An Experiment with Michigan Nonpartisan Redistricting

I’m finally back, after some burdening college applications. My first post of the new year will have to do with redistricting, which is coming up in 4 years. 4 years seems like a long time, but for the Democrats, their No.1 priority should be getting citizen initiatives on nonpartisan redistricting as soon as possible to prevent them being shut from congressional majority forever.


In 2010, Michigan rural voters’ angers against an economy not working for them propelled two incumbent Democrats out of office, with the Republican candidates receiving an unprecedented 52.32% of the popular tallys. Two years later, Michigan Democrats lost another seat due to 2010 census eliminating a seat for the state, even though they have won a similar level of popular support as the Republicans did two years ago, solely at the advantage of gerrymandering. The Michigan Republicans decided to never lose it again after winning a previously unheard trifecta in the state government as well as carrying all statewide elective offices under their pockets.


In this hypothetical scenario, districts were drawn in the way that they respect the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (to comply to this rule, district boundaries near Detroit city were crazily gerrymandered). I tried to make as many districts competitive as possible, but not in a way that every district is made tossup. Also Dave’s redistricting uses 2008 election data (read: unreliable), and given Michigan’s massive shift in 2016, not every seat on this map is competitive.



District 1:

Obama 49.6 – 48.5

This district remains mostly unchanged from its actual variant. At current day level, it’s about R+5 to R+7, out of reach of any Democrat competing, but this variant’s first district would have definitely flipped in 2012.

2016 likely winner: Jack Bergman (R)

District 2:

Obama 53.3 – 44.9

This district would have voted for a Democratic representative in 2012 (and probably even in 2014), but rough calculation gave it approximately 60% Trump. Main portions of this district belong to Moolenaar’s 4th and Kildee’s 5th, but since Kildee would be redistricted into the 3rd, Moolenaar should easily win here in 2016.

2016 likely winner: John Moolenaar (R)


District 3:

Obama 59.2 – McCain 39.0

Kildee’s old 5th’s boundaries would be safe for him for the foreseeable future, but this new district would place him into onto Sabato’s vulnurable incumbent list (although not too much down). A substantial portion of Genesse county is placed into the new 5th, and the more conservative part of St. Clair county is in the new 11th, so while Trump would probably carry this district, it’s not by a substantial amount to propel Kildee out.

2016 likely winner: Dan Kildee (D)


District 4:

Obama 50.6 – McCain 47.7

I gave Dem favorable parts of Grand Rapids to this district, but that’s doing little to stop Trump winning 55%+ here. Huizenga would easily win reelection in this district.

2016 likely winner: Bill Huizenga (R)


District 5:

Obama 48.7 – McCain 49.6

This is the only district that McCain actually won, although he came close to almost all of them. It includes almost 50% of Amash’s old district, and this seat should be his as long as he wants it.

2016 likely winner: Justin Amash (R)


District 6

Obama 52.0 – McCain 46.3

Most of Fred Upton’s district were intact. Upton should be slightly safer given I added heavily Republican Barry County and Ottawa County to the district while simutaneously removing Republican parts of Berrien county.

2016 likely winner: Fred Upton (R)


District 7

Obama 50.2 – McCain 47.9

This is another of the state’s 3 strongly R-leaning districts. Geographically and politically this district would be most similar to Walberg’s old 7th, winnable for a D in a wave, but mostly out of Democratic reaches.

2016 likely winner: Tim Walburg (R)


District 8

Obama 57.7 – McCain 40.7

This district might have voted for Clinton, but I have to check precinct data to confirm. Rick Snyder only got 53.2% of the votes here in 2010 against Virg Bernero who have long given up campaign, so the district should be completely safe for a Democrat pending a 2010-style wave in an open seat.

2016 likely winner: some generic Democrat (D)


 Detroit and surrounding region

Detroit and surrounding region

District 9

Obama 55.9 – McCain 42.6

This district is slightly less Democratic than the 8th, and probably voted for Donald Trump by a slim margin, but a generic D holding the district since 2012 should be able to keep any challenger out. Debbie Dingell’s core constituency would be retained here, and her high profile should be able to keep her a seat in this district although it hardly matches her prior district’s shape.

2016 likely winner: Debbie Dingell (D)


District 10

Obama 52.9 – McCain 45.7

This is Michigan’s even district. It’s almost entirely within Oakland county (except not quite). It contains the mostly Republican parts of Wayne county, some swing precincts in Oakland, and two major Democratic vote dumps (Pontiac and Farmington Hills). Obama likely did not carry this district (and certainly not the Dem candidate running for Rep. against incumbent David Trott) as Oakland County as a whole swung Republican for about 3 points and remained there ever since.

2016 likely winner: David Trott (R)


District 11

Obama 55.1 – McCain 43.1

This district is the home of many Obama-Obama-Trump voters. While the district voted Obama 55.1-43.1, it almost certainly voted Trump given the huge swing in Macomb county. The race between Paul Mitchell and whoever the Democratic candidate here in 2012 would most certainly be tossup, and that Democrat is likely unseated in 2012.

2016 likely winner: Paul Mitchell (or a generic Democrat) (R)


District 12

Obama 61.4 – McCain 37.0

Most of Sander Levin’s old district is intact. He should win here without a problem, even in the reddening Macomb. Levin’s old district suffered a 6-point reddening, but the addition of heavily black parts of Wayne should make him safer.

2016 likely winner: Sander Levin (D)


District 13

Obama 78.8 – McCain 20.2

This is the state’s only VRA district, being 41.6% white, 50.0% black, 2.4% Hispanic, 3.2% Asian, 0.3% Native American, and 2.2% others. There isn’t much to explain, as barring a Jefferson 2008-esque scandal facing a moderately liberal Republican, this seat is Democrats for life.

2016 likely winner: Brenda Lawrence (D)


District 14

Obama 81.7 – McCain 17.2

This district, at D+29, is not a VRA district, albeit majority-minority. John Conyers should have no problem winner primary and general would be a stretch for any Republican to reach 30%.

2016 likely winner: John Conyers (D)


In 2016, this nonpartisan redistricting plan would not change much, as Michigan swung hard to the Republicans. Were Michigan to swing back to the Democrats, this map would keep them competitive at every district. If Michigan swings more to the R side, every district except three would be made very friendly to them.


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