Well, it’s been quite a while since my last post, but I figured this topic is important enough to warrant a return to the blogging world (even if it’s a brief return). The Michigan Legislature recently released their maps for the 2011 redistricting. For reference, here are links to the current boundaries:
Now, those were created by the 2001 Legislature, which was controlled by Republicans, and signed into law under Republican Governor John Engler.
They’re not bad, and look pretty good. This year, it seems as if the Republican members of the Legislature have gotten a little more ambitious, and a little more creative. So let’s take a look at what they’ve proposed. Here are links to PDFs of all 3 maps, and I’ve copied the images below, where I’ll analyze them:
This first map is the proposed Congressional districts:
And here’s a zoomed in image of the Metro-Detroit area:
I’ll admit – I cringed when I saw the 14th district, and the 11th district isn’t exactly pretty either. They’ve got some awkward separations, like putting Farmington Hills in the 14th, but keeping Farmington in the 11th; putting Bloomfield Hills in the 11th, while placing Bloomfield Township in the 9th; Southfield Township is placed in the 9th, while Southfield City ends up in the 14th; Clawson is split up; and Rochester Hills is split up.
In an attempt to squeeze Democratic Congressmen Sander Levin and Gary Peters into the same district and force a primary between the two, saving the Republicans from losing a seat, the map has turned into something I like to call gerrymanderliscious.
But it gets even more creative as we move on to the Michigan Senate map:
And again, a zoomed in view of the Metro-Detroit area:
For the most part, this one isn’t too bad until you get to the Metro-Detroit area. District 1 is incredibly awkward, as is District 6. But the really weird ones are 14 and 25. You can’t see it on my uploaded images, but if you view the original map at 100% zoom, you can see that Springfield Township and Waterford Township just barely overlap for the 14th to be contiguous. As for the 25th district, I’m guessing they’ve just connected them along a strip of County Line Road, but I’m not positive.
So that brings us to the state House of Representatives:
And again, a zoomed in view of Metro-Detroit:
And a zoomed in view of Grand Rapids and the southwest corner of the state:
The House map isn’t too bad, other than more awkward county splits than I’m really comfortable with. The Grand Rapids area looks pretty decent, although 86 is a bit wacky. And Metro-Detroit looks pretty good with the exception of the 13th.
So, by far, my biggest complaints are with the Congressional map, but what was really sad was the Republicans claims that they had to draw the lines like that to abide by the Voting Rights Act, which mandates 2 majority minority districts for Michigan. That’s just nonsense. There are plenty of ways to draw the lines so that you have decent looking districts that obey the VRA.
Obviously Democrats Sander Levin and Gary Peters weren’t happy with the maps, but even Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is unhappy with the map, because as of the current proposal, Oakland County, the second most populous county in Michigan, would be represented by people who all live outside of the county.
Now, gerrymandering can be a lot of fun; I enjoyed playing around and making this little beauty for Maryland:
But when it comes to ACTUALLY redistricting, our legislature shouldn’t be drawing crap like this for partisan gain. Doing so takes the focus off of the good things the Republicans have done in Michigan and tells voters, “We know you voted for us in 2010, but we don’t trust you for the next 10 years, so we’re gonna cheat to win.”
Am I advocating that the legislature adopts a plan where we have 14 districts and each one is competitive at a 50-50 level? Absolutely not; that’d be ridiculous. The GOP won in a landslide in 2010, so it’s expected that the maps will favor us, but there’s no need to mangle the maps the way they’ve done. That’s just petty politics, and when the people of Michigan see that, it gives them a bad image of the party.