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Predicting the Redistricting Map – How the Republicans will be Screwed

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Predicting the map is always fun.  Even though the final census figures are not
out yet, people can and are drawing new legislative and congressional districts
for California.  One of the more
interesting is the work of "Silver Spring" a Democratic activist from Maryland
with a knack for numbers.

In 2010, prior to the passage of Proposition 20, he draw a
highly partisan gerrymander of California’s 53 congressional districts that he
said would result in the election of 46 Democrats and seven Republicans to
congress, a loss of 12 Republicans from the current delegation.  That won’t happen with the Citizens
Redistricting Commission doing the job.

So Silver Spring has drawn a new map with nice compact
districts that employs racial gerrymandering to cut out Republicans.  His argument, a very legitimate one, is that
the Commission will be pressured by outside groups to maximize Latino
districts, given the huge growth in Latino population in the past decade.  

This would certainly lead to some additional Latino
districts, but also a lot more Anglo Democratic districts because it would
concentrate Democrats where they are needed. 
This is an old redistricting trick first employed by California’s
gerrymandering genius, the late Rep. Phil Burton (D-San Francisco).  Promise additional minority districts but
really create more Anglo Democrats. 
That’s what Silver Spring’s "Commission" map does, reducing Republicans
in Congress from the current 19 to 12, and increasing Democrats from the
current 34 to 38 seats, with three toss-ups.

Applying Silver Spring’s map to the legislature would
probably reduce the number GOP State senators from 15 to about 10 and Republican
members of the Assembly to 20 to 22. 
That would of course give Democrats a huge super majority in both
houses.

This may happen anyway even without a racial
gerrymander.  GOP registration has
collapsed in this state, and Republican immigrant bashing led to a monster
Latino turnout in 2010 that helped cost Republicans every statewide
office.  Now we will see this phenomenon
at the legislative/congressional level.  With
the breakdown of the bipartisan 2010 gerrymander, more currently safe
Republicans will be put at risk than Democrats; that is beyond question.

Silver Spring shows us how this can happen, within the
confines of the Voting Rights Act and the Commission criteria.  Here’s how he does it:

Northern California:  This is going to be relatively
non-controversial.  The San Francisco Bay
Area needs to lose one congressional district because of slow population
growth.  Silver Spring’s map wheels
around the Bay and eliminates the seat in the East Bay counties, as the
population dictates.  Either Democratic
Reps George Miller of Contra Costa or Pete Stark of Alameda are the likely
losers.

That collapsed district reappears in the Central Valley in a
non-incumbent tossup seat running from Yolo County north to Red Bluff.  All the other seats down to the Los Angeles
County line remain basically safe for the incumbent members.

Los Angeles County:  Now
things get interesting. Los Angeles County currently has 13 safe Democratic
seats and parts of four Republican seats. But most seats are under
populated.  Silver Spring creates 13
Democratic seats, so Los Angeles Democrats do not lose a seat under his
plan. 

However, in the process, he
decimates Republicans. Parts of four Republican seats come into the county and
two are eliminated and one is pushed entirely out of the county.  The Only GOP seat left in Los Angeles County
is that of Republican Buck McKeon, and his north desert seat is pulled south
and loses four points of registration, thus becoming a toss-up seat.  Gary Miller’s Republican seat that is
currently part of three counties simply disappears, its Los Angeles and San
Bernardino portion absorbed by Democrats. 
David Dreier’s seat is pushed entirely into San Bernardino County and
combined with Jerry Lewis.  Dana Rohrabacher’s
seat is pushed entirely into Orange County, and that eats up Orange County
Republicans.  The Dreier and Miller seats
reappear as Democratic seats in the Inland Empire.

But Silver Spring is not quite
through yet.  One Los Angeles seat needs
to move outside the county to gain population, and this is done by extending a
safe Westside Democratic seat into heavily Republican Thousand Oaks.  The Democratic seat remains safe but Ventura
Republican Elton Gallegly loses Thousand Oaks and gains Oxnard, turning him
into a leans Democratic seat. 

Orange County:  Silver Spring
knows where his enemy lives.  Orange County
now shares parts of four safe Republican seats. 
Under Silver Spring this drops to two, Rohrabacher and John
Campbell.  Ed Royce gets a largely
minority toss-up district; Democrat Loretta Sanchez remains safe.  Finally, Darrel Issa gets a heavily Republican
seat that eats up GOP voters in southern Orange, western Riverside and northern
San Diego Counties.

San Diego County.  The
objective here is to weaken Republican Brian Bilbray, and his seat moves inland
to form a district he would have lost in 2006 and 2008.  His GOP registration is dropped by seven
points and the new seat leans Democratic.

Inland Empire. And now the big kahuna.  Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are the
fastest growing parts of California. 
They are also rapidly becoming Latino; Riverside is estimated by the
census bureau to be 45 percent Latino, 41 percent white; San Bernardino only 35
percent white, 48 percent Latino.

Currently there are all or part
of seven Republican seats and one Democratic seat in the two counties. Silver
Spring redraws the area to create only three safe Republican seats and four
Democratic ones – a gain of three Democratic seats in the area.  Here’s how he does this.

(Riverside) A new Latino
Democratic seat is created by detaching Imperial County from its current San
Diego district and adding Latino areas of eastern Riverside County.  This seat looks somewhat Iike the current
Democratic Assembly seat in this area.  Mary
Bono-Mack receives a heavily Republican seat mid-county, and then GOPer Ken
Calvert is eliminated by a sophisticated gerrymander of the minority
neighborhoods in north Riverside. 
Republican southwest Riverside goes to Darrell Issa, who currently has
much of this area. 

(San Bernardino)  Joe Baca’s overwhelmingly Latino Democratic
seat is largely divided in two: one part is mostly the city of San Bernardino;
the other one goes west along Interstate 10 and absorbs parts of Republican
Gary Miller’s seat.  This creates one new
San Bernardino Democratic seat. 
Republicans David Dreier and Jerry Lewis can fight over the Republican
seat that is left over.

And there you have it, 38
Democratic seats, a gain of four; 12 Republicans seats, a loss of seven; and three
toss-ups.

Will the new Commission adopt a
plan that looks like this?  Very probably.  The Commission’s executive director is a
"progressive" Democrat and is trying to sole source the line drawing job to a
long time Democratic redistricting activist. 
California has become more Latino and Democratic during the past decade
as an elderly white Republican electorate has faded away.  Now that fact will be reflected in the new
districts that will be created for the next decade.

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