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Redistricting: First Take for Harris County Commissioner Precincts

January 9, 2011 Houston/Harris 1 Comment

First take at what Harris County redistricting might look like for the four County Commissioner precincts. There are some big assumptions that lead to what kind of map you end up drawing for these jurisdictions. Mine assumes that Jerry Eversole is no longer needing to be protected. I don’t know if that scenario is warranted, but one thing becomes clear when trying to draw a 2R-2D map – it’s awfully hard to defend the argument that the Hispanic population in Harris County is too diffuse for a single opportunity district. The green district below is about what it would take to accomplish that and as you can see, the counterargument may be that it lacks compactness. The connecting precincts in the northeast corner might be a particular issue in need of finessing if this plan were to become a reality.

With Roads:

With blank background:

The composition of the precincts is as follows:

Precinct 1 (purple): Anglo – 16%; Black – 49%; Hispanic – 27%; Asian – 8% // Obama – 82%; McCain – 18%
El Franco Lee maintains a safe African-American opportunity district. The black percentage in the precinct could use some improvement given the numbers available in Dave’s Redistricting App, but the population shift within the county may mean that the precinct might need to take on an Anglo Dem area like Meyerland. That’d be defensible as a coalition jurisdiction, especially since I found myself adding Montrose to it in the first place.

Precinct 2 (green): Anglo – 27%; Black – 12%; Hispanic – 58%; Asian – 4% // Obama – 60%; McCain – 39%
The fact that there is no problem drawing a >55% Hispanic district in Texas may force the issue of the partisan composition of the 2011 precincts. Recall that the existing Precinct 2 is a function of the late Commissioner Jim Fonteno. He had represented a Baytown and Crosby region that was historically Democratic in the past, adding Hispanic precincts over time. As demography and partisanship settled, the district grew to the 50-50 swing district that we now know it to be. Trying to find a way to take the basic structure of Pct. 2 and making Jack Morman safer for the next decade will, by default, represent retrogression of the Hispanic population’s voting strength. So it makes some sense in this particular scenario to just draw a better Hispanic district and define the Anglo GOP ring around the county more faithfully.

Precinct 3 (pink): Anglo – 61%; Black – 7%; Hispanic – 23%; Asian – 9% // Obama – 40%; McCain – 59%
Knowing that Steve Radack will be the one drawing these lines, I’m not certain that he’ll leave things to chance with a district under 60% GOP. So there is some obvious self-interest on his part to seeing the district made a little safer. Noting the situation with intra-county population shift in Pct. 1, losing Meyerland would help a little. Losing Gulfton would help more. We’ll see soon enough if the population shift is warranted for that to happen. Otherwise, where Radack & Morman agree to draw the line in Champions Forest is a pretty big open question.

Precinct 4 (orange): Anglo – 69%; Black – 6%; Hispanic – 20%; Asian – 5% // Obama – 33%; McCain – 67%
Nothing terribly surprising about the way this region is put together. About the only anomaly I accounted for was leaving Pasadena fairly whole, as I suspect their city leaders will argue for that and staying whole with the other refinery towns in the southeast. The fact that this district contains a few Hispanic pockets due to this is another telling indicator of the fact that a Hispanic opportunity district for Harris County may be inevitable.

As time permits, I’ll try to draw a map that protects three GOP County Commissioners. I expect that to be tough and it should demonstrate the challenges of improving on this from a partisan GOP perspective.

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Mainstream says:

    Your green and purple districts violate Shaw v. Reno, and you are using total population and not citizenship VAP, which distorts the resulting numbers.

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