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The Redistricting Week Ahead

» TX Redistricting: Q&A about the lay of the land

Michael Li points to an ETA on maps for being available by the end of next week. That fits a couple of needs that I think the San Antonio court may be looking to fulfill: a) having the mother of all detailed writeups for a redistricting map ever written to appease the Supreme Court, and b) giving some opportunity for the DC Court to rule on the Section 5 merits before completing work.

A couple of things known so far for the Houston area, some of which are good for the dayjob, are as follows:

1. It looks like there will be two different districts in SW Houston - essentially undoing the pairing that the Lege did with HD137 and HD149. Whether the new HD137 has part of Alief or Meyerland or some other add-on remains to be seen, though. Likewise, whether HD149 is a safe Dem seat or a swing district remains to be seen.

2. HD26 probably stands as a bellwether for how the judges see Fort Bend as a Section 2 issue. Locally, it's one of the keys to watch for how successful the plaintiffs are. I'm not in the speculation business for this one ... just hopeful that there's a good district drawn that allows Asian voters to send candidates of their choice. The Lege certainly didn't do that, though.

3. HD144 is another district to watch. I think this is more of a guarantee that there will be a district that doesn't retrogress Hispanic population, but whether it's created in the form of a safe or swing district is still up in the air. I can see this being the poster district for OHRVS, or I can see it as being a more solidified Hispanic district electing Dems by about 55-60% each year.

4. HD133/HD136 ... based on the "settlement" proposals, my hunch is that Abbott & Co knew they were going to lose trying to keep these as separate districts. What the judges do with them, of course, doesn't have to be the same. I'd think that the judges could point to the settlement options as validation for folding Woolley's old seat into Murphy's and Bohac's current seat. But that doesn't strike me as a necessarily "proper" basis to draw the map. I'm assuming that the court is going to have to justify anything edited from the original Lege map. So, unless there's some justification in the slew of briefing memos they've sought out, I'm just not sure.

5. As far as Congressional Districts go, CD14 is the only non-incumbent district out there. I don't believe that its been drawn significantly different in any map during the court process. Each one has Jefferson & Galveston counties whole, with slightly different versions of southern Brazoria County added on. Given the SCOTUS strictures to hew to the Lege map where possible, it won't change.

Hopefully, we'll see within a week's time whether any of this happens.


On Uncompartmentalized Coalitions

» FW Star-Telegram: Legal wrangling over Texas redistricting misses the big story (Michael Li)

I'm way overdue in commenting on this, but better late than never. Michael's definitely noticing much of the same thing I am with regard to some of the new challenges that demographics pose for redistricting. In his case, naturally, its from a very Metroplex-centric perspective ...

This year's big theme is the remarkable growth of the state's Hispanic population. After all, 65 percent of Texas' population growth over the last decade was Hispanic. Despite that, there's a compelling argument that Hispanic voting strength is actually diminished under the new voting maps approved by the Legislature.

As powerful as that story is, there's another equally important, but less commented upon, story in this year's redistricting fights: the emergence of diverse multi-ethnic districts in the state's urban areas, where historically discriminated-against minority groups have managed to achieve gains by working together.

There's no better example of this than state Senate District 10, which Wendy Davis won in 2008 based on the support of 99 percent of African-Americans and more than 80 percent of Hispanics, plus a smaller percentage of Anglos.

Over time, this may, in fact, be the bigger story of the last decade.

As urban Texas becomes more diverse -- and compartmentalized neighborhoods that are the exclusive preserve of one ethnic group disappear -- more and more districts like Davis' will emerge naturally. The competitive state House seats that have arisen in recent years in places like Irving and Grand Prairie are a product of the same phenomena.

At the day job, there's one part of any presentation on demographics that we show that's pretty sure to get some attention. All it is is a flip-through of the demographic majority maps for total population in Harris County from 1980 through 2010. If you view the full page and just go page by page, you get an old-school flip-book demonstrating the impact of demographic change over that span of time. There aren't many counties in the state where a similar effect can be seen. It's just a matter of scale depending on the county.

My previous take on the whole tangent is here. The new CVAP numbers and mapped distribution for Harris County add a few new wrinkles to the understanding - some challenging, but most re-affirming.


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