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News: Atlas Hardware Upgrade complete October 13, 2013.

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1  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2014 Senatorial Election Polls / Re: IL: WAA: Durbin only up 7 on: Today at 03:13:55 pm
Even if you don't like the pollster (and remember this is being commissioned by the more left-leaning paper of the big Chicago dailies) consider that WAA had Durbin up by 15 in late July and about the same double digit spread in June. As Silver has sometimes noted a poll can be useful for seeing trends even if there is a house bias.

WAA's track record in Illinois is execrable. But as you said, I can certainly see any race where the Dem had an unassailable lead earlier in the year, tighten up by 8 points when people tune in and Republicans coalesce behind their candidate, in particular in a year where Dems are not doing well nationally.

That's not entirely true. On 2012 presidential polling they were right in the middle of the pack by 538's analysis.

2  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2014 Senatorial Election Polls / Re: IL: WAA: Durbin only up 7 on: Today at 12:41:52 pm
Even if you don't like the pollster (and remember this is being commissioned by the more left-leaning paper of the big Chicago dailies) consider that WAA had Durbin up by 15 in late July and about the same double digit spread in June. As Silver has sometimes noted a poll can be useful for seeing trends even if there is a house bias. This also marks the first poll with the Libertarian listed as the only other option since the ballot challenges have ended.

At all levels there's a strong anti-incumbent mood in IL, and it has been intensifying this summer. It's strongest against those with long tenures in office, driven by the year-long attention on the term limits initiative. Durbin's money is likely to keep him up despite the mood of the voters, but I won't be surprised to see this as his closest race yet.
3  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: Today at 08:24:53 am

The 1951 redistricting did provide for election by place in multi-representative counties.  Like, the US Constitution, the Texas Constitution does not provide for the manner of election, but only for apportionment.

By 1961, the 1938 amendment was beginning to severely bite into representation of the larger counties, and instead of 19, 15, 11, and 8 representatives, Harris, Dallas, Bexar, and Tarrant were apportioned 12, 9, 7, and 7 representatives respectively.  A curiosity of the 1938 amendment was that it set a fixed ratio of one representative per 100,000.  Once the statewide ratio exceeded 100,000 (as it did in 1990), the 1938 amendment would have been moot - or possibly give additional representation to larger counties, inverting the effect.

The OMOV decisions overturned the 1938 amendment, and in 1964, the legislature did provide for 19, 14, 10, and 8 representatives for the larger counties.  They appear to have truncated 19.46, 14.89, 10.76, and 8.43, but that might be preferred to using a floterial district for the surplus population.  The 19 representatives were elected from 3 subdistricts, electing 7, 6, and 6 representatives by place within the district.

The Texas Constitution provides for three types of House districts.
(1) Single-county district with one or more representatives.
(2) Multi-county district with one representative.
(3) Multi-county district with zero or more counties entitled to less than one representative, and one or more counties where the district represents the surplus population from a Type (1) district, electing one representative.


Type 3 is a floterial district.  For example, if Adams County were entitled to 2.4 representatives, and its neighbor Baker County was entitled to 0.6 representatives, then District 1 would be Adams, with 2 representatives; and District 2 would be Adams+Baker, with 1 representative.  The voters in Adams could vote for all 3 representatives.  While a floterial district makes sense from an apportionment viewpoint, it doesn't make sense from an electoral viewpoint.  While Baker is providing 40% of the population for apportionment purposes, it only has 20% of the electorate, and will likely be dominated by the Adams voters.

The 1964 plan had 11 such floterial districts.  These were declared unconstitutional in 1967, and a new plan was adopted.


Consistent with RG's creation between 1970 and 1999, I struck pure floterial districts as unconstitutional. I left them both options 1 and 2.

Quote
After the 1970 census, the legislature ignored the Texas Constitution, and started chopping up counties, under an interpretation that it was impossible to comply with equal protection and the Texas Constitution.  The Texas Supreme Court said that you could stretch the Texas Constitution by attaching a portion of a larger county containing its surplus above a whole number of representatives to smaller counties or similar surplus areas of other larger counties.  So you could replace floterial districts, with a district that contained only the surplus population.   We could call these districts quasi-floterial.

Division of counties may only be done to comply with equal protection (the 10% rule).  In the first plan approved after this ruling, there were two larger counties that had their surplus split between two quasi-floterial districts.  It is not clear that this complies with the stretched Texas Constitution or not.  When there were true floterial districts, there were instances where a surplus of a county was recognized in two floterial districts (eg a county had its own representative, plus was included in two floterial districts with two other sets of counties.

Your Williamson and Bastrop districts are examples of this.   Would the legislature have created a Bastrop district; a Lee, Fayette, Bastrop district; and a Bastrop, Caldwell district?  Likely not.  But on the other hand you avoid splitting smaller counties by doing so.  The legislature may have decided to split Bastrop and Williamson this way after discovering it avoids multiple splits of smaller counties.  That is, it is better to stretch the constitution than to break it.

The Texas legislature would likely have not placed Williamson and Bexar in quasi-floterial districts.  Current legal is that if the districts within a large county may be created within a 5% deviation (or technically to comply with a 10% overall range), then they must be kept within the county.   This is an overly localized analysis.  It in effect says that it is not necessary to use quasi-floterials for such large counties to achieve equal protection, therefore don't do so since it doesn't comply with the Texas Constitution.

On the other hand, from a larger perspective, it may avoid splitting a smaller county, which is in total violation of the constitution.  In the current Texas map, the split of Henderson County can be avoided, if a quasi-floterial district were drawn in Dallas and Ellis counties.  This would also improve overall equality, since Dallas is entitled to over 14 districts, and its districts tend to be oversized.

In the RG constituion I hypothesize that it is clear that adding excess from a large county should be considered before resorting to splits of a smaller county, but splits of smaller counties are not forbidden. I did have to split Atascosa to achieve population equality. However, not all the districts are within 5% of the quota. I used the 10% range rule instead since that provides some extra flexibility to avoid unneeded splits while keeping to federal law.

Quote
Your plan might be improved by extending a quasi-floterial district out from El Paso, and placing Webb and Jim Hogg in another.  This eliminates the need for the double quasi-floterial for Bexar.
It appears that one small county split is unavoidable.   Are three quasi-floterials preferable to a one double quasi-floterial?

Also in the early 1970s, the use of at-large elections was ruled unconstitutional if it violates the ability of minority voter to elect representatives.  After an analysis was done, it was determined that this was the case in all but Hidalgo County.  The Texas Supreme Court has said that there is nothing in the constitution that prevents election from single member districts.  Under early plans, districts within a county were numbered 22-A, 22-B, etc. to recognize that they were subdistricts for election purposes, of the districts specified in the constitution.  This has since switched to a simple numbering from 1 to 150.

I looked at a quasi-floterial El Paso district, since El Paso is almost exactly 15.5 districts. However, Val Verde is almost large enough for a HD by itself, and the counties between El Paso and Val Verde are just barely over the size of an HD. A quasi-floterial district to deal with the excess El Paso population would have helped in the east, but it forces a chop to Val Verde so I discarded the idea.

Removing Terrell still left the counties east of El Paso very slightly above the quota plus 5%, but not so much that I couldn't arrange the eastern part of RG to make it fit within the range. I quick look didn't show me that the El Paso qF and chop of Val Verde would eliminate more such chops in the east. If it did, then that would be preferable to the apportionment I did.
4  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: Today at 08:23:47 am
To get a better feel for the dynamics of the hypothetical RG state, I created a legislature. I assumed that the new state would replicate much of the existing state of TX. To that end I gave RG a 150 seat house, just like TX has now. TX has very specific rules about how to apportion house districts to counties, so I kept those for RG. The population range across the entire map must not exceed 10% of the quota of one district. Counties larger than a district get as many whole districts as can fit within the population range. Counties smaller than a district can be combined with other smaller counties or fragments left over from a large county. In general no small counties or fragments can be chopped, but exceptions can be made if necessary to keep districts within range.

I used the 2010 data and made an apportionment following the above rules. Numbers on the map indicate an apportionment of more than one district to a county or group of counties. The range based on the apportionment is 9.7%.



TX has 31 Senators, but to make things easy I reduced it to 30 Senators. The senate districts were formed by grouping five house districts together, keeping the districts within large counties as much as possible. This is roughly how OH does its three-to-one nested districts. The plus indicates a house district that was shifted out of Bell county which has six house districts. That extra is attached to the adjacent Williamson county with a minus sign. The house district with Falls, Milam, and a small part of Williamson is used in forming a different Senate district.



A detailed map with partisan and ethnic data is forthcoming. Smiley
When was the Rio Grande constitution written?

Historically, Texas has not had 150 House members.  The current constitution was written in 1876 and provided for 31 senators, which could never be increased.

The House was to have 93 members, which could be increased but never more than a ratio of one per 15,000 members, and never beyond 150.

By 1900, the population was sufficient to have 150 members representing more than 15,000 persons, but there were only 133 representatives.  No apportionment occurred after the 1910 census; but following the 1920 census, a House of 150 members was established.

In 1999, the constitution was amended to its current version which provides for specifically 31 senators and 150 representatives, since the conditions for smaller numbers had long since passed (there was never the ability to change the number of senators, but perhaps the authors of the constitution wanted to make sure.  A goal of the 1876 constitution is to restrict the government, so making it explicit that the 31 could not be increased was probably deliberate.

The instructions didn't say when the hypothetical states were created, though it was before 2010. I hypothesized that the creation was after 1970, so the impact of the OMOV decisions was known. However I chose to place the division before the 1999 change to the TX constitution (or a most concurrent with it) so that that amendment wouldn't be part of the constitution. Instead RG would reduce the Senate to 30 and use OH-styled nesting for  the SDs. I could have gone with a 90-member House in line with the average of the states, but I specifically wanted a higher degree of granularity and adoption of the House description from TX worked towards that end.
5  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: Today at 07:23:28 am
That's an excellent analysis, thank you very much! Smiley

Considering that local democrats tend to significantly outperform their respective Presidential candidate, it's very likely that Democrats would actually control around 95 seats and would rarely if ever be at risk of losing their majority.

Actually I have some of that data, too, and it doesn't support your conclusion. In heavily Latino areas, there can be a large fall off on downballot voting, just as there is in midterm voting. The result is that the GOP can carry local races while the top of the ticket loses. Also many swing districts in urban areas overperformed for Obama, and won't duplicate that result elsewhere on the ticket.

What data do you have, exactly? I compared Obama's rests in CDs with House elections, and it seemed that House candidates generally did better.

If your comparison involved incumbents seeking reelection, then they are expected to overperform due to that incumbency. Incumbency is how some members hold onto a seat when the partisan leanings would indicate otherwise (eg Kirk in IL-10 or Matheson in UT-4). The multi-year average, like the type I cited in my RG Senate analysis, is a better indicator of a district when the parties are close since it factors in off-year elections and not just presidential results. That minimizes the role of local incumbents in determining the behavior of the underlying district.

For example, comparing the multi-year average to the Obama PVI in the SDs shows how the change mantra caused an anomalous bump for the Dems in 2008. In some areas there wasn't much difference, but in suburban areas the effect can be quite large. In IL it amounts to about a 10% swing in those races. I see it in some TX districts, too, such as suburban Austin and SA.
6  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: September 01, 2014, 11:56:50 pm
Here's the map and Senate analysis for RG. There is a lot less flexibility here than in the House. There are 13 SD with a majority SSVR and all are Dem PVI. 16 SDs have a Dem PVI and 14 have a Pub PVI.



There are four districts that are within 5 on the PVI scale, two for each party that I will detail. The election average from DRA uses the presidential and gubernatorial results from 2002-2010.

SD1 - West El Paso. D+4, 51.0% SSVR, DRA avg 52.1% Dem. It voted 57.3% for Obama in 2008 which certainly overperformed its average. It's probably closer to a D+2, particularly in offyear elections and is a candidate to flip.

SD5 - Kingsville to Eagle Pass. D+5, 70.5% SSVR, DRA avg 61.8% Dem. Unlike SD1 this looks like it underperformed in 2008. It should be relatively safe for the Dems.

SD19 - Lake Travis. R+1, 8.9% SSVR, DRA avg 55.4% Pub. This suburban/exurban district overperformed for Obama in 2008 like many others around the nation. The average is probably closer to reality suggesting something like R+5 or R+6. It remains a possible flip, but only in a wave election.

SD27 - NE San Antonio/Converse/Universal City. R+5, 24.1% SSVR, DRA avg 57.9% Pub. The SD has 45.2% WVAP, 14.3% BVAP, and 35.9% HVAP. The Pub average suggests that it can only really flip in a wave year when there is a significant mobilization of voters to the polls. With ordinary turnout, this would stay Pub.

It looks difficult for either party to move more than one seat from the 16D-14R split on the map. A Pub tie is probably the best they can get. The Dems have just as hard a time extending the advantage that otherwise keeps them at the mercy of a defector (think NY Senate).
7  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: September 01, 2014, 05:29:42 pm
That's an excellent analysis, thank you very much! Smiley

Considering that local democrats tend to significantly outperform their respective Presidential candidate, it's very likely that Democrats would actually control around 95 seats and would rarely if ever be at risk of losing their majority.

Actually I have some of that data, too, and it doesn't support your conclusion. In heavily Latino areas, there can be a large fall off on downballot voting, just as there is in midterm voting. The result is that the GOP can carry local races while the top of the ticket loses. Also many swing districts in urban areas overperformed for Obama, and won't duplicate that result elsewhere on the ticket.
8  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: September 01, 2014, 03:09:54 pm
Here's my analysis of the 150 House districts in RG. I used the apportionment then divided counties using traditional principles of keeping municipalities together and maintaining compactness. Ethnic data was used to test for VRA compliance, but no political data was used to draw the districts. There are 70 districts with an SSVR majority which is more than are needed to provide rough proportionality with the statewide population under the VRA.

The 2008 presidential election was used to estimate the PVI of each district, comparing the district vote in that race to 53.7% (the national Dem 2-party fraction). Overall there are 85 districts with a D+ PVI, 11 of which are less than or equal to D+5 and subject to a wave election, 5 of those 11 are D+0 or D+1 and can be considered tossups. The remaining 65 districts have a R+ PVI, 17 of which are less than or equal to R+5, and 5 of those 17 are R+1 in the tossup category.
 
Even though the state is a tossup in statewide elections, the Dems have a structural advantage in the legislature. This is due to the fact that the large population of non-citizen residents are disproportionately in the Dem districts. In 61 of the 85 Dem districts there is a SSVR majority. Thus the vote totals are much lower in Dem districts than in Pub districts, resulting in relatively even vote totals statewide. Despite the structural problems there are enough swing seats that the Pubs could eke out a majority in a wave election. On the flip side Dems could get a supermajority in a strong Dem year.

Here are some maps starting with the state as a whole.



This is the detail for Bexar county. It has 33 whole districts and 2 partial districts. 14 districts have a SSVR majority and 1 has a black RV plurality. Dems have a favorable PVI in 17 districts, though one is a D+1. Pubs have 6 districts with PVI of R+5 or less.



Here is the detail for the Austin area. Travis is where the Dems have most of their non-Latino districts, though there is one SSVR majority district here. There is also a black RV plurality district in Travis. There are only 2 Pub districts in Travis, though 4 Dem districts are in the lean or tossup category. Williamson has one tossup Pub district.



Finally let me post the detail for Hidalgo and Cameron, since they got chopped off the main map. All the districts are SSVR majority. However, there are 2 Cameron districts that are tossup D+0/1, and 1 Hidalgo district that is D+2. Even more interesting is that each county has one R+1 district!

9  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: September 01, 2014, 11:57:37 am
To get a better feel for the dynamics of the hypothetical RG state, I created a legislature. I assumed that the new state would replicate much of the existing state of TX. To that end I gave RG a 150 seat house, just like TX has now. TX has very specific rules about how to apportion house districts to counties, so I kept those for RG. The population range across the entire map must not exceed 10% of the quota of one district. Counties larger than a district get as many whole districts as can fit within the population range. Counties smaller than a district can be combined with other smaller counties or fragments left over from a large county. In general no small counties or fragments can be chopped, but exceptions can be made if necessary to keep districts within range.

I used the 2010 data and made an apportionment following the above rules. Numbers on the map indicate an apportionment of more than one district to a county or group of counties. The range based on the apportionment is 9.7%.



TX has 31 Senators, but to make things easy I reduced it to 30 Senators. The senate districts were formed by grouping five house districts together, keeping the districts within large counties as much as possible. This is roughly how OH does its three-to-one nested districts. The plus indicates a house district that was shifted out of Bell county which has six house districts. That extra is attached to the adjacent Williamson county with a minus sign. The house district with Falls, Milam, and a small part of Williamson is used in forming a different Senate district.



A detailed map with partisan and ethnic data is forthcoming. Smiley
10  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: August 31, 2014, 01:28:08 pm
Edit: It looks like statewide VRA compliance also affects the TX HoR. For example Bexar county is 43.1% SSVR, but 7 of the 10 House districts are drawn with an SSVR majority, this leads to the current 8D-2R margin. Yet overall the county is close to national average, being about 1% more R than the nation in 2008. That would project a roughly equal split of House districts between the parties. Given the numerous easy VRA districts that can be drawn along the Rio Grande, I doubt that RG would have to gerrymander Bexar to meet the VRA.
Those seven districts converge on an area a couple of miles across, with districts fanning out and wrapping around the city.   The Republicans managed to win HD-117 in 2010.  Based on the west side it had relatively high growth, and would logically have shed population on the south side.  Instead, the court ordered northern areas to be dropped, which pushed the other two Republican seats into that area.

The legislature plan increased the HCVAP population, while decreasing the SSVR percentage.  The claim was that this was that this was to add "non-mobilized" Hispanic voters.  But I would infer that there were more non-Spanish-surnamed Hispanic voters.   Someone with a last name of Abbott or Bush might not be targeted by "mobilizers" or would probably be more likely to vote Republican.

The 8th district is held by a black Democrat, Ruth McClendon.   The district includes the only area of high black concentration in San Antonio, but is only 28% black VAP.  If you increased the HVAP in the district you could flip the district in the primary.

For the hypothetical state RG, the VRA might only have to apply to Bexar itself and a court wouldn't order the current ethnic gerrymander. Then one can draw 10 reasonably compact districts that provide five districts where the Latino vote should be able to elect the candidate of choice, consistent with their overall SSVR. Here's a plan that would meet that requirement.



Bexar1 (SSVR 62.4%, HVAP 73.1%) : D+6
Bexar2 (SSVR 58.1%, HVAP 69.8%) : D+10
Bexar3 (SSVR 56.5%, HVAP 67.0%) : D+9
Bexar4 (SSVR 83.9%, HVAP 84.6%) : D+22
Bexar5 (SSVR 57.7%, HVAP 70.4%) : D+22
Bexar6 (SSVR 26.4%, HVAP 37.7%) : R+2
Bexar7 (SSVR 24.8%, HVAP 34.2%) : R+9
Bexar8 (SSVR 23.4%, HVAP 33.9%) : R+14
Bexar9 (SSVR 34.4%, HVAP 44.2%) : R+6
Bexar10 (SSVR 23.3%, HVAP 33.6%) : R+25

This would shift three seats in the RG House from D to R.
11  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Favorite Great Lakes state? on: August 31, 2014, 11:57:55 am
For those wondering about the definition, my definition is simply using the term Great Lakes to avoid "Midwest" because these states are distinctly culturally different than states like Kansas or North Dakota, but also New York and Pennsylvania, which are northeastern states. Most of Iowa's population centers are in the cultural zone that is more similar to Illinois and Wisconsin than Nebraska.

As someone born in Chicago, with family in IA, and as someone who grew up in Des Moines Omaha, and St Paul, I have to disagree. The Quad Cities area and other centers along the Mississippi in IA are similar to cities in the western part of the traditional Great Lakes states defined by the Northwest Ordinance (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI). Des Moines is more like Omaha than like Chicago or Milwaukee.



If you look at cultural markers like membership in mainline protestant denominations, IA (#3) is clearly in the group with ND (#1), SD (#2), MN (#4), NE (#5).

12  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Opinion of Pancakes? on: August 31, 2014, 12:43:26 am
I don't know why someone would eat pancakes when they could have waffles.

Pancakes are simplicity, that's why. The batter is essentially the same, and it's not always worth getting out a waffle iron for a hot breakfast. Pancakes are the clear choice on a camping trip. Charity fundraisers will go with pancakes because you can make more to feed more in the same amount of time. If made well pancakes tend to hold more moisture inside since they have less surface ares for the volume of batter. Don't get me wrong, I greatly enjoy waffles, but I would never dis pancakes as some inferior cousin to waffles.
13  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Weighted Voting For Congress on: August 30, 2014, 06:58:25 pm
In principle, the best test for weighted voting comes when there is a reasonable dispersion of populations. We have seen examples when the number of voters is small and a large dispersion creates some undesirable results with either one voter holding too much power or one with essentially no power on close votes. A Congress-sized test should eliminate the problem of too few voters, so keeping a healthy dispersion makes the test reasonably strong. If a test at this level shows too many anomalous patterns, then it will perhaps point at useful restrictions on the districts.

With that in mind, I was particularly open to splits that might result in districts of disparate sizes. I thought sticking to the rules we worked out on UCCs was a valid starting point for CoI, but I can see that you are not as enamored of that as I am. Since the exercise is hypothetical, I was open to combinations that might work within a state, even if they don't necessarily make sense from normal districting standards. My hope was to get a set of voting values that would be largely free from biases of equal population, so that the test would be as strong as was reasonable given the time to develop the input data. Much like your example for WA, I divided the state into like-minded subregions then consolidated them to form districts.

MO was perhaps the best example of my thinking. Rather than take a conventional approach by allowing St Louis and KC to each dominate a district, I took a cue from the frequent threads about the southernness or lack thereof in MO. I made the assumption that MO would divide along a Midwest-Southern split rather than the expected StL-KC split. That put the UCCs of StL and KC in the northern district since both are very Midwestern cities. Based on my travels across the state, I allowed Little Dixie to "vote" themselves with the southern district and thus reached the map I presented.
14  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: August 30, 2014, 01:30:43 pm
That seems like an excellent redistricting plan, Cranberry. Smiley The borders look very nice, so if it's also VRA-compliant there's no need to look any further!

Muon, it might seem surprising in light of statewide results but yes, local Democrats tend to have the upper hand in this area of Texas. Just look at the House results: Democrats hold 7 of 11 seats even despite living in a nominally R-gerrymandered map. The same is true in the State Legislature. According to my calculations, Democrats hold almost 3/4 of the Texas House of Representatives seats in the area corresponding to RG.

The Dems might well be down one additional US House seat but for the VRA requirements on the state of TX as a whole. It would be easy to take my map and make both of the swing seats, solid R without compromising any of the R seats or changing the VRA seats, which a Pub gerrymander certainly would do. The Texas HoR is a court-ordered map and after the favorable 2012 election the Dems hold 30 of the 47 seats in the RG counties (64%). I don't know how many of those are in play for 2014.

Edit: It looks like statewide VRA compliance also affects the TX HoR. For example Bexar county is 43.1% SSVR, but 7 of the 10 House districts are drawn with an SSVR majority, this leads to the current 8D-2R margin. Yet overall the county is close to national average, being about 1% more R than the nation in 2008. That would project a roughly equal split of House districts between the parties. Given the numerous easy VRA districts that can be drawn along the Rio Grande, I doubt that RG would have to gerrymander Bexar to meet the VRA.
15  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: August 30, 2014, 11:45:56 am
There are 6 Hispanic Minority Majority districts under my plan, 5 if we even just count the SSRV, so it should be very consistent with the VRA. That's quite funny considering I completely forgot about it and didn't draw my districts with that intent Tongue
Anyways, I added the numbers to the districts.

As I look at TX more closely, I'm not sure there would be a Dem gerrymander. Obama got 53.2% of the two party vote there in 2008, which is fractionally less than the 53.7% he got nationwide. The DRA election average gives the Dems 49.96% of the vote, so RG would be a very swingy state. Since 2010 was a GOP wave, it's likely that the Pubs would hold at least the Gov or one chamber of the legislature, so it is highly unlikely that the Dems get their best map. If no compromise is reached, the large Latino population makes a court-ordered map a strong possibility.

I modelled the districts under Antonio's "orders" - Governor a Republican, both chambers Democratic majority. Given that constellation, I find it highly likely to come to a incumbent-projection, little competition map, which this map is. I don't think the Republicans would have captured a chamber even in 2010, given that South Texas is basically the opposite of the rest of the nation when it comes to electoral geopgraphy - Democrats are distributed over a far larger area than Republicans, and also strong in rural areas.

There's no way a Pub Gov would sign onto a plan with only 3 of 11 seats for the GOP. More likely, he'd cut a deal with the Latinos to strengthen their chances in the SSVR majority seats, so that they are all at least D+8 (61.2%+ Obama '08), in exchange for swing seats that lean GOP.

Here's an example that has few county splits and has all districts within 1000 of the quota.



RG-1 (HVAP 77.9%): O'08 65.3%, D+12
RG-2 (HVAP 81.8%): O'08 61.3%, D+8
RG-3 (HVAP 78.3%): O'08 70.5%, D+17
RG-4 : O'08 49.0%, R+5
RG-5 : O'08 31.2%, R+23
RG-6 : O'08 70.4%, D+17
RG-7 : O'08 53.1%, R+1
RG-8 : O'08 40.1%, R+14
RG-9 : O'08 40.6%, R+13
RG-10 (HVAP 83.4%): O'08 64.3%, D+11
RG-11 (HVAP 85.9%): O'08 66.9%, D+13
16  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: August 30, 2014, 08:32:19 am
As I look at TX more closely, I'm not sure there would be a Dem gerrymander. Obama got 53.2% of the two party vote there in 2008, which is fractionally less than the 53.7% he got nationwide. The DRA election average gives the Dems 49.96% of the vote, so RG would be a very swingy state. Since 2010 was a GOP wave, it's likely that the Pubs would hold at least the Gov or one chamber of the legislature, so it is highly unlikely that the Dems get their best map. If no compromise is reached, the large Latino population makes a court-ordered map a strong possibility.
17  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: August 30, 2014, 07:46:28 am
How exactly do the VRA requirements work? I assume a state like RG would need at least 3 Hispanic-majority districts, but I'm not sure how that number is supposed to be calculated.

The VRA requires that racial and ethnic minorities have the ability to elect the representatives of their choice. Generally this means that when there is a minority population that votes significantly different than the white majority, and there is a compact district that has 50% or more of that minority of the citizens of voting age, then a district must be drawn to accommodate the minority.

In TX the state used the registered voters with Spanish surnames (SSVR) to determine the Hispanic population for the VRA. There are 6 CDs in TX that overlap your RG state that have a majority SSVR. Those districts have HVAPs that go from 64.9% to 79.0%. In addition a TX-35 that links San Antonio to Austin has a 44% SSVR and a 58.3% HVAP. MALDEF submitted its own plans in opposition to the TX plan, and those plans provide for seven CDs in south TX that would have the Hispanic strength sufficient to elect the candidates of their choice.

Using those a plan like MALDEFs would probably leave a map with 7 Latino seats and 4 Pub seats in your RG. There is a SCOTUS decision that says that one need not maximize the minority seats as long as the number of such seats are in rough proportionality to the minority population in the state as a whole. Your state of RG has 41.8% SSVR and 53.4% HVAP. This corresponds to 4.6 out of 11 seats, so the Dems in RG could definitely get by with 5 Latino seats and maybe get by with only 4 seats, but certainly not less than that.
18  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Weighted Voting For Congress on: August 29, 2014, 05:41:52 pm
The original guidelines implied that shape was not as important as CoI, and that equality wasn't so important as long as the limits were enforced. That made a lot of sense given the goal of testing weighted voting, which should feature some population disparities to create a strong test. Yet, it seems that many of the revised plans are looking more and more like they are driven by shape, even at the expense of extra UCC splits. That seems to belie the importance of CoI, and it makes me wonder if the exercise becomes more about the districts and how they would be created, and less about generating data for a test of weighted voting.
19  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Is there a hidden "mini-decade" between the 80s and 90s? on: August 29, 2014, 12:12:49 pm
The late 80s/early 90s had an atrocious pop culture. Super sappy shows like Full House. Enormous hair full of hairspray and mousse. Acid washed jeans.
As for music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1W6-ErrHls
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4gsveUHgw8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=149jGeIlx3I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbIEwIwYz-c
Most of things we think of today as stereotypical 80s are really from this period.

It's interesting since I think of the 80's in terms of the first half of the decade. The double dip international recession, Reaganism and Thatcherism, the Beirut bombing and Grenada invasion were the big international drivers. Culturally it was the birth of the PC, Mac and music videos, with the New Wave as the dominant music sound, and Star Wars sequels and Indiana Jones redefining blockbuster movies and their spinoffs.
20  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: Draw the Congressional Districts of the Alternate States! on: August 29, 2014, 09:22:34 am
Tried myself with a state, hope it's not an entire disaster Tongue


Rio Grande

With Legislature and Governor's Mansion in different hands, it will likely come to an agreement that will try to secure seats for one or another party. However, both the geographical distribution of voters and a likely strong democratic majority in both chambers will favour the Democrats, leading to the following proposal:

RG-01: (Obama: 65,7%-34,3%; Dem: 62,2%-37,8%)
The district containing all of El Paso and some parts of exurban El Paso County is as safe Democratic as it gets. More than two-thirds Hispanic, the district is basically the old 16th CD. Safe Dem

RG-02: (Obama: 55,0%-45,0%; Dem: 55,7%-45,3%)
Stretching from remaining parts of El Paso County until Laredo and the San Antonio Metro, the district is a more Democratic version of the old 23rd, but morphing into a fairly democratic one, likely only competetive in wave elections. Likely Dem

RG-03: (McCain: 60,9%-31,1%; GOP: 65,4%-34,6%)
Combining the areas to the north of both San Antonio and Austin, and taking a small portion of suburban Williamson County, Rio Grande's 3rd district is a natural stronghold for the GOP. Safe GOP

RG-04: (Obama: 61,8%-38,2%; Dem: 54,7%-45,3%)
This district encompasses Austin and Williamson County southeast of I-35. While Obama surely overperformed there in 2008, the district nevertheless is moving rapidly towards the Democrats, albeit partisan numbers are a little less democratic. Safe Dem

RG-05: (Obama: 58,9%-41,1%; Dem: 52,3%-47,7%)
Austin west of I-35 and Hays County. The less Democratic part of the city, nevertheless leans towards that party. Likely Dem

RG-06: (McCain: 64,0%-36,0%; GOP: 70,1%-29,9%)
The district inbetween San Antonio and Austin, taking conservative suburban areas from the first, is the most Republican district in the state. Safe GOP

RG-07: (Obama: 58,0%-42,0%; Dem: 53,9%-46,1%)
The greatest part of San Antonio, about everything west of I-35. Again did Obama overperform here, yet the district is sustainably Democratic, so just in play for the GOP in wave years. Likely Dem

RG-08: (McCain: 59,2%-40,8%; GOP: 56,6%-43,4%)
The east of the state, from the southernmost parts of the Austin Metro down to the Gulf Coast and until Corpus Christi. The least Republican of the three GOP districts, yet still far away from being in play for the Democrats. Safe GOP

RG-09: (Obama: 57,2%-42,8%; Dem: 56,6%-43,3%)
This is the district containing south-east San Antonio, and down the San Antonio River Valley until before Corpus Christi. Safe Dem

RG-10: (Obama: 66,7%-33,3%; Dem: 66,8%-33,2% )
Basically the leftovers south of Laredo and Corpus Christi, this heavily Hispanic area is certainly one of the most democratic areas in the country. Overall the most Democratic district in Rio Grande. Safe Dem

RG-11: (Obama: 67,9%-32,1%; Dem: 65,5%-34,5%)
This district encompasses Cameron County and some areas of Hidalgo County along the river, including McAllen. THis was Obama's strongest district in 2008. Safe Dem


Under normal circumstances one could except a 8D-3R delegation. In wave years, the GOP could possibly win the 5th and 7th district, maybe also the 2nd, resulting to a maximum 6R-5D map. The 3 GOP and 5 Democratic seats however are uncontestable.

It looks nice, but section 2 of the VRA needs to be considered. What are the HVAPs for the districts and for the state overall? I'm worried that RG-11 might be overpacked with Latinos.
21  General Politics / Political Geography & Demographics / Re: WaPo: Mapping changes in the US youth population on: August 28, 2014, 06:34:48 am
The two plots together suggest that the Plains are losing population in all age groups are are not getting older.

The surprise for me is FL. Not only is the youth population rising, but the share of the youth population is rising, too. Orlando, Tampa Bay, the Panhandle (except Pensacola), and Metro Miami all saw an increase in the youth share.
In 1950, that age group represented 15.9% of the population.

By 1970 it dropped to 12.6% as increasing longevity of those older, and baby boomers reduced the share of persons born in the latter part of the Depression and WWII.   The minimum was 11.9% in 1965.

By 1980 it had increased to 16.5% as Baby Boomers entered that age group, hitting a peak of 17.5% in 1985.

By 1990 it had dropped slightly to 17.2% as the last stages of the Baby Boom were in the age range.

By 2000 it dropped to 14.2% and by 2010 to 13.5%.

Comparing 2010 (13.5%) to 1970 (12.6%), there was a 7% increase in relative share, which placed a green bias on the map.

If the Washington Post repeats their study in 2024, comparing 1980 to 2020, there will be around a 19% negative bias, and the country will be shown in vast expanses of pink.

So WaPo picked a cohort primarily from the Silent Generation for 1970. That also explains the intense green on the map in much of the plains, since the the youth of that generation were known to leave the farms for college and stay in the cities afterwards. The comparison is to a Gen X cohort, so at least they are comparing two groups near the minimum of the population distribution.
22  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Favorite planet is our solar system? on: August 27, 2014, 10:15:54 pm
Other than Earth?



Perfect, I'm reading this as I look at the framed 18x24 photograph of Saturn on the wall across from me over my TV.
23  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Favorite planet is our solar system? on: August 27, 2014, 03:24:33 pm
The gas giant.

There are four on the poll, which did you prefer?
24  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Favorite planet is our solar system? on: August 27, 2014, 09:43:30 am
If Pluto was included, it would be winning by a mile.

If Pluto was included then all of the other known similar objects would have to be on the list as well: Ceres, Eris, Makemake, and Haumea. Maybe Sedna, and 2012 VP113 should be there too, when the IAU gets around to officially classifying them. If the vote is about sentimentality, I would be more partial to Ceres than Pluto since it was the first planet to be discovered then demoted years later.
25  Other Elections - Analysis and Discussion / Gubernatorial/Statewide Elections / Re: Illinois Executive Mega-Thread on: August 26, 2014, 10:35:32 pm
Pat Quinn has vetoed the anti-Uber bill, something that Rauner has been campaigning on for months

http://politics.suntimes.com/article/springfield/quinn-nixes-uber-bill-says-it-would-be-disservice-consumers/mon-08252014-220pm

That has to show concern in the Quinn campaign. The bill was backed by many of the interests that would naturally go to Quinn, and there was a very long drawn-out fight over the passage of this bill in the spring. The veto is clearly calculated to appease some youthful voting groups. The bill passed with veto-proof majorities including most Pubs, and though most of the no votes were Pub there were a handful of liberal Dems from Chicago who voted no as well. I actually agree with the Gov's veto message that the issue of ridesharing regulation should be negotiated in local ordinance, not set by state statute.
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