Friday, December 16, 2011

New York Fair Redistricting Map

The 2010 census results show New York losing two congressional seats. In 2000, New York also lost two congressional seats but they were both lost from Upstate New York while New York City and the suburbs lost no seats. This census, New York City will not be as lucky because growth has slowed there and New York City will lose one seat. Unlike in other solidly Democratic states such as Illinois and Maryland, Democrats do not control the redistricting trifecta. They control the Governorship and the State House but the Republicans control the State Senate 32-30. The Republicans control the State Senate due to a gerrymander that protects popular incumbents and places heavily Democratic areas into a few districts. Many Republican incumbents represent Democratic areas but they win because they are familiar with the voters. For example, Long Island leans Democratic and all of its Senate seats are represented by Republicans. The deciding race was a Democratic Buffalo Senate seat where Mark Gristiani (R) won because the Democratic incumbent had scandals and the Democrats should probably obtain the seat in 2012. Since redistricting control is split though, a compromise map is the most likely scenario with one Democratic district being eliminated and one Republican district being eliminated. Also, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) stated he wants to see a fair map. I decided to draw a fair map for New York with lines designed to protect communities of interest, not incumbents. When I drew the maps, I did not consider the homes or the needs of the districts' incumbents. Also, my map helps keep districts competitive so representatives will have to work to ensure reelection. The first district I chose to eliminate was Bob Turner's (R) 9th district which did not combine communities of interest by combining Forest Hills in Central Queens with Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. The second district I eliminated was Maurice Hinchey's 22nd district in Upstate New York which combined Newburgh along the Hudson River with Cornell University in Central Upstate New York. After drawing the map, I checked the partisan numbers and there are 16 Safe Democratic seats, 3 Likely Democratic seats, 1 Lean Democratic seat, 4 Tossup seats, 1 Lean Republican seat, and 2 Safe Republican seats. Anyway, here is a link to the current New York maps:

 New York State

Long Island

New York's 1st Congressional District: Timothy Bishop (D) Blue
Presidential Data: Obama 54.6%, McCain 44.5%
Average: Dem 56.6%, Rep 43.4%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 52%, McCain 47%
Demographics 18+: 6.3% African American, 17.9% Hispanic, 71.2% White
Status: Likely Democratic

The 1st district becomes more Democratic as it swaps Republican leaning Smithtown for heavily Democratic Brentwood and Islip. The district also loses a few precincts along the South Coast to the 3rd district which is a South Coast based district. Anyway, the 1st district combines communities of interest by keeping eastern Long Island in one district. As for Bishop, he won an extremely close race in 2010, a very Republican year in his 52% Obama district. With the district becoming a few points more Democratic though, Bishop should win in a Democratic or neutral year.

New York's 2nd Congressional District: Steve Israel (D) Green
Presidential Data: Obama 54.8%, McCain 44.4%
Average: Dem 56.4%, McCain 43.6%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 56%, McCain 43%
Demographics 18+: 9.7% African American, 6.0% Asian, 14.5% Hispanic, 68.5% White
Status: Likely Democratic

The 2nd district loses all of its territory on the South Coast as it becomes a more North Coast and central Long Island based district. It gains Glen Cove and Smithtown. It also gains more of Nassau County by gaining Hicksville. The 2nd district becomes more Republican too though by losing heavily Democratic Islip and Brentwood. Although the district is a point more Republican, Israel should win because he is a strong fundraiser as the DCCC chairman and he is popular.

New York's 3rd Congressional District: Peter King (R) Purple
Presidential Data: Obama 46.5%, McCain 52.6%
Average: Dem 50.1%, Rep 49.9%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 47%, McCain 52%
Demographics 18+: 8.9% Hispanic, 84.1% White
Status: Safe Republican, Lean Republican when King retires

The 3rd congressional district combines communities of interest by becoming centered on Long Island's south shore, extending from the Queens border to Patchogue in Suffolk County. The 3rd congressional district combines these Republican leaning middle class areas along the South Shore while losing its finger onto the North Shore. The district leans Republican and Peter King is extremely popular on the South Shore, winning large majorities in even the Democratic years of 2006 and 2008. King should even be stronger in this South Shore centered district. When he retires, the district may be competitive but the 52.6% McCain number will probably keep it in Republican hands.

New York's 4th Congressional District: Carolyn McCarthy (D) Red
Presidential Data: Obama 57.2%, McCain 42.1%
Average: Dem 58.4%, Rep 41.6%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 58%, McCain 41%
Demographics 18+: 11.6% African American, 12.2% Asian, 15.0% Hispanic, 59.2% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 4th district undergoes major changes although it retains the Hempstead area. It becomes one point more Republican as it loses heavily Democratic Valley Stream and North Valley Stream to the majority African American 6th district. The 4th district also loses East Meadow to the 3rd district. To compensate for the loss of these areas, I added the Great Neck area from the current 5th district. I also added Bellaire and Glen Oaks in Queens into the district. These changes keep the Obama number at 57% which should be high enough to protect McCarthy.

New York's 5th Congressional District: Gary Ackerman (D) Yellow
Presidential Data: Obama 62.2%, McCain 36.9%
Average: Dem 66.2%, Rep 33.8%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 63%, McCain 36%
Demographics 18+: 32.9% Asian, 16.3% Hispanic, 44.4% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 5th district loses all of its Nassau County territory and is completely located in Queens. It retains Flushing but loses heavily Hispanic Corona to the Hispanic majority 9th district. To compensate for the loss of Nassau County and Corona, the 5th district gains some territory from the current 9th district. The 5th district gains Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Middle Village. The 5th district combines communities of interest by representing working class areas in northern Queens. It also helps break up the 9th district which places Forest Hills in the same district as Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. The new map though places Forest Hills with other nearby neighborhoods in Queens that have similar interests. As for the partisan composition of the district, the 62% Obama number should be enough to elect a Democrat. Bob Turner (R) who represents the 9th district should not be able to overcome the district's Democratic lean. Also, the district's 32.9% Asian population gives an Asian candidate a chance to win when Ackerman retires.


New York's 6th Congressional District: Gregory Meeks (D) vs. Bob Turner (R) Teal
Presidential Data: Obama 86.0%, McCain 13.7%
Average: Dem 87.0%, Rep 13.0%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 89%, McCain 11%
Demographics 18+: 50.2% African American, 10.8% Asian, 17.5% Hispanic, 14.5% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 6th district actually lost population during the 2000s and was less than 50% Black by the end of the decade so it had to gain population in order to boost the African American percentage over 50% to respect the Voting Rights Act. The 6th district adds conservative parts of the Rockaway Peninsula, gains African American areas in Valley Stream, North Valley Stream and Brooklyn in order to remain above 50% African American. Rep. Bob Turner's (R) home on the Rockaway Peninsula is added to the 6th district but I doubt he would run in an 86% Obama district. The district combines communities of interest by representing heavily African American areas in and near southern Queens. Meeks should have no trouble winning in this heavily Democratic district.

New York's 7th Congressional District: Joseph Crowley (D) Gray
Presidential Data: Obama 82.1%, McCain 17.2%
Average: Dem 83.1%, Rep 16.9%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 79%, McCain 20%
Demographics 18+: 20.0% African American, 9.7% Asian, 37.8% Hispanic, 30.0% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 7th district undergoes changes as it loses the Elmhurst area and gains Astoria. These changes take Crowley's home out of the district but he will probably run here because the new 7th district contains most of his current district in the Bronx. As for communities of interest, I did not want to combine Astoria and the eastern Bronx but I had to for population reasons.

New York's 8th Congressional District Jerrold Nadler (D) SlateBlue
Presidential Data: Obama 75.4%, McCain 23.7%
Average: Dem 78.8%, Rep 21.2%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 74%, McCain 24%
Demographics 18+: 25.4% Asian. 21.0% Hispanic, 47.6% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 8th district becomes more Brooklyn centered as it loses the Wall Street area and Chelsea areas. It gains Chinatown and follows the Brooklyn shore of the East River to the Queens border. This district represents communities of interest by combining mostly white areas in Brooklyn. Nadler may want more of Manhattan in this district but the district is heavily Democratic so he should win easily.

New York's 9th Congressional District: Nydia Velazquez (D) Cyan
Presidential Data: Obama 81.3%, McCain 18.0%
Average: Dem 83.7%, Rep 16.3%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 86%, McCain 13%
Demographics 18+: 20.3% Asian, 53.0% Hispanic, 18.0% White
Status: Safe Democratic

Nydia Velazquez's home is also moved from the 9th district but I expect her to run here because it contains most of her current district and is Hispanic majority. The 9th district is the renumbered 12th district, which loses the Bush Terminal area and gains Corona and Elmhurst in Queens. These changes increase the Hispanic 18+ population to 53% which should be high enough to protect Nydia Velazquez from a primary challenge from a non Hispanic candidate. The district also combines communities of interest by representing heavily Hispanic areas in Brooklyn and Queens.

New York's 10th Congressional District: Edolphus Towns (D) Deep Pink
Presidential Data: Obama 78.1%, McCain 21.5%
Average: Dem 81.0%, Rep 19.0%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 91%, McCain 9%
Demographics 18+: 50.6% African American, 11.9% Hispanic, 29.8% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The current 10th district lost Bedford-Stuyvesant to the 11th district. To compensate for the loss, the 10th district gains Brownsville, Marine Park and Sheepshead Bay. These changes make the district more Republican and white. Although the mostly white areas of Sheepshead Bay may not have many commonalities with heavily African American neighborhoods such as Canarsie, these areas had to be combined in order to allow the 11th district to also maintain its African American majority status. If the African American population in Brooklyn continues to drop though, Brooklyn may lose one of its two African American majority districts.

New York's 11th Congressional District: Yvette Clarke (D) Chartreuse
Presidential Data: Obama 88.9%, McCain 10.7%
Average: Dem 89.3%, Rep 10.7%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 91%, McCain 9%
Demographics 18+: 52.1% African American, 17.3% Hispanic, 23.4% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 11th district gains Bedford-Stuyvesant from the 10th district while losing Brownsville and East Flatbush to the 10th district. The 11th district also gains heavily Republican Borough Park but the district still remains heavily Democratic at nearly 89% Obama.

New York's 12th Congressional District: Michael Grimm (R) Cornflower Blue
Presidential Data: Obama 49.8%, McCain 49.4%
Average: Dem 52.9%, Rep 47.1%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 49%, McCain 51%
Demographics 18+: 7.6% African American, 10.2% Asian, 14.4% Hispanic, 66.3% White
Status: Tossup

The 12th district (formerly the 13th district) retains communities of interest by representing Staten Island and Brooklyn neighborhoods with large white populations but undergoes a few changes. It gains Coney Island and Brighton Beach while losing Bensonhurst to the 8th district. These changes make the 12th district two points more Democratic and Obama barely won the new district. These changes may convince Michael McMahon (D), the district's former representative to run for the seat.

New York's 13th Congressional District: Carolyn Maloney (D) Dark Salmon
Presidential Data: Obama 82.0%, McCain 17.0%
Average: Dem 78.4%, Rep 21.6%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 78%, McCain 21%
Demographics 18+: 13.1% Asian, 9.5% Hispanic, 71.6% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 13th district loses all of Astoria and represents communities of interest by representing Manhattan instead of being split between Queens and Manhattan. It represents all of lower Manhattan except for the Chinatown area up to 82nd St. and 84th St. on the Upper East Side. On the Upper West Side, the 13th district extends up to 83rd St. I wanted to combine all of the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side into the same district because they are communities of interest by mostly being populated by high income white voters. The district could not combine them all though for population reasons. Anyway, Carolyn Maloney should have no trouble winning this heavily Democratic district. She may face a primary from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D) who represents the current 8th district which represents west Manhattan up to 89th St. but he will probably run in the 8th district which lacks an incumbent and contains some of his current territory.

New York's 14th Congressional District: Charlie Rangel (D) Olive
Presidential Data: Obama 90.2%, McCain 9.1%
Average: Dem 88.2%, Rep 11.8%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 93%, McCain 6%
Demographics 18+: 22.9% African American, 35.1% Hispanic, 34.3% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 14th district (formerly the 15th district,) undergoes a few changes as it loses heavily Hispanic Washington Heights for population reasons. The 14th district gains precincts in the Upper West and East Sides extending to 82nd St. and 84th St. in the Upper East Side and 83rd St. in the Upper West Side. These changes bring the district's white population up to 34%. Rangel has ethics problems and faced a recent tough primary from New York City Councilman Adam Clayton Powell IV (D). Although the district's changes are small, they increase the white population in the district to 34% which gives a strong base for a white candidate to challenge Rangel in the primary.

New York's 15th Congressional District: Jose Serrano (D) Dark Orange
Presidential Data: Obama 94.4%, McCain 5.3%
Average: Dem 95.5%, Rep 4.5%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 95%, McCain 5%
Demographics 18+: 26.5% African American, 66.5% Hispanic, 3.2% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The only change this district undergoes is the addition of heavily Hispanic Washington Heights in Manhattan. Besides this change, the district remains heavily Democratic and Hispanic.

Westchester County

New York's 16th Congressional District Eliot Engel (D) vs. Nita Lowey (D) Lime
Presidential Data: Obama 70.9%, McCain 28.5%
Average: Dem 69.3%, Rep 30.7%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 72%, McCain 28%
Demographics 18+: 26.7% African American, 24.9% Hispanic, 41.7% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 16th district represents communities of interest by combining northern parts of the Bronx such as Riverdale with southern Westchester County suburbs such as Yonkers and New Rochelle. The 16th district does combine the homes of incumbent Eliot Engel (D) of the 17th district and Nita Lowey (D) of the 18th district. The new 17th district representing Rockland and north Westchester Counties though leans Democratic and is open so one of the incumbents may decide to run there. More of Lowey's territory is in the new 17th district than Engel's so she may run there.

New York's 17th Congressional District: Vacant Dark Slate Blue
Presidential Data: Obama 58.6%, McCain 40.6%
Average: Dem 60.2%, Rep 39.8%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 62%, McCain 38%
Demographics 18+: 9.1% African American, 15.3% Hispanic, 68.0% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 17th district combines communities of interest by combining Rockland County and northern Westchester County which are connected by the Tappan Zee Bridge. The district represents upscale suburbs on both sides of the Hudson. Nita Lowey (D) may decide to run here to avoid a primary challenge with Eliot Engel (D) in the 16th district. The district voted almost 59% for Obama which should be high enough to protect her against a strong Republican candidate. Rockland County is trending Republican though so the district may become more competitive but Westchester County is also trending Democratic.

Upstate New York
New York's 18th Congressional District: Nan Hayworth (R) Yellow
Presidential Data: Obama 52.5%, McCain 46.4%
Average: Dem 54.9%, McCain 45.1%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 51%, McCain 48%
Demographics 18+: 9.0% African American, 14.4% Hispanic, 72.1% White
Status: Tossup

Although the district loses most of Westchester County and shifts north, it becomes 3 points more Democratic by gaining Newburgh and some precincts in Democratic Ulster County. The district also continues to combine communities of interest by representing small cities and rural areas along the mid Hudson Valley. The current 22nd district combined Newburgh with Cornell University in central New York so the new 18th district gains it and helps unite the Hudson River communities. The district's slight shift to the Democrats makes this district more competitive and it could shift to the Democrats in a Democratic year.

New York's 19th Congressional District: Chris Gibson (R) Yellow Green
Presidential Data: Obama 53.3%, McCain 45.1%
Average: Dem 54.1%, Rep 45.9%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 51%, McCain 48%
Demographics 18+: 88.3% White
Status: Tossup

Previously, the Catskills were split between the 22nd and 20th districts but this map unites the Catskills into the 19th district which also represents rural communities along the Hudson Valley. The district becomes a few points more Democratic with the addition of Ulster County along the Hudson River. The district also retains communities on the Upper Hudson such as part of Warren County where former Rep. Scott Warren (D) lives. He lost to Chris Gibson in 2010 so he may seek a rematch under lines a couple of points more Democratic. The 53% Obama number makes this district a swing district that should swing Democratic in a Democratic year and Republican in a Republican year. It is possible Maurice Hinchey (D) will run here because his home of Saugerties of Ulster County is in this district. He may choose the more Democratic 21st district instead though.

New York's 20th Congressional District: Paul Tonko (D) Pink
Presidential Data: Obama 58.2%, McCain 40.0%
Average: Dem 59.3%, Rep 40.7%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 58%, McCain 40%
Demographics 18+: 7.6% African American, 83.2% White
Status: Safe Democratic

The 20th district gains most of Saratoga County but remains Democratic leaning and centered around the Albany metropolitan area. Paul Tonko should have no trouble winning here.

West Upstate New York

New York's 21st Congressional District: Ann Marie Buerkle (R) Maroon
Presidential Data: Obama 59.7%, McCain 38.5%
Average: Dem 60.2%, Rep 39.8%
Old Presidential Data: (formerly the 25th) Obama 56%, McCain 43%
Demographics 18+: 7.1% African American, 84.2% White
Status: Likely Democratic

The 21st district represents cities in Central New York by combining Auburn, Syracuse and Ithaca. The 21st also loses more rural areas such as Wayne County. These changes make the 21st district a few points more Democratic. The Democratic shift will endanger Buerkle because she won by only 0.3% in 2010 against Rep. Dan Maffei (D) and the district has added new Democratic territory. Dan Maffei may challenge Buerkle and with the district's new Democratic territory, he should win.

New York's 22nd Congressional District: Bill Owens (D) Sienna
Presidential Data: Obama 50.9%, McCain 47.4%
Average: Dem 53.7%, Rep 46.3%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 52%, McCain 47%
Demographics 18+: 92.0% White
Status: Tossup

Due to low population growth, the 22nd district needs to expand. It becomes a bit more Republican as it gains Republican leaning Montgomery County and parts of Republican leaning Oneida and Herkimer Counties. Bill Owens faced a strong challenge last year so he will probably face another difficult race in 2012. The northern New York rural counties Bill Owens represent though are trending Democratic, especially the counties on the Vermont border so Owens should slowly become safer.

New York's 23rd Congressional District: Richard Hanna (R) Aquamarine
Presidential Data: Obama 49.3%, McCain 48.8%
Average: Dem 50.9%, Rep 49.1%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 50%, McCain 48%
Demographics 18+: 90.3% White
Status: Lean Republican

The 23rd district represents more rural areas in Upstate New York and the small cities of Rome, Utica and Binghamton. Although Obama barely won the district, the district should lean Republican because the area usually votes Republican for local offices. In a Democratic year though, this district could become competitive.

New York's 24th Congressional District: Tom Reed (R) Indigo
Presidential Data: Obama 45.3%, McCain 53.2%
Average: Dem 46.3%, Rep 53.7%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 48%, McCain 51%
Demographics 18+: 93.4% White
Status: Safe Republican

Instead of combining Rochester suburbs with rural counties on the Pennsylvania border, Tom Reed's district now combines rural counties on the Pennsylvania border with other rural counties in west Upstate New York. Also, the district becomes a couple of points more Republican, keeping it safe for Tom Reed.

New York's 25th Congressional District: Louise Slaughter (D) Pale Violet Red
Presidential Data: Obama 58.6%, McCain 40.1%
Average: Dem 59.4%, Rep 40.6%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 69%, McCain 30%
Demographics 18+: 13.2% African American, 76.0% White
Status: Likely Democratic

Instead of dividing Monroe County (Rochester) into four districts, it is divided into two districts with the 25th district being located entirely within Monroe County. The 25th district represents Rochester and its suburbs. Rep. Louise Slaughter's district currently combines inner city Buffalo and Rochester but those cities are unique and need different representatives to effectively represent their interests so I split them into different districts. Louise Slaughter will probably run here because her home is in the 25th district. Her district has become more Republican but the 58.6% Obama number should be strong enough to protect her. Also, it should help a Democrat win this district if she retires but in a Republican year, Republicans could run a competitive campaign.

Buffalo area

New York's 26th Congressional District: Kathy Hochul (D) Gray
Presidential Data: Obama 52.6%, McCain 45.8%
Average: Dem 48.8%, Rep 51.2%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 46%, McCain 52%
Demographics 18+: 8.8% African American, 84.6% White
Status: Lean Democratic

The 26th district resembles former Rep. John LaFalce's (D) district in the 1990s as it gains all of Niagara County and Democratic leaning northern Erie County. These changes boost the Obama numbers in the district from 46% to 52.6%, strengthening Hochul although Republicans should be very competitive here in a Republican year. Hochul is a strong campaigner though so the Republicans should not underestimate her.

New York's 27th Congressional District: Brian Higgins (D)
Presidential Data: Obama 55.6%, McCain 42.7%
Average: Dem 51.0%, Rep 49.0%
Old Presidential Data: Obama 54%, McCain 44%
Demographics 18+: 9.7% African American, 83.4% White
Status: Likely Democratic

The 27th district combines the southern part of the Buffalo area. It also becomes a bit more Democratic as it gains more of inner city Buffalo. Higgins already seemed safe in this district due to his strong performance in 2010 and he becomes even safer. Although the Democratic average suggests this district is closely divided, the reason the Republican average percentage is high is that 2010 Gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino (R) overperformed in Erie County (his home area) and increased Republican turnout.


Ed said...

I live in New York, and I also created a fair district map (on paper, unfortunately I can't get the DRA application to work without a mouse). Since I have more knowledge of the state, I'd like to make several comments, which I will divide up into several posts.

Overall, this is a reasonable map and I think your way of dividing New York City in particular is better than mine. However, I will discuss my map just to point up an alternative way of doing things.

My fair redistricting methodology was to keep counties and cities intact as much as possible, splitting them only once, and when necessary creating a few districts that were patchworks of parts of several localities in order to keep the neighboring districts compact. I followed community of interests as much as possible within this restriction, and created majority minority districts where I could with this restriction. My methodology possibly violates VRA and does result in fewer African American VAP and Latino VAP districts than as current method, so I will discuss this issue first. Note that in the Northeast and to a lesser extent in the Midwest, the recurring loss of districts each census as well as movement of African-Americans back to the South will lead to the dismantling of current African American majority VAP districts, regardless of methodology, if these trends continue for another ten years.

Interestingly, my districts differed from the commission's map in California, mostly in the areas where you also criticized the commission's work. I think overall the commission did a decent job, but I don't think the previous gerrymander was really that bad as these things go. In Arizona, I differed from the commission in creating a district based on Gila and Pinal Counties, and putting all of the Tuscon area in one district, though this resulted in the creation of a strange backwards L shaped district running from the Navajo reservation to Yuma. But I agreed with the commission on the four Phoenix area districts. In Iowa, I though it better to divide the state into four parallel north-south slices instead of the pie-slice style preferred by the commission. I haven't looked at the final map for Washington yet.

The Democrats at one point held 28 out of 29 New York districts, and its possible to get to a 24-3 or even 25-2 Democratic map in New York, though they would be smart to create the Republican south shore Long Island district you created in order to shore up the others. In some ways, this would be less of a gerrymander than the current bipartisan gerrymander. I think in terms of splitting communities of interest and in creating strange shaped districts, historically the bipartisan incumbent protection gerrymanders of New York and New Jersey have been the worse in the country, and both have usually resulted in the election of one or two more Republicans than would have been the case with lines drawn by an independent commission.

Ed said...

These are the VRA issues with New York:

1. The current 6th district in southern Queens was drawn as an African-American district, but as you noted would need to extend to take in neighboring communities in Nassau County to keep its African-American majority. The current Congressman, Meeks, would probably still be elected in a district that stayed in Queens but kept 45% or so African American VAP.

2. Its very difficult to draw two Brooklyn based districts with majority African-American VAPs, the best you can get is bare majorities by having the districts absorb lots of non-African-American neighborhoods, and both districts would probably still lose these majorities in a few years if demographic trends continued. A white candidate came within a few percentage points of winning the Democratic primary in the 10th a few years ago, though this was because there were three African-American candidates in the race. Brooklyn has a population of two and a half million, of which one third is African American, one third is Latino, and one third is non-Latino white and Asian. Brooklyn has the population for three and a third districts, though with a fair map a Staten Island based district would take in several adjacent Brooklyn neighborhoods (as at present and on your map).

3. The current 12th district is the successor of a heavily gerrymandered Latino majority district created in 1992, and taking in parts of neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. The growth of the Latino population in Brooklyn and Queens has allowed this district to continue with more regular lines. However, part of the reason why the district exists in its current form is to accomodate non-Latino incumbents in the Brooklyn based 11th, the Bronx based 7th, and the Manhattan based 14th districts (the latter two take in a good deal of Queens territory). I think you could create a Latino plurality district with just Queens territory, that would become a Latino majority district in a few years if demographic trends continue.

4. The current Congressman in the (now) 15th District, Charles Rangel, has been insistent in retaining an all-Manhattan district. Respecting his wishes means pushing the borders of the district south each year into more affluent and white neighborhoods. It is (barely) possible to create another African-American majority district by combining central Harlem with a number of African-American neighborhoods in the Bronx, though the district would stretch from north of Central Park to Co-op City and would be a majority Bronx district. Incidentally, Rangel is both African-American and Latino.

A strong case on its face can be made for going down to one African-American majority VAP district in Brooklyn, which would combine neighborhoods with strong communities of interest, and have a high enough African-American majority population to remain that way until the next census. This could be balanced by creating the Bronx-Manhattan district I described above. I don't have strong opinions on extending the 6th district into Nassau County, and compensating the 4th district with Queens territory, though I would prefer to avoid crossing county lines and I think African-American representation would continue in the 6th even if its African-American VAP percentage slipped under 50%.

Ed said...

Since my last comment mostly discussed New York City, I will describe my map for the city as follows. I numbered the Westchester-Bronx based district the 7th, which allowed for continuity in numbering for the other downstate districts:

5th -northeastern Queens, same as your 5th.

6th -southern Queens, though it probably will have to extend into Nassau as you drew it.

8th -the west side of Manhattan, extending from Washington Heights to the Battery, and including affluent brownstown Brooklyn neighborhoods (Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Park Slope) that are similar demographically than the rest of the district. The district is linked by the 1, 2 and 3 subway trains. I think the all Midtown and Lower Manhattan district is a good idea, however streets in the 80s are simply not a good northern boundary, the Upper East Side has a pretty clear boundary at 96th Street, the Upper West Side extends farther to Columbia University. Maybe in the next cycle. Right now the numbers are there to keep East-Side and West-Side based Manhattan districts, though it would mean completely altering the 15th. It will be interesting to see what the politicians come up with. Incidentally, Jerry Nadler's base is the Upper West Side and he would definitely not run in a majority Brooklyn district, if nothing else, the Brooklyn organization would stop him.

9th -I created a working class white district in Southern Brooklyn with a large Jewish majority. I think it would have been carried by McCain in 2008, though nearly all of the local elected politicians are Democrats (many of them DINOs). There is a strong case for this in terms of communities of interest, but it would involve sacrificing one of the two current African-American districts plus creating a second Republican leaning district in New York city, so it obviously won't happen.

10th -based on Canarsie, Crown Heights, Flatbush, and Brownsville, this district would be something like two thirds African American. See my earlier comments for justification.

11th -a northern Brooklyn district that would have a majority minority population, probably with a Hispanic plurality but largish percentages of Whites, African-Americans, and Asians, and no incumbent. It will never happen, but this is an area that is currently bearing most of the impact in the city of gentrification and redevelopment and the neighborhoods have obvious communities of interest.

12th -its should be possible to create either a Latino plurality or a Latino majority district entirely within Queens, by combining neighborhoods in the current 5th, 7th, 12th, and 14th districts. The current designated Latino congressperson from the area, Nydia Velazquez, is based in Brooklyn, and would be more likely to run my my 11th, while the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party, Joseph Crowley, lives in this area and would probably continue to represent it. I think your version of this district, the 8th, is reasonable and closer to what is actually going to happen.

13th -Staten Island and adjacent Brooklyn neighborhoods, like at present.

14th -East Side of Manhattan and Midtown, with a rapidly gentrifying part of Long Island City thrown in to reach the target population. At this point this area is pretty uniformly white and affluent.

15th -East and Central Harlem, Riverdale, Coop City, and a number of Bronx neighborhoods in the northern Bronx and along the Harlem River. The boundaries could be tweaked to produce a bare African-American majority, though many of the African-Americans could identify as Latinos.

16th -South Bronx, as at present.

All this said, it may be more realistic to still create three Brooklyn based districts, but to carve out two African American majority districts based in central and south Brooklyn, and to make the third a Latino majority district that curves in a sort of arc from Sunset Park, going through Prospect Park to avoid brownstone Brooklyn and Crown Heights, then curving around the waterfront and the Queens border to East New York.

Ed said...

Another discussion of the same issues is to be found here:

The Common Cause proposed map being referenced at the other site is something of a travesty from a political reform perspective, since it seems to be based on keeping the new districts as much as possible like the old. But its worth emphasizing that New York and New Jersey have the most irregular districts in the country, both at the state and federal level. Any change would be a step forward.

Ed said...

I'll comment on Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley, but will try to keep things more brief.

Suffolk County has the population for two districts, plus a little extra, while Nassau County falls short slightly for two districts. The lines for the eastern Suffolk district are pretty obvious, though I don't follow the logic behind putting Islip instead of Smithtown in the district. The western Nassau district should be based in Hempstead, though part of Hempstead might have to be attached to the African-American majority district in Queens.

That leaves two districts to cover central Long Island. I put one district entirely in Suffolk County, and the other in Nassau outside of Hempstead, plus bits of Suffolk and Queens, but I like the idea of drawing a south shore and a north shore district instead. The two areas are demographically dissimilar, as the south shore was settled after World War II by working class families from Brooklyn and the north shore was more upscale. Since the white working class is now pretty solidly Republican, that would make the south shore district a Republican district and the north shore district a Democratic one.

For the Hudson Valley, it depends on whether you use the river as a boundary or create districts straddling the river as you did. That stretch of a river is transportation barrier, with not many bridges spanning it, so I think it should be treated as a boundary. On my map I created district in eastern Bronx and easter Westchester that was a mashup of the current 7th and 18th CDs (numbered the 7th), a district consisting of Rockland County and most of Orange County, plus Yonkers and part of Westchester south of the Tappen Zee Bridge (numbered the 17th), plus a district consisting of Dutchess and Putnam Counties plus northern Westchester (numbered the 19th). I think this is a more logical grouping.

Ed said...

Our upstate maps are pretty similar, though I don't understand why northern Erie County is separated from Buffalo.

My map has three districts based on the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, and the Syracuse-Auburn area (numbered the 27th, the 18th, and the 25th), with the Syracuse-Auburn and Rochester districts much the same as yours. But I combined the current 21st and 24th into a new 21st that includes Albany, Schenectady, Fulton, Montgomery, Schoharie, Otsego, and Madison Counties.

The other five districts are more rural, one coverint the upper Hudson Valley but excluding Albany (the 20th), the big northern district (the 23rd), a district based on the Catskills and Binghampton (the 22nd), a southern tier district that also includes the portions of Erie County not in the Buffalo based district (the 26th), and a district containing the remaining northwest counties, covering the area between Niagara Falls and the Finger Lakes (the 24th). Except for the 22nd, all of these districts would be competitive or even Republican leaning, with Republicans favored in the 3rd, 13th, and 19th downstate.

So my biggest problems with the upstate portion is the treatment of the Buffalo area and to some extent the Hudson Valley.

Superb Jon said...

Failure to respect the utilitarian boundaries offered by three, four and five digit postal zip codes can only result in judicial intervention.