Census Totally Screws Dems, Not Just In Illinois

Like a number of "blue" states, it appears people are fleeing Illinois like it was on fire and heading to states with questionable school board decisions, warmer climates and compelling roadside tourist attractions. As a result, Illinois stands to lose one House seat to the Bible belt; we'll be divided into 18 House districts instead of 19 House districts, meaning everyone will have more people to serve.

Notably, this sucks for Aaron Schock, who may have to run for Senate against Dick Durbin if he
intends to continuing being the Congresshottie we all know and love, as incumbents and senior members generally draw lines to - what else - protect themselves. Cynical, yes, but some might say Schock could easily oust Durbin based on sheer long-distance pants visibility alone.

Also noteworthy, the census, which, according to Michelle Bachmann, was supposed to make the currently-ruling Democrats our new benevolent overlords through the nefarious voter-registration schemes of ACORN and it's affiliates, actually seems to demonstrate that people are voting against Dems with their feet, houses and economic stability. According to Gallup, all ten states losing House seats had Dem registration advantages, and the seat losses will hit Dems harder than Republicans, who have a registration advantage in five of eight gaining states.

Nine of the 10 states that lost congressional seats as a result of
this year's census are in the Northeast or Midwest. The exception is
Louisiana, whose population loss at least partly as a result of
Hurricane Katrina cost it a seat. Politically, all 10 of these "losing"
states skew Democratic in political orientation, based on Gallup's latest state political identification data
from January through June of this year...

The eight states that gained congressional seats this year present a
more mixed political picture. Texas was the big winner, gaining four
seats as a result of its extraordinary growth from a population of
almost 21 million in 2000 to 25 million in 2010. Texas has a net
Democratic party identification of -3, meaning that more Texas adults
identify as Republicans than as Democrats. On the other hand, Florida
gained two seats, and has a net Democratic identification of +4. Party
identification skews Republican in four of the remaining six states,
all of which gained one congressional seat, ranging from a -32 net
Democratic margin in Utah (Utah is the most Republican state) to -3 in
Georgia. Both Nevada and Washington have net positive Democratic party
identifications.

With the way this is going, we're all going to be Texans soon, apparently. Make sure you check out after Christmas sales for ten gallon hats and sidearms.

The biggest problems for Dems will come in some of the Rust Belt and midwestern states, whose Democrat/Republican spread is actually pretty small. Known as "swing states," places like Ohio, Missouri and - shockingly - Georgia, generally forgotten for most of the year, command more attention in an election year than a Chicago food truck parked in a loading zone. Advantages in these states are hard fought and small electoral changes in key areas, even heavily gerrymandered ones, could mean the difference between four more years and President Palin. Obama won in Ohio in 2008 and only lost narrowly in Missouri, but both states hosted Dem bloodbaths in 2010. If the results of the 2010 election can be blamed even partly on population movement to states with lower taxes and more lenient business regulations, as Michael Barone points out, national Democratic strategists have to be sh*tting their pants right now.

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  • It might have an effect on the electoral college and the overall balance in the U.S. House. However, it is assumed that the Democrats in Springfield will screw up the reapportionment of the state legislature and the U.S. House representatives from Illinois, to, as you indicate, force a Republican out.

    I don't think we have to go as far as Peoria. Dan Seals has tried and just failed 3 times in the 10th. Since Schakowsky seems to have a surplus of Democratic votes in the 9th, and Seals won't take her on, just take a chunk of the 10th, but not enough to lose her advantage in the 9th, and force its merger with the 8th. They might even give her a strip along the lakefront so she can connect with the Democrats who voted for Seals in Highland Park and Waukegan, while those in Cook County gave Dold his margin (cf. Louise Slaughter's district in upstate New York).

    Of course, with people fleeing the south side of Chicago, the other question may be how far south the 1st and 2nd Districts have to go, although since the incumbents get at least 80% of the vote, they can suck up a lot of territory. Another issue raised by MALDEF is that the Hispanics say they are entitled, under the Voting Rights Act, to two representatives, thereby putting pressure on the 7th, which is surrounded by the gerrymandered 4th.

    Like not being able to predict the NFL seedings until week 17, it is hard to handicap this.

  • It's true. Aaron Schock just seemed like an easy target.

    I can see Reps in Springfield who fight for nothing fighting to keep the 10th since they've felt entitled to a piece of the North Shore and while the New Trier Republicans may be an entirely useless organization, they do keep some money flowing. More likely, I can see your second scenario: cutting out part of the 4th, enough to keep the correct voting percentage intact but increasing the size of the 7th.

    I'm curious to see how this plays out. IL is a fun state to watch get gerrymandered. I've never met people so willing to make such bizarre choices.

  • In reply to emzanotti:

    With regard to the 10th, I am assuming that Democrats' strength is sufficient to keep Republicans from having any say, and also doing to the Congressional district what they did 10 years ago to the state senate and representative districts in that area, assuring that the only Republican (Colson) to win had to move first to stay within her remapped district. The village sent out a newsletter saying "now we have 5 senators and representatives interested in us," but, in fact, only one lived in it. The couterweight is that there isn't the draw from Lincoln's Hat to determine U.S. Congressional districts, and a past bipartisan consensus to leave incumbents alone. I wonder, though, if that consensus remains given that 5 incumbents (as of 2011) will be newly-elected Republicans.

    Also, you may have misinterpreted my view on the 4th. My assumption was that the new 4th would be the north end, and the new 7th would be a predominantly Hispanic district containing all of Pilsen and Lawndale, including North Lawndale. Sort of the same as when Tillman's city council district all the sudden encompassed the Stock Yards area, because the Robert Taylor Homes were torn down. However, the question would then be that since people who can't vote still are counted in the census, whether a Hispanic could win in a mixed district.

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