Massachusetts redistricting is well under way. The Legislative Committee on Redistricting has concluded its round of public hearings and is now scheduled to begin drawing maps over the next couple of months. In the spirit of Common Cause Massachusetts’s Redistricting Olympics, I thought that it was appropriate to produce some of my own maps. I have started with the Congressional map.
This attempt prioritizes several considerations while generally neglecting others.
First, this map insisted on creating one majority-minority district while generally preserving the city of Boston. Second, this map insisted on maintaining two districts west of highway 495. And third, this map attempted to promote communities of interest above all else. In general, very few towns (if any) are split between multiple districts.
This map did not take into consideration incumbency or which current House members will run against each other. Several districts did remain generally intact (D-3: Tsongas, D-4: Tierney, D-7: Keating). However, that is due to following the considerations above, not intentionally preserving their seats.
And so without further ado, I present you the Massachusetts Congressional Map:
Now we will do a quick breakdown of each district individually.
MA-01: Western District #1
In order to maintain two Western MA dominated districts, one district needs to be anchored by Springfield and one by Worcester. This first district is anchored by Springfield and surrounding satellite towns. MA-01 is compact and preserves Western MA unity.
MA-02: Western District #2
MA-02 is the other Western district that also picks up some of central MA. Following the shape of MA-01 it is also highly compact given its large geographical size. Its main anchor town is Worcester.
MA-03: Lowell District: MA-03 is largely Tsongas’s MA-05 district in the current map. Again this district is compact and preserves the communities of interest in the central North portion of the state.
MA-05: Central District
This is my least favorite district and unfortunately ends up being somewhat of the scraps after drawing the others. However, I think the communities of interest are still fairly strong in this area and it is compact except for the addition of the Attleboro region which had to be included to satisfy equal population requirements.
MA-06: Fall River/New Bedford District
MA-06 replaces Barney Frank’s current heavily gerrymandered MA-04. This district keeps in tact the Fall River and New Bedford areas and then proceeds North to pick up more population. This district is highly compact and makes a lot more sense then the current district.
MA-07: Cape/South Shore District
This district is almost identical to Keatings current district. In terms of preserving communities of interest I think that it makes sense to include the South Shore with the Cape and Nantucket. I did originally want to cut Quincy from this district but other considerations (mainly the Boston district) prevented me from doing such.
MA-08: Boston Suburbs District
Rather than carving up this area into multiple districts as the current maps does I thought that it made more sense to bring all of the Boston suburbs into one unified district. MA-08 begins with Somerville, Cambridge, and Brookling and then moves West along I-90 picking up Newton, Watertown and Waltham.
MA-09: Boston District
This district began it all. I purposely started with Boston so that I could create a reasonable majority-minority district while at the same time keeping Boston mostly intact. I believe I accomplished that, although by only a small margin. MA-09 is 50.7% non-white just barely making it majority-minority.
And so that wraps up Massachusetts’s nine new Congressional Districts.
As a recent dailykoser also found, the map that emphasizes communities of interest over incumbency results in a map that is highly favorable to three current Reps. with the least likelihood of keeping their seats (Tsongas, Tierney, and Keating). Some of the more senior members find themselves with very different looking districts.
Please comment. I would love to hear what you think and if others have found better ways of draw a map that abides by the principles laid out above.
Also do not forget that Common Cause Massachusetts is hosting their Redistricting Olympics until August 30. Get your maps in sooner rather than later.