A court just struck down one Maryland House district. Here's how we'd undo the entire gerrymander
- This map removes Montgomery County from the 6th District entirely, making the district even more solidly Republican than under our proposal to Hogan’s commission. This version of the 6th would have voted 58-36 for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election; the version the commission adopted supported Trump by a 52-43 margin.
- Anne Arundel County would anchor the new 3rd District instead of getting sliced and diced among four separate districts, as it is now. That would let the Baltimore suburbs form their own seat in the redrawn 2nd District.
- Finally, the map creates a third predominantly black district by establishing a 5th District with a majority-black population while leaving the adjacent 4th District with a black plurality.
Despite its much neater lines, this map would likely yield the same partisan outcome as the far more limited redraw we proposed to Hogan’s commission: Republicans would likely flip the 6th District and retain the 1st District, while Democrats would likely keep the other six districts they already hold. The 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th Districts all supported Hillary Clinton by at least double digits, and all six districts voted solidly Democratic in 2018’s statewide races (excepting the contest for governor, where the uniquely popular Hogan performed well despite being a Republican).
Daily Kos is a partisan political organization dedicated to electing Democrats, but we’re equally committed to free and fair elections. The fact that Hogan’s commission, which was made up of equal numbers of Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated members, unanimously chose our proposal is a demonstration of that.
So is the fact that our proposal to redraw the entire state is almost identical to what Republicans themselves put forward as a nonpartisan map during the legislature’s debates over redistricting in 2011. You can see the Republican map just below:
The main reasons our map differs from the GOP’s proposal is that we split four counties instead of six by dividing those that we did split additional ways. We also split just one incorporated municipality instead of two; and we split three unincorporated cities (known as census-designated places) instead of 19. We further wanted to avoid the use of water contiguity (which is a disfavored method of preserving contiguity) that Republicans deployed to unite separate parts of the 1st District across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Instead, we divided Baltimore County among four districts.
Gerrymandering opponents might reasonably disagree on which of these two maps’ priorities are preferable, but their political impact is almost the same. Indeed, even under the GOP’s own proposal, six districts would have voted for Clinton by double digits, while just two would have backed Trump.
And though some have argued that Maryland could support a third Republican district, even the state GOP has conceded that a nonpartisan map would still have left Democrats with a secure hold on six districts. That’s because, outside of the 6th District, the Rorschachesque map that Democrats passed was not designed to maximize Democratic power but rather to satisfy the parochial demands of the House incumbents who happened to hold office during the last round of redistricting.
In fact, it’s easy to draw a Maryland map that would elect eight Democrats and zero Republicans yet nevertheless has far cleaner lines than the existing map, which sends seven Democrats and one Republican to Congress. That shows that chaotic district boundaries aren’t necessarily proof of gerrymandering—and seemingly tidy lines aren’t proof of a lack of gerrymandering.
Regardless of what happens in this case, Congress should pass the For the People Act, which would require every state to establish an independent redistricting commission. That could lead to Maryland adopting a fully nonpartisan map like the one we’ve proposed—and for states across the country to do the same.
Note: Our map for the full state of Maryland does not have exactly equal populations for each district like the map we proposed to Hogan’s commission that redrew only the 6th and 8th Districts. Instead it has a maximum deviation of 0.3 percent using the 2010 census population, unadjusted for Maryland’s No Representation Without Population Act, which requires counting most prisoners at their last address instead of where they’re incarcerated. Taking these additional steps, however, would only have trivial political impact that would shift just a few thousand people out of the 4th and 7th Districts and into the 3rd and 6th Districts on net.
More at http://www.dailykos.com/stories/1837892