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Population Growth Favors New GOP Seats

December 29, 2011

It could not be understated how well drawn the Tommy Reynolds House map was. To have the population growth and loses where they occurred and create a map that favored the Democratic Party was nothing short of a miracle. The only recognition of growth in the suburbs? Collapsing the district of one Republican and one conservative Democrat to add two new seats in the very Republican Desoto county.

That was a joke, and simply by following population trends Republicans should be in line to make a number of gains based on where the growth in the state was. It doesn’t take any real political genius to make this happen either.

Here are the counties/ areas that should have new seats:

Desoto county: As the Reynolds map had done, this county should add two new seats. For whatever reason, HD 25 runs from western Desoto down to Clarksdale. To shore this up for the GOP, you could probably remove a good bit of Coahoma and Tunica counties and disperse that population to neighboring districts that are way down. Whether HD 25 is one of the two or a third district is a good question.

Pontotoc/ Union/ Lee counties: House Districts 14, 15, 17, 18, and 19 added around 11,000 new residents while HD 16 (Steve Holland’s district) lost about 1,800. Some changes will be made here, but not enough to add a new seat. With the Toyota plant, I imagine this is a different story in 10 years.

Rankin/ Madison counties: Somehow the Reynolds map awarded no new seats from this area. There should be two new seats. The best bet would be to put one in Rankin and another in Madison. At the same time, you could also make HD 58 the city of Madison seat since Rita Martinson and others have wanted that (with basing the other new Madison county seat around the Gluckstadt area).

Pine Belt: This region should gain one seat. There has been strong growth in HD 101 and 104, along with decent growth in HD 99 and 103. By adding some population from the faster growing counties just to the south you easily have one new district.

Southeast: I hinted at this in the post earlier today, but seats held by either Randall Patterson or David Baria could/ should be sent north. The districts directly on the Gulf lost population while the northern half of the three Coast counties plus the three directly to the north had strong growth. These districts had the most growth: HD 93, 95 107, 108, 109, 112, 114, 116, and 118.

Those are the only regions of the state experiencing growth. By my count, that is six new seats all in very strong Republican territory. If you play it right and can merge or eliminate Democratic seats from the shrinking parts of the state that is a six-seat gain for the GOP.

Republicans that need their seats made safer:

I already touched on HD 25, but there are a few other Republican held seats that the party would be wise to shore up. One of the trickier seats is HD 28. Republican Tommy Taylor just won this, but the district- like most of the Delta- is down, 16 percent in this case. Its BVAP is around 43 percent right now, but there isn’t an abundance of Republican voters is nearby districts.

HD 64 grew slightly, and Bill Denny fought off a strong challenger this year, but the BVAP is approaching a dangerous level for the GOP. This could be reworked especially when you consider the neighboring majority black districts all need to take on population.

Greg Snowden is the only Republican in the House to represent a majority black district. He won re-election this year, but would be wise to give the longtime legislator a more Republican district. That could be done, but as I said I don’t know what kind of VRA trouble you run into making a majority black district majority white. Population has been stagnant at best in Lauderdale county. Of the four districts in the county, one is majority black (HD 82) and it will need to significantly add new population to get up to deviation.

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