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1  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Should Virginia Abolish their Independent Cities? on: Today at 10:36:47 pm
The states have been called the laboratory of democracy, and this seems to me a classic example. A few states have done city-county consolidations, some have allowed cities to go independent of their townships, but none have gone as far as VA in allowing cities large and small to depart from their counties (and then in some cases taking them over). Not only have cities in VA gone independent, but just last year one realized it wasn't working and went back into its county. That's a good lab at work. Maybe Bandit's right and other states will try their version of ICs.
2  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: numbers. on: Today at 06:31:25 pm
I don't really work with numbers as I do variables and formulas. Up to now, I've mooched off data from accountants, programmers and census people.

An interesting observation. I've never seen them as truly different, numbers and variables are both symbolic representations for things we quantify in our world. Formulas just provide usable relationships between variables and numbers.
3  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: US House Redistricting: New York on: Today at 05:58:53 pm
In an idle moment, after the Pubs bagged three seats in NY in the last go round,I was wondering if it would ever be possible for the Pubs to get a majority of the House seats in NY.  They have nine, and needed fourteen, or five more. NY 2, NY-4, NY-18 are possible, and after the Pub came so close in Rochester, NY-25 is not impossible. However, that last one, NY-17, is a very steep climb indeed. So probably not. But wait a minute, if the Court had drawn that South Brooklyn seat, which it didn't, would that not it be possible then?  Should the court have drawn the seat? Was it possible to do so, hewing to the VRA (bearing in mind that Article 5 is now dead), and good redistricting principles (now I would like to think a bit older and wiser at it, and now no longer "fooled" by all this community of interest hype)? So I redrew one of my prior maps, and voila, it is. Indeed, the south Brooklyn seat would be by far the most Pub in NY, with a PVI of something like 10, believe it or not (56% McCain).

I wonder how my map would do in the little contest Muon2 is hosting for Virginia (not sure how erosity for intra-county lines is measured in that contest). I giggled the lines on Long Island to minimize Town chops (Towns, not villages), as well as Borough chops in NYC.




Nothing strikes me as particularly unreasonable, particularly as you seem to hew to both towns and villages, which is good in my book. Within the boroughs I'd have to see how the lines match up with the official NYC community areas as that would be the natural neutral set of subunits.

As for how your keen mapping skills might fare compared to others, I can only suggest you add your thoughts on a VA redo.
4  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Best QB in NFL today (career and current factors considered) on: Today at 01:07:06 pm
I do think it has gotten harder to evaluate college QB prospects.  So many of the good college teams have moved away from the traditional pro-style offense or just have a running QB.  With a spread offense, the QB's job is just different and often you're not asked to make the same types of throws that are necessary in the NFL.  Someone like Robert Griffin was able to succeed without being forced to throw into tight windows or move through multiple progressions.  You see with these college spread offense QBs, even the talented guys, that they often can't adjust to making pinpoint throws outside the numbers.

And, there's a long tradition of these guys failing in the NFL, Akili Smith, Cade McNown, Tim Tebow, Kevin Kolb, etc.  The guys that have succeeded from that style of offense, like Alex Smith, seem to have difficulty playing at the level of elite QBs who learned a pro-style offense.

The truth is that NFL teams go through a process of forgetting what QBs have succeeded in the NFL.  We have the brief blips where Michael Vick or RGIII supposedly "revolutionize" the QB position and then flame out.  Running is a great strategy in college because someone like Cam Newton was that much more exceptional playing in the diluted talent pool of college football.  However, in the NFL, those running QBs can't rip off big gains and they end up getting hurt to the point where they derail a few seasons.  But, the bigger issue is that running QBs and system guys never develop the elite throwing skills because they have a crutch.  They don't need to look at their third progression, they can just run the ball or throw to a wide open receiver in the spread offense. 

So, that's the issue I think, the elite colleges have moved away from the pro-style offense, thus making the QB position harder to scout.

This pretty much sums up a player like Jordan Lynch. In 2013 he throws for almost 3000 yards and runs for almost 2000 yards and on the way sets 4 NCAA quarterback records (all for rushing) and was 3rd in the Heisman voting after being 7th for the Heisman in 2012.

But his style doesn't fit the NFL and everyone knows it. He goes undrafted then tries out as a running back for the Bears. Even with a position switch, he can't make the team. Great athlete, but the NFL skill requirements are so narrow and high that there's no place for him at the pro level in his sport.
5  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: Crystal Math XVI: Mathematician's favorite election on: Today at 12:45:41 pm
ElectionsGuy? Muon2? Ernest? WalterMitty?

Thanks for the links. I see that Carnahan was only 310 votes short (out of almost 2 million cast) of matching the Golden Ratio. By comparison, duPont needed 411 more votes out of 225K to get to 1/sqrt(2) of the total and Manchin needed 229 more votes out of 688K to get his 1/sqrt(2).
6  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: Today at 12:21:53 pm
Finally, let me look at Miles-A from the state level and look at the potential impact of Item 9.



All the county and subunit chops are in the two areas of NoVa and SE, and if I use the fully independent version of Item 8 the CHOP score is 3+13 = 16 or it reduces to 10 with the aforementioned neighborhood changes.

The urbanized area of NoVa that meets the definition of the UCC is covered by all or part of 5 CDs (1,7,8,10,11). It could be covered by as few as 4 so the score would increase to 17 if Item 9 were adopted. From a policy standpoint, this would say that it is preferable to keep Fredricksburg with the DC area, and for instance place the Williamsburg area with another CD in the SE unless it saves a county chop.

The Hampton Roads UCC area can be covered by as few three CDs, but in Miles-A is covered by 4 (1,2,3,4). Having CD 1 run from Dale City to Williamsburg could be the cause, and it is the type of district that Item 9 tries to suppress. Then again, the extra CD could also be the result of VRA compliance, and then it isn't optional. Under Item 9 the CHOP is up to 18.

The Richmond UCC can be covered by as few as 2 CDs, and in this plan there are 3 (3,4,7). The issue of Item 8 ICs does not affect Miles-A in this case. The VRA will tend to force a chop of this UCC. Like in large counties, some score increases may be unavoidable so under Item 9 the CHOP is up to 19.

None of the other potential UCCs that depend on Item 8 are affected.

The MCC originated to avoid cracking minority populations that span multiple counties and recognize them as a measurable community of interest. The goal is to discourage splits like the one here that puts Greensville and Brunswick in CD 5, unless it helps avoid chops elsewhere.

If the ICs all remain independent under Item 8 then there are two in VA. If they are merged then there is just one larger MCC. If CVAP is used instead of VAP Norfolk and Hampton are added to the eastern MCC (and the unified one). So there are four options. IC separate+VAP, IC separate+CVAP, IC merged+VAP, and IC merged+CVAP. The last one is 96.6% of the quota so it is difficult to avoid a chop.

IC separate+VAP: 3 CDs cover the western MCC and 2 CDs cover the eastern MCC for a total of 3 chops.

IC separate+CVAP: 3 CDs cover the western MCC and 3 CDs cover the eastern MCC for a total of 4 chops.

IC merged+VAP: 3 CDs cover the MCC for a total of 2 chops.

IC merged+CVAP: 4 CDs cover the MCC for a total of 3 chops.

The merged ICs avoid double counting some of the CDs in the chop count. However, the merged ICs would also increase the direct count for this plan. Without merged ICs under Item 9 the CHOP score would be 22 or 23. With merged ICs the CHOP score would range from 22 to 24.

An important part of the Commission's work is setting the basic rules, even when it gets wonky. In a real commission I would expect more time to be spent on setting the criteria than on evaluating plans. Small changes do have an effect on the balance between different factors, so I hope this example helps guide which way the Commission wants to go.
7  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: Today at 10:48:40 am
Let me continue to the southern end of Miles-A.



CD 3 has a chop of 80,107 in Henrico so its a macrochop. Within Henrico there is no chop of a CDP, so there is only the one chop.

CD 7 has a chop of 56,374 in Richmond City so it's a macrochop. If the size was kept under 36,368 it wouldn't trigger the macrochop provisions, but let's look at what that does here. By taking the larger chop, neighborhood integrity now matters as much as county integrity in rural areas. The plan chops the Southside, West End and Northside (3,790 just over the microchop limit). As drawn without the benefit of the neighborhoods, it counts as 4 towards the CHOP score. However, it would be easy to put all the West End in CD 7, Southside in CD 3 and only chop Northside, reducing the chop count by 2 but keeping CD 3 BVAP at 50.4%.

CD 7 has a chop of 36,947 in Chesterfield which is just over the threshold for a macrochop. However, there are no chopped CDPs, so there is only one chop.

Neither Dinwiddie nor Prince George are chopped if ICs are considered equal to counties under Item 8. However, if either Item 8A, 8B, or 8C is adopted, putting Hopewell in CD 4 counts as a chop of Prince George. If either Item 8A or 8B is adopted (not 8C) then Dinwiddie is chopped by putting Petersburg in CD 3. Petersburg stays separate in 8C since its population is over 25K.

CD 3 has a chop of 5,900 in James City county. The fact that CD 1 has two disconnected fragments in James City does not affect the CHOP score beyond the chop for CD 3.

CD 2 has a macrochop of 106,560 in Norfolk City. As drawn the plan chops all five neighborhood areas within Norfolk it would gain 5 extra in the CHOP score. As with Richmond, it is easy to reduce the neighborhood chops to 1, and it actually increase BVAP for CD 3.

So as drawn Miles-A scores 13 chops in the SE region as drawn. If the plan is modified to reflect neighborhoods in Richmond and Norfolk then the score drops to 7 in the SE region.

CHOP scores depend on the treatment of ICs under Item 8. If ICs under 25K are merged into their counties for redistricting, the the score goes up by one. If ICs under 50K are merged it goes up 2. This example shows the types of districts that are affected by Item 8.



8  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: Today at 09:30:18 am
Fairfax county is the one county in VA that must have a macrochop. So, it will always need county subdivisions. I used the county GIS to produce this map showing the communities (CDPs) in the county as well as the red areas separate from the communities. The city and town lines on DRA match up with these areas and are the natural subunits for Fairfax. If ICs are merged into the county then Fairfax city and Falls Church would just be additional subunits.



As an example of chop counting I'll use Miles-A. Here's his plan for NoVa.



Fairfax county has 2 chops resulting in three CDs in the county.

CD 10 has the smallest chop in Fairfax with a population of 10,045. It doesn't include all of a CDP, but the remainder is in two VTDs that span CDPs so there is no chop of the county subunit.

CD 8 is the other chop with 368,013 (or 380,345 with Falls Church) and is large enough to be a macrochop. All the CDPs chopped between CD 8 and 11 are due to VTDs that span CDPs so there are no additional subunit chops.

Prince William county is also chopped, and the smaller of the two districts is CD 10 with a population of 149,996 (or 202,090 if Manassas and Manassas Park are merged in). So this is also a macrochop. CDPs don't cover Prince William as completely as they do Fairfax, so some subdivision of the undesignated area would be useful. The simplest would be to use VTDs, in which case there can be no chops of the undesignated part of the county since DRA only maps at the level of VTDs.

The total chop count in NoVa here is 3.
9  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: Today at 07:50:59 am
As a further aid, let me go into the definitions for chops.

Definition: Chop. A single chop is the division of a geographic unit between two districts. A second chop divides the unit between three districts. In general the number of chops is equal to the number of districts in that unit less one.

Definition: Chop size. In units with a single chop, the size of a chop is the population of the smaller district within the unit. For districts with more than one chop, chop sizes are measured in order from the smallest populated district in the unit up to but not including the district with the largest population in the unit.

Definition: Microchop. A microchop is a chop that has a size that is 0.5% or less of the quota. Microchops do not count towards the number of chops in a unit.

Definition: Macrochop. A macrochop is one or more chops in a county that has a total size in excess of 5.0% of the quota. When a macrochop of a county occurs, the subunits of the county must be considered as if they were units as well. Note that macrochops may only apply to counties with a population of more than 10% of the quota, and must apply to counties with more than 105% of the quota.

Definition: County subunit. County subunits are geographic subdivisions of a county that cover the entire population of a county. Examples include census defined subdivisions, municipalities and unincorporated areas in an urban county, and recognized neighborhood regions in a city. Ideally county subunits are no larger than 10% of the quota.

Item 10: CHOP measures the integrity of geographic units in a plan. The CHOP score is the total of all county chops not including microchops. In counties with a macrochop, chops of county subunits are added to the CHOP score, however VTDs that span county subdivisions are treated as microchops and do not increase the CHOP score. (If Item 9 is adopted) Chops of a county cluster in excess of the minimum number of districts needed to span the county cluster are added to the CHOP score.
10  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: numbers. on: December 25, 2014, 10:09:58 pm
My ally is Math, and a powerful ally it is. The mind creates it, makes it expand. Numerical beings are we, not just crude posters. You must feel the Math around you; between you, me, elections, maps, everywhere, yes.
11  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Congressional Elections / Re: 2014 Senate results by CD on: December 25, 2014, 09:50:31 pm
Any word on when we'll get Illinois data?

^ You'll probably have to ask muon there, but I have a feeling we'll have to defer to DKE for IL, too.

I updated MI. Peters carried CD4, which was moderately surprising to me.

The bad news from MI is that the Wayne County clerk emailed me that they don't have precinct results in my preferred format. I'll be looking to the the individual municipalities for results; other than that, I'll have to copy the precinct results for the townships that I can't find by individually by hand into my Excel workbook. It might take a while Sad

The good news is that the complete set of all results, by precinct, for every county and city with a separate board of elections, was posted at the State Board of Elections on Dec 1. Every jurisdiction is in CSV format so it ports easily into Excel or any other spreadsheet or database. The difficulty is that there are 112 separate files and no cross correlations. Individual ballot lines are each treated separately in the files.

To answer a question like how did Durbin do by CD or Rauner by Legislative District requires finding all the precincts in the smaller district then finding the same precincts for the other race of interest. Its quite time consuming in a simple spreadsheet like Excel. It's a more reasonable task with a relational database like Access.

In any case, the SBE isn't going to create the correlations. The number of possible correlations between offices is enormous. Who is to say that US Senate by CD is the most important one to do? Since DKE did this for the 2012 data, I won't be surprised if they do the same for 2014. Of course they get to choose the correlations in that case.
12  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: What do you think the government should provide? on: December 25, 2014, 09:01:36 pm
The government, organized as a body of radically democratic, frequently elected workers' councils, should provide all the necessities of life.

This, while delegating the allocation of resources and social welfare to computerized central planning.

Please give this a read. The author's English isn't the greatest, but the essay touches on a number of key concepts that render "computerized central planning" a fantasy.


It's hard to go wrong when one starts with a quote from Asimov.
13  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: 35,000!!!! Posts on: December 25, 2014, 12:35:33 pm
After more than 6 years, I'm ranked 247th with 3.955 posts.  I'll never be a contender.

EDIT:  On the other hand, given their average length, I think my posts should count double.

That's OK. I'm only #120 with almost 11 years here (2.258 posts/day)
14  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: RRH: How MA became Red (Blue) on: December 25, 2014, 11:47:01 am
As a 1980's resident of MA and a 1990's IL resident, I would heartily endorse the analysis of 1988-92-96 and how it represented the full realignment of New England with Perot as the catalyst. The same data trends appear in many Chicago suburbs, particularly those in Cook during the same period. Reliable Pub areas became unattached and voted with Perot, then went Dem and stayed there from 96 onward. Chicagoland differed in its outer suburbs that stayed Pub, and downstate IL that was following the reverse southern shift.
15  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Will you celebrate New Year's for Kiribati? on: December 24, 2014, 07:50:26 am
On Dec 31, 1999 I celebrated a number of New Years with their respective time zones. Given the numerical significance of the change to 2000, cable networks like CNN had reporters stationed around the globe for the event(s). The nagging concern that significant computers controlling finance, utilities, and transportation might not have updated to handle the change gave additional interest to the international story. So, I enjoyed multiple toasts as the hours moved along.
16  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 23, 2014, 09:06:25 pm
Sounds like a fair complaint, but Item 8 is really fundamental to the unique nature of VA. VA has independent cities (IC) that are legally separate from the county or counties they came from. The 39 ICs in 2010 run in population from under 4,000 to over 400,000. Some are totally surrounded by counties, some are at the border between two or three counties, and some have absorbed the entire county they came from. Some ICs still serve as the county seat for the county they are independent of. No other state has ICs like VA. Should a redistricting plan treat ICs the same as counties?

I suggest that there are basically four variations to choose from.

8 ) The simplest way is to treat ICs as if they were all counties in their own right. That does nothing to address some of the small, surrounded ICs.

8A) Jimrtex suggested that most should be merged into their original counties which brings the three additional variations. His initial variation merges all but the 7 ICs with populations over 100K (Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Richmond, Newport News, Alexandria, and Hampton), but that leaves the awkward case of Suffolk which has absorbed all of its county but is only 85K, and Portsmouth which is 95K but has no county to merge into since Chesapeake already took it all.

8B) The next variation merges only those cities under 50K, which solves the above problem and also leaves Roanoke and Lynchburg acting as counties for redistricting purposes. Lynchburg is the smallest of these at 75K.

8C) When we worked on urban areas last year the agreed standard for a county to be urban was for it to have at least 25K urbanized population or 40% urbanized. If the 25K population threshold is applied to ICs, then 6 more ICs would be treated as separate counties: Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Danville, Manassas, Petersburg, and Winchester. The most important of these is Petersburg since is is overwhelmingly black and whether it is counted as independent or part of Dinwiddie county is likely to affect the scoring of plans dealing with the VRA district.

Does this help?
17  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Gibson v Eldridge: Columbia County Precinct Map on: December 23, 2014, 12:18:13 pm
I see three distinct patterns in Hudson.

Wards 2 and 4 are solidly for Eldridge and Hawkins had little impact on Cuomo's total receiving under 10% in both VTDs. Straight D makes up about 3/4 of the vote. Gibson got double the votes of Astorino and those appear to come equally from Cuomo and Hawkins supporters plus the other third party voters. The hard R vote is about 17%, about 8% vote independents willing to cast against the status quo, and 8% are incumbent supporters.

Wards 1 and 3 are also solid D, but here the left split for Hawkins shows up with 22% of the vote. Gibson got about the same percentage here as in wards 2 and 4, and the hard R vote only grows to about 20%. The difference is that the anti-status quo group makes up almost a quarter of the voters. It's hard to tell but there probably still 5% or so (maybe as high as 8%) who just like incumbents due to name id.

The two VTDs of ward 5 show a marked difference in partisan voting. The hard R vote is up to 36% and barely behind the hard D vote at 43%. Hawkins doesn't do much better here than in wards 2 and 4 getting just 12%. This is the area where Cuomo racks up votes compared to Eldridge with a notable lack of of the left protest votes seen in wards 1 and 3. The 12% for Hawkins votes look mostly like Gibson votes here, plus there's another 8% of the usual pro-incumbent crowd.
18  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 state population estimates out on Dec. 23 on: December 23, 2014, 11:09:16 am
Since the 2010 Census happened during the housing downturn of the Great Recession, I thought it would be worth testing the model if the growth was based off the last two years of estimates. That means that I use the 2014 and 2012 estimates and use them to extract a compounding rate of population growth.  I apply that to the 2014 estimate and adjust for the April to July difference, then add the overseas population difference increased by the state's growth rate. The result assumes that recent growth is more indicative of how that state will grow for the rest of the decade.

Using this model, I get the following projected changes, using bold to show the differences compared to my full decade projection.
AL -1
AZ +1

CA +1
CO +1
FL +1
IL -1
MI -1
MN -1
NY -1
NC +1
OH -1
OR +1
PA -1
RI -1
TX +3
VA +0
WV -1

The changes are all bubble states. The West shows more increase in growth recently, and if it holds to that growth the West could see extra seats as a benefit.
19  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Mid-2014 state population estimates out on Dec. 23 on: December 23, 2014, 10:35:10 am
Here's my annual projection from the new estimates. I used the July 2014 estimates and the April 2010 Census base to get an annual growth rate. This correctly accounts for the 3 and a quarter year period between the Census and the estimate. I then applied the annual growth rate to the 2010 reapportionment population to get the 2020 projection. This accounts for the extra overseas population used in reapportionment but not for redistricting. Ten years is a long stretch for a simple model like this, but here are the projected changes.

CA +1
CO +1
FL +1
IL -1
MI -1
MN -1
NY -1
NC +1
OH -1
PA -1
RI -1
TX +3
VA +1
WV -1

The only change since my projections last year is that CA is back to +1 and NY is back to -1 as they were after the 2012 estimate instead of even last year. They continue to be the most likely to change, and there is some shifting in the other bubble seats. The bubble seats in this projection are based on the last five awarded and the next five in line.
The last five awarded are CO-8, TX-39, VA-12, CA-54, and AL-7 (#435).
The next five in line are NY-27, OR-6, AZ-10, MT-2, MN-8.
20  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Gibson v Eldridge: Columbia County Precinct Map on: December 23, 2014, 09:07:47 am
One quick observation is that there are more votes cast in NY-19 than for Gov. Normally the Gov race would attract more votes, but perhaps there are enough federal motor voter ballots to put the federal race ahead.
21  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Gibson v Eldridge: Columbia County Precinct Map on: December 23, 2014, 08:38:06 am
I think it would be interesting to compare the gubernatorial results in the same precincts. The 2012 pres total reflect people who didn't vote in 2014, but the gov race has the same voter set. In particular it should show where the ticket splitters live and which areas are most prone to party-line votes.

Except that the Green Party candidate is in the mix, although perhaps one could just add his votes to the Dem number.

I would keep the Green in a separate column. In IL the Greens are often a none-of-the-above choice rather than a reflection of a split on the far left. By keeping them separate one can concentrate on what voters kept the same party on both races and who were Cuomo-Gibson voters, and if they are consistent with pro-incumbent voters.
22  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Gibson v Eldridge: Columbia County Precinct Map on: December 23, 2014, 08:17:26 am
I think it would be interesting to compare the gubernatorial results in the same precincts. The 2012 pres total reflect people who didn't vote in 2014, but the gov race has the same voter set. In particular it should show where the ticket splitters live and which areas are most prone to party-line votes.
23  General Discussion / Religion & Philosophy / Re: Objective morality? on: December 23, 2014, 12:50:09 am
Just because the the line between right and wrong might be nuanced or hard to find doesn't mean it's not there.

If it's nuanced then it means it's subjective and not objective surely?

Nuance can be due to variables that are hard to measure, yet are measurable.  It's still objective. Objective simply means that two observers applying the same system would come to the same conclusion. Objective does not mean that two observers have to agree the system in question is the right way to make a moral choice.

For example suppose some states that the moral choice is the one that results in the least suffering. In principle, deaths and illness can be measured, there are objective tools to measure pain, and physical and financial resources can be quantified. If the proponent states what specific value they place on those measurements, then they have created an objective system. In practice it would be very hard to gather all the necessary data, but the principle remains.
24  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Insight into the Blagojevich Trial on: December 23, 2014, 12:21:00 am
The idea that what Blagojevich did is somehow worse than for example, Christie's wife making $475,000 working for a company that has special deals with New Jersey's pension plan is absurd.

It's a question of degree. There were multiple instances where Blago was recorded saying to a group (eg Children's Memorial Hospital) that he would only sign a document releasing millions of dollars of properly appropriated funds if there was a substantial donation (50K$ was typical). That type of quid pro quo for an official act crosses the line.
25  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Forum Redistricting Commission on: December 22, 2014, 10:31:27 pm
Nay on item 9

Since no one else has joined in the discussion, I'd like to get your opinion X as to which elements in item 9 don't work. Is it either or both definitions or their application to the scoring?

The work on county clusters emerged from a thread in 2013 (especially the MI pull out linked on the first page) and evolved in another thread (AL delves into minority communities of interest starting on page 4), leading to the final work on UCCs stickied on this board.

The problem that was observed was that some urban areas that spanned counties were being split just to preserve county lines and it both ignored the natural community of interest of an urban center with its suburbs and tended to wash out medium sized urban vote centers by blending in lots of rural area. The problem in VRA states was to identify areas of counties dominated by a single minority interest to determine a community of interest that recognized race, but didn't make race the predominant factor in drawing a plan. The result from those threads was to identify clusters that could be objectively defined and represented a community of interest that should be given formal consideration in a redistricting plan.

Also, did you have an opinion on Item 8?
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