Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Making Sense of Redistricting

I'm working on a cold beer at the Westville Pub (Wedge IPA if you're interested) while waiting for new tires to get put on my car.  While I've been here, I've gotten a call from a smart reporter from the Citizen-Times who is (like I am) trying to make sense of the new Census numbers and what they mean for redistricting--particularly in North Carolina.  Not a bad way for a politics and beer geek to spend a rainy day.  I'll hopefully have something more intelligent to say soon, but in the meantime, here are a few random notes about, or inspired by redistricting and the new Census :
  • North Carolina population increased by over 18% since 2000.  That's the largest increase of any southern state (unless you consider Texas the South.  And let's be honest--no state that considers beef to be bar-b-que can be the South).
  • We're now the 10th biggest state in the country (up from the 11th).  Despite this gain, we don't pick up any congressional seats.  
  • Most of the pick-ups were in the sunbelt.  In the traditional South, South Carolina and Georgia picked up seats.  In the questionable South, Texas and Florida picked up seats as well.
  • Despite this increase in population, North Carolina is unlikely to make any move to increase the General Assembly's capacity to govern.  I'll have more on this soon.
  • Although we're not picking up seats in NC, the General Assembly can still redraw district lines.  I don't expect this to have too much influence on the 11th Congressional District (I don't see how it could look substantially different), but it could on districts throughout the rest of the state.  It will probably have the greatest impact on state legislative seats.
  • Mike McDonald at George Mason has a nice set of resources on redistricting here.
  • As this Census suggests, the country's population keeps climbing, but despite this >200% increase in population since the early 1900s, we've held at 435 seats in Congress for over a century.  See this book for a case that we should increase the size of the House.

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