Friday, December 31, 2010

Who gets or loses what? Santa Census 2010 arrived in our stockings

The Census results are finally in! These results mean we can see how many U.S. House of Representatives members will be gained or lost by the states. It also tells us which states gain or lose Electoral College members.

Here are the states that lose or gain House seats by redistricting.

States that lost 2 each: New York, Ohio
States that lost 1 each: Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania

States that gained 1 each: Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah, Washington
State that gained 2: Florida
State that gained 4: Texas

One thing that is useful when guesstimating who is going to win and who is going to lose is to look at who controls the state legislature. If the Republicans control the state legislature, they will likely redistrict the state to maximize wins for their party as well as losses for the Democrats.

If I use the 2010 election results....

Which state legislatures that gain or lose are controlled by Democrats?

New York, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Nevada, Washington

Which state legislatures that gain or lose are controlled by Republicans?

Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Utah, Florida, Texas

Which state legislature has split control?


It should not come as a surprise that most of the states that lost seats (MI, OH, NY, MA, PA, IL, MO, IA) are all North of the 36°30′ parallel. If you don’t know the line, think Kentucky/Tennessee borderline. If you look at a map of the USA, that parallel marks the lower border for VA, KY, KS, CO, UT, and mostly MO except for the dangling bit. It was also the Missouri Compromise borderline for westward expansion of slavery.

In a more colloquial way, here's the deal... the North is losing people, and the South and West are gaining people. Your major exception is Louisiana, but the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina are likely the source of the population loss for Census 2010.

So… what do these results mean in terms of political parties?

States the Republicans Should be Happy about.

  • Ohio. Ohio has Republican Party control in the State legislature. The state went for Obama in 2008, but it was a close swing state with only a 4.6% difference between the two parties. The current U.S. House distribution for the state is 5 Democrats and 13 Republicans. Ohio is losing 2 seats, and with Republican dominated redistricting, I’ll guessing the Democratic Party will lose them leaving them with only 3 Democratic members of the U.S. House.
  • Massachusetts. Sure, Massachusetts is a solid Democratic Party state at the moment. They also have zero Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat the state loses is going to be Democratic Party seat. I predict there will be a lot of infighting among Democrats for which member is going to fall on their sword. The Republicans win one here without much work because the Democratic Party is going to lose a seat no matter what.
  • Missouri. It lost a seat, but this state was an extremely close swing state in 2008 with the presidential margin of victory less than 1%. They have a Republican controlled state legislature and the U.S. House seats are 3 Democratic and 6 Republican. One Democratic Party House member is probably going to get their seat taken away so this can be considered a potential win for the Republicans.
  • Michigan. The state legislature is under Republican Party control and the state voted for Obama in 2008. The current U.S. House seats in Michigan are 6 Democrats and 9 Republicans. Republicans are likely going to strip out a Democratic Party U.S. House seat when they redistrict to lose one seat.
  • Pennsylvania. See Michigan. Rinse. Repeat. (though they have 7 Democrats and 12 Republicans in the House)
  • Arizona, Georgia, Utah, South Carolina, Texas. The Republican Party gained seats in all these states. They also control the state legislatures and their states all voted for McCain in 2008. The 8 new electoral college seats they got (4 to Texas alone) will all probably be redistricted towards Republicans.
    Predictions: These states get more interesting if they decide to dig in and strip out existing Democratic Party seats in favor of more Republican Party leaning ones. The current rumor for Austin, Texas is that it will be re-cracked again in an attempt to unseat Lloyd Doggett who survived a similar effort in 2003 by the state legislature. Arizona, Georgia and Texas are the most likely targets for redistricting to lose existing Democratic Party seats. Utah and South Carolina only have 1 Democratic Party member each per state in the U.S. House so they may be more difficult to remove, though not impossible.
  • Florida. Florida is gaining 2 House members. They narrowly went for Obama in 2008 and they have a Republican controlled state legislature. My guess is the Republicans are going to go for the jugular in Florida and attempt to remove as many Democratic Party seats as possible during redistricting. Currently, Florida has 6 Democrats and 19 Republicans in the U.S. House. With substantial, but different minority populations in both in the North and South (Jacksonville/Miami), it will be interesting to see how the lines are drawn.

States the Democrats Should be Happy about

  • Nevada and Washington. Both states pick up a seat and have Democratic Party controlled state legislatures. They should probably be redistricted in favor of Democrats.
Yeah. That’s probably about it.
Electoral College Changes
If we use the 2008 Electoral College results, what is the difference between votes then and now when we readjust the Electoral College numbers?

In 2008, Barack Obama had 365 Electoral College votes and John McCain had 173. If the election was held with the new Electoral College distribution, Barack Obama would receive 359 votes and John McCain 179. Obama still wins, but there was a 6 Electoral College vote shift.

Census 2010 results did not hold any shockers. All the states (win and lose) were pretty predictable. Sunbelt and Western States are gaining while more Northern and Eastern states are losing. This is not a surprise and the trends have been here for a while.
Redistricting is likely going to be kinder to Republicans than Democrats but not super dramatic. Watch the state legislatures. After the 1990 Census, Democrats controlled most the of state legislatures. They shored up seats for themselves, but did not strip out existing Republican ones. Republicans did not adhere to the same model after Census 2000. They redistricted the states the controlled to remove as many Democratic Party seats as possible. My guess is the next couple years will feel like 2001-2002 all over again (at least for redistricting).
Back in graduate school, I did some research (but didn't publish it) looking at the Florida state legislature redistricting plans following the 2000. Republicans were pretty creative and detailed with their new districts. I remember the plan that was implemented played with redistricting as far down as the precinct level. Democratic leaning precincts close to district lines in central Florida were moved into areas of strong Republican control. At the time, the goal was to help ensure the new seats were Republican leaning while playing on incumbency advantages to swamp the Democratic precincts. The technology to dig this deep has only gotten better in the last 10 years. In addition, most of the plans in state legislature controlled redistricting were submitted by state reps who were angling to carve out their own shiny new House seat custom built for themselves.
It's going to be fun. Buckle up and get comfortable.

U.S. House members in states that lost seats are going to start sucking up to their voters but probably broaden their nets across more of the state in preparation for new district lines. They will be desperate and at risk for carpal tunnel from all the hands they will shake in photo ops across their areas.
For the states that gained, the state legislatures are going to be the ones receiving the sucking up to get those new shiny seats.

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