In the last installment of this series, we discussed how a Supreme Court redistricting plan might look if a partisan Democratic (and a Republican) redistricter were to draw the lines, given recent population estimates.In this installment, we will redraw the state’s Congressional districts. Given the change in voter registration between April 2010 (when the US Census was taken) and December 2013, JMC estimates that the current population of Louisiana is 4,580,251, or a 1.0% population change in 3.5 years (for comparisons sake, the most recent Census estimate has Louisiana’s population at 4,601,893).
Given this estimated population, a US House district (there are six House districts) would have an ideal district population of 763,375.
The current district lines for Louisiana’s representatives in Congress have been in place since 2011. That reapportionment was tricky, because Louisiana was forced to eliminate one of its seven districts due to slow population growth. Therefore, while there are population variances between districts (District 2 is 5% underpopulated, while District 6 is 4% overpopulated), those differences aren’t as substantial as they were with the Supreme Court districts.
Regardless of who is drawing the lines, District 6 (most of the Baton Rouge media market, plus some of Houma/Thibodaux) has to shed some population, while District 2 (a black majority district stretching between Baton Rouge and New Orleans) must expand. Those two changes alone will affect the remaining districts, whose current population variances are minimal.
A Democratic redistricter would want to increase the changes of Democrats winning any of the five districts currently held by a Republican. Specifically, both north Louisiana districts (the 4th and 5th) could be tweaked to make them more Democratic. And the 6th Congressional district (the Baton Rouge area) could be made more marginal as well. Of course, there is a downside to this: the New Orleans based 2nd Congressional district would not have a secure black voting black majority (and possibly invite Justice Department scrutiny), and the Democrats would have to concede the 1st (New Orleans suburbs) and 3rd Congressional district (Southwest Louisiana) to the Republicans. Given all of these considerations, this is what a Democratic map might look like.
If a Republican were drawing the lines, Republican incumbents in the 4th and 5th districts in North Louisiana would be shored up. Similarly, the Baton Rouge based 6th district could be made more Republican while the New Orleans based 2nd district would be made more securely Democratic. The downside to this, however, would be that the 1st (New Orleans suburbs) and 3rd (Southwest Louisiana) districts would be made more Democratic. That would not impact the 1st district much, given the decided Republican preference of the New Orleans suburbs. The 3rd district, however, would be made slightly more Democratic. And even though it has trended towards the Republicans over the last decade (and has a largely Republican legislative delegation), this district has a long Democratic heritage, and it is this part of the state that helped both Edwin Edwards and John Breaux move up in the political world. Below is how a “Republican” map might look:
Any redistricting plan that would be considered would inevitably be tweaked to satisfy the preferences of those serving on the House/Senate Governmental Affairs Committees. Still, given the population estimates as of December 2013, these contrasting plans can be thought of as an early estimate of what the Congressional districts drawn for the 2020 Census might look like.