCain 50%
Average: Democrats 48.6%, Republicans 51.4%
Demographics: 4.2% Hispanic, 90.2% White
Demographics 18+: 3.1% Hispanic, 92.5% White
Status: Likely Democratic

The 7th district does not undergo major changes. It retains rural western Minnesota while losing a few Republican counties near the Minneapolis exurbs that have the potential to fill with conservative suburbanites from the Twin Cities area. The 7th district gains a couple of Republican counties from the 8th district in order to strengthen opportunities for Democrats there and the 7th gains a couple of counties on the Iowa border. Although the district voted for McCain, Peterson won in 2010 so if he can win in 2010, he should win in any year. Also, this district is Democratic at a local level so when Peterson retires, a Democratic candidate should have an advantage.

Minnesota's 8th District Chip Cravaack (R) SlateBlue
Obama 198,534 54.5%, McCain 157,205 43.1%
Old District's Presidential Election Data: Obama 53%, McCain 45%
Average: Democrats 57.4%, Republicans 42.6%

Demographics: 2.7% Native American, 91.6% White
Demographics 18+: 2.3% Native American, 93.2% White
Status: Lean Democratic

Cravaack won the 8th district in an upset by beating James Oberstar (D) in the heavily Republican year of 2010 which hit Minnesota hard. Although Democrats won the Governorship, the margin was closer than expected and the Democrats lost control of the state legislature. Cravaack won in this traditionally Democratic district containing Duluth and the Iron Range by winning large margins in the fast growing Republican leaning counties such as Isanti and Chisago. I removed both of those counties and added Democratic leaning St. Cloud. These changes bring the Obama percentage to almost 55%. If 2012 is even a neutral year, a Democrat should win in this district.

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