Iowa is among the small number of states that use a bipartisan (or nonpartisan) commission to perform redistricting every 10 years. The resulting maps are often very competitive and fair when compared with those of many other states.
However, I started thinking anout what would happen if, hypothetically, the party in charge of the legislature controlled redistricting rather than the commission. What would such a map look like? How would the current incumbents be affected?
The map the I created was designed to help Democrats because currently the legislature is under Democratic control and the governor is a Democrat. In this hypothetical scenario, Republicans cannot block the plan through filibusters or avoiding a quorum. Since Iowa is set to lose one of its districts after the 2010 census, my plan uses four districts rather than the five that currently exist.
My main goals were to:
-Maintain Democratic advantages in eastern Iowa
-Protect Leonard Boswell
-Dismantle Tom Latham's district and force him to run against Steve King
(Note from desmoinesdem: current map and ridiculous-looking gerrymandered map are after the jump.)
Here is the current map:
And here is the map that I ended up creating:
1st District (Blue)
Major Cities: Davenport. Dubuque, Waterloo
The new 1st district has all but two of the counties of the current 1st (Jones and Fayette). It picks up all of the counties along the Minnesota border, as well as a number of adjacent counties (basically the northern bits of Latham and King's districts). It is still considerably Democratic, although less so than before. However, the district is still largely centered in Democratic-leaning northeastern Iowa, so it should elect Bruce Braley or another Democrat easily enough.
2nd District (Red)
Major Cities: Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Burlington
This district keeps all of the counties currently located in Dave Loebsack's southeastern district, and it gains Jones County from the 1st, as well as a few Republican counties from Steve King's 5th district (Decatur, Ringgold, and Taylor). It also picks up 6 of the 12 counties in Leonard Boswell's 3rd district (5 of those 6 counties went for McCain, so this takes some of the pressure off of Boswell). The result is a very Democratic district in southeastern Iowa that is now able to dilute Republican influence from some of the neighboring districts. Loebsack or another Democrat would have no trouble getting reelected here.
3rd District (Purple)
Major Cities: Carroll, Des Moines, Fort Dodge
This district retains roughly half of the counties in Leonard Boswell's 3rd district, but also picks up Democratic counties from the 4th and 5th districts. Over half of the population in the district lives in Polk County (Des Moines). My main goal was to protect Leonard Boswell since he seems to have frequent trouble in his current district. He would be more than safe here; this district went for Obama by over 20 points, making it the most Democratic district in Iowa. If Tom Latham wanted to run against Boswell, he would first have to move to the 3rd (his Ames home is located outside of the district), and even then he would have a difficult race given the new nature of the district. Steve King's home in Crawford County has also been moved into this district, but it would be hopeless for him to run here, given his ultraconservative profile. This district would favor most any Democrat.
4th District (Green)
Major Cities: Ames, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Storm Lake
At first, I thought it would be impossible to put western Iowa into a Democratic district, but it was indeed possible. Obama only won this district by about 1%, but making it much more Democratic would have put Braley or Boswell in danger. The 4th keeps most of its current western base, but loses several western counties to the other 3 districts (including Crawford County, where Steve King lives). It gains many of the counties in Tom Latham's current 4th district, including Dallas and Story (where Latham lives) and Fayette County (located in the current 1st dstrict). This district has much of Latham's former territory, so he would have the best chance of winning in this district. But first he would probably have to face Steve King in a Republican primary. If the primary was divisive enough, or if King was the GOP nominee, this marginally Democratic district could be won by a moderate-to-conservative Democrat.
So while none of this will probably ever happen, I thought that it would be interesting to examine a hypothetical scenario. So… what do you all think? Comments, suggestions, ideas?