Senate Democrats have released their own proposal for a new Senate district map. They plan to introduce as a floor amendment during this afternoon's debate on S455, the GOP Senate map proposal.
The Democrats' plan, titled “Fair and Legal” - a favorite phrase of Redistricting Chairman Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg – does appear to be slightly more geographically compact than Rucho’s latest map. That’s mostly because the Democrats didn’t try to create majority-minority districts, which tend to be anything but geographically compact.
The Democrats’ map is similar to the GOP plan only at the southern and western ends of the state. Otherwise, most districts are different, with different county pairings shuffling the lines from Perquimans all the way across to Ashe.
Looking at the statistics for the last presidential election, the Democrats’ map would create 24 districts in which McCain won by more than 55%, 16 districts in which Obama won by more than 55%, and 10 that were within a 10-point spread.
By comparison, using the same race, the Republican map would create 26 safe GOP districts, 15 safe Dem seats, and 9 swings.
Only four districts in the Democrats' plan would have over 50% African-American voter registration. Only one would have over 50% BVAP (black voting age population). By comparison, the GOP plan creates nine majority-minority districts where BVAP is over 50%.
The Democratic plan would “double-bunk” five pairs of senators, like the GOP plan did, but only three Democrats would be targeted, not four.
As in the GOP plan, Chapel Hill Democrats Bob Atwater and Ellie Kinnaird would be drawn into the same district, as would Republicans Warren Daniel & Debbie Clary in Burke/Cleveland. (Clary announced several weeks ago she's planning to retire.)
But the other double-bunkings would change. Instead of doubling up Sens Phil Berger (R) and Don Vaughn (D) in Guilford, Pete Brunstetter (R) and Linda Garrou (D) in Forsyth, and Jerry Tillman (R) and Harris Blake (R) in Moore, the Democrats’ map would pair
- Dan Soucek (R) and Austin Allran (R) in Catawba,
- Andrew Brock and Stan Bingham in Davidson, and
- Buck Newton (R) and Clark Jenkins (D) in Edgecombe.
Democrats say their map splits fewer counties than the GOP plan: 14, rather than 19. That's a consideration under the state constitution's Whole County Provision. The Stephenson ruling reaffirmed that county lines must be taken in account wherever they don't conflict with the Voting Rights Act or other legal requirements.
The Democratic map also splits far fewer precincts, they say – 6 as opposed to 257 in the GOP map – although keeping precincts whole is not a required legal consideration in North Carolina redistricting, as far as I can tell.