Saturday, June 25, 2011

Analysis of California's Proposed Congressional Redistricting Maps Part I

On November 2nd, 2010, California voters passed Proposition 20 allowing a commission composed of 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 4 Independents to redraw my state's congressional districts. Previously, the state legislature drew the maps. In the House of Representatives, the representatives represent voters in districts the legislature draws. In recent years though, states such as Washington and California have chosen commissions to draw districts without political influence. In California, the commission traveled around the state to hear public comments from citizens like me and talk to groups such as MALDEF. On June 10th, 2011, the California Redistricting Commission released their first set of maps for California after hearing public comments from meetings such as this one on May 20th that I attended. The guidelines set for the commission were to draw districts that follow the VRA, stick to county boundaries as much as possible and preserve communities of interest. This analysis examines the first 17 congressional districts to examine whether they fit the communities of interest requirements and what happens to the districts' incumbents under the new lines. The commission has dismantled gerrymandered districts such as the 25th which connected Mono County in the High Desert with Santa Clarita in the Los Angeles suburbs. Still, I want to ensure that they have drawn all the districts so the districts respect communities of interest. Here is a link to the new maps of California:,0,6145644.htmlstory

The demographics and the voting percentages can be found here:
A few notes: I will give district numbers according to the incumbents who live in the districts and/or which incumbent is most likely to run in the district due to factors such as the partisan makeup and familiarity with the constituents.

District 1 Mike Thompson (D) Santa Rosa/Napa/Yuba
Brown 54%, Whitman 38%
Obama 62%, McCain 34%
Demographics: 5% Asian, 29% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

I attended the meeting where the commission heard comments about Santa Rosa. A few meeting attendees said they wanted to combine the Napa area with the Central Valley but no one mentioned combining Santa Rosa with the Central Valley. Santa Rosa is more working class than the surrounding communities but it is not similar to Yuba County. Sonoma County does have agriculture but Santa Rosa is not very agricultural. Yuba County is very agricultural.  Anyway, this district may be a "leftovers district" because these areas had no district for them so they were placed in the 1st district. I would suggest that the lst district should have similar lines to its current form. This would unite Yolo, Napa, Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. Although Yolo and a few of the North Coast Counties may be different, they are more similar than Santa Rosa and Yuba City because Yolo County has Davis with university liberals and Humboldt County has Humboldt State also with university liberals. It also keeps the theme of counties with small cities instead of one city with around 160,000 people (Santa Rosa) with more rural territory with a few small cities.  Placing Santa Rosa with Marin County and the rest of Sonoma County keeps the theme of medium sized cities/suburbs with some rural areas mixed into the district. The lines help the Democrats though by placing Yuba County in this district because Yuba County could be used in another district to make it more Republican. Anyway, Santa Rosa and Napa County should keep this district in the Democratic column. Mike Thompson's home of St. Helena is located in this district so he may run here.

District 2 Wally Herger (R) Redding/Susanville/Chico
Brown 39%, Whitman 51%
Obama 44%, McCain 50%
Demographics: 14% Hispanic
Status: Likely Republican

The 2nd district combines the northern section of the current 2nd and 4th districts. It appears to follow communities of interest at first because it combines conservative small cities and towns across Northern California. The district contains both agricultural and mountain communities though with Susanville and Tehama County so the district does not completely follow communities of interest. Still, the communities are similar enough but I would prefer a district that contains the Valley and one that contains the high desert instead of containing both. As for a partisan standpoint, the district appears Republican but due to the inclusion of Nevada and Butte Counties, the Republican margin drops. Herger made a gaffe by calling a self described right wing terrorist a "Great American" so a strong Democrat in a very Democratic year will have a shot.

District 3 Dan Lungren (R) Sacramento suburbs
Brown 49%, Whitman 45%
Obama 51%, McCain 46%
Demographics: 7% African American, 10% Asian, 17% Hispanic
Status: Tossup

This district does follow communities of interest by staying in Sacramento County and representing Sacramento suburbs. I have no quibbles with this district from a COIs point of view. As for its partisan makeup, the district becomes a few points more Democratic with Obama's percentage rising from 49% to 51%. This will help Ami Bera (D) who will challenge Lungren in 2012. Bera is a strong fundraiser and lost by seven points to Lungren in 2010, a very Republican year and Lungren ran in a more Republican district.

District 4 Tom McClintock (R) Placer County/Sierras from Placer to Fresno
Brown 36%, Whitman 57%
Obama 41%, McCain 56%
Demographics: 4% Asian, 11% Hispanic
Status: Safe Republican
This district contains Placer County, formerly part of McClintock's 4th district but it now contains counties in the Central Sierra instead of the southern Sierra. If McClintock ran here, he should have no trouble because the district is heavily Republican but there is a slight chance the representative of the 19th district Jeff Denham (R) will run here.

District 5 Doris Matsui (D) Sacramento/Elk Grove
Brown 66%, Whitman 29%
Obama 68%, McCain 30%
Demographics: 13% African American, 20% Asian, 26% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

The 5th district adds Elk Grove but besides this change, it remains similar to its current form. McClintock lives in this district but it is strongly Democratic so Matsui should have no trouble winning here. McClintock will probably run in the 4th district because it contains most of his current district.

District 6 Lynn Woolsey (D) Marin/North Coast/Del Norte County
Brown 64%, Whitman 30%
Obama 71%, McCain 25%
Demographics: 16% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

I live in this district but I am opposed to its lines because I believe that Marin County has more in common with Sonoma County than Del Norte County on the Oregon border. Santa Rosa may be more labor based but it shares transportation corridors with the SMART train and closeness to Marin instead of Del Norte which is a 5 hour drive. The 6th district contains some of Sonoma County fortunately with Petaluma, the coast, Windsor,Healdsburg and Cloverdale. The district is too Democratic to elect a Republican representative with Obama winning 71% of the vote under these lines so if Woolsey retires, the battle will be in the primary and three candidates from Marin will likely  run. They are Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams (D), progressive activist Norman Solomon (D) and State Assembly member Jared Huffman (D). I attended a peace rally on June 18th in San Rafael actually that featured Norman Solomon, Susan Adams and Lynn Woolsey as speakers. At the rally, Woolsey stated that she wants people to write to the commission to argue for combining Marin and Sonoma in the same district. I hope you will join them.

As for Woolsey's replacement if she retires, Wesley Chesbro (D) a State Assembly member may run from the newly added North Coast. His Assembly district starts in Windsor and extends to Del Norte County on the Oregon border. Although the Marin County/Southern Sonoma and North Coast parts of the district have similar populations numbers, the three Marin candidates may split the Marin vote allowing Chesbro to win by carrying the North Coast. In 2008, a similar scenario appeared likely when the 3rd State Senate district opened and Joe Nation (D) from Marin faced SF candidates Mark Leno (D) and Carole Migden (D). The 3rd State Senate district represented Marin, southern Sonoma County and part of San Francisco. The majority of the district's population lived in San Francisco though. Nation hoped the two SF candidates would split the SF vote. Leno though campaigned hard in Marin, highlighting his liberal positions and lost Marin County by only 7 points, which allowed Leno to win the primary. One of the most important issues for North Coast voters is the environment so a Marin candidate may campaign heavily in the North Coast on the environment. Huffman and Solomon may fight to win the environmental voters while they each try to claim they are more environmentally friendly. This creates an opening for Supervisor Adams though. She can win by running by highlighting her work on three areas: family, health care and women's issues which are important issues for Marin's suburban voters while Huffman, Solomon and Chesbro try to outdo the others on the environment. She has worked on the environment too by helping the Marin County Open Space District and the St. Vincent’s/Silveira land but she should highlight her strong record on families, health care and women's issues while Solomon and Huffman fight for the environmental voters. This strategy could give her the opening she needs to win.

District 7 George Miller (D) Pinole/Solano County/Davis
Brown 60%, Whitman 34%
Obama 65%, McCain 33%
Demographics: 11% African American, 16% Asian, 25% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

The 7th district moves northward and now contains all of Solano County as well as Davis in Yolo County. Garamendi may run in this district because it contains part of Sacramento County where Garamendi lives. Miller would probably win here though because the 7th district contains parts of his current district including Pinole, Vallejo and Vacaville.

District 8 Nancy Pelosi (D) San Francisco
Brown 78%, Whitman 17%
Obama 84%, McCain 13%
Demographics: 6% African American, 32% Asian, 15% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

This district grows a bit to eliminate population deviation but remains strongly Democratic.

District 9 Barbara Lee (D) Richmond/Berkeley/Oakland
Brown 85%, Whitman 10%
Obama 88%, McCain 9%
Demographics: 21% African American, 19% Asian, 23% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic
The 9th district remains the most Democratic district in California by gaining part of Richmond. Also, the 9th district becomes more African American making it harder for a non African American candidate to defeat Lee in a primary.

District 10 John Garamendi (D) Walnut Creek/Concord/Inner Contra Costa County
Brown 59%, Whitman 37%
Obama 67%, McCain 31%
Demographics: 6% African American, 15% Asian, 21% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

The 10th district contains communities of interest by representing higher income communities such as Walnut Creek, Lafayette and Danville in Contra Costa County. Although Garamendi does not live in the 10th district, he could run here because it contains most of his old district which represented the Walnut Creek area and Fairfield. Miller lives here but most of his current district is not in the 10th so it is unlikely he will run here.

District 11 Vacant Jerry McNerney (D)? Antioch/Oakley/Lodi/Stockton
Brown 52%, Whitman 42%
Obama 57%, McCain 40%
Demographics: 9% African American, 14% Asian, 37% Hispanic
Status: Likely Democratic

This district represents towns in eastern Contra Costa County including Antioch, Brentwood and Oakley. It also represents San Joaquin County north of Manteca which includes Democratic Stockton and Republican leaning Lodi. I believe these areas are communities of interest because they include medium sized cities near and in the Central part of the Central Valley. McNerney's current district was carved up under the new lines and he currently represents Brentwood and Lodi. The new lines place McNerney in a district with Rep. Pete Stark (D) so if Stark decides not to retire, McNerney may run here. A primary challenge from a Stockton Democrat is likely though. As for a Republican challenge, McNerney won in a 54% Obama district in a very Republican year so he should win in a 57% Obama district in a neutral year.

District 12 Jackie Speier (D) San Francisco/San Mateo/Redwood City
Brown 67%, Whitman 28%
Obama 74%, McCain 23%
Demographics: 30% Asian, 22% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

Besides gaining East Palo Alto and Half Moon Bay, the 12th district maintains similar lines. Speier should have no trouble winning in this solidly Democratic district.

District 13 Pete Stark (D) vs. Jerry McNerney (D) Hayward/San Leandro/Pleasanton
Brown 62%, Whitman 33%
Obama 68%, McCain 29%
Demographics: 8% African American, 27% Asian, 25% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

The 13th district undergoes some changes as it loses Fremont and gains Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore over the hills. Although the district remains strongly Democratic, Jerry McNerney's home of Pleasanton is in the new 13th district. Stark represents more of the new 13th district than McNerney does but Stark is 80 years old so this new district may convince him to retire. If Stark retires, McNerney should not lose in the Republican primary but a Hayward or San Leandro Democrat may run in a primary. The Hayward/San Leandro area has a higher population than the Dublin/Pleasanton/Livermore area does so McNerney will have to work hard for the Hayward/San Leandro area. As for communities of interest, Dublin/Pleasanton/Livermore are separated by hills but they are in Alameda County and connected by Route 580 to the rest of the district.

District 14 Anna Eshoo (D) Palo Alto/Sunnyvale/Scotts Valley
Brown 62%, Whitman 33%
Obama 71%, McCain 25%
Demographics: 31% Asian, 17% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

The 14th district stays mostly similar to its current form. It does become more of a Santa Clara County district as it loses all of Santa Cruz County except for Scotts Valley. It gains Santa Clara city and Cupertino. These areas are communities of interest by being high income communities in the Silicon Valley area. Scotts Valley though is closer to Santa Cruz than the rest of the district but Scotts Valley was most likely added for population deviation.

District 15 Mike Honda (D)? Campbell/San Jose/Gilroy
Brown 57%, Whitman 37%
Obama 66%, McCain 30%
Demographics: 18% Asian, 30% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

Although Honda lives in this district that represents southern Santa Clara County and the Campbell area, he may not choose to run here. The reason is that the nearby 16th district is heavily Asian and Honda may prefer a district with a larger Asian population. Zoe Lofgren (D) lives in the 16th district but Lofgren and Honda can move and switch districts. As for communities of interest, the district combines the most urban parts of San Jose with the more suburban and rural parts of Santa Clara County but due to population deviation, this could not be avoided.

District 16 Zoe Lofgren (D)? Fremont/Milpitas/San Jose
Brown 62%, Whitman 31%
Obama 69%, McCain 27%
Demographics: 44% Asian, 33% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

This district represents communities of interest by representing Fremont, Milpitas, and Alum Rock which have similar demographics of large Asian and Hispanic populations. Although Lofgren lives in the 16th district, she may decide to switch districts with Honda if Honda wants to represent a district with a large Asian population. They may both like the respective districts that contain their residencies so they may not move.

District 17 Sam Farr (D) Santa Cruz/Hollister/King City
Brown 63%, Whitman 31%
Obama 71%, McCain 25%
Demographics: 5% Asian, 49% Hispanic
Status: Safe Democratic

The 17th district adds Corralitos and a few rural communities in Santa Cruz County but besides these additions, the 17th district does not change at all. It retains communities of interest by representing the two counties on Monterey Bay: Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. The 17th also represents San Benito County which has farming communities similar to the farming communities in Monterey’s Salinas Valley. Obama’s 71% of the vote in this district should prevent a Republican candidate from winning but if the district’s Hispanic population continues to grow, Farr may face a serious primary challenge from a Hispanic candidate.

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