It’s time for Republican legislators to stop whining and bellyaching about the Independent Redistricting Commission’s maps.

If Republican lawmakers think they can draw better maps, they should prove it. Draft alternative congressional and legislative districts and refer them to the 2012 ballot. Let voters decide.
I think the Republican Legislature could draw better maps. It would be hard to draft worse ones.
That’s not because the Republican critique of the IRC’s maps – that they excessively favor Democrats and competitiveness –is valid. It’s not.
This is clearest in the IRC’s proposed final legislative map.
The commission and observers are badly botching the competitiveness analysis. Voter registration is the only objective measure of innate political tendencies.
Voter registration is a statement of default political inclination. Looking at past election results clouds innate political tendencies with the quality of candidates, the effectiveness of campaigns and the political temper of the times.
Excluding from past results those that were lopsided, as the commission’s analysis does, exacerbates the error. Districts will look more competitive if you only consider competitive results.
Generally, if one political party has more than a 5 percentage point registration advantage in a district, that political party ought to prevail over the course of political time.
Right now, there are six legislative districts in which neither party has a registration advantage larger than around 5 percent. With the IRC map, there are only two.
At present, Republicans have more than a 5 percentage point registration advantage in 15 of the 30 legislative districts. With the IRC map, that would increase to 17.
So, the IRC legislative map is less competitive and leans more toward Republicans than the status quo.
The case is more complicated regarding the congressional map.  Right now, there are four congressional districts in which Republicans have more than a 5 percentage point registration advantage, two in which Democrats have the advantage, and two in which neither party has such an advantage.
With the IRC map, Democrats gain a district with more than a 5 percentage point advantage. Everything else remains the same, so a Democratic gain.
However, in one of the competitive districts, registration is even-steven and in the other, Republicans have a slight advantage. In elections, Republicans still have a material turnout advantage. Over the course of political time, these two competitive districts should lean Republican.
So, the innate political tendency of the IRC map is for a congressional delegation of six Republicans and three Democrats.
The real complaint of Republican legislators is that so many of them have been thrown into new districts together and will have to run against each other. The public interest in the Legislature crafting alternative maps is that the IRC maps vitiate numerous communities of interest for, as the foregoing analysis demonstrates, no true gain in terms of competitiveness.
Republican legislators should begin with the majority-minority districts the IRC has drafted to satisfy the Voting Rights Act. Then redistrict the rest of the state in a way that respects communities of interest and other political boundaries, rather than gratuitously vitiates them.
A legal challenge of the IRC maps is a non-starter. The state Supreme Court has clearly stated that it isn’t going to second-guess the way in which the IRC balances the competing goals set forth in the initiative giving it this task. That means the next election will, in all probability, be conducted according to the IRC maps.
The maps, however, are ugly things that poorly serve the state. It would be unfortunate if they remained in place for the remainder of the decade.
If Republican legislators think they can do a better job, it’s time to put up or shut up.  

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Replies to This Discussion

The problem is the districts 'look' competitive or left/right leaning....but when U see the methods used by IRC...they had the data to ID previous party & thus which way an independent will/might vote & stacked distrcits accordingly.  Looks like a district is 33% dem 33% independent 33% rep. when it is really 33% dem; 25% independent (previous dem); 8% independent (previous rep) and 33% rep = 58% dem 41% rep. Then some of the 'lines' like leaving out Marana/Saddlebrook in CD2 and putting them in CD 1.

 

I'm not sure what your statement 'legislators should put up or shut up'...it was a citizen initiative they cannot simly re-district if I understand correctly.

 

Jere:

I'm only hypothecising here, but the commission was voted in by the folks and perhaps they can also draw new maps different from the ones done by the ARC and place them on the ballot for voters to decide.  You are correct about how the districts are really stacked so there's no reason for anyone to think there is anything fair about the process used.  I sat in an ARC meeting while Strategic Telemetry discussed a district in Tucson and related how many people voted for McCain and how many voted for Obama... they WERE NOT discussing party registration but voting patterns!!!  That's the info they used to draw the maps in defiance of the Voting Rights Act and Prop 106!  Just as you say and they did that with as many districts as they possibly could.

 The real question is how many of the conservative lawmakers are running scared after Pearce was removed?  A LOT of them, so I predict that overall, the legislature will squander their majority this year and then get voted out of office anyway!!

Cochise Co. isn't backing down.  You are probably correct that they majority will 'not grow a pair'...and will lose Arizona to the left (even tho we are conservative).  I'd rather go down fighting...but based on correspondence I've received from leadership...'the voters need to fix it'.  I like your idea of drawing and placing on the ballot!  Meeting our legislators in about a week...worth an 'ask'.  Thanks for all you do!
 
Lynne Breyer said:

Jere:

I'm only hypothecising here, but the commission was voted in by the folks and perhaps they can also draw new maps different from the ones done by the ARC and place them on the ballot for voters to decide.  You are correct about how the districts are really stacked so there's no reason for anyone to think there is anything fair about the process used.  I sat in an ARC meeting while Strategic Telemetry discussed a district in Tucson and related how many people voted for McCain and how many voted for Obama... they WERE NOT discussing party registration but voting patterns!!!  That's the info they used to draw the maps in defiance of the Voting Rights Act and Prop 106!  Just as you say and they did that with as many districts as they possibly could.

 The real question is how many of the conservative lawmakers are running scared after Pearce was removed?  A LOT of them, so I predict that overall, the legislature will squander their majority this year and then get voted out of office anyway!!

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