What you see here is Detroit, the next locus of the redistricting wars. The new congressional map proposed by the Republican-majority state legislature in Michigan achieves the Republicans’ goals – eliminate one Democrat, and shore up all the Republicans.
In the north, the map shores up Rep. Dan Benishek, R, with more Republican territory on the Lower Peninsula, including Traverse City. It also shores up Rep. Candice Miller on the thumb. In the South, they add increasingly Republican Monroe County to Rep. Tim Walberg, R, and take away increasingly Democratic Calhoun.
Then there’s Detroit. In the suburbs, they shore up Rep. Thad McCotter (11th District on the map) by giving him the most Republican parts of Oakland County. The city’s massive population loss puts both black-majority districts at risk, but this map solves the problem by adding black, Democratic suburbs to the north of Detroit (such as Southfield) to the district of Rep. Hansen Clarke, D (14th District on the map above) and black suburbs to the west of Detroit (such as Inkster) to Rep. John Conyers (13th District). The map even goes so far as to give the city of Pontiac to Clarke, which had seemed unlikely possibility, given the geometric ugliness of the final result.
As a result, both districts easily retain substantial black majorities in terms of both raw population and voting age population.
Rep. Sander Levin, D, in the 12th District, gets a pretty good deal. He loses some of the most Democratic parts of his district in south Oakland County, but he also loses the most Republican parts in central Macomb County. (Levin only took 53 percent of his district’s Macomb County segment in 2010, despite facing a non-entity.)
The biggest loser is Rep. Gary Peters, D, whose Oakland County district vanishes due to Michigan’s population decline. He is drawn in with Levin. One of the two men – probably Peters, unless Levin retires – will not be around after the next election.
The likely result of this map is Democrats minus one, Republicans plus zero. This, combined with Indiana’s R +1, D -1 map, and Missouri’s D -1 map, only begin to make up for the redistricting gains Democrats will make in Illinois (D +4, R -5).
(Democrats are also talking up big gains in California, but that state’s map, whose current form actually puts as many as five Democratic incumbents in tough or no-win districts, may prove far less generous than they seem to think.)
My redistricting scorecard says that Democrats have a margin of about five seats so far in the process, having redistricted all of their best states. The great equalizers will be Texas (where litigation is certain), Utah, Georgia, South Carolina, and especially North Carolina. Republicans in that last state could easily gain four seats by undoing the Democratic gerrymander of 2001.
In most other states (Pennsylvania, Ohio), Republicans have no serious chance of gaining ground, but will instead be satisfied just to shore up the members they have.