Redistricting

Reapportionment: Policy Matters

Christmas has come a few days early this year in the form of the decennial data dump from the U.S. Census Bureau that kicks off the redistricting scramble. The reapportionment numbers were not only hugely consequential for the makeup of the next Congress and the durability of the Republican majority, but even a cursory look at the state-by-state numbers one sees the clearest possible vindication of conservative ideas at the state level. Dare I say, this week's numbers were the most ringing endorsement of the Republican governing model since Rudy Giuliani towered over the vested interests in New York City. Not only did the South and West win -- which liberals will dismiss as a function of weather -- but low tax states consistently beat high tax states. Not only did conservative states beat liberal states, most tellingly, the winners were almost to a man conservatively governed. 

Consider this striking fact unearthed by political strategist (and former Giuliani adviser) Ken Kurson, posted on Facebook: 

    Avg tax rate in states gaining a Congressional seat: 2.8%
    Avg tax rate in states losing a Congressional seat: 6.05%
    People vote with their feet.

This finding is relevant to top marginal tax rates, which unlike property or sales taxes more prevalent in redder states punish creation rather than consumption, but the basic finding runs deep throughout the numbers. The big population winners did not just happen to red states with nice weather. They also had a deeply embedded Republican governing model. Consider who governed in the big population-gaining states this year. 

    Texas +4 (10 years of Republican governors, 0 Democrat)
    Florida +2 (10 Republican, 0 Democrat)
    Nevada +1 (10 Republican, 0 Democrat)
    Utah +1 (10 Republican, 0 Democrat)
    South Carolina +1 (8 Republican, 2 Democrat)
    Georgia +1 (8 Republican, 2 Democrat)
    Arizona +1 (2 Republican, 8 Democrat)
    Washington +1 (0 Republican, 10 Democrat)

Collectively, that's 58 years of Republican governance to 22 years of Democratic governance in the states gaining Congressional seats. And Washington State's impressive record -- alone among true blue states -- likely had more to do with the little matter that it lacks an income tax, and an initiative this year to impose one was beat back by 2-to-1. 

More than that, the leadership of these growing states has not only been Republican, but very much conservative: Rick Perry (whose approach to luring jobs from high-tax states is methodical and focused like a predator stalking his prey), Jeb Bush, Mark Sanford, and Sonny Perdue. 

Other gems abound in these numbers, providing us an acid test on the difference between good and bad policy. 

Michigan's prevailing wage union economy has wreaked more devastation than Hurricane Katrina did to Louisiana. Michigan was alone among the states to lose population, losing 0.6% of it. Louisiana (which had to deal with the destruction and relocation of major portions of its biggest city in this decade) gained 1.4%. 

The Northeast continues to bleed, especially its dying, secondary metros. New York state, which absurdly tried to levy an iPod tax under the hapless Gov. David Paterson, limped along with 2.1% growth (the national average was 10%). We don't have county numbers yet, but we can infer that the New York City area, and especially the suburbs, were the bulwark of any growth. Both New Jersey and Connecticut, which are roughly half New York City suburbs, outperformed the entire region (4.5% and 4.9%, respectively, to the Northeast average of 3.2%). This shows us that there is still a creative class and professional allure to major metropolitan areas that can partially counteract high taxation. But what happens to the remnant, secondary metropolitan areas out of reach from New York City or Boston? There, you have no creative class and sky-high taxes forced upon them by liberal city-dwellers. The bottom line: Goodbye Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. A similar dynamic is at play in New England. High-tax, secondary metro Rhode Island performed worst (at anemic 0.4% growth) while the Boston bedroom communities of income-tax free New Hampshire lifted it to a region-leading 6.5% growth rate. The Granite State is like a miniature version of Texas up north: increasingly metropolitan and lightly taxed. 

The Midwest is also hurting, but good policy saves the day. The Midwest fared only slightly better than the Northeast at 3.9% vs. 3.2% growth, but here one begins to see the difference policy makes. The damage here was done by both Democrats and weak sister Republicans. Michigan, which stubbornly refused to change under eight years of Jennifer Granholm, has the nation's worst economy and population growth. (Let us hope, for the sake of the survival of that state, that Governor Rick Snyder and his Republican majorities in the House and Senate can deliver a Right-to-Work law.) Ohio has the second worst, under the consecutive administrations of the corrupt, tax-raising Bob Taft (a Republican) and Ted Strickland (a Democrat). Like Snyder, John Kasich has the opportunity to emerge as a hero of the recovery. But aside from tiny South Dakota, the state in the region with the best population growth at 7.8% -- 4 points higher than neighboring Iowa and 2 points higher than neighboring Wisconsin, was Minnesota, where Tim Pawlenty held the line on taxes and spending for two solid terms. (Disclaimer: I help with Gov. Pawlenty's Freedom First PAC.) Likewise, there is no real reason that industrial Indiana should have performed any better than neighboring Illinois or Ohio other than its distinctively Republican orientation and the budget-cutting leadership of Gov. Mitch Daniels. Illinois, the state whose political leadership this decade consisted of Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama, turned in a mediocre growth rate of 3.3%, lower than all of its neighbors. 

For the First Time, the South Leads the Nation in Growth. Past Censuses showed the nation's growth tilted West. For the first time, the South took the crown this time, with an overall growth rate of 14.3% to the West's 13.9%. That's a turnaround from 2000, when the West led with 19.7% growth to the South's 17.3%. It's also perhaps a sign of the waning power of immigration as a driver of that growth (it tilts west, though heavily Latino Texas is considered part of the South). In many ways, this past growth was also because the West was the only truly "new" and underpopulated region for the better part of the last century. The 2010 Census shows the trend is definitely waning. The only state with a truly torrid growth rate was Nevada, at +35% -- but it was 66% (!) in the 1990s. The filling out of the interior and mountain West is also slowing. +24% and +21% growth in Utah and Idaho respectively show that it's not just about good weather, but those numbers represent declines of about 15 to 20 points from '90s growth rates. 

The Rise of Texas and the Decline of California. The blaring headline from the 2010 Census is, of course, Texas picking up 4 Congressional seats, landing at 38 total electoral votes. The last time a non-California state had this many was New York in the 1980s. At the same time, California leveled out at 55 electoral votes, the first time since the 1920 census that they haven't gained seats. Joel Kotkin has an excellent read on the California-Texas dynamic, stoked by Rick Perry who boasts of "hunting" for jobs every time he visits the Golden State. 

Texas's 20.6% growth off an already strong base shows its continued promise. California's 10% growth was the weakest in the West save for Montana (9.7%), showing again that even with its favorable geographic positioning, government for the public employee unions, by the public employee unions bleeds jobs and natives. Both states are bouyed by high immigration, much of it illegal (with Texas seemingly avoiding the social friction that characterizes the trend in California and Arizona). While Democrats wax hopeful that long-term demographic trends will ultimately save them (Democrats have been waiting in vain for a blue Texas since the days of Ann Richards), but they forget that many of these are nonvoters (hence the enduring push for amnesty). In California's case, counting illegal immigrants serves to prop up the state's Democratic electoral college block (without really changing the internal electoral dynamics of the state, in terms of new voters added to the rolls), while in Texas it helps add a few more Republican electors. The net effect of immigration is thus a wash in terms of national elections. 

The outflow from California can also be seen in the continued phenomenal growth of neighboring Nevada and Arizona. One telling story is that of Zappos, which moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Las Vegas this decade because the lack of a real middle class in the Bay Area made it difficult to find call center employees. 

The Curious Case of New Mexico. Here's another state where bad policy may be making a difference: New Mexico. Like its neighbors on the border, the state feels the impact of immigration. Yet its growth is a respectable but less than torrid 13.2%, almost half of Arizona's and a full seven points below Texas. Only Colorado's 16.9% comes close. Politically, New Mexico has been seen as a haven for corruption, is heavily dependent on government employers (the national labs), and has been ruled by Democrats including Bill Richardson. If there is any newly elected governor who's well positioned to make a difference with fiscally sound policies, it's Susana Martinez. 

New York Nearly Fades to 4th Place. If there's a cautionary tale California should heed, it's New York. 2010 was the year California topped out its power and influence on the national stage, and may face an actual decline in Congressional representation in years to come. New York has been in population free fall for some time now. Once the Empire State in both name and fact, Florida is now within 500,000 residents of overtaking it. New York's decline from 1st to 4th seems inevitable. 

Impact.

Thanks to Dee for standing in for me while I was nursing a nasty cold. Her article from yesterday was insightful and very much on point. Once Great, Britain has been completely decimated by European socialism, in all its ugly manifestations. It is, however, an instructive window into the path ahead for America, if we don’t listen to the voice of the American people.

God, in His wisdom, has given us this one chance to set this country on the path away from the Marxi-Socialist disaster, which has been perpetrated by a Marxist Congressional majority under the leadership of the Obama Red House (read communist). Dee brought up the ‘puppet master’ in her article. George Soros has been pulling far more than Obama’s strings.

The New Conservative leadership has an immense task ahead. We know the path forward, difficult though it may appear. It’s easy to say we stand for smaller government, lower taxes, fiscal responsibility, strong national security, a sane monetary policy and a fundamental change in the way we identify and deal with the enemies of this country.

The politics and tactics of the left have been exposed for what they are. These people are anti-American and anti-freedom to their core. Lies and deceit are their stock in trade. Our elections are going to have one major implication that the left would just as soon you didn’t know anything about and have attempted to obfuscate.

The real ramifications, and very likely the most far-reaching of this massive repudiation of the left in all of its manifestations, is that this is the year of Congressional redistricting. This will have strong positives for Conservative Republicans for decades and perhaps generations.

In addition, one other fact that the left would as soon prefer you ignore is that aside from the overwhelming victory we experienced in taking over the House, we may gain as many as 30 more seats in 2012 through redistricting. Wouldn’t that be a great pie to set before His Majesty the Emperor, whose nakedness has been exposed by the Patriots of America?

Remember, this isn’t even the end of the beginning… this is a fight to the finish for the life of our nation. Be there!

Semper Vigilans, Semper Fidelis

© Skip MacLure 2010

GOPAC, Virginia, and center-right infrastructure

Last week, GOPAC released a video/web ad promoting Bob McDonnell for Governor in Virginia. Here's the ad:

Another group, with "GOP" in the name" dropping a campaign ad. Ho hum, right? Not exactly.

GOPAC was founded by by Pete DuPont and led by Newt Gingrich as a vehicle for operative training, candidate recruitment, and funnelling of money to state legislative races. The organization had a central role in identifying leaders who eventually became part of the 1994 Republican majorities.

So why is this group running an ad? That's the key thing. I talked to Frank Donatelli, the new Chairman of GOPAC, who was previously Deputy Chairman of the Republican National Committee. (In some sense Donatelli swapped jobs with RNC Chairman Michael Steele, who had been Chairman of GOPAC)

GOPAC lives in a new context, completely different than any GOP group has in the past, and it is worth comparing to two previous points in GOP history, 1999 and 1979.

Think back to 1999, when the GOP also did not control the White House. Several things are different from then, and some things were the same. Redistricting was and is coming, and in redistricting, the composition of the state legislatures matters more than Congress for that exercise. GOPAC targets state legislatures. A complete national redistricting plan involves putting points on the board in state legislatures. But since 1999, we have seen campaign finance reform which shrunk the amount of money that could be spent on both legislative races and complicated legal operations like redistricting. Much of a national redistricting plan has to be executed outside of the RNC.

The Democrats have built new infrastructure with 527s (GOPAC's tax status) in the form of groups like the Secretary of States Project. These can use huge individual and corporate contributions. GOPAC is part, but only part, of a complete answer to addressing the redistricting problem.

Unlike 1999, we are down in Congress. The next block of Members of Congress who get us back into the majority will come from the states. This is more like 1979 when Newt started trying to identify a new generation of Congressional leadership. And GOPAC was part of that operation that eventually delivered a majority.

I have argued that our next majority will likely come from new leaders, both for ideological and logistical reasons. GOPAC is putting together a "Rising Stars" program that is trying to identify these new leaders. One example that Chairman Donatelli told me about was Chris Saxman. Anyone who has met Chris knows that he has a great future ahead of him, in addition to his key role in the Virginia legislature.

The media is going to focus on big, splashy things like Arlen Specter's switch of parties yesterday. But Specter is the tail end of an old phenomenon. GOPAC could well be the leading edge of a new one. It won't be flashy for a while, but the spadework is happening now. And it is hard work.

But GOPAC and similar groups are where the action will happen. They are where we will find the next Republican majority and the new Republican coalition and message.

GOP NEEDS TO WORK FAST TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF REDISTRICTING

The GOP is literally at a make or break point that could a establish a fait accompli   

 

As we enter into the closing year of the new millenniums first decade, the approaching official national census process is where some, if not a large portion of the battle for our political future will take place.

After the census has been taken in 2010, every legislative district from which we elect council members in local and city governments to state legislators and members of congress will be redrawn based upon the population shifts determined by the census.

This means that once those figures have been established, during 2010, state legislatures will spend the following year redrawing new legislative districts.

Despite laws that try to regulate how legislative maps can be drawn and try to eliminate gerrymandering, redistricting is primarily a political process that is left up to the political party or parties with majority control at the time that redistricting occurs. That said, the powers that be use their majority status to creatively draw new legislative districts that favor their party. A handful of states have separatecommissions that draw the district lines.  Some of those grant veto to the states governors and some don’t.  But regardless, even those commissions, involved in those 6 or states, contain a degree of politcal leanings.

In either event, by using a range of election results from over the last 8 years or so, party leaders establish where their favorable votes come from. Using that as their basis, they draw districts that contain a plurality of population centers that favor their party.

This allows the majority political party to substantially consolidate power by creating new election districts that are likely to send more of their kind to their county seats and state capitols as well as those who we send to congress.

Regardless of the laws that are designed to take political influence out of the redistricting process and despite the various state redistricting commissions that are set up to oversee the process, it is an entirely political process. You must understand that the politicians create the new districts maps themselves or appoint the redistricting commissions regulating the process. Even when the courts have to step in, it remains a political process…….Who appoints the judges that make the rulings on this type of stuff?…..The politicians. So no matter what, it is a fact that the redistricting process is a political process. To pretend it isn’t, is a demonstration of naiveté that should prohibit one from even discussing politics. The only arguable point may be the varying degree of politicization that the process holds for one state or another.

Keeping that in mind, in one sense the census will, or could benefit, Republicans on the national level.  Having the majority in various state legislatures is key though. 

Areas such as the Northeast will see a decreased sizes in population. That will result in several Northeastern states losing congressional seats. The region has practically no congressional Republicans left. Connecticut’s Chris Shays was one of the last few holdouts and his overreaching attempts to appeal to  Democrat by essentially voting like a Democrat didn’t hack it. Republicans did not like his trying to be a liberal and liberals did not find him liberal enough so he’s out.

But the loss of seats through redistricting in the Northeast, where Republicans don’t have many seats, will favor Republicans where they are still strong….the South and West.

The census will show a strong increase in Southern population and so will the West. That means the representation lost in places like New Jersey and New York will be added to places like Florida and California, where the increased population will get increased representation. Except for California that bodes well for Republicans, but not in and of itself.

The party in power of each individual state legislature will ultimately determine the final redistricting maps. The party in charge at the time will create new districts that favor themselves and increases their own pluralities in their state capitol. They will do the same with their own states congressional delegation to washington, DC, as they draw congressional districts that favor their party as well.

So that means, if, for example, New Jersey has A Democrat Governor and a Democrat majority in the state senate and the state assembly, which they do now, Democrats will make their existing state legislative districts more favorable to electing Democrats. They will also draw congressional districts that are inclined to do the same. In fact, with the possible loss of one seat due to relatively decreased population growth, the Democrat dominated state legislature would probably emaciate one of the rare congressional districts that Republicans have held, forever, in Northern New Jersey. In the recent 2008 election, incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Fergusson retired and his seat was won by a Republican state senator named Leonard Lance. After redistricting, he and his seat will probably be gerrymandered out of existence.

This all points to the following .

  • The GOP Must Act Quickly

We need to select a Republican National Chairman who has a vision of inclusiveness and a passionate command of the issues and ideological fervor that is rooted in the conservative foundation that has always been the basis of our most productive legislative sessions and our most successful election cycles. That person must also have the capacity for exceptional organizational development and cutting edge thinking that can exploit the internet and the grassroots. The new chairman must also be willing to act quickly and accept the fact that we need to prepare for the redistricting process that begins in 2010.  Any loss of time leading up to 2010 will wreak havoc on our prospects for the decade to follow. (Newt…..are you reading this?)

  • A Bottoms Up Strategy

The new Republican National Committee Chairman must immediately focus on and direct all resources to local and state legislative elections. This may sound out of place for the “national” committee, however, by the time the end of 2010 rolls around, it is the state level which will strongly effect our national prospects in the redistricting process that occurs at the start of the next decade.

By spending the next two years establishing strong candidates to run strong campaigns for state senate and assembly seats, we will increase control of the state legislative bodies that are ultimately responsible for the redistricting that they will undertake after the 2010 census results. With that power and opportunity we will be able to draw new congressional districts that are favorable for increasing Republican pluralities in the newly drawn seats that will be up for grabs in 2012.

Without control of the redistricting process Democrats will have the opportunity to gerrymander more Republicans out of office and make it even harder to get elected into office . That will only make the decade to come more difficult for us to increase our state legislative and congressional prospects.

The new chairman of the RNC, whoever it may be, better be willing to utilize the little time we have between now and then wisely. The once every decade redistricting process that the new chairman should prepare us for could have more of an effect on GOP prospects and our regaining majority status in congress than any of the elections that will follow

 punchline-politics21

 

 

GOOD ANSWERS

I guess I would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote. But I agree with the arguments the minority made.
–President Bill Clinton, on the 1991 Gulf War resolution

“I’m not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president.”
–Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents

I haven’t committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.
–David Dinkins, New York City Mayor, answering accusations that he failed to pay his taxes.

Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
–Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower

The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It’s only the people who make them unsafe.
–Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and mayor of Philadelphia

I have lied in good faith.
– Bernard Tapie, French politician accused of fixing a soccar match involving the team he owned, when his sworn alibi fell apart in court.

I don’t need bodyguards.
–Jimmy Hoffa, labor leader

Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.
–Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC

The police are not here to create disorder. They’re here to preserve disorder.”
–Former Chicago mayor Daley during the infamous 1968 Democratic Party convention

China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese.
–Former French President Charles de Gaulle

                                                            

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Obama's Playing Small Ball

(cross-posted at www.KungFuQuip.com)

Last week the Obama campaign released a list of states where it was going up with advertising - Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

An odd grouping of states, no doubt.  I saw a couple of posts that could explain most of those choices, but te authors always had trouble with Alaska, North Dakota and other outliers. Most posts simply suggested this was a combination of three things; trying to expand the map, normal targeting choices, and pipe dreams.

I disagree and I'd like to propose a new theory - one that I believe explains every choice very clearly.

At about the same time this list was released, I was listening to a presentation regarding state legislative bodies and places where the partisan control of chambers was razor thin.  What surprised me was the striking similarity between the two lists.

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