Heads up on the next round of Iowa redistricting

Iowa’s “unique” redistricting process is about to begin, and Mike Glover provides an overview for the Associated Press.

That [non-partisan] Legislative Services Agency prepares a map of new congressional and legislative districts, and that initial map must be submitted to the Legislature by April 1. In preparing the map, staffers can use only population data to propose districts that are as close to equal and as compact as possible.

They are banned from considering data such as voter registration or voter performance, and they don’t have access to the addresses of incumbent legislators and congressmen until after the map is prepared. Once the map is drawn, they go back and figure out which lawmakers are in which district.

“Many things make the Iowa process unique, including the prohibition on the use of political data,” [Tim] Storey [of the National Conference of State Legislatures] said. […]

The Legislature can’t amend the first plan, only vote it up or down. If it’s voted down, staffers will prepare a second, also not subject to amendment. If that plan is rejected, staffers start again and prepare a third plan, which can be amended.

Bleeding Heartland will closely follow the upcoming redistricting. The new Congressional district lines will receive the most media attention, because Iowa is almost certain to lose one of its five Congressional districts. The new Iowa House and Senate district lines will alter the careers of many state legislators and could affect which party controls the upper and lower chambers after 2012.

Last year Bleeding Heartland user ragbrai08 wrote a must-read piece on the 2001 redistricting process in Iowa. That post also looked at three of the many possible ways Iowa could be drawn into four Congressional districts. The redrawn third district, containing much of the Des Moines area, is likely to be a battleground seat in 2012.

UPDATE: I forgot to link to this guest post by possumtracker1991, who tried to figure out what Iowa’s four Congressional districts might look like if we had politicized redistricting. As ludicrous as that map is, it’s no sillier than some real maps used in states like Pennsylvania and Florida.  

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  • Should be interesting

    A very cynical former Iowan who moved out of the country told me that there is no such thing as a truly non-partisan commission.  Of course this person also said that Obama probably pocketed the Nobel Peace Prize money with the media’s compliance.  This is why I get so frustrated with so many “unique” theories out there.  

  • Iowa House and Senate

    I was bored this afternoon, and started playing around with Dave’s Redistricting App


    and I think we’re about to see some major changes in the Iowa House and Senate make up.

    For example, using 2010 pop estimate numbers, each House district is going to represent around 30,000 voters; each Senate district just over 60,000. If we use those numbers with the current districts, there’s some incredible mismatches.

    For example, Rep. Cecil Dolechek’s (R) district (96) covering parts of Montgomery, Adams, Taylor Ringgold and Union Counties is almost 3,000 voters under quota. Conversly, Ralph Watts’ Dallas County district (47) is more than 12,000 voters over quota.

    In the Senate the discrepancy is even more pronounced. Sen. Kim Reynolds (R) sprawling SW Iowa district (48) is 4,000 voters short. Sen. Jerry Behn’s (R) Dallas and Boone Co. district (24) is nearly 16,000 voters over.

    In the end, I’m not sure what this means. Surely, more than a few “country legislators” are going to be out of work and more than a few new suburban legislators are going to take their place. As for which party this benefits, that’s going to take some more analysis.

    • there will be huge turnover

      There always is.

      Dallas County has been the fastest-growing county in Iowa by far over the last decade, so they will no doubt end up with more representation (probably a Republican). On the other hand, growth in other parts of the Des Moines metro could benefit Democrats. It is impossible to know where the lines will be drawn. If my own House district 59 takes on some of the western Des Moines precincts, it will become much more Democratic-friendly.

      • Iowa Senate

        Ok, so I punched the Iowa Senate districts into the redistricting app, and here’s some trivia I came up with (based on 2010 pop. estimates, allowing for some error on my part)

        Most proportionally over-represented district:

        District 4 (Sen. Jack Kibbie (R), Emmetsburg) -6,469 voters

        Most proportionally under-represented district:

        District 34 (Sen. Dick Dearden, Des Moines (D)) +18.642 voters

        Closest district to accurate representation:

        District 41 (Sen. David Hartsuch, Bettendorf (R) -183 voters

  • Kook from Kiron

    I just hope they reject the proposals. That we eventually end up with Steve King and Tom Latham in the same district.