Over the last few months, I’ve written at length — some might say ad nauseum — about Washington’s redistricting process based on the 2010 Census:
- A report on minority-majority Congressional Districts and why it’s absurd to try to construct one here. (The Redistricting Commission didn’t listen to me.)
- On the mechanics and mathematics of Congressional reapportionment and how Washington earned its 10th Congressional District.
- A “breaking” story just before the release of the nearly-final CD maps.
A few days after the last of those, upon further review of the newly-drawn map, I wrote a more reflective piece on the outcome of Congressional redistricting in Washington. My conclusion: Skeletor won the battle with Tim Ceis, and it wasn’t even close. For reasons that escape me, I posted that piece only on Peace Tree Farm, resulting in even fewer readers than my wonkery draws here on HA. That was dumb of me, wasn’t it?
Nearly everything in the above-referenced posts concerned Congressional redistricting. Which makes sense, I suppose. Changing the number of districts is always exciting, though of course it’s even more exciting (and much, much bloodier) in states that lose Congressional Districts. You can check with Dennis Kucinich on that. For the record, Washington has never experienced CD subtraction.
But redistricting affects far more than Congress. Many other jurisdictional boundaries have to be changed to account for changing demographics, from school board districts to County Council and beyond. If Seattle elected City Council by district (as it should, IMHO), those borders would have to be redrawn too. With one exception, those lower-level maps are drawn by lower-level governments.
The exception, of course, is the map of Legislative Districts, also drawn by the Redistricting Commission. While the number of LDs in Washington is constitutionally set at 49, their boundaries must be redrawn to take into account population trends over the 10 years since the last Census. LDs that had nearly identical populations in 2000 are no longer equal, and the Commission is mandated to reconstruct the legislative map to reflect those demographic trends.
The Commission had to account for more than just the statewide 14.1% increase. Had every LD added 16,948 residents (average LD population was 120,288 after the 2000 Census and would be 137,236 under this redistricting), we could have kept the old boundaries. But of course, that isn’t what happened. The population of the old 2nd LD increased by 43,337 (36.0%), while the 28th actually lost 754 residents (-0.6%).
I won’t go into the extended process by which the Commission eventually settled on the new map, except to note that it took them until 10:35pm (85 minutes before their deadline) on January 1, 2012 to convey their agreed-upon map to the Legislature. Instead, I thought it might be interesting to examine the changes in LD boundaries. Data geek, and map geek, that I am, I’ve done exactly that — creating maps showing each LD’s old boundaries, its new boundaries, and the two superimposed on each other.
The results of (some of?) my handiwork will appear here on HA soon. The questions I pose to myself — and to my colleagues here, and to the readers of HA — are:
- Do I report on the LDs one-by-one or in groups?
- Can I report on every single one of the 49 LDs without boring y’all to death?
- How ever we decide to do the reports, in what order should they be revealed?
I’ll answer a couple of those questions, at least to start, by writing individually on the Seattle-area LDs with open seats. I plan to begin with the 46th, followed by the 36th and the 11th. Why the 46th? Simple — it has cooler maps than the others. It’s the wow!! factor…
So, if you
haven’t nodded off in boredom are drooling in breathless anticipation, stay tuned.