Sunday, June 19, 2011

Who ya gonna believe on redistricting plan: Paul Ryan or your own lyin' eyes?

"You have a plan that looks to be politically motivated," said [Michael] McDonald, a [redistricting scholar] political scientist at George Mason University in northern Virginia.

Democrat Dave Obey calls it "highly manipulative" and "crassly political."

Republican Paul Ryan calls it a "status-quo map" with "clean lines."
What they're talking about is a proposed redistricting plan for Wisconsin's Congressional seats, drawn in secret by Ryan and discussed behind closed doors by GOP members of the Wisconsin delegation.

Oh, that "status quo" map with the "clean lines" Ryan described? See for yourself, with special attention to the 3rd CD, which usesd to follow the Mississippi but now wanders halfway across the state.

It's main purpose, according to the Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert, is to boost freshman Republican Sean Duffy's prospects of holding the seat he won last November when Obey retired.

That's the district that changes the most, and it took some creative line-drawing to make it more winnable for Duffy. Gilbert explains:

Duffy's seat needs to grow by a little more than 20,000 people to meet the legal requirement that all eight House seats have the same population. On paper, that could be done by simply expanding Duffy's district a bit southward into Democrat Ron Kind's 3rd District, which needs to lose almost the same number of people.

Instead, the GOP plan shifts about 150,000 of Duffy's current constituents out of the 7th, and replaces them with about 170,000 people who now live in neighboring districts.

These big population swaps affect 13 different counties, and involve one notable example of creative line drawing. The plan carves out of Duffy's district a sizable Democratic chunk of central Wisconsin (Portage County and eastern Wood County) and splices it to Kind's western Wisconsin seat, using Adams County as a connecting corridor.
Redistricting is done by the legislature, not incumbent members of Congress, in theory, and the Ryan plan has not been introduced in the legislature yet. But look for it to be done and rubber-stamped sometime soon, before the recall elections in August which may well cost the GOP their State Senate majority and give Dems a voice in the proceedings.

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