The Landslide Brings Us Down

Texas House Election Results 2012 - Map, District Results, Live Updates - POLITICO.comIt’s easy to assert that, overall, Texas will be a Democratic state at some point in the future, due to blahs and browns, but I’m interested in what we’ll see out the window and where we’ll stop to use the bathroom on the trip. This map is pretty interesting, especially that big blue chunk next to the Rio Grande, the 23rd district.

In 2012, there were only 6 Congressional races that weren’t landslides, and that probably overstates how competitive they were, since a lot of those were 60/40 races if you added the Republican and Libertarian totals together, as the free market demands. The most competitive race in Texas was the 23rd, where Pete Gallego got a bare majority of 50.3 percent. There was a Green in the race (to provide pure progressives the ability to throw away their vote more efficiently), and a Libertarian, so the real total was 51.4%/48.5%. That result is due to multiple interventions of activist judges legislating from the bench using the outmoded and unconstitutional Voting Rights Act:

[…] The district was represented for over a decade by Republican Henry Bonilla, but in 2006 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the 23rd violated the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A federal judge substantially increased the Hispanic population of the district, and Bonilla lost to Democrat Ciro Rodriguez (who had been upset in a primary by Henry Cuellar in the neighboring 28th District a few years earlier).

Rodriguez lost to Republican Francisco “Quico” Canseco in the 2010 landslide. The GOP attempted to shore up the district, which stretches across the vast, empty expanses of southwest Texas to cover the El Paso and San Antonio suburbs. But a federal court undid that effort, and actually made the 23rd a touch more Democratic than it had been in its earlier iteration.[…]

If I understand this story correctly, Perry just signed the most recent federally-mandated redistricting into law, so the map we see now will remain the map until the next census, for better or worse. The better is the 23rd, the worse is some of those majority minority districts. Push your mouse around Houston, for example. There we have three majority-minority districts where Democrats won by 75%, 79% and 90%. There are two other districts where Republicans won by 60% and 65%. If you want to have a safe seat, those minority-majority districts are great. If you want to grow the numbers of Democrats in your Congressional delegation, they’re not helping.

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85 replies
  1. 1
    balconesfault says:

    And if you want Congressmen who will actually debate legislation, and work with opposition to craft bipartisan compromise – which is after all what the vast majority of Americans say they want when polled – these districts are horrible, horrible, horrible.

  2. 2
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Actually, one of the things Republicans in Texas taught us is that you don’t have to do it on a census year, otherwise they couldn’t pass one now. We just need majorities in the state legislature and the Governorship. Not a small hurdle.

    We will have to do what we can.

  3. 3
    scav says:

    until the next census might be optimistic. Census, Clocks: TX has ignored those in past when convenient.

  4. 4
    PeakVT says:

    …Perry just signed the most recent federally-mandated redistricting into law…

    I think it’s better to say that he signed the interim federal court-drawn map into law. It’s not as bad as the original legislature-drawn map, but it wasn’t what the Justice Department was seeking either.

    Anyway, I say neutral redistricting commissions for all. That worked out pretty well for Dems in CA and AZ.

  5. 5
    Zifnab says:

    Battleground Texas, baby. Gerrymandering is a lot less scary when you’re growing the number of registered voters. It’s not a panacea of course – I’d love for districts that didn’t look like stripes and starbursts that just happen to conform with minority neighborhoods – but it’s a huge step in the right direction.

  6. 6
    Corner Stone says:

    As I’ve previously made the case before, the Purpling of Texas is going to take a while.
    And I believe Baud asked in a previous thread how Democratic candidates are chosen/elevated/etc in Texas. The first thing you do is genuflect long and hard in the direction of all the Good Ole Boys running the D party in Texas.
    There’s been a lot of recent rebellion in the lower ranks, and that will eventually bubble its way up, but for the next decade or so a significant chunk of backbench candidates will need approval from the very corrupt party leaders before they can go anywhere.
    If you’re a natural like the Castro brothers, or get your chance to shine like Ms. Davis did then you can attract money. Otherwise there is only one main funnel.

  7. 7
    Figs says:

    I know it’s a pipe dream, but multi-member districts are really the only thing that’s going to solve the geographic packing of Democratic voters into urban areas.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    From the map, it looks like San Antonio is the place where Dems really ought to bear down. Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth are red-heartland. And Austin, of course, is… Austin.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    OT, but hilarious:

    The Treasury inspector general (IG) whose report helped drive the IRS targeting controversy says it limited its examination to conservative groups because of a request from House Republicans.

    A spokesman for Russell George, Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration, said they were asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) “to narrowly focus on Tea Party organizations.”
    ,,,,,
    GOP lawmakers and staffers acknowledge that they reached out to Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) after hearing that Tea Party organizations seeking tax-exempt status felt they were being mistreated by the tax agency.

    But Republicans also say that it made no sense for them to try to limit the inquiry to the Tea Party, because a broader inquiry would be needed to determine whether the IRS was treating conservative groups more harshly than other groups.
    …….
    So the IG’s office is blaming Republicans and Republicans are blaming the IG’s office. Seven weeks after the political world pondered the prospect of president impeachment as a result of this story, it appears the only folks who aren’t accused of doing anything wrong are President Obama, his staff, and Democrats.

  10. 10
    Roger Moore says:

    @PeakVT:

    Anyway, I say neutral redistricting commissions for all.

    Yup. Letting politicians draw their own districts is turning democracy on its head.

  11. 11
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    There was a Green in the race (to provide pure progressives the ability to throw away their vote more efficiently)

    Hah! Fucking firebaggers ruining everything!

  12. 12
    SatanicPanic says:

    @PeakVT: Neutral redistricting should be the law of the land. As far as CA, I remember people worried it might hurt Democrats, but Republicans have gone so nuts here that in the end I think it was a moot point.

  13. 13
    Derelict says:

    Hate to break the bad news, but what do you THINK is going to happen when the GOP-controlled Texas government draws up the next redistricting maps?

    If history is any guide, those districts currently going to Democrats will be redrawn so as to dilute the Democratic voters and bolster the GOP voters. Until the advent of VRA, this was standard practice down South. Minorities would be drawn into districts where their votes would never amount to enough to challenge the white politician. If you don’t think Texas–and a lot of other Southern states–are not going to revert to this practice now that the VRA has been gutted, you’re delusional.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PeakVT:

    Anyway, I say neutral redistricting commissions for all. That worked out pretty well for Dems in CA and AZ.

    That’s no guarantor of success (look at what happened in AZ when it was just too neutral for the tastes of the Rethugs) but it’s certainly a start.

    The political culture needs to change from hyper-partisanism to civic duty, but then again I expect to be crowned Tsar of all the Russias tomorrow, so don’t listen to me.

  15. 15
    balconesfault says:

    @MattF: Austin gets carved up into 4 districts that are, from end to end, about 400-500 miles north to south, east to west.

    The 21st groups parts of Austin with Hill Country ranchers 2 hours to the west. The 35th pulls part of Austin into a district with San Antonians 1 1/2 hours to the south. The 10th stretches to the Houston suburbs 2 hours to the east. And the 25th reached to Ft. Worth suburbs 3 hours to the north.

  16. 16
    Corner Stone says:

    @MattF:

    From the map, it looks like San Antonio is the place where Dems really ought to bear down. Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth are red-heartland. And Austin, of course, is… Austin.

    If that is your conclusion then I would suggest you stop looking at this map.

  17. 17
    Roger Moore says:

    @Baud:

    So the IG’s office is blaming Republicans and Republicans are blaming the IG’s office.

    I hope the IG’s office archived their emails, because there’s no way Issa is going to let facts get in the way. Can we move him to the head of the tumbrel queue?

  18. 18
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Can we move him to the head of the tumbrel queue?

    No, the four living members of the Felonious Five of December, 2000, go first.

    That’s locked in stone.

  19. 19
    danimal says:

    Playing around with redistricting lines is not a long-term solution to the GOP’s woes. They have increasingly unpopular positions and a shrinking base. Solutions such as changing the lines just delay the time when they have to undergo a wrenching upheaval of their policy profile. IOW, the bandaid may look good, but the underlying cancer continues to grow.

    Restricting the voting rights of minorities will only solidify the opposition of an emerging American majority. Small gains in the influence of 2014 white voter guarantee generational opposition in minority communities. So, go ahead, GOP. Give it your best shot. Your attempts to manipulate the vote are just going to be your undoing.

    Smart Republicans understand this, and quietly despair.

  20. 20
    Roger Moore says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    As far as CA, I remember people worried it might hurt Democrats, but Republicans have gone so nuts here that in the end I think it was a moot point.

    Part of it working out so well for the Democrats turned out to be that the Democrats were better organized at working the system. The commission took public input, and the Democrats lobbied it with front groups. They represented local constituencies that said they wanted to remain in a single district, always in ways that were calculated to make the districts more D-friendly. It’s nowhere near as bad as the old days, but it was still possible to influence the new districts.

  21. 21
    piratedan says:

    believe it or not, metropolitan Texas is pretty blue, it’s just that there’s a whole lotta Waco’s scattered throughout the state that hold sway and the redistricting will be gerrymander heaven because it’s patently obvious that the Texas GOP can’t be shamed unless there’s twitter proof staring them in the face and they can safely do this behind closed doors without anyone paying attention (funny how that seems to be a feature and not a bug on GOP parlimentarians)

  22. 22
    Corner Stone says:

    OT, but not that I ever want to see an NFL player hurt, and certainly never wanted them to hurt another human being, but I have absolutely despised Aaron Hernandez his entire career. The game where the Pats put a first class ass whuppin on my Texans I thought he showed some extremely uncalled for poor sportsmanship.

  23. 23
    Corner Stone says:

    @danimal:

    Small gains in the influence of 2014 white voter guarantee generational opposition in minority communities. So, go ahead, GOP. Give it your best shot. Your attempts to manipulate the vote are just going to be your undoing.

    Just gives them a few more years to get their grift on. That’s all they care about these days anyway.

  24. 24
    David Hunt says:

    @Zifnab: If I were in charge of congressional districts, I’d want the “blockiest” looking map i could get. IIRC, there’s over 200 counties in Texas, so I’d just putting counties that shared borders into the districts until I had enough people until I got enough people in the district and then start making the next district. You’d have to subdivide counties that have the major population centers like Houston and the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, but even there, I’d want the divisions to be as simple as possible with the districts looking like blocks.

    I’m aware that this would cause alot of chaos as various Congresscritters found themselves competing against each other and might violate the VRA by disenfranchising some piece of minority population at some point in the state. I don’t care. That’s a much more fair assignment of districts in my opinion: may the chips fall where they may.

  25. 25
    balconesfault says:

    I suspect that the media hasn’t been more up front about publicizing the abominations that some of the worst gerrymandering creates … is because these tortured, elongated districts often end up spreading between multiple media markets and thus require campaigns to double their media buys.

  26. 26
    Roger Moore says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Just gives them a few more years to get their grift on.

    I doubt it’s going to be just a few more years. They’ve gerrymandered effectively enough to keep control of the state government through 2020, which means they’re going to get to gerrymander again after the 2020 census, probably without the pesky Section V of the VRA getting in their way. That should keep them going more most of the 2020s. The Democrats’ best hope is to win statewide office so they can veto the next round of redistricting and force something less drastic.

  27. 27
    balconesfault says:

    @David Hunt:

    If I were in charge of congressional districts, I’d want the “blockiest” looking map i could get.

    I’ve long thought we need some kind of mathematical formula which limits the length of a district versus the total area included in the district.

    A 100 sq mile district can be 10 miles x 10 miles … or 100 miles x 1 mile. The latter seems to me to flat out mock the goal of representation based on geography. Maybe say the length of the longest line connecting 2 extreme ends of a district cannot be more than 2 times the square root of the area of the district?

    That wouldn’t end the worst forms of gerrymandering, but it would certainly put some serious straightjackets on it.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @balconesfault:

    THAT is a very astute observation.

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    @MattF:

    From the map, it looks like San Antonio is the place where Dems really ought to bear down. Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth are red-heartland. And Austin, of course, is… Austin.

    You are wrong. Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth are not red-heartland. Their suburbs may be, but the cities are blue. The districts are so ridiculously drawn that they don’t represent the cities very well.

  30. 30
    PeakVT says:

    @David Hunt: @balconesfault: Compactness is the word you’re looking for. That, and existing political boundaries, economic interconnections, economic similarity, and geographic barriers are some of the criteria that can be used in drawing up districts. The Iowa and Cali redistricting commissions have probably published their criteria if you want to learn more.

  31. 31
    EdTheRed says:

    Speaking of Texas, uh, this happened:

    PERRY: In fact, even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of as single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.

    I just…I mean…I can’t even…just…

  32. 32
    scav says:

    @David Hunt: may not entirely remove the politics either. Using a greedy simple heuristic of that sort can still be gamed by where you start the process (the seeds, first block allocated) and possibly even the rules for which adjoining block is to be added next. Bad random runs of adds can lead to tenticles, so there will have to be breaking rules The census had a problem with this in PR in the 2000 census). You might also end up allocating blocks that have no or few interaction connections despite being physically adjacent (natural boundaries such as rivers, human constructed ones like roads not existing for other reasons). This might lead to internal problems of governance and competition. The whole thing is tricky enough that I’d place more faith in external panels than simple rules.

  33. 33
    Roger Moore says:

    @balconesfault:
    I think the most reasonable approach would be to have some kind of rule that tried to minimize the perimeter of districts. So your example of a 10×10 district would have a perimeter of 40 miles, while the 100×1 district would have a perimeter of 202 miles. You could make it tend to align with existing political borders by counting perimeter that followed existing boundaries less than border that didn’t. For example, the state border might not count at all, county borders would count only 1/10 of their length, and city limits would count 1/2 of their length. That would encourage the new districts to include whole counties and cities rather than dividing them up arbitrarily. You could do other things to minimize the temptation to draw crazy borders, like weighting perimeter according to the local population density, so that a 1 mile squiggly line though a city center is weighted more heavily than a 100 mile squiggly line through range land.

  34. 34
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore: If you’ll notice in my comment at #6, I agree that Texas isn’t on the edge of switching and I have been admonishing people here for quite some time who seem to think the demographic wave is the inevitable savior.
    I was referring to what I believe Danimal’s overall comment was in reference to the national GOP’s efforts to maintain power in places where they have to cheat and disenfranchise.
    Without some watershed event like Gov Perry lining up Hispanics and gunning them down in a line ala Red Dawn style, we’re going to have to fight for every percentage gained until at minimum 2020 and probably 2024. IMO

  35. 35
    Baud says:

    @EdTheRed:

    To be fair, our side could cite Perry as a prime example of what can happen when women don’t get abortions.

  36. 36
    Figs says:

    @David Hunt: But the fact of drawing districts in the first place makes them unrepresentative of the state or even the surrounding area as a whole. Urban districts will tend to be packed with Democratic voters to a greater extent than rural ones will be packed with Republican ones. Unless each district is convoluted and just dips a toe into the city with a big tail in the suburbs and rural areas, geography works against one party more than the other.

    If instead there were requirements for multi-member districts that would each elect, say, no fewer than five representatives, it would be much easier to assemble them in such a way that they’d more accurately represent the populations contained inside in an equitable way (and if a voting method like Single Transferable Vote were used, then we’d be getting much closer to true proportional representation).

  37. 37
    Violet says:

    Speaking of Texas, Erikkk Erikkkson is now tweeting #SitDownWendy. Wonkette has the screengrab. Keep up the outreach to women and minorities and that excellent re-branding, GOP! It’s working great!

  38. 38
    scav says:

    @EdTheRed:

    Good Hair not Good Heart.

  39. 39
    Violet says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Without some watershed event like Gov Perry lining up Hispanics and gunning them down in a line ala Red Dawn style,

    Not sure Perry would do that, but wouldn’t put it past some of the other Republicans in Texas.

  40. 40
    catclub says:

    @Baud: Hoocoodanode?!

  41. 41
    ricky says:

    Mistermix hits the nail on the head. One of the paradoxes of the Voting Rights Act is that it has been used to create
    districts that are so overwhelmingly minority that, while it allows the people who live in them to safely elect one of their “own” to Congress or the Legislature, those elected officials rarely have enough whites of like mind respresenting surrounding districts to have enough allies necessary to pass anything when they get there.

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @scav:

    The whole thing is tricky enough that I’d place more faith in external panels than simple rules.

    I think you probably need both. The computer spits out a few proposed schemes, the panel looks them over to see if they’re superficially reasonable, and sends them back with complaints if they aren’t. The programmer takes the panel’s complaints, tweaks the algorithm to try to fix the identified problems, and generates some more proposed maps. When the maps are at least superficially reasonable (e.g. no tentacles) the commission starts looking at issues like natural boundaries and geographical connection.

  43. 43
    PeakVT says:

    @Figs: MMDs are a fine idea, but were not going to get MMDs and STV in federal Congressional districts before we get neutral redistricting commissions. First things first.

  44. 44
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Roger Moore: interesting, I didn’t know that

  45. 45
    Botsplainer, fka Todd says:

    @Corner Stone:

    OT, but not that I ever want to see an NFL player hurt, and certainly never wanted them to hurt another human being, but I have absolutely despised Aaron Hernandez his entire career. The game where the Pats put a first class ass whuppin on my Texans I thought he showed some extremely uncalled for poor sportsmanship.

    From what I understand, he is fucked beyond redemption. This isn’t like Vick – there’s enough video to bury him.

  46. 46
    Corner Stone says:

    I think the issue of what a district “looks like” is almost irrelevant. I personally don’t have any issue with an octopus district if it includes fairness in population. It’s when the tentacle wraps around one area in a specific effort to avoid inclusion that’s the problem. Why would we assume a block pattern added together is in any way inherently more just at the voting booth?
    To me it’s like looking at rain drops on a sidewalk and trying to determine which one is more random.

  47. 47
    Corner Stone says:

    @Botsplainer, fka Todd: Smashing the mobile device is possibly the second stupidest thing he’s done in this whole affair.

  48. 48
    Roger Moore says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    interesting, I didn’t know that

    The LA Times had a very interesting article on it. I don’t know how significant the Democratic lobbying really was- I doubt it had a significant effect in more than a handful of places- but it did happen. And given that the Legislature is right at the 2/3 majority for Democrats, every district is really important.

  49. 49
    Another Halocene Human says:

    All the more reason to take a run at statewide races. GA and FL, too. And fight the districts in court. By the time the suit is settled and the lege throws another bullshit map up there you have a veto.

    That means registering a lot of people in packed districts and doing GOTV.

  50. 50
    burnspbesq says:

    @EdTheRed:

    It’s Chinatown, Jake.

  51. 51
    scav says:

    @Roger Moore: Both is definitely better. But the bedrock,is the panel and the human judgement in the construction. A lot of the superficial screening could be automated in your described workflow. A SSDs (Spatial Decision Support System) could easily be designed to use simple heuristics to spit out npbase solutions to a secondary scrrening of compactness, etc) measures / rules not included in the original algorithm and then spitting out potentials for human evaluation and tweeking on less codable characteristics. That’s what those systems do. But without trustworthy people. . .

    @Corner Stone: blockiness / compactness is indeed only one measure of desired characteristics or fairness and not a guarantee of anything. Hairball multi-d comperlicated from the get go.

  52. 52
    Baud says:

    @catclub:

    I’m a little surprised at the IG. Not at all with Issa.

  53. 53
    Botsplainer, fka Todd says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Now it looks like he’s implicated in two more murders from last year. Damn.

  54. 54
    Roger Moore says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Why would we assume a block pattern added together is in any way inherently more just at the voting booth?

    Experience shows that most of the people drawing districts in crazy octopus shapes are doing so with ill intent. They wouldn’t be drawing them in crazy shapes if they could achieve the same effect with simpler, less obviously distorted ones, so there’s a rational belief that restricting their ability to draw octopuses will reduce the effectiveness of their bad-faith redistricting.

  55. 55
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Roger Moore: There’s a mathematical issue here. You must mandate the size of the ruler used to determine squiggliness. Otherwise you’re getting into fractal territory here.

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @scav:

    Hairball multi-d comperlicated from the get go.

    The Devil is always in the details.

  57. 57
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud:

    The IG just ratted Issa out. Makes it blatantly obvious that this is a matter of pure partisanship, and that justice or fairness hasn’t got a single fucking thing to do with it.

  58. 58

    the worse is some of those majority minority districts. Push your mouse around Houston, for example. There we have three majority-minority districts where Democrats won by 75%, 79% and 90%. There are two other districts where Republicans won by 60% and 65%. If you want to have a safe seat, those minority-majority districts are great. If you want to grow the numbers of Democrats in your Congressional delegation, they’re not helping.

    OK, I’m looking at the numbers, and I don’t see anything egregious going on here.

    Sure, there are a handful of TX Congressional districts with overwhelming Dem majorities (29th: 90%; 30th, 78.9%; 9th, 78.5%; 18th, 75%; 33rd, 72.5%), you get the following Republican majorities out in rural Texas: 3rd, uncontested; 13th, 91%; 19th, 85%; 17th, 79.9%; 11th, 78.6%; 8th, 77.4%; 4th, 73.0%; 1st, 71.7%; 12th, 70.9%; 36th, 70.8%.

    That’s all the Texas congressional districts with a >70% majority for one party or the other, and 2/3 of them are Republican districts.

    It doesn’t get much less lopsided when you use a 60% cutoff instead: 9 of the 15 districts won by a majority of between 60% and 70% were Republican districts.

    So I’m not seeing any evidence that Dems have been overly packed into a small number of districts so that Republicans could win more seats.

    It’s true that there is a dearth of competitive House seats in Texas, but that’s another story.

  59. 59
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore: Indeed. I prefer a non-partisan panel to draw districts, and then a court hear challenges.
    But I really don’t care what the district looks like when they are done.

  60. 60
    Corner Stone says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Makes it blatantly obvious that this is a matter of pure partisanship, and that justice or fairness hasn’t got a single fucking thing to do with it.

    ***GASPS!***

  61. 61
    Mobile Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    The first thing that has to happen is to get Democratic majorities in the Lege; that means finding, fielding, and funding Democratic candidates across the state, especially in the rural areas. The second thing that has to happen is that Democrats need to win state offices.

    That’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen without a lot of outside help. A lot of our problems have come about because the national Democratic party wrote us off as a lost cause.

    Thanks loads, guys.

  62. 62
    scav says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well, spelling too. Wasn’t meaning to go anywhere near np as that part of LP always made my eyes cross, but my mad ipad-enhanced typo-skills betrayed me.

  63. 63
    Baud says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    It seems like the IG could have made the limited scope of his inquiry clear from the outset.

  64. 64
    Corner Stone says:

    @Botsplainer, fka Todd: I hadn’t heard that. Is that why he was denied bail? Because I didn’t think he had displayed any effort to escape the jurisdiction to this point.

    ETA, I understand bail isn’t mandatory or even usual in murder charges but it would seem he could post a stiff bail if ordered by the court.

  65. 65
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Somehow the vermin of the Village will manage to miss the obvious, again.

  66. 66
    Roger Moore says:

    @scav:
    I’ve occasionally suggested that the right solution is to have a neutral party spit out a few options, and let the politicians pick one to adopt unchanged. That way, you’d be letting the political process have some control without turning the whole thing over to interested parties.

    You could even make an effort to have the options be as different as possible while still trying to meet the target criteria of equal population, following existing borders, geographical compactness, etc. One approach would be to generate different maps by emphasizing different aspects of the formula. One would place much higher value of geographical compactness than following existing boundaries, another would place great value on following existing boundaries even if it produced stretched out districts, one would try to use census data on commuting patterns to try to make sure that districts were economically integrated, and so on.

  67. 67
    Botsplainer, fka Todd says:

    @Corner Stone:

    CBS sports blog says the FBI likes him in a double murder last summer. They’ve apparently got him in their organized crime task list.

  68. 68
    danimal says:

    I don’t think the GOP, especially in the southern states, is going to be able to resist over-reach. And I’m optimistic enough to believe that the backlash to GOP manipulation of the voting process (redistricting is NOT where the most effective shenanigans are practiced) will be intense and may overcome the barriers.

    Time will tell.

  69. 69
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mobile Grumpy Code Monkey:

    A lot of our problems have come about because the national Democratic party wrote us off as a lost cause.

    With pretty good reason as the national party platform would doom any D candidate outside Houston or Austin, but I agree we’re going to need to revitalize that broader linkage.
    The D party in Texas has no issue raising money, or even GOTV when they want to. The issue is old relationships of the people in power and raising new generation of talent that isn’t shit scared of being an actual Democrat In Office.

    edited a little

  70. 70
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud:

    I agree, he didn’t volunteer that information. But he has now.

    But, as I noted above, the Village will pay no attention. They’ve got a narrative, and they’re sticking to it.

  71. 71
    Roger Moore says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    There’s a mathematical issue here. You must mandate the size of the ruler used to determine squiggliness.

    I don’t think that’s a huge issue. You’re going to be using maps based on existing surveys, so the size of the ruler will be inherently limited to whatever the surveyors are using. I wouldn’t be the tiniest bit surprised if existing law didn’t already have some kinds of rules defining this exact thing.

  72. 72
    Trollhattan says:

    @SatanicPanic:

    The Calif. Republican redistricting scheme blew back in their faces because those crafty Dems (the WHAT?) gamed the holy hell out of it. Somewhere, a sizzling Lee Atwater gave them a golf clap.

    http://www.propublica.org/arti.....commission

  73. 73
    scav says:

    @Roger Moore: ‘zactly. The other thing that’s often done is use the machine-generated likely solutions (as you said, often gererated by different approaches) and then running through some human-directed tweaking to see how minor adjustments impact a variety of other measures. Getting optimized solutions is incredibly hard algoithmically (if possible in linear time) and the models can be opaque. Simple heuristics arranged sequentially can be more transparent and a human search for pareto-improving moves at the end can do rather well.

  74. 74
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Derelict: Yep. I look for many members of the congressional black caucus members who come from places like North Carolina or Georgia to dissappear. But hey, the R+20 district will now be R+10. So that means we’re more competitive.

  75. 75
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Botsplainer, fka Todd: And there’s that whole “being sued for shooting a friend/personal assistant in the face” last year.

    Personally, I think that personal assistant/friend is a victim, but there is at least one dead body because he didn’t bother to name names to the police.

  76. 76
    Botsplainer says:

    @Botsplainer, fka Todd:

    CBS sports blog says the FBI likes him in a double murder last summer. They’ve apparently got him in their organized crime task list.

    I apologize, I’ve got a hell of an astigmatism, because I could swear I saw FBI when I read the cbs article on my phone.

    Apparently, it was just local cops putting the pieces together.

  77. 77
    darms says:

    The big problem here in TX is that voter turnout is terrible. The link above takes you to an article claiming we’re 51st in the nation (dead last).

    61.6 percent of voting-eligible Texans reported being registered to vote in 2010 but just 36.4 percent reported voting.

  78. 78
    darms says:

    Last TX gubernatorial election White got 13% of eligible voters while Perry got 15% meaning 72% of eligible voters stayed home and thus cast their ballot for ‘none of the above’…

  79. 79
    👽 Martin says:

    The law says that you must incorporate district changes following a census. It does not say you can’t redistrict more after that. If Texas wants to redraw the map every year, they’re free to do that so long as they don’t add or remove districts beyond what the previous census gives them.

    I’d like to see in a new VRA that states must adopt redistricting commissions not unlike what CA has. Other states have similar approaches that work equally well. Let’s stop fucking around about what the problem here is.

    @darms: Whites vote just fine in Texas. Latinos don’t turn out. Get the turnout to balance between those two groups, and you’re a blue state.

  80. 80
    aretino says:

    @balconesfault:

    Austin gets carved up into 4 districts that are, from end to end, about 400-500 miles north to south, east to west.

    The 21st groups parts of Austin with Hill Country ranchers 2 hours to the west. The 35th pulls part of Austin into a district with San Antonians 1 1/2 hours to the south. The 10th stretches to the Houston suburbs 2 hours to the east. And the 25th reached to Ft. Worth suburbs 3 hours to the north.

    There’s actually the germ of a really sound redistricting concept there. Districts in urban areas that are drawn along major transportation axes are actually better at capturing a commonality of interests than so-called compact districts that prioritize existing political boundaries. But they need to be relatively equal pie-shaped radial slices from the city center to just past the outermost belt-highway around the core.

    Anything in the urban area more than a few miles outside its beltway should be organized into a collar-shaped ring district, or a couple of them if necessary. People out that far are more likely to commute to other exurban areas than to the core, and otherwise have more in common with other exurbanites than other folks in the same axial corridor.

    That this method would maximize the number of Democratic districts is strictly beside the point and does detract from its obvious merits in any way.

  81. 81
    Nina says:

    How often are Texas legislatures elected? When will the elections that decide who draws the 2020 maps be held?

    People move. With big economic dislocations, more people move, and district politics change. People die, young people become able to vote.

    There’s still time to tip those 60% districts.

  82. 82
    brendancalling says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: you mean the KKK Five

  83. 83
    brendancalling says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: you mean the klan Five

  84. 84
    SqueakyRat says:

    Well, basically that’s how gerrymandering works. Cram all of the opposition voters into a few districts. You lose a few landslides but you easily win sufficient majorities in the rest of the races.

  85. 85
    Marmot says:

    @balconesfault: Thanks for pointing this out. It’s so difficult to explain when there’s widespread belief we’re all conservatives.

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