Swing State Project – Redistricting 2011: Mississippi & N.Y.

After a couple-week hiatus, I’m back to Episode 11 of my redistricting series! On tap for tonight’s episode: a magnolia founds the next world empire! Or, rather, I’ve paired two unlikely diary neighbors, New York and Mississippi.

There were a number of people who earlier asked me why I hadn’t yet covered New York, one of the obvious choices for an early redistricting diary. The reason is that back in March I drew a map for NY that assumed Jim Tedisco would win NY-20 and be primed for elimination in 2012. Just tonight I redrew New York to, on the contrary, make the 20th more Democratic to help Murphy (though the news wasn’t all good, and I’ll get to that momentarily).

With only four districts and a Democratic legislature offset by Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, the goal here was simple: help Travis Childers and make his 1st District considerably more Democratic without noticeably diluting the 2nd (a VRA-protected black-majority district). Much like ArkDem’s Mississippi map from some time ago, mine keeps the 2nd solidly black-majority while moving the needle in the 1st several points in the Democrats’ favor. Unfortunately, there seems to be literally no way to prevent Gene Taylor’s 4th, in 2008 McCain’s strongest district in the state, from eventually flipping to the GOP. The Gulf Coast counties are just too absurdly Republican (little-known fact: Trent Lott represented the 4th not long before Taylor, who won a 1989 special election when Lott’s GOP successor died).

District 1 – Travis Childers (D-Booneville) — the overwhelming Republican nature of Mississippi’s northernmost counties prompted me to make a truly audacious move (hat tip to ArkDem on this) in removing DeSoto County, a major source of GOP votes, from this district and putting it instead with the mostly black, Delta-based 2nd. This district carefully grabs more marginally Republican counties that were previously with the 3rd and some black counties that were in the 2nd without, I think, overreaching. McCain would likely have still won here, but not with 62% as before (since my methods are so low-tech, I can only guesstimate, and I’ll say with only minimal knowledge that this variation of the 1st is probably about 55-57% McCain, enough to keep Childers solid and keep the district well in play for a future Democrat).

District 2 – Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton) — other than its two-county northern reach, this district is heavily Democratic and hopefully at least 60% black, with an Obama percentage somewhere around 63-65%.

District 3 – Gregg Harper (R-Pearl) — once I had set aside most available Democratic turf for Thompson or Childers, and drawn a logical Southern Mississippi seat for Taylor, this constitutes what was left over (hint: a lot of white Republicans, who easily overwhelm the significant minority of black Democrats).

District 4 – Gene Taylor (D-Bay St. Louis) — I hoped against hope that there was a way to bring the McCain share under 60%, even under 65%, but that’s impossible as far as I can tell. Consider this district a loan that can be deferred only as long as Taylor chooses to stay.