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Weekend Roundup

It's a perfect storm for slow blogging: internet out at the homestead, the weather outside is beautiful and I just picked up a new drum machine that is fun as heck to play with. In the midst of all that, blogging takes a back seat for the weekend. In order to accommodate my blogging sloth, here's the lazy man's form of a blog entry: the aggrepost. Enjoy.

OBL/Pakistan/War on Terror:
» Washington Post: The Hunt: The Search for Osama bin Laden
Great initial read of the years-long adaptation and conclusion to the hunt for OBL.
» National Journal: The Two Faces of Pakistan: Understanding an ally that hides terrorists even as it kills many of them (Michael Hirsh)
» Washington Post: In Pakistan, no more secrets (Vali Nasr)

Census Stories:
» Brookings: Melting Pot Cities and Suburbs: Racial and Ethnic Change in Metro America in the 2000s (William Frey)
» Statesman: Asian population surges in Austin
"Not your father's suburbs" starts to get academic.
» Express-News: S.A.'s metro area growing
Kuff has more on this item.

» Alice Linahan: Governor Perry “Stand With Us”- We the People Showed up in Austin Yesterday
» Texas GOP Vote: Ask Gov. Perry to Veto CSHB 600 SBOE Redistricting Map

For those of you doubting that legislators can be accused of being "too liberal" for drawing a map that creates nearly 2/3 of SBOE districts as GOP seats.

» AV Club: We're No. 1 Def Leppard’s Hysteria
Great read on the niche-ification of music ... regardless of what you think about "Pour Some Sugar On Me."

2012 Presidential Race:
» Politico: Poor Buddy Roemer: Pledge kept, 2012 bank balance low
» Politico: Buddy Roemer turned away from South Carolina debate

Turns out that Roemer raised about $25k and loaned himself another $25k. That's not likely to set the world on fire, let alone South Carolina. But having over 250 contributors to date seems to suggest that the guy probably has better name ID than at least two of the candidates who did make the cut for last week's debate.

Elsewhere in Politics ...
» Washington Post: Kaine, Allen tied in 2012 Virginia Senate matchup, Post poll shows
The purplification of Virginia continues, once more proving that 2010 was primarily a turnout-driven phenomenon.
» Washington Post: Louisiana Gov. Jindal releases birth certificate
Obama Envy now has a name: Bobby.

» TPM: Jon Stewart Spars With Social Conservative David Barton Over Church And State
A good glimpse of the polemic style of David Barton and a good identification of it by Jon Stewart.
» TX Tribune: Deadlock Grips the House Floor
The funny thing about super-majorities ... you still have to show up to work in order for them to be functional.


SBOE Redistricting: On to the Governor

A catchup on SBOE redistricting: The Senate recently passed a plan that was a bit different from the House plan, so the House just voted late Thursday to approve the Senate version. That sends the map on its way to the Governor's desk. With that accomplished, the comparison maps of each individual district are updated if you care to look and see.

I've also requested the 206 reports from the Legislative Council (one of the really cool areas of state government if you ask me). The 2010 report looks at Governor; Lt Governor; Commissioner - Land Office. And the 2008 report looks at President; Supreme Court - place 7; Crt. of Criminal Appeals - place 3. Since the most immediately relevant is the 2008 Presidential numbers, the quick view of those, as well as the demographics of each district, are included below.

Fundamentally, not much has changed from the initial assessment in terms of electoral competitiveness. There are some short-term and long-term opportunities for both sides on this map. But the biggest question of all will likely be whether the importance of the contests themselves ever warrants more than the $50,000-$100,000 that candidates generally raise for these races. For constituency sizes in the range of what these candidates have to contend with, that kind of money does not get you very far. And demographics plus changing voting trends are likely to limit the changes in the SBOE to maybe one or two seats a side.

2008 Presidential Performance

Dist.      McCain-R         Obama-D
  1     168,833 (42.8%)   221,865 (56.3%)
  2     191,754 (47.1%)   211,625 (52.0%)
  3     157,233 (38.3%)   249,268 (60.7%)
  4      89,884 (22.6%)   305,638 (76.9%)
  5     358,691 (52.2%)   319,808 (46.5%)
  6     320,914 (58.4%)   224,088 (40.8%)
  7     358,380 (61.2%)   221,939 (37.9%)
  8     370,712 (67.7%)   172,373 (31.5%)
  9     436,392 (69.7%)   184,583 (29.5%)
 10     313,379 (53.5%)   263,033 (44.9%)
 11     391,597 (61.9%)   234,922 (37.1%)
 12     365,314 (57.5%)   262,939 (41.4%)
 13     123,380 (27.7%)   319,557 (71.6%)
 14     401,810 (67.0%)   192,696 (32.1%)
 15     430,765 (74.3%)   144,184 (24.9%)
STATE 4,479,038 (55.4%) 3,528,518 (43.6%)


District Demographics

Dist. Deviation        Total Pop.  %A     %B    %H   %BH    %O   Incumbent
 1    -60,804   Total: 1,615,567  18.6   2.8  77.7  79.9   1.5  (R-Garza)   
       -3.63%   VAP:   1,128,800  21.7   2.6  74.5  76.7   1.6 
 2    -12,323   Total: 1,664,048  22.8   3.0  73.2  75.7   1.6  (D-Berlanga)
       -0.74%   VAP:   1,161,020  27.0   2.9  68.8  71.3   1.7 
 3     12,033   Total: 1,688,404  19.3   7.0  72.2  78.3   2.3  (D-Soto)
        0.72%   VAP:   1,197,931  22.6   6.9  68.5  74.8   2.5 
 4      1,458   Total: 1,677,829  11.5  32.9  52.6  84.5   4.0  (D-Allen)  
        0.09%   VAP:   1,174,040  14.3  33.7  48.2  81.1   4.6 
 5     13,247   Total: 1,689,618  55.5   6.6  34.1  40.1   4.4  (R-Mercer) 
        0.79%   VAP:   1,283,748  59.8   6.1  30.1  35.8   4.4 
 6      5,930   Total: 1,682,301  44.6  12.5  32.6  44.4  11.0  (R-Leo)    
        0.35%   VAP:   1,250,061  48.2  11.7  29.3  40.5  11.2 
 7      9,490   Total: 1,685,861  54.6  16.7  20.0  36.3   9.2  (R-Bradley)
        0.57%   VAP:   1,234,938  57.8  15.9  17.6  33.3   8.9 
 8      6,227   Total: 1,682,598  58.8  10.8  26.1  36.4   4.8  (R-Cargill)
        0.37%   VAP:   1,234,692  63.1  10.0  22.5  32.2   4.8 
 9     34,676   Total: 1,711,047  69.7  14.3  14.0  28.1   2.2  (R-Ratliff)
        2.07%   VAP:   1,283,538  73.2  13.6  11.2  24.7   2.1 
10    -63,371   Total: 1,613,000  58.1  12.8  24.2  36.2   5.8  (R-Farney) 
       -3.78%   VAP:   1,184,465  62.4  11.7  20.8  32.0   5.6 
11     17,716   Total: 1,694,087  60.9  10.3  21.6  31.5   7.6  (R-Hardy)  
        1.06%   VAP:   1,247,460  64.9   9.4  18.5  27.6   7.5 
12     28,508   Total: 1,704,879  56.3  12.4  21.6  33.6  10.1  (R-Clayton)
        1.70%   VAP:   1,244,293  60.4  11.4  18.6  29.7   9.9 
13      1,104   Total: 1,677,475  19.3  31.2  46.6  77.0   3.7  (D-Knight)
        0.07%   VAP:   1,168,818  23.7  31.3  41.6  72.3   4.0 
14      5,384   Total: 1,681,755  67.7   8.8  19.2  27.6   4.7  (R-Lowe) 
        0.32%   VAP:   1,235,788  71.4   8.1  16.2  24.0   4.6 
15        721   Total: 1,677,092  60.6   6.5  30.8  36.7   2.7  (R-Craig)
        0.04%   VAP:   1,250,145  65.2   5.9  26.5  32.1   2.7 



SBOE 2012 Map: The Presidential Math [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Presidential numbers filled in at long last. Ken Mercer looks to be the biggest GOP target on the list if you assume Garza is gone in the next election. But it'll still take some extra work to change any of the non-Garza R seats to D. Meanwhile, Berlanga's district looks like the toughest D seat to hold onto if she gets the non-Presidential straw for re-election after 2012. I'd expect her to hang on in a Presidential year, but Nueces County is trending more GOP and Cameron County isn't the strongest Dem county in the Valley.

SEMI-UPDATE: Looks like I had the Obama/McCain columns switched on districts 6 & 7 when I posted before heading out for the day. Unfortunately, those districts are not quite the Democratic strongholds might have appeared to be during the last 8 hours. That's now fixed. Working on the rest of the math now.


I'm still in the process of crunching numbers for this view of the SBOE districts. But since my blogging time is about to get cut short for the day, I didn't want to let this wait till later. The districts accounted for so far are the ones with full counties, two of the three Harris County districts, and District 7.

This preview offers a view of how competitive Leo's (District 6) and Bradley's (District 7) seats are at the outset of this decade. It'll still take a bit of demographic change to see those seats become truly competitive, but they're the ones worth keeping an eye on. It doesn't looks like the GOP did any substantial favors for Charlie Garza's District 1 - as long as there's a credible Dem candidate with some decent funding (and maybe some Obama spending in the El Paso market), that should be a seat the Dems get back next year. Berlanga's (District 2) whole counties, however, are 52.2-47.1 McCain. It'll take a bit of strength in the Hidalgo split for her to hang on. But while I think she should be able to hang on in 2012, she's probably a goner if her term comes up in 2014 instead of another Presidential year.

For the other districts, I've got the precinct assignments sorted out, but still need to run them against the precinct numbers for the 2008 election, conduct a little algebra, carry a few zeros, and I should have the list updated late tonight. In the meantime, feel free to plot world domination based on the districts where the math is shown.

                           OBAMA           McCAIN
DISTRICT  1 (R-Garza)    231,663 (53.5%)  197,922 (45.7%) 
DISTRICT  2 (D-Berlanga) 209,942 (52.1%)  190,333 (47.2%)  
DISTRICT  3 (D-Soto)     244,239 (59.3%)  163,700 (39.7%)
DISTRICT  4 (D-Allen)    285,989 (72.8%)  104,682 (26.6%)
DISTRICT  5 (R-Mercer)   292,234 (44.5%)  356,394 (54.2%)
DISTRICT  6 (R-Leo)      222,514 (41.0%)  315,746 (58.2%)  
DISTRICT  7 (R-Bradley)  241,189 (41.2%)  339,262 (58.0%)  
DISTRICT  8 (R-Cargill)  177,212 (31.4%)  381,757 (67.7%)
DISTRICT  9 (R-Ratliff)  268,402 (31.9%)  565,070 (67.2%)
DISTRICT 10 (R-Farney)   229,351 (37.9%)  367,170 (60.7%) 
DISTRICT 11 (R-Hardy)    132,628 (36.1%)  231,980 (63.1%)  
DISTRICT 12 (R-Clayton)  267,077 (42.5%)  354,746 (56.4%)	
DISTRICT 13 (D-Knight)   317,904 (68.7%)  141,400 (30.6%)	
DISTRICT 14 (R-Lowe)     194,588 (32.0%)  408,502 (67.1%)
DISTRICT 15 (R-Craig)    143,621 (24.8%)  429,958 (74.3%)

SBOE 2012 Map: The Comparisons

Here's your link to explore the old vs new district shapes for each SBOE district.

The green blobs are the current districts, while the black outlines are the plan that passed the House committee ...


SBOE 2012 Map: The Demographics

Majority-minority districts highlighted. District 6 is the highest minority population among the rest.

   |           TOTAL POPULATION           |      VOTING AGE POPULATION  
   | Anglo  Black   Hispanic  B+H  Other  | Anglo   Black   Hispanic  B+H  Other
 1 |  20.2    2.8    76.1    78.3   1.5   |  23.6    2.6     72.6    74.8   1.6
 2 |  22.8    3.0    73.2    75.7   1.6   |  27.0    2.9     68.8    71.3   1.7
 3 |  19.7    7.3    71.9    78.4   2.0   |  23.0    7.2     68.2    74.9   2.2
 4 |  13.2   29.7    53.7    82.4   4.4   |  16.2   30.4     49.1    78.9   5.0
 5 |  55.4    5.9    35.0    40.3   4.3   |  59.5    5.5     31.2    36.3   4.2
 6 |  44.3   12.6    33.1    45.0  10.8   |  48.0   11.8     29.8    41.0  11.1
 7 |  50.8   19.0    21.4    39.9   9.3   |  54.1   18.2     18.9    36.8   9.1
 8 |  60.6   11.8    23.8    35.0   4.4   |  64.6   10.9     20.4    31.0   4.4
 9 |  69.2   15.3    13.7    28.7   2.1   |  72.7   14.5     11.0    25.4   2.0
10 |  56.8   13.0    24.8    37.0   6.2   |  61.1   11.7     21.4    32.7   6.3
11 |  63.4   10.3    20.2    30.0   6.5   |  67.4    9.3     17.3    26.2   6.4
12 |  53.4   13.0    25.1    37.7   8.9   |  58.1   11.9     21.4    33.0   8.8
13 |  21.2   30.1    46.0    75.3   3.4   |  25.8   30.2     40.8    70.5   3.7
14 |  67.9    8.3    16.7    24.6   7.5   |  71.3    7.6     14.1    21.5   7.1
15 |  60.6    6.5    30.8    36.7   2.6   |  65.2    5.9     26.5    32.2   2.7

SBOE Map Moves Out of Committee

» Chron: House committee approves SBOE map

A 12-4 vote sends this to the floor of the House. The vote was party-line with the exception of Mike Villareal, the lone Democrat to vote in favor of it. Math to follow.


SBOE Redistricting: Solomons’ Third Try

House Redistricting Chair Burt Solomons takes a third effort at the new SBOE map. Here's the goods ...

Some issues with this that might come up:

- The minority numbers (200 report here) in Districts 1 & 2 are a hair lower than they presently are. It might warrant some skepticism over whether it's retrogression when you're dealing with a decimal place number. But the districts are already swing districts and if I had to take a semi-educated guess, I'd say that Solomons makes the El Paso district (1) less likely for the GOP incumbent to hold onto in favor of making the Corpus district (2) more likely to flip to the GOP.

- That little sliver of Ft. Bend County that extends from the inner-city Houston district. It's not to pick up minority population in Ft. Bend County. It's to pick up Larry Allen's residence in Fresno. Which sorta begs the question - why not improve the African-American numbers in the district by doing a bit more to include some of the Fort Bend precincts?

The minority voting age populations in Allen's District 4 are 30.4% Afr.-Am. and 49.1% Hispanic. Backing out to CVAP numbers, I'd suspect the Afr.-Am. number to come up by at least 5 points and the Hispanic numbers to drop by at least 10 or 15. So it's still effectively an African-American district for all intents and purposes. But this is increasingly the oddity of many such districts across all levels - Afr.-Am. numbers that are just barely good enough to control a primary election, but a Hispanic majority in terms of overall population. DFW's District 13 is no exception and it adds some more Hispanic voters in Irving over the initial redistricting plan. But in the case of District 13, the overall spread is only 10 points before you account for CVAP and primary participation.

- The real reason I doubt this will be the plan that gets signed off on has nothing to do with minority districts. Instead, I think it's because Terri Leo's district is likely to get competitive during the decade. Her district (6) starts off at 42.3% B+H. And the 11.1% "Other" is marginally Dem as well. But that B+H is predominantly Hispanic, so factoring in voting eligibility, it's likely to be at least as low as 30% B+H. Oh, and many of the Anglo population included in the district is in the Anglo Dem corridor on the western side of the inner loop. She could be a goner in this district before the decade is up.

- If there's to be a resurrection of the Don McLeroy era, it would mean that Kingwood and Clear Lake would have him as their representative. My apologies to all who reside there.

Full-width map here. KMZ file here.


The Friday Followup on Redistricting Hearings

» Amarillo Globe-News: House members consider districts
» FW Star-Telegram: Support building for new minority-dominated state House district in east Tarrant

I'm still recovering from the trek to Austin yesterday, so here's the newsy takes on yesterday's hearing. What jumps out the most, not surprisingly, is where there's talk of a new district sprouting up:

"While I don't think anything is locked in, my sense is that there seem to be more expressions of support for having the new district on the east side of the county," said Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, chairman of the Tarrant County delegation.

Much of the new district would likely be carved out of District 93, represented by freshman Republican Barbara Nash of Arlington.

Nash's district, which stretches northward and southward along the Dallas County line, has substantially increased its minority population over the past decade. Blacks and Hispanics make up 58 percent of the district, compared with 43 percent in 2000. Asians constitute nearly 9 percent.

Under at least one proposed map, Nash's district would be shifted somewhat to the west and would run northwestward in a ribbonlike pattern. It would also pick up a stronger Republican base, according to those familiar with the plan.

Meanwhile, Enrique Rangel's wrapup for the Amarillo paper notes that there may be some sort of means to eliminate only one seat from West Texas.

The Redistricting Committee continued earlier today, but the session was really one that saw Chairman Solomons laying out the SBOE bill. Rep. Alonzo spent some time focusing on Districts 1 and 2 as possible candidates for retrogression.


A Little Number-Crunching on the SBOE Map

First things first, it looks like the mapmakers realized that taking minority voters out of District 4 might be problematic. I'd started to see what the numbers looked like in District 7 with Ft. Bend included as a whole county, so for the sake of analysis, I'm including the numbers of what that district looks like in the first plan. But bear in mind that losing a portion of Ft. Bend minorities helps the GOP numbers in this district. Here's the 2008 Presidential numbers in the "101 plan" SBOE-7 district:

McCain - 261,726 (56.96%)
Obama - 194,509 (42.33%)

TV - 459,458 (62.7% turnout)
RV - 732,817

Even after the Fort Bend fix, the county still makes up a large share of the district - 44% of the electorate of the district in the initial plan - while Jefferson, Hardin & Orange make up ~30% of the electorate (based on 2008 numbers). The district should hold for the GOP throughout the decade. But it might be a question of whether Bradley could be challenged by someone from the pro-education wing of the GOP out of Fort Bend.

District 1 (Charlie Garza) is drawn with a few less Hispanic counties than the district he won in 2010. Since it's all full counties, the election math is easy:

McCain - 215,402 (48.26%)
Obama - 227,215 (50.91%)

TV - 446,291 (51.6% turnout)
RV - 864,496

In this district, the margins matter. Does Obama generate the same enthusiasm in 2012 that he had in 2008? Does Team Obama spend ad dollars in the El Paso market in order to swing New Mexico? Do the GOP deep pockets pour money in to protecting the 12th vote on the board? All of those factors will matter. It's the swingingest district in the state.

District 2 (Mary Helen Berlanga) includes a portion of Hidalgo County. I'm not yet ready to dive into the full counts based on those individual precincts, but looking at the full counties that are included from Cameron up to Matagorda & Wharton are 51.55% McCain and 47.8% Obama. I suspect that there's enough D strength in the Hidalgo portion to nudge the district for Berlanga in 2012. But is it enough to hold off the inevitable if some deep pockets from the GOP decide to create an expensive contest? I can see this one flipping to the GOP within the decade. And keep in mind that, to the extent anything was added to Berlanga's district, it was more Dem precincts in Hidalgo.

Unless I'm missing something, that's about it for the districts with any amount of swing in them whatsoever. Crunching the numbers on Ken Mercer's district will have to take a back seat for a few days. I'm doubtful that it's any less GOP than it was before, though. All in all, the district stands at 10-5 GOP, with one of the Dem seats being held by a GOP (SBOE-1) and another one being held very tenuously by a Dem (SBOE-2). If things take a turn for the worse, it could be a 12-3 GOP map. And if thing went all gangbusters for Dems, it can maybe reach the pinnacle of being a 9-6 GOP map (assuming SBOE-7 shifts). This is why elections in years ending with zero matter ... because the lines matter. Next time, vote. If that's still legal.


Solomon’s SBOE Map, cont’d.

I haven't had as much time to spend on the SBOE map as I'd like. Too busy prepping for tomorrow's House Redistricting hearing in Austin. The map doesn't fundamentally make any substantive change to the partisan tilt of the existing map. There are shifts that seem to allow for Don McElroy to make a comeback in another district and there's the shuffling to make District 10 safer (and I presume District 7 as well).

From a partisan perspective, I honestly think that there are only two possible opportunities to add new districts that could be a Dem district rather than a GOP district. Likewise, there are two districts that have a slight lean toward Democratic candidates - one presently represented by 2010 GOP winner Charlie Garza of District 1 and one still represented by Democrat, Mary Helen Berlanga (District 2). Berlanga's district could move away from her, especially if the GOP shift in Nueces County holds. She gained a little bit of population in Hidalgo County in the proposed map, but I'm not sure if it's enough to make the district stable from a partisan perspective. Demographically, it's still 70% VAP Hispanic.

There are two things that I think warrant a little bit of attention as the map goes to preclearance. One is District 5, which is Ken Mercer's district. Again, it's not any kind of wholesale change to the current district. But given the way the population has been evolving in the area, it might be possible that an Obama DOJ could be a bit more particular about the way it splits minorities in Travis County.

This map shows the partisan fracturing (for counties that I've mapped out, at least). That makes it clear what the mapmakers are trying to do to maintain a super-majority of Republicans on the board. But there's nothing against doing that.

Here's the CVAP demographics, which is the most conservative case for fracturing minorities in Travis County (the northern boundary of the outlined district). As drawn, the district is 32.6% Hispanic and 56.9% Anglo by VAP counts. Keep in mind that it includes a lot of Anglo Dems within Travis County. It may be an open question as to whether the minority numbers could be boosted enough to make the argument that the proposal truly dilutes their vote to the point that it is preventing an opportunity district. I think it all comes down to how particular the Obama DOJ wants to be with maps ... particularly at lower levels of government like this.

The redraw of District 7 is another interesting situation. The include Fort Bend whole within that district. As in - Missouri City and Stafford minority communities that used to be in Allen's District 4. District 4 is drawn to be 30% African-American. I don't have the 2001 numbers in front of me, but I can't help but think that's a drop from the current district. It's an easy fix and one that wouldn't impact the partisan lean of either district if it were fixed. But I'm going to have to do some number crunching to see whether that does anything better or worse for Bradley's competitive standing.

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