Colorado Gets an Eighth Congressional District

As expected, Colorado will have a new congressional district in 2022. From The Denver Post:

Colorado will gain a seat in Congress starting in 2023, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday — a widely expected change that will reshape the state’s congressional districts and give Coloradans a stronger voice in Washington, D.C.

The creation of an 8th Congressional District follows a decade of population gains along the Front Range. It marks the first time in 20 years — since the 7th District’s creation north and west of Denver in 2001 — that Colorado will gain representation.

While it will be up to Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission to draw the lines for Colorado’s new 8th seat, the state’s leftward shift over the past couple of election cycles means that the new seat is likely to lean toward Democrats.

Here’s more from National Public Radio on the changes around the country, including which states gained/lost seats for 2022.

44 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DaCashman says:

    I don't see how it would lean Democrat. The 8th district can really only be drawn one of three ways – Weld + Larimer; Weld + Arapahoe; Arapahoe + Douglas. The first one *could* lean Democrat if you fill in the extra population with parts of Boulder County, but only a little, and it would not really follow the guidelines of Amendments Y and Z. Weld + Arapahoe makes a lean red district, unless you cram Longmont in there, but it could be even more than lean if it's drawn in accordance with Y and Z. And the Arapahoe + DougCo district is safe Republican.

    Granted, this is based on estimates. Maybe I'll be wrong when the actual data comes in. But I think we should assume this district will be at least pink if not red.

    D3 will also get redder…it's going to swallow up most if not all of the D5 counties that will be left in the wake of D5 becoming just El Paso. Pueblo wants out, and Grand wants in. All that is going to make this district redder, and it elected Q*Bert by several points against DMB already. I hope Kerry Donavan has a lot of money to spend.

    If you're expecting a statedwide D+13.5 margin like with Biden, in a midterm year with a Democrat incumbent, I think you're sorely mistaken. Frackenlooper, as popular as he is, couldn't crack double digits against Cory Gardner…not the most popular guy. I do think 2022 will be good for Colorado Democrats, but maybe don't get your hopes up for a 6-2 margin in the House delegation. 4-4 is my bet, maybe 5-3.You'll keep all your statewides, beat Ganahl, and keep your legislature, but Colorado Republicans are poised to make at least one gain in D8.

    • ParkHill says:

      Yes, a lot of the growth from the past 10 years has been front-range North, so the 8th district probably has to come from that area, by squishing the Denver Suburban districts to pick up the growth from the South suburbs.

    • notaskinnycook says:

      I’m not sure how you get Weld and Arapahoe Counties into the same district; they don’t touch anywhere, Cashman. Unless you extend a flagpole across Adams and there’s a pretty good chance those Adams County folks would pitch a fit about that.

  2. ParkHill says:

    Each district will need to have a population of approximately 740,000.

    Here are the top 20 counties. Even if you start from scratch, to remain geographically concise, you need to build the districts out of the bigger population centers, and then maybe add in parts of neighboring counties.

    CTYNAME    pop2021
    Denver County    749103
    El Paso County    737031
    Arapahoe County    666176
    Jefferson County    589859
    Adams County    529555
    Larimer County    369377
    Douglas County    367484
    Weld County    343846
    Boulder County    329316
    Pueblo County    170428
    Mesa County    156728
    Broomfield County    72747
    Garfield County    60781
    La Plata County    56065
    Eagle County    55495
    Fremont County    47599
    Montrose County    43862
    Delta County    31718
    Summit County    31399

    • ParkHill says:

      The front range sort of falls out logically if you can figure out how to split up the Denver Suburbs.

      What to do with large-in-area, but thinly-populated Western Slope and Eastern plains.

      The eternal question is what to do with Pueblo. Pueblo, Weld and Eastern plains? But then District 3 picks up Boulder? Take that Bee-bee!

      You can see the temptation to merge Weld and Larimer, which would be interesting because a pink Weld/Larimer would force the GOP to run a not-crazy Republican. That isn’t likely because the red parts of those counties are pretty damn right-wing. 

      Larimer/Boulder would be very Democratic in leaning, leaving Weld to dominate the Eastern plains.

      • Mike W. says:

        You'd need a Larimer+Weld district to make a Boulder+Western Slope district. If Boulder+Larimer remains, the Western Slope can still stand alone without Pueblo because it picks up so much of the current 2 and 5. 

        • ParkHill says:

          That's right, and I'd rather see that than what I suggest below. Boulder-West slope would be competitive Dem, and Larimer-Weld would be competitive GOP.

          I assume there will be pressure (psychological if not lobbying) to keep many of the same counties and communities of interest together.

          • Mike W. says:

            Boulder all the red western slope counties (so, skip Summit, Eagle, Pitkin, etc.) went to Polis by 19. Its hilariously blue.

            Sadly a Northern Colorado district and a Pueblo EVERYTHING else but Denver metro would be lean R seats that Polis lost by ~4 and I don’t think you could rely on blue trends to flip em. And then you’d still have to do something with DougCo. It’d be an interesting way to try and keep the absolute psychopaths out of congress save for Lamborn, but not really worth it in the long run.

      • ParkHill says:

        Yeah, my initial take isn't gonna work. Western Slope stays together, and most districts will need to stay pretty much the same except for two things:

        (1) Pueblo moves to the Eastern plains with Greeley, as the Western slope has gained some population.

        (2) The new district will come out of the metro suburbs due to heavy growth there, so they will have to rearrange.

        You can make two districts (CO-06 & CO-08) out of some combo/split of:

        Adams County    529555
        Arapahoe County    666176
        Douglas County    367484
        Elbert County    27581

        Everything else is just pushing things around the edges to even up the populations.

        Three Democrats, three Republicans, and probably a split R/D out of the Denver Suburbs. The Democrats suffer due to their heavy concentration in Denver and Boulder/Larimer, unless we do the Texas thing and do a pie chart out of Denver and the suburbs.

    • Dano says:

      The actual population per district is 3 districts with 722,771 and 5 districts with 722,772.

    • DaCashman says:

      El Paso will have D5 all to itself, and Denver County has too many people so D1 will have to be smaller than that. Arapahoe County will be domianted by D6, Boulder and Broomfield by D2, Mesa by D3, and JeffCo by D7. Adams, Larimer, Douglas, Weld, and Pueblo are the potential places where D8 could be (though making one out of Pueblo is VERY hard.) Whatever counties are left over will be swallowed up by D3, D4, and maybe D2 or D8.

  3. 2Jung2Die says:

    I drew a hypothetical 8th district as a narrow oval connecting Rifle and Nucla, but couldn't get to 740,000 without counting guns.

  4. kwtree says:

    I like the idea of making D5 and D3 more competitive, forcing more mainstream candidates who actually want to legislate. Not much that can be done about D4 if D3 and D5 are tweaked. Maybe it could be made pinker, less blood red, but registering and GOTV ( i.e., Dems following up on the dreaded demographic changes) with newly eligible minority voters are moving the center that way, anyway.

    Vertigo had an interesting take on carving out an 8th district- southern suburbs/ Highlands ranch/ upper Dougco. This would bust up Lamebrain’s fiefdom and make the seat competitive. Including more blue areas in CD3 would cut Qbert’s slim margin, forcing her to actually represent the other half of her constituents. Or letting a sane Democrat or centrist rep that district. 

    This is a screenshot from a CDmap published by the Colorado Sun, showing counties with 2011 population counts.

    Something similar needs to be done for state leg districts. There isn’t really any reason we must tolerate a lunatic from state D15 every term. It was already a gerrymandered district without a coherent pattern, drawn in 2011 to be “safe red”. It doesn’t need to continue to be that way.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      I have acquaintances in both Park and Chaffee counties. At this time, they have no representation in Congress because Lamborn doesn't care. Be good to get those two counties in another district.

    • ParkHill says:

      Are those numbers 2020 estimated counts? I found a spreadsheet of 2021 population estimates, but I don't think we yet have the actual 2020 county-by-county numbers from the census.

      In any case, there are 2 counties that basically make up a single district:
      El Paso

      3 counties that make up 3/4 of a district:

      4 Counties make up 1/2 of a district:

      2 counties make up 1/4 of a district:

      To minimize county splits, you can put the halvers together, then deal with the suburban ring.

      Are the South suburbs of Denver really that Republican any more, what with college educated White people rejecting Trump? CO-06 went pretty strongly for Biden, but we don't have 2020 county-level election results, yet.

      • kwtree says:

        Park, my bad. Those are 2011 population counts on the map,  because it is a 2011 map, posted by the  Colorado Sun  which has excellent redistricting coverage. The Sun is using 2019 population estimates for its guesstimating.

        2011 maps are the latest US House district maps available. As you note, we only have estimates as yet for  2020 population stats. The  Colorado Redistricting Commission has those available to members as estimates, hopefully, if not yet published on  the site. Its site says they expect to have the detailed population data available to the public  by September 21, 2021. 

        Household wealth seems to me to be a greater determiner of being a loyal Republican, just based on my own knowledge of my own middle / working class Jeffco Democratic  district, vs neighboring higher ncome Republican ones. I expect other  south suburban districts have the same dynamic. Higher wealth does go along with being demographically whiter, because, y’know, racism. 


        • ParkHill says:

          I used to have faith in those categories, but recent elections seem to have scrambled the game.

          The White college educated category is now strongly Democratic, as we saw with the suburbs voting for Biden. The “suburbs” are now gaining younger and more diverse people – witness Georgia. We have seen that in Jefferson, Adams and Aurora, but I don’t know about the South suburbs of Denver.

          The White rural and evangelical category is now strongly Republican, no matter what their economic status. Basically, the Fox audience is hard-core Republican, and across rural America, there is no piercing that bubble.

          Whatever “working class” still means, I think the rural-urban divide plus Fox news and the evangelical cult still dominates the creation of political identity. Wealth is a factor, but there aren’t THAT many rich people, and that’s why the Republican Party has made a major major investment in marketing to low-income/low-info voters and the culture wars. 

    • DaCashman says:

      Not to sound derogatory but "lunatics" make up 35% of the American voting population, if you equate "extremist" with "lunatic." We actually see them underrepresented in legislatures, although a lot less lately.

  5. MartinMark says:

    Is there a good resource to explain how the redistricting commission will do its work?  Is there some sort of basic formula or method they need to use as a standard or starting point?

    I see people talking here about flagpoles and ovals, and (not to be naive, but) I thought that was not how the process of "partisan color blind" redistricting is supposed to work.

    • Dano says:

      IN a nutshell, in order of importance

      1. numerically equal as possible (Congress districts have to be within a person, legislative have a little more leeway)

      2. To the extent possible keep counties whole.

      3. To the extent possible keep cities whole.

      4. Do NOT consider voter partisan registration.

      5. Do NOT consider locations of current representatives or candidates.

      6. Preserve Communities of Interest (a nebulous term largely left to be defined by the Commissions)

      • MattC says:

        "To the extent possible keep counties whole"

        Another reason to eliminate counties. 
        Example- start with any county with less than five thousand residents has to join a neighboring county. 

        • DaCashman says:

          County governments are good because they provide a form of municipal governance for areas too sparsely populated and too geographically spread out to sustain genuine municipal governments. They also allow for collective governance of multiple areas each entitled to their own municipal governments but also with many similarities. For example, I think it goes without saying that Lafayette, Boulder, and Louisville are all entitled to their own unique existence, but also have much in common with each other that they don't have with other parts of Colorado. The idea of a county fixes that. The idea that our counties should be redrawn I think makes a lot of sense, but getting rid of them altogether sounds way too extreme.

  6. Dano says:

    We don’t have the final census numbers yet and won’t have them until August, so I am using 2019 estimates slightly adjusted to equal the official statewide number we were given yesterday. Here is one concept I have:

    I hope you can see this (I’m not sure now to attach these things.)

  7. Sparky says:

    I know it's objectively a bad idea, but I would give up two safe Democratic seats if it meant they could redistrict Boebert out of existence. There would be a lot of value to removing the profound embarrassment she brings on the state.

    • Dano says:

      Actually, the map I was trying to upload and was unsuccessful at had D8 as a leaning D district which includes NW Colorado over to Larimer (and has Boebert in it)

      The rest of the districts on this map are: 1 safe D, 2 safe-D, 3 (all of southern Colo) – toss-up, 4-safe R, 5-safe R, 6- D leaning, 7-safe D

  8. Dano says:

    ooh here, let me try this link: Map on my Facebook page

  9. ParkHill says:

    Here is a twitter thread from David Wasserman at Cook Political that presents two possibilities for Colorado's 8th district, similar to the options discussed here. Merge Fort Collins & Greeley for a swingy Northern district, or build the 8th out of the Denver South and West suburbs and exurbs which would also be somewhat swingy. 

    There is value in forcing the Republicans to compete in a swing district, as they might be forced to run a non-crazy person. It might also force the Democrats to run an effective campaign.

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