How To “Pack” CD-1: Balmer and McNulty’s Common Theme

You heard the complaints Friday, with varying degrees of factuality, from both Republicans and Democrats about the other side’s proposed redistricting maps and the underlying strategies they reflect. The Durango Herald’s Joe Hanel reported this weekend:

[House Speaker Frank] McNulty alleged that Democrats were trying to draw a map that Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, could use to beat freshman U,S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma.

Heath criticized McNulty for casting aspersions on his motives. Under Heath’s map, voters in Shaffer’s 4th congressional district would be 27 percent registered Democrats and 37 percent Republicans.

“If that’s carving out a district for someone, I’ll eat it,” Heath said.

Democrats, meanwhile, charged that the GOP plan would isolate Hispanic voters in one Denver district. [Pols emphasis]

While the geographic changes in the GOP maps are not big, they would move big blocks of voters from Denver’s close-in western or eastern suburbs into the heavily Democratic district in central Denver.

“What they’re attempting to do is pack Hispanics into one district,” said state Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, a member of the redistricting committee.

Much like Rep. Mike Coffman’s bogus allegation that Democrats had drawn maps that “take his home in Aurora out of the 6th Congressional District,” Speaker Frank McNulty’s inference that Democratic maps were somehow drawn to help Sen. Brandon Shaffer run for Congress are quite plainly ridiculous: last time we checked, a ten-point registration advantage for the GOP does not equal a district “carved out” for a Democrat. Similiarly, state Sen. Morgan Carroll tells the Colorado Independent she has no intention of running for Congress.

Republicans, on the other hand, have some pencil marks to rightly explain:

This is the area of the inner-ring West Side suburbs of Edgewater, Wheat Ridge, and Lakewood that Rep. Dave Balmer’s “Balmer 1” map would shave off from the competitive 7th Congressional District, and “pack” into solidly Democratic CD-1. According to the stats we were forwarded, this area breaks down as just over 41% Democratic, just about 35% independent, and a little over 23% Republican. In 2008, President Barack Obama received over 64% of the vote from this area, and in 2010, Sen. Michael Bennet garnered over 58%.

This is an area of Aurora proposed for “packing” in one of Speaker Frank McNulty’s maps. In exactly the same manner as Balmer’s map does on the West Side, this proposal shifts around 56,000 people into CD-1, nearly all the “adjustment” required to balance its population. In McNulty’s case, we’re talking about 56,000 people with a registration breakdown even more solidly Democratic than in Balmer’s proposal: almost 47% Democratic, over 33% independent, and not even 20% GOP. Obama got nearly 69% of the vote in this area, Bennet got 62%.

In both cases, it’s pretty easy to see why Republicans want these voters out of CD-7.

So folks, given that these principal complaints from Republicans–that Democrats had drawn Coffman’s house “out of his district,” or that Democratic districts were drawn to benefit specific future contenders–are readily shown false as you see above, how do you think Republicans are going to answer these much more straightforward charges of “packing” CD-1?

Perhaps the misinformation and hammed-up outrage is their attempt to not have to.

22 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    It’s great that our local Republicans read Wikipedia, y’know?

    The two aims of gerrymandering are to maximize the effect of supporters’ votes and to minimize the effect of opponents’ votes. One strategy, packing, is to concentrate as many voters of one type into a single electoral district to reduce their influence in other districts. In some cases this may be done to obtain representation for a community of common interest, rather than to dilute that interest over several districts to a point of ineffectiveness. A second strategy, cracking, involves spreading out voters of a particular type among many districts in order to deny them a sufficiently large voting bloc in any particular district. The strategies are typically combined, creating a few “forfeit” seats for packed voters of one type in order to secure even greater representation for voters of another type.

    Gerrymandering is effective because of the wasted vote effect. By packing opposition voters into districts they will already win (increasing excess votes for winners) and by cracking the remainder among districts where they are moved into the minority (increasing votes for eventual losers), the number of wasted votes among the opposition can be maximized. Similarly, with supporters holding narrow margins in the unpacked districts, the number of wasted votes among supporters is minimized.

    While the wasted vote effect is strongest when a party wins by narrow margins across multiple districts, gerrymandering narrow margins can be risky when voters are less predictable. To minimize the risk of demographic or political shifts swinging a district to the opposition, politicians can instead create more packed districts, leading to more comfortable margins in unpacked ones.

    For examples, class, please see the attached maps from Dave Balmer and Frank McNulty.

  2. BlueCat says:

    is to be as ruthless as Rs.  They  may as well since Rs accuse Dems of ruthlessness even when they propose new boundaries that still give Rs an advantage. McNulty crying about Heath being some kind of cutthroat is like the hunter claiming he had to blast  Bambi’s mommie in self defense. And I’m all out of tissue crying over Coffman’s dismay at perhaps not being able to better his social standing by trading an Aurora address for GV.  

  3. ajb says:

    Look at the recent budget negotiations in Congress. Obama proposes a pragmatic budget, Republicans propose something batshit-crazy, right-wing wet dream. Guess where the compromise is?

    Here, the Dems have proposed fairly even-handed maps with competitive districts. The Reps proposed blatantly gerrymandered districts. Gosh, I wonder where the “compromise” will be?

    Why can’t Democrats understand that Republicans regard them as the enemy and see no value in proposing reasonable alternatives?

  4. 20th Maine says:

    A few notes:

    * The Republican maps very closely align with the Supreme Court approved map that exists today.

    * The Republican maps coincide districts with communities of interest much more than the Dem maps.

    * Though there has obviously been an increase in population, communities of interest haven’t dramatically moved geographically.

    * And here’s what you’ve all been waiting for:  Republican maps give Hispanics a better chance of electing a Hispanic to Congress than the Dem maps that attempt to divide Hispanics.

    Edgewater clearly has more in common with West Denver than Springfield does with Durango and North Aurora has more in common with NE Denver than Boulder does with Grand Junction.

    These Dem maps don’t even pass the smell test.  And don’t forget, that four libs on the Supreme Court were embarrassed enough to vote against the initial Dem maps 10 years ago.  They’re all still there.

    These Dem maps make as much sense as a 12th century globe.

    • MADCO says:

      Let’s just put all the D’s in CD1.

      Obviously D vs. R is the community of interest that interests you most.  That way all the D’s would be in one community.  

      • 20th Maine says:

        The way I recall the registration breakdown, R, D & U are fairly evenly divided.  So if they were to pack each affiliation into a district, I don’t think that would work mathematically since we have seven districts.  You can ask sxp to back me up on the math…. or not.

        It’s like a regular MENSA convention around here all of a sudden.

  5. Dan WillisDan Willis says:

    When it comes right down to it redistricitng is an extemely partisan practice. Should it be? no. Is it? yes. This point was even emphasized by the the representative of legislative legal services during the opening meeting of the Redstricting Committee.

    So there should be no surprise from anyone that peacocks from both sides will spread their tail feathers and decry the other to be left wanting. If you know anything about peacocks, you know all male peacocks are “left wanting” so it makes the metaphor all the more accurate.

    At some point, preferrably sooner than later, the two sides will have to start working towards a center path. The map that eventually comes out of committee will look like a mixture of the two themes already presented.

    Lets just hope they are able to promote the BETTER points of both sets of maps.

    • 20th Maine says:

      to the Major League form of arbitration, where both sides get to submit one map and a non-partisan commission (preferrably over the courts) had to choose one.

      That would encourage both parties to submit a reasonable/tolerable/etc. map.  

      If this were in effect today, there’s no way the Dems submit the Rorschach tests they submitted last week.

      • bullshit!bullshit! says:

        Kidding! Not trying to out you, so sorry if I did.

      • bullshit!bullshit! says:

        Kidding! Not trying to out you, so sorry if I did.

        • 20th Maine says:

          I see you’re going with the ‘repeater’ strategy.  I suppose next everything will be in ALL CAPS.

          Since when did your side let the JV take over?  You’re obviously in over your head here.  We’ll get back to you when we do a poll on whether or 1 is a whole number or cancer is bad.

      • Dan WillisDan Willis says:

        The Redistriciting Committee is evenly split between D’s and R’s. That is about as close to non-partisan as we get these days.

        They have to come up with a map that passes an R-controled House and a D-controled Senate.

        The only difference from what you suggested, they are not bound to either/or, they can merge the concept represented into a map that everyone can live with, but probably no one will love.

      • MADCO says:

        What – like the UN?  Aliens from space?

        • 20th Maine says:

          I realize it’s problematic to actually assemble a non-partisan group.  But even the lib Supreme Court justices were shamed into voting against the intitial Dem maps 10 years ago.

          So it doesn’t have to be perfectly non-partisan to discourage ridiculous entries.

          • bullshit!bullshit! says:

            I love these guys, and it’s been long enough since last November that I actually missed the trolls. Thank goodness there’s redistricting to being them back out of the woodwork!

  6. americus says:

    Still can’t believe McNulty chose Balmer to lead this charge given his map in NC was struck down by the US S Crt!

    Circa 1993:  “Two gerrymandered majority-black districts were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority, proclaimed that “racial classifications of any sort pose the risk of lasting harm to our society. They reinforce the belief, held by too many for too much of our history, that individuals should be judged by the color of their skin.”

    “David Balmer, a boyish Charlotte lawyer and soon-to-be minority leader in the N.C. House, stepped forward with some alternative maps. He proposed that at least one more minority district, encompassing blacks and Indians, could be drawn in the southeastern part of the state. Not coincidentally, drawing such a district would make as many as five Democratic districts suddenly competitive.”

    by John Hood “Republican quota fiasco – including the Republican party in the blame on reverse discrimination”

  7. Your above post seems to make the case that competitiveness is the main criteria for redistricting. Shouldn’t CoPols be supportive of making CD-7 more competitive?

  8. This is one of the finest written diaries I have ever read on here – with visuals for demonstration and proof!

    Lastly – Congressional Districts aren’t meant to be ‘drawn’ to preserve the tenure of current Congressman – they’re made to preserve unity amongst regions

    McNulty should’ve considered that before criticizing Senator Heath

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