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Democrats controlled the redistricting process in Arkansas during the most recent round of apportionment, but unfortunately passed a map that is likely to lead to Republicans holding all 4 of the state's districts after 2012.  If local Dems had been wiser they wouldn't have tried to win 3 districts and would have settled on a safe 2-2 split, which I have drawn here.  Furthermore, Arkansas does not have have precinct level partisan data, but the state until recently did not split counties which makes partisan map-making much easier.  All districts are within 1% of the ideal population target and the races I used were 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential, as well as the Senate, Lt. Gov., SOS races from 2010.

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The 1st district retains the state's eastern border along the delta, but instead of venturing into northern and central Arkansas it now runs along most of the southern border and takes in some of the more Democratic parts of the old 4th district.  This district is probably the slightly weaker of the two and is definitely moving away faster on the presidential level, but it should still be a very solid pick up.

The 2nd district drops some of the heavily Republican counties in the center of the state to add Pine Bluff and Hot Springs as well as a few counties further west of Little Rock.  This district is now one that Obama won outright, if only by about 500 votes.  This district would be very solid and should hold up better over the course of the decade given that it has a very slight D+ CPVI.

Each of the two Democratic districts is now much more favorable than either the old or new versions.  Kerry and Gore won both of them which would have given each a D+ CPVI and even Blanche Lincoln's 46% was 9% better than she did statewide in either district which should give you an idea of Dems' floor here.  I've also included the Lt. Gov and SOS races since they were narrow losses.  Interestingly, the 1st would have been only the 2nd district to vote Gore-Kerry-McCain (the other being the old PA-12).

Both the 3rd and 4th district are pretty hopelessly Republican and although Mike Beebe almost certainly won the 4th in 2006 it would likely have a CPVI over R+20 after 2012.  Here is an alternate version that looks more "compact" since the 4th no longer spans the state, but either way both districts are vote sinks.

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The result is that Democrats would trade the 4th for the 1st and 2nd districts rather than lose all four.

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Once precinct data is loaded into DRA and includes partisan averages I will do one of my crazy gerrymanders to see what sort of 2-2 and 3-1 maps could be drawn.

Poll

Would Democrats pick up the 1st and 2nd in 2012?

64%31 votes
35%17 votes

| 48 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Title: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf

    "aRkansas"

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another. -- Jonathan Swift

    by raptavio on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 08:09:57 AM PDT

  •  I partially blamed Mike Ross (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, DCal

    If he had announced his retirement before redistricting, this map would have been possible, (though the AR Dems probably would have done something stupider).  As it was, there was no way they would have cut up the 4th district like this.

    29, (new) MA-7, Unenrolled

    by Marcus Graly on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 09:04:25 AM PDT

    •  The biggest reason why Democrats failed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sawolf

      here is nobody wanted to be linked to the Delta. One state senator told me that he doesn't want his district in Southern Arkansas being part of a district represented by Rick Crawford, who lives miles away in Jonesboro. Of course, he forgot to think that Crawford is quite vulnerable and could have lost had they given him a Democratic district.

      Anyway, there's a lot of pride with not being linked with the Delta - for obvious reasons, the Delta is seen as being poor, very regressive etc.

      There's also the issue that Democrats truly believed they could win 1, 2, and 4 back when they did redistricting. But Beebe forced all the good candidates to run for reelection to the state legislature, so we are stuck with Herb Rule, Clark Hall, and Q. Byrum Hurst or Gene Jeffress.

      •  If we had landed top tier candidates (0+ / 0-)

        in 1 and 2 what would you have rated those races as?  Right now I have the 1st at Lean R, and the 2nd at Likely R, but I'm not even sure we have a serious candidate there.

  •  This is a very good map (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, KingofSpades

    The one thing I would say is I don't think it's necessary to have Garland County in AR-02. It's pretty red and I think southern Lonoke County (which is heavily Democratic) and Prairie County might better in AR-02.

    •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoosierD42

      I agree on AR-02, but since I wasn't splitting counties I didn't want to have to include Lonoke, and Garland worked well to get within 1% of the target.

      I mainly used Kerry and Obama numbers when drawing the map, and with AR-02 I tried to find counties that were trending away slower since the data is 4 and 8 years old.

      What would you say the chances of winning would be in the 1st and 2nd, and would there be any chance in hell of winning the 4th (first version)?

      •  With Larry Teague, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sawolf

        the 4th would probably be only Tilt Republican-Lean Republican. He could definitely win it.

        With everyone else, it's Safe R.

        Crawford would instantly lose the 1st and Griffin would lose the 2nd, provided we don't nominate a Little Rock liberal again. There is almost zero (!) Republican bench is any of the counties in the 1st. El Dorado County is the exception.

  •  Informative diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf

    thanks for posting.

    Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it. - Robert Frost

    by Georgia Logothetis on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 09:40:42 AM PDT

  •  Yep, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf

    my previous map looked even more like this than the one in my blue dog diary.  Something like this is the ideal configuration.

    I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

    by James Allen on Fri Apr 06, 2012 at 10:11:05 AM PDT

  •  They really should have gone for this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, James Allen

    I understand they didn't want to crack the 4th at the time (thanks a lot Mike Ross), but they should have seriously chopped up the 1st and 2nd districts between each other, turning one safe GOP and making the other one solid for a Blue Dog.  Any district that Blanche Lincoln came close to winning should be impossible for a Republican to hold in neutral years.

  •  I voted yes (0+ / 0-)

    I think the Democrats would be able to pick up both seats in 2012, a good Dem year, but they won't be able to hold them all decade.  In a state like Arkansas, I would settle for a solid 1D-3R, letting our Democratic majority come from other states.

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