Local Census Data Released; Redistricting Possibilities

JGFitzgerald -- February 4th, 2011

Census figures for Virginia are out, and so is the redistricting guessing game. The process kicks off when the gov calls a special session for the spring to redraw districts. 

Virginia has 8M people, up from 7.1M ten years ago (13 percent growth). Rockingham County matched the state growth rate, at 12.7 percent, going from 67,725 to 76,314, adding 8,589 people. Harrisonburg grew 20.9 percent, from 40,468 to 48,814, an addition of 8,446 people.

26th District map Rockingham County

The 26th House of Delegates district (where Lowell Fulk, Gene Hart, and Kai Degner have run in recent years) will look almost the same. It has to lose about 2,700 voters. One option is to peel off a Harrisonburg precinct, and move it to the 25th (where Greg Marrow ran). This approach has many drawbacks, and history has never shown common sense to be a deal-breaker in redistricting.

The other option is to give a couple of the precincts along U.S. 11 (Lacey Spring and Tenth Legion might be about the right size) to the 15th, the district where John Lesinski ran. This would make the 15th tougher for anyone running against Todd Gilbert, but would continue incrementally shifting the 26th from solid GOP.

The state Senate district and its seat currently held by Mark Obenshain, won’t change much.

In the 6th Congressional District (and its neighbors, the 5th and 9th) skewed districts are possible because two congressmen live so close to one another. h/t to Adam Sharp for this description of those possibilities.

The Sixth will have to take in Winchester or Charlottesville. Winchester would make sense, Charlottesville wouldn’t, but that distinction won’t be a showstopper.

The references to the silliness of the process are not editorializing, and not limited to either party. Rockingham County would fit in two House districts instead of four if Democrats hadn’t worked to cut the Republican advantage in 1990. Dick Cranwell would have continued to serve in the House if he hadn’t been put in the same district with another Democrat in 2000 by Republicans trying to increase their number of seats in the House. Roanoke could sensibly be added to the 9th (which has to take part of the 6th, the 5th, or Tennessee) if Representative Bob Goodlatte didn’t live where he does.

A lot of numbers will work. They’re at the VPAP and here’s a fun gadget to experiment with redistricting alternatives.  Ultimately the result will be dictated not by geography, but by politics.

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