Redistricting Will Be The Issue Of 2012
When the new legislature is sworn in, they will face many of the same issues that are there every year while the GOP will have the chance to make their mark on key legislation that has long been killed in the House. But nothing will have the lasting impact of the next round of legislative reapportionment. Done correctly, the GOP can cement and expand their majority for at least the next decade.
When you look at current deviations, in almost every case, the biggest gainers were in GOP territory while the biggest losers were seats held by Democrats. Of course, many of those Democrats seats are majority black districts that are generally protected by federal law, but at the same time it is difficult to create districts without people. For now, it will be easier for Republicans to target white Democrats.
Here are current deviations of the districts as they stand following the 2010 Census
Under the 2002 map, there were 39 majority black districts. Two new districts have moved in that category over the past decade, including the seat held by Republican Greg Snowden. His district, which is down about two percent, can easily be shored up, but when you convert a majority black district into majority white you can run into trouble at times. Of course, Meridian does have one majority black district already and Snowden’s district doesn’t need to move that much to feel safe. The only district among these that is close to becoming non-majority black is HD 38, held by Tyrone Ellis. Starkville has grown a good bit but not the area that Ellis represents. His district is down eight percent and down to 50.71 BVAP.
Of the 41 current majority black districts, only two didn’t lose population over the past 10 years. This includes HD 103, held by Percent Watson. His Hattiesburg area district is up about five percent. HD 57, held by Ed Blackmon, has seen a big gain thanks to growth in Madison county. It’s up about 15 percent. Other than that the numbers aren’t pretty. Twelve, almost a third of such districts, are down at least 18 percent.
Moving beyond these districts where you face the scrutiny of the feds, majority white districts held by Democrats present the best GOP pickup opportunities, and most of these districts saw population loses and can be combined, eliminated, dramatically reworked, etc. This includes:
I didn’t realize just how much HD 73 had grown. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Republicans follow Tommy Reynolds lead and eliminate this district to help add some population to the shrinking majority black Jackson districts.
At the same time, I didn’t realize how much HD 115 had shrunk. Many districts on the Coast did, but nothing like this. Randall Patterson, along with David Baria (whose district lose 17 percent of its population), will soon be the last two remaining white Democrats in Southeast Mississippi. Baria is more liberal than Patterson and it would make sense to move at least of these districts slightly north where the growth was.
Needless to say, the population shift has given the GOP many good opportunities to add to their majority. I will talk a little bit about that later today.