Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Redistricting Nevada: NV-0X & The Politicians Who Crave It


In case you haven't yet heard, all the "kool kidz" on Twitter are using NV-0X to describe the current Nevada Congressional campaigns that can't yet point to actual districts... Since we don't have any new district lines yet. But even though we don't have any actual Congressional Districts ready for 2012, that isn't stopping what's quickly becoming a wild game of political musical chairs.

Joe Heck is now trying to look more "moderate" and "Nevadan". Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Nevada Assembly Speaker John Oceguera is now running for US House in a "yet to be determined district"... Except that it feels like he's already determined he's ready to take on Joe Heck. And not to be outdone by anyone else, Dina Titus is already making a big splash in her latest comeback campaign. And rumors continue swirling about Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas), State Senator Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), State Senator John Lee (D?-North Las Vegas), and others making the jump.

However, there's a problem. And if you haven't already noticed, let me remind you. Nevada will have four Congressional Districts starting in 2013. One of them will most assuredly be up north (where Kate Marshall is already running in the special election this year). So that leaves us with three Clark County based districts, yet we have two already announced Democratic candidates and at least three likely candidates. This is where the musical chairs analogy comes into play. With only three seats available and five candidates eyeing them, either a couple will have to "drop out before they even run", or we will be seeing some fierce primary action in the next year.

So here is where redistricting comes into play. The law suit is now in Carson City district court, but it may very well ultimately be decided by the Nevada Supreme Court. And since the courts are not supposed to take partisan politics into consideration, they probably won't be keen on any "baconmanders".

So let's take a look at probable redistricting scenarios, and how Nevada's Democratic candidates will respond accordingly.

In my first scenario, which I proposed back in May, Democrats won't be too happy. Neither will Republicans, but the Nevada GOP must recognize this is the best they can hope for after deliberately punting redistricting to the courts.

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In this map, Clark County Latinos get a favorable (41.2% CVAP) minority-majority (and heavily Democratic) NV-01, while NV-03 remains slightly Democratic leaning but very swingy, NV-04 is drawn as a pure tossup seat, and NV-02 is Republican leaning but prone to become increasingly swingy. This may be enough to entice Ruben Kihuen to run in NV-01 (and make Steven Horsford think twice about running here), while Dina Titus and John Oceguera are forced to primary each other in NV-03 for the honor to face Joe Heck in the general election, and NV-04 just sits there and waits for some brave Democrat to face the steep challenge ahead.

NV-01 (Blue):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 69.1%
McCain (R) 28.8%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Harry Reid (D) 65%
Sharron Angle (R) 30%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Rory Reid (D) 58%
Brian Sandoval (R) 37%

NV-02 (Green):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 49.4%
McCain (R) 48.2%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Sharron Angle (R) 50%
Harry Reid (D) 43%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Brian Sandoval (R) 63%
Rory Reid (D) 34%

(And I'm only showing it here because it hardly even changes in the other two maps.)

NV-03 (Purple):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 55.7%
McCain (R) 42.2%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Harry Reid (D) 52%
Sharron Angle (R) 43%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Brian Sandoval (R) 52%
Rory Reid (D) 45%

NV-04 (Red):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 51.6%
McCain (R) 46.2%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Sharron Angle (R) 48%
Harry Reid (D) 48%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Brian Sandoval (R) 56%
Rory Reid (D) 40%

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But what if this doesn't happen? What if the judges have different ideas on how to divvy up Clark County? If that happens, Nevada Democrats will rejoice. But depending on how the lines are specifically redrawn, some will rejoice more than others.

In my second scenario, the court takes a more nuanced approach to the VRA and city boundaries. Since it's virtually impossible to create any sort of neatly drawn 50%+ Latino CVAP district, the court then sides with the Democrats in allowing for multiple "opportunity districts" instead. So instead of just one heavily Democratic district and two swing districts, Clark County instead gets one strongly Democratic district, one Democratic leaning district (which a much heftier lean), and one tossup district. NV-03 is now 36.9% Latino CVAP, and is one "Big Blue Blob" extending from the (heavily Latino) east end of North Las Vegas all the way south (through Downtown Las Vegas and UNLV) to Henderson's Green Valley and Green Valley Ranch. NV-01 is now "L-shaped" and extends from Cheyenne Ave in North Las Vegas to Southern Highlands, then jumps The 15 to take in Silverado Ranch, Henderson's Anthem, and Old Henderson. And NV-04 now takes in the bulk of Northwest Vegas, Summerlin, North Las Vegas north of Cheyenne Ave, Boulder City, and all the outlying Clark County rural areas.

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In this scenario, Dina Titus gets the district of her dreams, as she gets much of her old base (East Side and Green Valley) without most of the pesky Republican heavy turf causing her endless headaches in 2008 and 2010. John Oceguera then gets his own Silverado Ranch based district that he can fairly easily kick Joe Heck out of (unless Steven Horsford really wants to fight him for a district that stretches that far south and includes Joe Heck's Roma Hills mansion), and John Lee finally gets a moderate district with enough North Las Vegas in it that he can run in. Sadly for Ruben Kihuen, he's left without a chair once the music stops.

NV-01 (Purple):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 58.8%
McCain (R) 39.2%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Harry Reid (D) 55%
Sharron Angle (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Brian Sandoval (R) 49%
Rory Reid (D) 48%

NV-03 (Blue):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 63.7%
McCain (R) 34.0%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010:
Harry Reid (D) 60%
Sharron Angle (R) 35%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Rory Reid (D) 53%
Brian Sandoval (R) 44%

NV-04 (Red):

US Pres 2008
Obama (D) 52.0%
McCain (R) 45.8%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Harry Reid (D) 47%
Sharron Angle (R) 47%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Brian Sandoval (R) 57%
Rory Reid (D) 39%

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But wait, there's more!

In my third scenario, the court takes a similar approach to the second scenario... Except that instead of Northwest Vegas and North Las Vegas, NV-04 swoops in to take Southwest Vegas and most of Henderson south of The 215/Lake Mead Parkway. NV-03, meanwhile, is now 37.6% Latino CVAP (and 57.4% minority majority CVAP overall), but still extends from Nellis Air Force Base all the way south to Green Valley Ranch. And NV-01 now is confined west of The 15 (with a couple small exceptions in Downtown Las Vegas) and stretches from Aliante (the northern edge of North Las Vegas) and Northwest Vegas to West Las Vegas and Summerlin.

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In this scenario, Dina Titus still gets the district of her dreams with a NV-03 that looks tailor made for her. But now with NV-01 taking in North Las Vegas, Steven Horsford may have the upper hand here. Local Democrats will feel no pressure to accept a ConservaDem like John Lee in a district this Democratic, but perhaps a Summerlin area Democrat (paging Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown?) could give Horsford some heartburn in the primary. Meanwhile in NV-04, John Oceguera must now face Joe Heck in a tougher district that Heck just might have the upper hand in. And again, Ruben Kihuen is left without a chair once the music stops.

NV-01 (Purple):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 58.9%
McCain (R) 39.2%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Harry Reid (D) 55%
Sharron Angle (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Brian Sandoval (R) 49%
Rory Reid (D) 48%

NV-03 (Blue):

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 63.9%
McCain (R) 33.8%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010:
Harry Reid (D) 60%
Sharron Angle (R) 35%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Rory Reid (D) 53%
Brian Sandoval (R) 44%

NV-04 (Red):

US Pres 2008
Obama (D) 51.3%
McCain (R) 46.4%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Harry Reid (D) 47%
Sharron Angle (R) 47%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Brian Sandoval (R) 58%
Rory Reid (D) 38%

Redistricting may very well change the dynamics of next year's Congressional elections here in Nevada, especially among a core group of powerful Clark County Democrats. Depending on the way the lines are drawn, either the State Senate Majority Leader or the State Assembly Speaker will have a tough time making the climb to Capitol Hill. And depending on the contours of the final map, either a rising young progressive star gets the promotion of a lifetime or a long time progressive stalwart gets the ultimate comeback.

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