Okay, I lied. I am going to throw out a redistricting idea, just because I’ve been playing with the numbers and its too fun not to. A lot of talk has been given to the idea of trying to create a majority-minority district, or rather a district that comes very close to being one, by radically redrawing the state’s congressional districts. Frankly, it doesn’t look like that’s possible and, even if it were done with several counties split up between districts you couldn’t create a district that would be a given for a black candidate in a general election. Besides, with the political mood right now between Democrats and Republicans in the legislature, anything bold that gets proposed by either side is going to be shot to hell by the other, and challenged in court if it manages to somehow make it out. So, here’s an idea, drawn up from playing with census data and the district numbers, that might be the most sensible and workable solution. On top of that, it’s one that doesn’t work to gerrymander the districts, but tries to get the redistricting process done in a way that would make congressional elections competitive for both parties in at least three of the four districts, with the demographic trends in the third hopefully shifting it in a competitive direction. So here goes.
- Start with AR-02. All that needs to be done here is to shave off about 22,000 people. That’s acheivable simply by moving Yell County into the 4th, which needs to gain in population. That leaves the 2nd pretty much the same, with Pulaski County balancing out the others to make it a swing district.
- AR-04 gets Yell County from the 2nd and Sebastian County from the 3rd. This puts the 4th well over the numbers it needs, about 70,000 over what it needs…
- Since the 4th gains dramatically from having Sebastian and Yell, it has to lose something big. Thus Jefferson County could be moved into AR-01. This would be balanced politically by the growth in several of the district’s more conservative counties (Lonoke, Craighead, and Baxter) and, like the 4th, put it well over the roughly 40,000 the district needs to gain.
- Taking Sebastian County out does more damage to AR-03 than the 93,000 or so it needs to lose, so to balance that out three small counties can be moved from the 1st into the 3rd-Searcy, Stone, and Izard, competitive counties that may be somewhat more inclined to swing Democratic than many of the others in the third at this point but which won’t guarantee victory alone.
Again, I drew this little idea up mostly for fun, but it’s a serious proposal. It accomplishes redistricting without dramatically changing or gerrymandering any of the four districts and with minimal changes for that matter. What’s more, it offers both parties a chance to be competitive, which is a much better thing than having one party solidified in power. Is the idea going anywhere? I’m not going to even try to take it any further than this, truth be told, but if the legislature runs with it, hey I’d be pleasantly surprised.