You hear that?
Yeah, I can’t either. I’ve been straining myself trying to hear Republican complaints about how the Independent Redistricting Commission is a Star Chamber run by puppeteers in a White House sub-basement, taking orders from Rahm Emanuel, Van Jones and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Hmm. Can’t hear anything.
That can’t have anything to do with the release of the legislative maps yesterday, can it? You know, where the Republicans got more than they could have hoped for?
Well, maybe not all they could have hoped for: Rick Stertz still voted against it. He heard that the draft map would allow a Democrat to win an election somewhere, I guess.
Before I set my phaser to “rant,” I should tell you a little bit about what I think “competitive” means.
It doesn’t mean thirty districts that are even politically. Such a map would be just as gerrymandered as a map to benefit one or the other party would be. What it means is that a change in the overall political wind would result in a change in the legislature. The current map doesn’t do that: a strong Democratic year in 2006 elected Janet Napolitano by a large margin and replaced Republican congressional incumbents with Harry Mitchell and Gabrielle Giffords. That year, the Democrats made gains in the legislature, but didn’t tip either house. The math made changing the legislature impossible.
This could still mean there are safe seats. A district drawn in Mesa will be strongly Republican, one drawn on Tucson’s south side will be strongly Democratic, and that makes perfect sense. But, will there be enough seats in play that the legislature changes when public opinion does?
If you ask that question of this map, the answer is no.
The commission is claiming eight competitive districts, which would have to include districts with as much as 55 or 56 percent Republican registration. It’s a bit of a stretch, to be sure.
I’ve gone over the numbers, performance and registration, with two people, and the conclusion is the same: nine solidly Democratic districts and fifteen solidly Republican districts. Democrats could run the table, and the best they can hope for is a tie. In other words, it is near impossible for the people of Arizona to change the face of the legislature.
Well, there’s one good thing about this. It will put an end to the tired and whiny trope that the commission is working at the behest of Democrats.
Hmm…I think I do hear something. It’s the Republicans celebrating yet another decade of guaranteed legislative control, no matter what the people want.