Friday, April 15, 2011

Michigan Redistricting: State House Part I: Wayne County

Along with congressional and state senate maps, the state legislature will also redistrict the state house of representatives. The current state house map was drawn by Republicans, but has hardly any partisan slant at all. Its architects thought it would elect a large Republican majority, but control shifted to democrats in 2006 and 2008 before returning to Republicans in 2010.

Michigan Congressional Redistricting: Two Possible Maps
Michigan Redistricting: Two Possible State Senate Maps

See the current state house map here: MICHIGAN'S 110 HOUSE DISTRICTS

State house control is more likely to vary since representatives are limited to three two-year terms and elections are held in both presidential and off-years, unlike the state senate.

Many of the rules for legislative district maps are the same as for congressional district maps. In particular, the Apol standards require that there be a small number of county and city/township breaks. These standards cannot legally bind future redistricting plans (LaRoux v. Secretary of State), but it is likely that any plan passed will at least come close to following them.

One major difference between the congressional and legislative standards is that populations for legislative districts are not required to be exact. They must be within 5% of the ideal population. For the Michigan House of Representatives, the ideal population is 9983640/110=89851. The lower and upper thresholds are thus 85359 and 94343.

This makes it easier to avoid breaks. Many counties do not need to be broken at all. The first part of my analysis of the state house redistricting will focus on Wayne County. Wayne’s ideal number of districts is 20.26, so the ideal population for a district is 91029.

The Voting Rights Act is commonly understood to require black-majority districts when possible. There are currently ten black-majority districts based in Detroit and one each in Southfield and Flint. There is also one significantly Hispanic district in southern Detroit. Given that Detroit lost 220000 people out of the 240000 loss in Wayne County, Wayne County will lose three house seats, dropping from 23 to 20. Three districts must be shifted elsewhere in the state.

Detroit really should lose two or three black districts, but don’t expect Eric Holder to agree with that. It is possible to maintain eight black districts while minimizing the number of breaks, or keep ten black districts with some creative line-drawing and a larger number of breaks.

Republicans will want to improve their prospects as much as possible. In the 2002 election, they won five seats and came close in two others. The five they held were the Grosse Pointes, Dearborn, Livonia, Plymouth/Northville, and Canton. The two that were close are Redford and the southern tier. The Grosse Pointes flipped in 2008. The population of this district needs to expand, and can only add part of Detroit. Demographic changes (blacks moving in from Detroit) mean this district is now out of reach. The same is true for the Redford district.

The Dearborn district flipped in 2004 due to Muslim reaction against Bush. The Plymouth/Northville district flipped in 2006 due in part to the treachery of RINO John Stewart, but flipped back in 2010. The Canton district flipped in 2008. The southern tier district was finally won by Republicans in 2010.

Both maps below are the same in Western Wayne. The Livonia district is the entire city except a small corner in the southwest. The Canton district loses VanBuren and is now just Canton, which makes it more favorable to Republicans. The Plymouth/Northville district loses Wayne and adds part of Westland, making it a bit more favorable. The southern tier district loses Sumpter, making it a bit more favorable. Republicans have a reasonable chance of winning four districts.

The first map below has eight black majority districts. It breaks Detroit in four places and four other cities (Livonia, Dearborn, Westland, Taylor).

The second map below has ten black majority districts. It adds three more breaks in Detroit and one more break (Dearborn Heights) outside.

Note that it is just barely possible to create a Hispanic majority district, but only by breaking four jurisdictions (Detroit, River Rouge, Ecorse, Lincoln Park).

My ratings for both maps:
1. Safe D(-) [Grosse Pointes]
2-15, 17 Safe D
16. Tossup [Southern Tier]
18. Safe R [Livonia]
19. Lean R(+) [Canton]
20. Safe R(++) [Plymouth/Northville]

For Republicans, the biggest benefit in Wayne County is the fact that three of its districts will move to more favorable parts of the state.


designated conservative said...

What's the plan to deal with population shifts in Washtenaw Co.? The 52nd and 54th in particular will need some adjustments, as will the 55th it appears. Any thoughts?

Conservative First said...

Washtenaw can now completely contain four districts. Map coming soon.