Let redistricting fun begin: The 'Incumbent Entrenchment' congressional map model

03/21/2011 06:21 PM

Over the coming months, lawmakers will begin drawing the new congressional and state legislative lines, which always yields a fun debate as people speculate what the districts might look like.

Pure Politics kicked that off Monday with a first offering of one potential map for the 2012-2020 congressional districts.

The goal state lawmakers have is to get the districts as close as possible to the target average number of 723,228. You can see the growth over the last 10 years here.

Currently, the 3rd District that covers most of Jefferson County is the only one close to that target number. The 1st District in western Kentucky and 5th District in Eastern Kentucky are well under that figure. And the 2nd, 4th and 6th districts are way over that target.

As former Republican Congressman Ron Lewis said on Pure Politics, the members of Congress “will certainly be looking out for their own personal political interests” when they suggest potential new district lines to state lawmakers.

With that in mind, here is one map designed in the Pure Politics political lab that makes changes to even out the population and would incorporate changes favorable to the incumbents:

THE INCUMBENT ENTRENCHMENT maps:

*1st District *

The 1st, represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville since 1995, needs to gain nearly 40,000 more people.

Under the Pure Politics “Incumbent Entrenchment model:”

Losses: Would lose half of Ohio County to the 2nd District. (Ohio County is currently split in half between the two congressional districts).

Gains: Taylor and Green counties from the 2nd District. And it would capture the rest of Lincoln County from the 6th District. Currently, Lincoln straddles the 1st and 6th districts.

New population: 727,793

2nd District

The 2nd District, represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie of Bowling Green since 2009, is currently the largest in the state and would need to lose about 37,000 constituents.

Under the Pure Politics “Incumbent Entrenchment model:”

Losses: Would lose two Republican-leaning counties of Green and Taylor to the 1st District. And it would lose Washington County, which narrowly went against Guthrie for Democrat David Boswell in the 2008 congressional race, to the 6th District. It also would lose about 2,000 of the 19,470 people in Jefferson County who currently are in the 2nd District.

Gains: Would pick up the rest of Ohio County from the 1st District.

New population: 723,712

3rd District

The 3rd District, represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth of Louisville since 2007, grew at roughly the same pace as the rest of Kentucky over the last decade.

As a result it would only need to pick up about 2,000 of the 19,470 southern Jefferson County residents who are in precincts that fall in the 2nd District.

New population: 723,626

4th District

The 4th District has been represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis of Hebron since 2005. With rapid growth in Oldham and Boone counties, among others, the District is nearly 20,000 people over the target number of constituents.

Under the Pure Politics “Incumbent Entrenchment model:”

Losses: Fleming and Carter counties that are more Democratic would go to the 6th District, as would the half of Bath County (which is currently split between the 4th and 5th Districts). And Elliott County would go to the 5th District.

Gains: The rest of Scott County. Even though geographically, Scott County is split nearly evenly between the 4th and 6th Districts, about 42,000 of the more than 47,000 people from the county are in the 6th District. But that area, which includes Georgetown, has been trending solidly Republican, which would be a welcome addition for Davis and, perhaps, a welcome subtraction for 6th District Congressman Ben Chandler, a Democrat.

New population: 724,924

5th District

The 5th District has been represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset since 1981. It covers most of eastern and southeastern Kentucky and is the least populous district in Kentucky, according to the 2010 Census numbers. It needs about 53,000 additional constituents to hit the target number.

Under the Pure Politics “Incumbent Entrenchment model:”

Losses: The Democratic-leaning Rowan County, which includes Morehead, to the 6th District, as well as the half of Bath County that also goes to the 6th District.

Gains: Elliott County from the 4th District and two populous and conservative counties from the 6th District: Jessamine and Garrard counties.

Population: 717,094

6th District

The 6th District has been represented by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles since 2004. Chandler narrowly defeated Republican challenger Andy Barr in the November election. So he will no doubt be hoping for a map that would be more favorable for him — with more Democratic-leaning districts for the next go-around.

The district is population heavy by about 36,000 people, so it will have to change.

Under the Pure Politics “Incumbent Entrenchment model:”

Losses: Would send the half of Scott County and to 4th District, and the rest of Lincoln County to the 1st District. The 5th District would get Garrard and Jessamine counties.

Gains: It would pick up Democratic-leaning Rowan County from the 5th, all of Bath County from the 5th and 4th districts and Fleming and Carter counties from the 4th district to extend the 6th District east along the I-64 corridor. It also would pick up Washington County from the 2nd District in the southwestern corner of this version of the district.

New population: 722,218

(Disclaimer: These maps are for discussion and entertainment purposes and in no way represent any official versions. Keep watching mycn2.com for more variations of the congressional maps)

- Ryan Alessi

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