Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fun with maps

Illustration courtesy of The Daily Kos.

It seems likely that Massachusetts will lose yet another Congressional district based on the numbers from this year's census. The state's population is somewhere around 6.5 million, which is a jump of about 4% from the 2000 census; however, the nation grew at around 9%. The trend of people moving from the population centers of the Northeast and Midwest to the South and Far West, though slowed a little, continues. (The housing crisis has been worst in Florida, Arizona, Nevada and California, which has lessened growth there recently.)

The latest official census figures will be released Tuesday and those numbers will determine if the Bay State keeps 10 seats in the House of Representatives or slides down to nine. From 1913 to 1933 Massachusetts had 16 members in the House and since then we've lost one every one or two decades. Whenever such adjustments happen it usually leaves two sitting House members running against each other.

One web site surmises that this time the 1st and 2nd Congressional districts will be combined, pitting John Olver against Richard Neal, and it'd be likely that Olver, who will be 76 at the time of the 2012 election, would just retire. Whatever the revised map looks like, we can be sure it will be a contorted mess of districts, drawn to protect constituencies. The US should depoliticize redistricting by removing it from state legislatures (as a few states have done) and turning it over to independent boards that use software to draw cohesive districts.

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