Thursday, May 5, 2011

First Thoughts on Democrats' Congressional Redistricting Plan

It's here! It's here! The Democratic Legislators' Congressional Redistricting Plan is finally here!

Democrats today unveiled proposed boundaries for Nevada’s four congressional districts, the political consequences of which they will debate this afternoon at the Legislature.

In the game of shifting political power, the Democrats say their congressional redistricting proposal creates three competitive districts with one northern and rural Nevada district leaning Republican.

Their plan could make Congressional District 3 less safe for Republican Representative Joe Heck, the current incumbent who won by a slim margin over Democratic candidate Dina Titus during 2010.

Democrats also say that their proposal is more fair to Nevada’s Hispanic population. The Democratic proposal offers Hispanics no majority-minority district in Clark County as was the case with a Republican congressional district proposal released last week. Rather, the Democratic maps show a Latino population dispersed throughout several Clark County districts.

Instead of cramming Latinos mostly into just one district, the Democratic plan creates at least one minority-majority coalition district, and all four districts have Latino populations of over 20%.

In addition to spreading out the Latino population, the Democratic map also spreads out opportunities for several politicians. Steven Horsford is placed in NV-01, Kate Marshall stays in NV-02, John Oceguera gets NV-03, and Dina Titus goes to NV-04. Interesting how that works out, isn't it? But while NV-01 has a hefty 16% Democratic voter registration advantage, NV-03 and NV-04 are not incredibly Democratic. Under this proposal, NV-03 has just under 10% Democratic registration edge, while NV-04 is about 8% more Democratic and NV-02 is about 7% more Republican.

The Democrats' statewide map is here, and their Clark County close-up is here. While the Democratic map does chop up all the big Clark County cities, Nye County is the only county to be split, as all other non-Clark areas are kept whole, intact, and together.

So far, it looks like Democratic legislators took the same "fair" approach to redistricting Congress as they did in redrawing their own seats. I'm still curious as to why they're doing this. Is this a budget bargaining chip intended for Republican legislators, an open dare for Brian Sandoval to oppose a fair redistricting map, and/or an overture to Nevada Supreme Court Justices should this case land in their docket later this year?

I guess we'll have to wait and see to find out...

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