Friday, November 25, 2011

New Jersey Fair Redistricting

New Jersey is one of the few states with a bipartisan redistricting commission. This means that even if one party holds the redistricting trifecta (Governorship and both houses of the legislature,) both parties will have a voice when New Jersey's state legislature and congressional lines are redrawn. At a first glance, a bipartisan commission suggests that the commission will draw a fair map that creates competitive districts that give opportunities for Democrats and Republicans to win. Also, a bipartisan commission would suggest a map with districts that combine communities of interest. The 2002 map that the commission drew though failed to create competitive districts that combined enough communities of interest. There were 13 congressional seats during the 2000s in New Jersey. During the 2000s, only one seat changed hands. In 2008, John Adler (D) gained the 3rd congressional seat for the Democrats and in 2010, Jon Runyan (R) returned the seat to the Republicans. This seat does not combine communities of interest though. The 3rd district combines Cherry Hill, a suburb close to Philadelphia with Toms River, a community on the central Jersey Shore. In my map's new 3rd district, it represents urban areas along the Delaware River instead of crossing the state to connect two different suburban areas connected only by a few roads crossing the rural Pine Barrens. Also, this map creates more competitive districts by making the 7th district more competitive by having Obama win it with 54% but the Republicans winning the district's average. Also, Republicans perform well in local races in New Jersey so they will have a strong shot at a 54% Obama district. Overall, the map should be 8-3-1 Democrats compared to the current 7-6 Democratic delegation. Anyway, here is a link to the current maps:

New Jersey's 1st Congressional District Rob Andrews (D) Blue
Presidential Data: Obama 193,498 63.9%, McCain 109,476 36.1%
Average: Dem 61.2%, Rep 38.8%
Demographics 18+: 15.3% African American, 9.8% Hispanic, 69.9% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 65%, McCain 34%
Status: Safe Democratic

Although I made major changes to some district such as the 3rd and 7th, the 1st district undergoes very minor changes. It does gain Republican leaning areas in western Gloucester County and part of Cherry Hill while losing all of its Burlington County precincts. These changes make the 1st district a point more Republican. It is still strongly Democratic at nearly 64% Obama so Andrews should have no trouble winning reelection. Also, the district combines communities of interest by combining the Philadelphia suburbs in Camden and Gloucester Counties.

New Jersey South

New Jersey's 2nd Congressional District Frank LoBiondo (R) Green
Presidential Data: Obama 156,149 52.8%, McCain 139,636 47.2%
Average: Dem 51.3%, Rep 48.7%
Demographics 18+: 11.4% African American, 12.3% Hispanic,
Old Presidential Data: Obama 54%, McCain 45%
Status: Safe Republican with LoBiondo, Tossup if he retires

The 2nd district voted 53% for Obama and this number suggests the district is very competitive. The opposite is the case though because LoBiondo is moderate and extremely popular. He wins endorsements from many environmental groups in most of his races. Even in the heavily Democratic years of 2006 and 2008, he won easily despite Obama's narrow win here. The district's changes help LoBiondo a bit too by adding part of heavily Republican Ocean County along the shore. The district also does not undergo major changes so LoBiondo will continue to be elected by running in territory with familiar voters. If LoBiondo retires though, this district should become very competitive. It also combines communities of interest though by representing the combination of small cities, rural farmland and beach areas in southern Jersey.

New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District: Jon Runyan (R) Purple
Presidential Data: Obama 187,899 60.7%, McCain 121,663 39.3%
Average: Dem 56.1%, Rep 43.9%
Demographics 18+: 15.6% African American, 6.3% Asian, 9.5% Hispanic, 66.8% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 52%, McCain 47%
Status: Likely Democratic

The 3rd district undergoes major changes as it loses all of Ocean County. I removed Ocean County from the district because Ocean County is a Jersey Shore county filled with retirees and it is connected by only two roads to the Burlington County part of the district. The 3rd district now represents communities of interest by combining urban areas along the Delaware River by representing Willingboro, Burlington and Trenton. These changes boost the Obama numbers to around 60%. Runyan won by 3 points in 2010, a very Republican year and his entire margin came from Ocean County and he lost the Burlington and Camden County portions of the district. With the addition of heavily Democratic Trenton, Runyan will probably lose reelection. Rush Holt (D) may decide to run here because this district is safer than his other option, the 7th congressional district.

New Jersey's 4th Congressional District: Chris Smith (R) Red
Presidential Data: Obama 125,322 42.1%, McCain 172,426 57.9%
Average: Rep 41.8%, Dem 58.2%
Demographics 18+: 7.4% Hispanic, 85.2% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 47%, McCain 52%
Status: Safe Republican

The 4th district represents more communities of interest and becomes more Republican as it loses all of Mercer and Burlington Counties. It gains more of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. It extends south in Ocean County to gain all of Silverton and Toms River. In Monmouth County, it extends north to gain Republican leaning Lincroft and Tinton Falls. The 4th district also loses a few precincts in Carmerville to the 6th district. These changes bring the McCain percentage up to nearly 58%, making it the most Republican district in the state. Chris Smith already had an easy time winning reelection here but the new district should make winning easier.

North New Jersey
New Jersey's 5th Congressional District: Rodney Frelinghuysen (R) Yellow
Presidential Data: Obama 172,562 57.4%, McCain 128,175 42.6%
Average: Dem 55.0%, Rep 45.0%
Demographics 18+: 10.6% African American, 15.4% Asian, 13.6% Hispanic, 58.9% White
Old Presidential Data: N/A
Status: Likely Democratic

This map eliminates both the current 5th district (which represents Sussex, Warren and north Bergen Counties,) and the 7th district (which represents parts of Hunterdon, Somerset, Union and Middlesex Counties,) so I created the new 5th district. Most of its territory is from the current 11th and 7th districts. It takes parts of eastern Morris County from the 11th district while representing parts of Middlesex and Union Counties formerly in the 7th district. Both the 11th and 7th districts lean Republican but the 5th district becomes more Democratic by gaining Democratic areas too such as Rahway from the 10th district and Plainfield from the 6th district. The 5th district's goal is to combine communities of interest in Middlesex, Union and Morris Counties. The current map pairs Edison in Middlesex County with the Pennsylvania border in Hunterdon County. The new 5th district though represents suburban communities of interest and combines swing areas such as Westfield with nearby Democratic areas such as Plainfield instead of separating them into districts designed to protect incumbents. As for the politics of the 5th district, Frelinghuysen's home of Harding in Morris County is in the district. He will probably not run here because of the district's 57.4% Obama number. Also, he is not familiar to the voters in Union and Middlesex Counties. A moderate Republican such as Tom Kean Jr. (R) who lives in Westfield could pose a strong challenge but the district's Democratic lean should carry the Democrats to victory here.

New Jersey's 6th Congressional District: Frank Pallone (D) Teal
Presidential Data: Obama 165,067 56.9%, McCain 124,975 43.1%
Average: Dem 55.7%, Rep 44.3%
Demographics 18+: 9.1% African American, 9.5% Asian, 16.8% Hispanic, 63.1% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 60%, McCain 38%
Status: Likely Democratic

The 6th district undergoes a few changes. It loses all of Somerset County, all of Edison and its finger into Plainfield in order to combine more communities of interest. The district becomes more centered in Middlesex County as it gains Perth Amboy, East Brunswick and Milltown. Perth Amboy formerly was in the 13th district which combined Perth Amboy with North Bergen in Hudson County in order to create a Hispanic majority district. It is impossible to create a district with a Hispanic majority that also has Hispanics as the majority of the citizen voting population so I had to dismantle the Hispanic majority district. Also, a minority majority district cannot be created if the minority population in a certain area is not large enough for one and the district will have to have contorted lines to become a minority majority district. As for the 6th district, these changes bring the Obama percentage down from 60% to 57%. Although there is an argument that the more urbanized parts of  Monmouth and Middlesex Counties that this district combines are not communities of interest, I had to combine them for population reasons. As for the district's representation, the 57% Obama number should not hurt Pallone.

New Jersey's 7th Congressional District: Leonard Lance (R) vs. Rush Holt (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 169,679 54.3%, McCain 142,951 45.7%
Average: Obama 49.1%, McCain 50.9%
Demographics 18+: 8.5% African American, 11.7% Asian, 7.4% Hispanic, 71.2% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 50%, McCain 49% (7th district,) Obama 58%, McCain 40% (12th district)
Status: Tossup

The new 7th district is a combination of the current 7th and 12th districts, representing parts of Mercer and Middlesex Counties formerly in the 12th district while also representing Hunterdon and Somerset Counties which were formerly in the 7th district. The 7th district loses its finger into Union and Middlesex Counties and does a strong job of representing communities of interest by combining exurban parts of central New Jersey. I included Trenton because of population reasons. The addition of Trenton though brings Obama's number in the district up to 54%. Although that number suggests the district leans Democratic, it is very even because the Republicans win the average vote. Also, Somerset County in 2008 swung heavily to Obama but Somerset County usually votes Republican (Governor Christie won Somerset County by 22 points in 2009.) Also, Leonard Lance who lives in the district is moderate and popular. He won by 8 points in 2008, despite facing a strong challenger in an even district. If Holt decides to run here though, it will be a close fight because Holt is a strong candidate and half of the voters in the district are familiar with him. Most of the other half of the voters are familiar with Lance though.

New Jersey's 8th Congressional District: Bill Pascrell (D) Slateblue
Presidential Data: Obama 159,555 58.4%, McCain 113,625 41.6%
Average: Dem 57.6%, Rep 42.4%
Demographics 18+: 9.3% African American, 6.3% Asian, 28.4% Hispanic, 54.5% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 63%, McCain 36%
Status: Safe Democratic

The 8th district becomes more Republican as it loses heavily Democratic West Orange and gains swing parts of Bergen County near Lyndhurst. Also, the district adds Caldwell in west Essex County which is heavily Republican. Although these changes decrease the Obama percentage to 58%, Pascrell should win easily. He is popular here and won with 63% in the heavily Republican year of 2010.

New Jersey's 9th Congressional District: Steve Rotham (D) Cyan
Presidential Data: Obama 172,011 56.7%, McCain 131,469 43.3%
Average: Dem 57.0%, Rep 43.0%
Demographics 18+: 6.0% African American, 16.0% Asian, 16.1% Hispanic, 60.5% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 61%, McCain 38%
Status: Safe Democratic

The 9th district becomes more Republican as it loses all of its Hudson County portions including Jersey City and represents Bergen County only. This change makes the district more centered around communities of interest by combining the similar suburban areas in Bergen County that were built in the 1950's-60s instead of combining north Bergen County with Jersey City. The new district also gains the northern Republican leaning part of Bergen County with areas such as Norwood and Bergenfield. Although these changes bring down the Obama percentage to 56.7%, Rotham is a popular incumbent, winning 61% in 2010 so he should be safe.

Newark/Jersey City area
New Jersey's 10th Congressional District: Donald Payne (D) DeepPink
Presidential Data: Obama 204,541 83.0%, McCain 41,966 17.0%
Average: Dem 79.5%, Rep 20.5%
Demographics 18+: 50.0% African American, 5.8% Asian, 16.8% Hispanic, 24.9% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 87%, McCain 13%
Status: Safe Democratic

The 10th district lost population so it had to gain more territory in order to maintain population equity with other districts. To represent as many communities of interest as possible though, the 10th district lot Rahway in Union County on the Middlesex County border so the 10th district could be more centered around Essex County and northern Union County. The 10th district also lost most of Elizabeth to the 12th district and Maplewood to the 5th district. To compensate for the loss of these areas though, the 10th district gained West Orange and some swing areas in Union County such as Cranford. These changes bring the Obama percentage down to 83% but the district is still African American majority VAP and is the most Democratic district in New Jersey.

New Jersey's 11th Congressional District: Scott Garrett (R) Chartreuse
Presidential Data: Obama 147,263 43.0%, McCain 195,297 57.0%
Average: Dem 39.7%, Rep 60.3%
Demographics 18+: 6.4% Asian, 8.5% Hispanic, 81.9% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 46%, McCain 54%
Status: Safe Republican

The 11th district represents communities of interest by representing conservative and affluent exurban areas in western New Jersey. Those areas are western Morris County, western Bergen County, Warren and Sussex Counties. The 43% Obama number is too low to elect a Democrat in the 2nd most Republican district in New Jersey. The primary though will be interesting. Although Frelinghuysen does not live in this district, most of his current territory is here. The new 11th district is a combination of Garrett's and Frelinghuysen's districts. They each represent close to an equal portion of the district and are both popular representatives. Garrett is more conservative than Frelinghuysen is though so Garrett may have a stronger chance in the primary.

New Jersey's 12th Congressional District: Albio Sires (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 121,570 71.7%, McCain 48,010 28.3%
Average: Dem 72.2%, Rep 27.8%
Demographics 18+: 7.9% African American, 10.0% Asian, 47.6% Hispanic, 32.4% White
Old Presidential Data: Obama 75%, McCain 24%
Status: Safe Democratic

The 12th district becomes a few points more Republican as it loses heavily Democratic Perth Amboy and gains less Democratic areas such as Seacaucs and Kearny. The district also gains most of Elizabeth from the 10th district. These changes reduce the Obama percentage by a few points but the district is still heavily Democratic. Although the population of the district is majority Hispanic (50.3%,) the VAP is not. It is not possible to a create a Hispanic majority VAP district without extending the district to Perth Amboy and even there, the Citizens Voting Age population will probably not be over 50% for Hispanics. I used this district instead to combine communities of interest by representing industrial areas near the port such as Elizabeth and Kearny and combining it with the nearby Hudson County communities.


Ed said...

We think alike. I generally did the same in my neutral map, except I tried to stick more closely to county lines. I put the northeastern part of Bergen County in the 8th, which would make it a swing, or even Republican leaning district, though Garrett would not live there and would still probably opt to run against Frelinghuysen in the 11th.

I made the 10th a district that essentially consisted of Essex County, which would lose its majority African American status. You were probably right to make a Newark and Elizabeth district instead, though the district barely holds on to its African American voting age population. But the African American percentages of many of the majority minority districts in the Northeast and Midwest are shrinking, as the districts expand to make up for the loss of districts in these states in each redistricting, and because the African-American population is shifting back to the south to some extent. At some point many of these will have to be eliminated if these trends continue for another census.

Any reasonably fair map will probably involving combining Garrett's and Frelinghuysen's districts, as their bases are too bunched together in the northeastern corner of the state. This eliminates the 5th. Creating a new district based in the industrial area between Elizabeth and New Brunswick, which is now chopped up among several different districts, would effectively eliminate another district, probably the 7th or the 12th. Effectively, exurban northern New Jersey is overrepresented with the current lines.

Alibguy said...

I agree that exurban New Jersey is overrepresented. Also, I feel that the 5th district I created helps represent the Middlesex and Union County suburbs which are divided up between the 7th and 6th districts.

Also, I am worried about the African American majority districts staying African American majority. The 10th was 56% African American in 2000 and the district I drew was close to 50%.

By the way, it sounds like you drew a great map. Could you send me a link to it? Thanks!