Sunday, April 16, 2023

Jake does redistricting pt. 1 - now that our Assembly maps can be fair

After Janet Protasiewicz's landslide win in the state Supreme Court race earlier this month, it immediately restored the possibility that Wisconsin could get out from under the absurd legislative GOP gerrymander that was first imposed on this state 12 years ago, and updated in 2021. And it led me to go back to maps I had created 2 years ago to see what might happen if those maps would be in place for 2024.

The only modifications I made to the maps I created back in August 2021 were a couple of move-arounds of townships and a couple of wards in various cities to make things more compact in some spots, and to remove a couple of circumstances where a district was only in one township in a rural county, or making a county entirely within one district.

Here's the Assembly map I drew.

Now compare it to the GOP's current gerrymander.

You can see I have a few more districts that are compacted, particularly around cities like Wausau, Waukesha, Sheboygan, Green Bay, and Appleton. And my maps don't have nowhere near as many weird shapes, because I really didn't care much about how people in those communities voted, as much as I cared whether those districts had racial and/or community commonalities.

Going into the Milwaukee area, I stopped the absurd 4-way split up of Wauwatosa (done by GOPs to dilute the influence of a 50,000-person city that now votes 2-1 Dem). I tried to keep a lot of districts within one county, or with nearby communities. This also allows for 5 majority-black and 2 majority-Hispanic Assembly districts in Milwaukee, and a majority-minority district in Racine, same as we have today.

Compare to the current map, and you see how the Republicans shoved one district (15) out of Milwaukee County and into more-GOP Waukesha County, and sliced up the North Shore (Dem-voting) Milwaukee suburbs into 2 districts instead of one. Also note the different district numbers, which will become more important when we go to the Senate.

The Fox Valley is a similar story. Take a look at how the current Republican gerrymander has these weird turns (like districts 2, 55, and 56) which are used to dilute the Dem vote in Appleton/GB suburbs and even the larger cities.

By comparison, take a look at how I "tightened up" some of these city/suburban districts in the 920, and kept District 2 entirely in Manitowoc County.

If we look at the results of the 2020 Presidential elections, both maps are still strongly Republican at first glance, although my maps are at least closer.

Districts won by Trump vs Biden, 2020 Presidential Election
Current gerrymander Trump 65, Biden 34
My revised maps Trump 59, Biden 40

But the main differences start to show when you look at how closer certain districts are. It's a little different method for this one (the Dave's Redistricting app only uses 2016-2020 "composite" for this illlustration), but the gerrymander makes it very hard for Dems to flip. The dashed line is where the 50-50 point would be for Assembly seats.

Now take a look at how many more districts are near the middle in my maps - both in overall numbers and in percentage.

But we also know that the post-Dobbs and post-January 6 electorate is a bit different in Wisconsin. So I looked at the 2022 Governor's election (using the state's ward-by-ward database), and tried to impute it into my maps as best I could.

Despite Evers' 3.5% win, the maps I created still would have had Tim Michels win 54 of 99 districts last November. But that's not anywhere near a supermajority, and 14 districts were decided by 5 points or less - 7 for Republicans, 7 for Democrats. And I didn't even consciously try to equalize the number of competitive districts.

That's how it should work, right? More districts that allow both parties a chance to win, which forces legislators to have to listen to more of their constituents, because there's a greater chance they could lose in November. And the Democrats get a CHANCE to get control, if they post a statewide win of around 53%, instead of needing a double-digit, "beating Dan KeLLY"-level landslide.

I'd also encourage Governor Evers and other Dems not to get cute with their proposed maps, or answer a GOP gerrymander with their own gerrymander (which allows for "both sides" BS to be said about redistricting). Besides, the way things are sliding in this state (especially in the increasingly blue suburbs), why not play it straight, and possibly win control with fair maps in 2024, and then use the opportunity to put fair maps into law, which would make it harder for the GOP to overrule them either through elections or courts.

Sadly, we have to wait another 3 1/2 months before Janet Protasiewicz can take her seat on the Supreme Court, but that doesn't mean we should be working on our own to ID what should be done, and what gerrymandered wrongs need to be corrected.

No comments:

Post a Comment