Redistricting 2011: Iowa

(Thanks for the cross-post! In December I handicapped the 2012 U.S. House races in Iowa. - promoted by desmoinesdem)

UPDATE from desmoinesdem: Click here for further discussion about where this map came from and why it appeared on this site.


At Daily Kos, I've been posting a series of diaries taking an early look at redistricting after the 2010 Census in each state. Today I posted a diary mapping possible scenarios in Iowa and Ohio, and was encouraged to post the Iowa portion here.

Read my proposal for Iowa below the fold...


The redistricting process in Iowa should be among the least contentious in the nation, with an independent commission redrawing the lines. Of course, Iowa is expected to lose a seat in reapportionment, bringing its total down to four (for a Midwestern state that once had 11 districts, it is quite a sobering development to now be on par with Nevada, Utah, and Kansas in population). Mapmakers last had to eliminate a seat after the 1990 Census, and back then they opted to pit freshman Republican Rep. Jim Nussle against Democratic Rep. Dave Nagle in a competitive eastern Iowa district. It is widely assumed that their solution this round will be a race between Dem Leonard Boswell of Des Moines and Republican Tom Latham of Ames, and my map reflects that conventional wisdom. The new 3rd District, home to both incumbents, would likely have voted for Obama by a respectable, if modest, margin, but in a race between two entrenched incumbents would be a tossup. Given Latham's proven ability to win easily in a slightly Dem-leaning district, he might even be favored against Boswell, who has had some close calls in the past and will be 78 years old in 2012.

As for the other three incumbents, they should be relatively comfortable. Note that all 99 counties are kept whole, as the commission has long strived to avoid county-splitting.


District 1 - Bruce Braley (D-Waterloo) -- district expands in area but stays Democratic-leaning, as would any northeastern Iowa seat.

District 2 - Dave Loebsack (D-Mount Vernon) -- but this district still stays an inch more Democratic.

District 3 - Leonard Boswell (D-Des Moines) vs. Tom Latham (R-Ames) -- competitive seat, probably voted for Obama by a 7-to-10-point margin, but would be a tossup in most election years. Both Reps. retain their geographical base, but Latham probably has a stronger record of winning over tough territory.

District 4 - Steve King (R-Kiron) -- stays the most Republican district, by far.

Iowa was probably the easiest state I've yet tinkered with, as counties were kept whole and the independent commission system means that I was able to suspend political considerations to some degree. I really think the final map will not look radically different than the above.

  • a slightly different map

    might put Linn County in Braley's district (meaning Loebsack would have to move to Johnson County)--no big deal.

    Also, IA-03 may end up stretching a further south rather than north. But I agree that all of the larger-population counties in central Iowa (greater Des Moines area) are going to end up in IA-03, instead of split between two districts as they have been this decade.

    • Doubt Linn and Johnson counties will be split

      Linn and Johnson counties pride themselves as the Technology corridor and basically share an aiport. I doubt they'd want to be split.

  • Seems Dallas, Polk, and Warren counties should be together

    Seems Dallas, Polk, and Warren counties should be together as I would consider that to be the Des Metro area.  It would help with road funding and other projects I would guess.

    I think Story would rather not be with Polk because of Iowa State.  

    Living in Marshall County, we could go to any district (though being in Steve King's district might be a stretch).

  • I think you've just about got it...

    Your map seems pretty much how I would draw the lines.

    The new 3rd is the hardest to come up with. In my mind, I had it as more of a skinny diamond shape than a triangle (including Warren, Madison, maybe Clarke). Maybe just a rectangle?

    When I was trying to square the numbers, Marshall county was always the odd one out. Noneed is right, there's no telling what district it will go to.  

  • Iowa Redistricting plans with 2011 census data -- you can design your own too within seconds

    With a new software tool that I developed, I have designed a number of high-quality redistricting plans with Iowa 2010 data, considering both population equality and compactness. I published the plans on my website ( You may be interested in taking a look. You can also download the software (data is already bundled) and easily run it with a double click. You can design tens of plans in seconds.

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