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Will new congressional districts squeeze out California Republicans?

Cali map I'm not enough of a politico to pay close attention to redistricting, but I found one thing fascinating about the congressional district maps released Friday by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. According to an elections specialist interviewed by The Times' Richard Simon, the lines proposed by the commission could cost Republicans four of the 19 seats they now hold in the state's 53-member congressional delegation.

Elected officials from the two parties typically have controlled redistricting efforts, and they drew lines frequently to protect incumbents and advance party agendas. This go-round, however, the process is in the hands of a group of 14 citizens (and the experts they hired). If all goes according to plan, the changes they impose will be more attributable to demographic shifts than partisan maneuvering.

The most obvious demographic change over the last decade has been the growth in the Latino population, which increased from 32% of the state's residents in 2000 to 38% in 2010. Here's a more striking statistic: 90% of the state's population growth over the last decade came from Latinos.

Republicans have been poorly received among Latinos in California since Republican Gov. Pete Wilson championed Proposition 187. But the growth in their numbers doesn't necessarily explain why the GOP could have trouble holding on to four of its seats in the House. Another factor could simply be the shift away from political operatives drawing district lines.

In previous decades, incumbents from both parties had an incentive to pack districts with voters from one party or the other instead of creating competitive districts. Such concentration, however, can help dispersed minority groups win more races. The commission, having less interest in concentrating Republicans into easily winnable districts, may have diluted GOP voting power enough to help the Democratic majority win more seats.

Oh, and yes, the number of voters who've registered as Republicans has dropped steadily, from 35% in 2003 to just under 31% this year.

Such a dramatic dilution of voting power through redistricting would probably draw a lawsuit if it affected a minority group. Republicans, however, aren't a protected class. Besides, the final maps have yet to be drawn, and the next congressional election won't be held for almost a year and a half. The way the economy is going -- and with President Obama's poll numbers -- California Republicans could easily wind up gaining seats.


California needs redistricting reform

Make way for redistricting in California

L.A. politicians will still have final say over local districts

Redistricting plan shakes up California congressional map

Ted Rall cartoon: With redistricting, the culture part is easy -- politics, not so much

-- Jon Healey



Comments () | Archives (20)

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maybe the extremes in the parties should be woried. With more of a mix moderates may need to run. Change of districts means change in priorities. That may b good


Democrat constituents are going to have to start paying for their own liberal agendas. Without representation, all the taxpayers are going to leave.

Jasper Singletary

I think this will be a good thing, of course it may not come this cycle, I think more moderates will start running for office, We can't overlook the supreme courts infusion of big money in politics, this may not be the ole Democrat leveraged state it is. I give it 2016 we should start seeing the shift. especially if the democrat agenda fails.

Republicans don't get a pass either, blocking tax hikes, and cutting from the poor is not a balanced way to do it.

We need some moderates moving into play, that will bring some order, transparency, ethics, and dignity, back to Cali politics. Right now special interest, lobby, unions, and big business speak rules to power. What these bunch of elected officials did, was forgot about AMERICANS that put them in office, not to be served, but to serve.


"Such a dramatic dilution of voting power through redistricting would probably draw a lawsuit if it affected a minority group. Republicans, however, aren't a protected class."

Equal protection under the law?

Only if you're a "protected class".

America is dead.


You dolt. There is no constitutional right to be represented by a member of your preferred party.

Fountain of Truth

Bravo - the Republican anarcho-corporatists have been trying to run this state into the ground to prove that government doesn't work. The fewer of these sleazy bought-off rodents we have "representing" us, the better.

Mitchell Young

The cliche is that four years is a lifetime in politics, but somehow the Pete Wilson narrative-- largely incorrect -- survives.

First, let's look at California Republicans (aka losers) since Wilson. In general they ran screaming from anything immigration/ethnicity related. For chrissakes, they nominated Matt Fong (RIP) for senate, and Fong, Dan Lungren, and the state GOP refused supoport (read, opposed) the (popular) prop 227 -- the 'Engish for the Children' anti-bilingual education measure. When were Repubs successful? In the strange year of 2003 -- in part because of the whole 'drivers licenses for illegals ' issue -- Grey Davis wanted to give state docs to illegals, as did Cruz Bustamante. Ahnold was opposed (and indeed held firm after election on that issue). He won.

Now back to ancient history. Pete Wilson did poll uncommonly badly among Latinos in 1994, after a campaign of absolute vilification. Yet he still got 25% of the Latino vote -- interestingly, prop 187 itself got 27%, according to the Field poll. But its not like Republicans *ever* did well among Latinos in California -- in the 1984 Reagan landslide, the Gipper only got 34% of California Latinos. So essentially Wilson was off 9% from one of the best ever performances by a Republican. Even translating into today's voting demography, that differential of 9% works out to less than 2% of the vote (.09 x .22).

Surely, writing off 2% is bad, but let's look at what Wilson gained and bring that forward into today. He got 61% of the white vote, 11% percent more Whitman's pathetic 50%. Doing the math, a Pete 'prop 187' Wilson today would gain more than 6 percentage points (.6 x .11) from white voters. Well, .6>.2, a net gain of 4% in fact. Plus, it is likely that addressing the illegal immigration issue in a sensitive but serious way would likely drive white turnout up. Instead we had a Repub who not only ran away from the illegal immigration issue, but had her own personal 'issues' with the subject. Coupled with the bashing of (disproportionately white) public sector unions, its no wonder she couldn't even get a clear majority of whites. No way the GOP wins with that strategy.


It doesn't matter how many Hispanics their are in a district. It only matters how many citizens their are in a district. Some people win their district with only 1000s of voters because most people in their district can't vote.


Republicans have got to get out of their working man hating rut and realize they are a whites only party in a state that is only 40% anglo and shrinking. The stupid shall be punished. And with 46 states with fewer white children under 18 in 2010 than in 2000, it is only going to get worse.

right on

Without dissent from the right, the Golden State will quickly become the first third world member of the Rebublic. Class warfare already exists in this state, and the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of white liberals; they allowed it to happen. Unfunded mandates from the democrazies will drive this state further into debt, and it will force a faster exodus from the state by industrious people of all races. Only the entitled victims of the left will remain in this state. We already have a Monrovia, now we just need to officially change the name of the state to Liberia.

Mitchell Young

Mike, for quite a long time into the future, whites will be a majority of voters even in California. The immediate problem for the California GOP is they don't get enough white votes. I'd agree that part of the problem is that they don't appeal to working class people -- white or otherwise. But I can't see any more anti-working class (at least American working class) program than mass immigration -- legal or illegal. Even those economists that claim that immigration is a net benefit recognize it harms Americans at the lower end of the wage scale. That includes a lot of Latinos.

Julie Merholz



Mitchell-So it sounds like you want to restrict immigration altogether. That is very un-American and not very progressive. Our ancestors were immigrants to this country. When are you going to realize that workers from anywhere are only a benefit to this country, especially when there are many Americans who do not want to go to college, which is a necessity for many of today's jobs? If the citizens of this country are unwilling and unable to fill positions then the legal channels of immigration must remain open for those who have a desire to fill them.

Ignorance is Expensive

California is done. The tax payers are leaving and being replaced by an uneducated third world populous. There still will be a super rich, mostly Democrat ruling class and the poor; just like Mexico has now. Their will be no middle class with the exception of State and local Government workers.

The republicans will lose big on this new redistricting. Republicans and tax payers that are fed up will move, just like they moved into California.

Mitchell Young

Eve, during most of the twentieth century we had very restrictive immigration laws. During this period we had the Baby boom, the start of rock and roll, created a huge middle class, rose to superpower status, put a man on the moon, Woodstock, started Silicon Valley, etc. Are you saying that that period was 'un-American'. Again looking at history, many of the original Progressives were for immigration restriction, including labor leaders like Samuel Gompers.


Well based upon this LA Times article, “an increase in competitive districts, where winning would require candidates to have broad appeal, could put more centrists in the statehouse.” This is too good to be true! It is my hope that maybe we can find new moderate fiscally responsible democrats/independents that place a priority on their local voter issues such as our public schools, our college students, children tax deductions for working families, and not on taking gifts and giving their votes to Big Business and ohter Special Oil Interests like the Prison Guards! Message from a Native Californian and independent thinking democrat


Democracy in California died with legislation and initiatives that gave the minority the right to block spending, a situation that would make Mao, Stalin, Pinochet, and Franco proud. Redistricting is meaningless in California until we restore democracy and the right of majority rule!


I for one certainly hope so. These crooked bringers of the yellow rain need to be beaten at their own game, and drink some of our... yellow rain.

2 cents

the mooch-acracy is complete and will now begin to eat itself leaving a wasteland behind

Eric Lowin

I certainly hope Rohrbacker and Issa get put into a district which includes Needles..and are forced to cross Death Valley in August with one pint sized canteen between them and no cellphones. Call it field training for the afterlife they certainly face.



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