Redistricting Pennsylvania (with Maps!)

From the diaries by Leon. An interesting hypothetical to occupy the weekend.

First things first: I apologize for the size of the maps. I do not know how to make them smaller, or to make them fit. If you wish to see the maps, please CLICK on them, and that should solve all your problems.


This diary is about redistricting Pennsylvania. My proposed map is below, followed by district by district info.

The numbers indicate the racial/partisan makeup of the district. The numbers in the parentheses are what the old district was.

Pennsylvania’s 1st congressional district
Dark Blue
48% Black (37%)
40% White (45%)

Obama 83% (88%)
McCain 16% (12%)

The 1st congressional district is run by the “boss” of Philadelphia, and political hack Robert Brady. Philly is overwhelming Democratic, so we can’t do much to dismantle the political party in control. However, Brady no longer lives in the district, as I moved his home into PA-13.

To protect Pat Meehan, this district loses a lot of central Philadelphia, and takes in more Democratic areas Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, and Lansdowne in suburban Delaware County.

Pennsylvania’s 2nd congressional district
Chaka Fattah (D)
Deep Green
52% Black (61%)
25% White (30%)
18% Hispanic (3%)

Obama 90% (90%)
McCain 9% (10%)

Chaka Fattah, the African-American Democrat, has nearly the same district in Philly. He gets more Hispanics and loses the areas he had in Montgomery County. He also loses part of South Philly, while taking in Downtown, and some heavily Hispanic communities. He should be reelected overwhelmingly.

Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district
Deep Purple
3% Black (3%)
94% White (94%)

Obama 45% (49%)
McCain 54% (49%)

Pennsylvania’s 3rd district shifts southward to take in the small town rural areas of Westmoreland County and the northern Pittsburgh ‘burbs. Southwestern Pennsylvania, which is highly socially conservative is trending fast away from the Democrats, and Westmoreland County will only get more Republican. This should be a safe district for a conservative State Senator like Kim Ward.


Pennsylvania’s 4th congressional district
Mike Kelly (R)
Deep Red
3% Black (3%)
93% White (95%)

Obama 46% (44%)
McCain 52% (55%)

Pennsylvania’s 4th spans old coal country, rural western Pennsylvania, and Erie. Mike Kelly, who represents PA-03, currently lives in this district. Kelly won an R+3 district in 2010, and this is probably an R+5 or R+6 district. Kelly’s only potential problem could be if Jason Altmire runs here (he does not live here but has shown his adeptness at winning really Republican areas of Western Pennsylvania)

Pennsylvania’s 5th congressional district
Glen Thompson (R)
Light Yellow
2% Black (1%)
94% White (97%)

Obama 45% (44%)
McCain 53% (55%)

Thompson’s district continues to take in Central Pennsylvania. If it wasn’t for State College, which has to go somewhere, Thompson would easily have one of the most Republican districts in the state. This district takes in rural Appalachia, the Pennsylvania wilds, and other very conservative areas of central Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district
Jim Gerlach (R)
3% Black (7%)
84% White (88%)
10% Hispanic (3%)

Obama 49% (58%)
McCain 50% (41%)

Every year, Jim Gerlach has to run with a target on his back in this suburban Obama district. I tried to make him a bit safer, by adding northern Lancaster County, Lebanon County, and other small town areas. This district loses the Obama cities of Downingtown and Coatesville. Look for Gerlach to be much more comfortable here, at least for a couple more years.

Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district
Pat Meehan (R) and Joe Pitts (R)
4% Black (6%)
88% White (89%)

Obama 50% (56%)
McCain 49% (43%)

Pat Meehan won a victory over State Rep. Brian Lentz this year in the Phily suburbs that had been dominated by the Democrats in ’08. Meehan was a popular attorney in this area and is certainly a Republican who can win long term here. To help him out, his district becomes 6 points more Republican, losing the liberal bastions of Norristown (Montgomery County), Conshohocken (Mont. County), Clifton Heights (Delaware), Yeadon (Delware), and parts of Upper Darby Township. (Delaware) Meehan gains southern Lancaster County, blood red territory, as well as Joe Pitts’ home. (the current Republican representative of PA-16)


Here is my rationale for putting two Republicans together – Pitts will be 73 in 2012, and his home, in Kennett Square (the Mushroom Capital of the World!) is very inconvenient in the whole scheme of things. It is hard to help both Gerlach and Meehan, while giving Pitts his own district. With Meehan younger than Pitts, and the Philly suburbs trending Democrat at this minute, it is important that the popular Meehan hold this district. And if Pitts wins the primary, there goes my idea… but if Obama does as well in Pennsylvania, Pitts would have to moderate his positions to win.

Pennsylvania’s 8th congressional district
Mike Fitzpatrick (R)
Montgomery County Purplish-Blue
4% Black (4%)
89% White (92%)

Obama 53% (54%)
McCain 46% (45%)

I am disappointed with the results of this district. But it just shows you how much the Philly ‘burbs have trended Democratic. Fitzpatrick takes in some very blue collar (and quite conservative!) parts of northeastern Philadelphia, while dropping the home of the representative he beat, Patrick Murphy. Fitzpatrick should be okay, but would have to make sure he doesn’t fall asleep at the wheel. Perhaps he can ask Charlie Dent and Jim Gerlach for tips on surviving in a Democratic district.

Pennsylvania’s 9th congressional district
Bill Shuster (R) vs. Todd Platts (R)
6% Black (2%)
87% White (97%)

Obama 44% (35%)
McCain 55% (63%)

There is no reason to have a McCain district over 60 in Pennsylvania, as the conservative areas here should be portioned out to other districts in need of them.

Shuster’s district (more on that in a minute) takes in York, the Harrisburg suburbs, and Shuster’s home in the far west, Hollidaysburg. This should be safe for a Republican, and no area is particularly trending Democratic.


Now – onto the two Republicans. Todd Platts lives in York. Shuster, as I said, lives in Hollidaysburg. Either one of them could take the plunge in PA-16 (more likely Platts, who is familiar with that area), but might have to moderate his positions. It would also not be a bad idea to get rid of Todd Platts; his lifetime ACU rating is 75. (which is kind of low for the district he currently sits in)

Pennsylvania’s 10th congressional district
Tom Marino (R)
2% Black (2%)
94% White (96%)

Obama 44% (45%)
McCain 55% (54%)
This district, is currently Chris Carney’s. Marino (R) defeated Carney in 2008, and should hold this district for a while. This district extends southward toward Harrisburg and removes Exeter. Carney could try for a comeback; I doubt he succeeds.

Pennsylvania’s 11th congressional district
Lou Barletta (R)
Light Green in Northeast
4% Black (3%)
89% White (95%)

Obama 51% (57%)
McCain 48% (42%)

To make Lou Barletta safer, who is a fierce anti-amnesty guy, the manufacturing cities of Scranton, and Wilkes Barre are removed, while sparsely populated Northern Pennsylvania is added. Barletta should be fine here, and his views fit well with this kind of his district.

Pennsylvania’s 12th congressional district
Mark Critz (D) vs Tim Murphy (R)
Pale Blue in Southwest
3% Black (3%)
94% White (95%)

Obama 41% (49%)
McCain 58% (50%)

Ok, ok. So you are asking, where is the first Democratic incumbent you are removing? Well, it’s hard. Expect for this one. In 2002, to keep the corrupt John Murtha in Congress, a Murtha-mander was created, which linked all the Democratic areas in the rust belt-Southwest. With Murtha gone, there’s no incentive to keep that, and Critz gets a nicer looking district, that takes in his home town, and is 8 points more conservative. He doesn’t have any seniority like Murtha, and the Southwestern areas of Pennsylvania, very social conservative, are already trending Republican. Translation to Critz: See ya!


Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district
Robert Brady (D) vs Allyson Schwartz (D) vs Patrick Murphy (D)
Boring Pink in the Philly Suburbs
10% Black (6%)
78% White (87%)

Obama 66% (59%)
McCain 33% (41%)

This is a definition of an awful gerrymander and I had to do it. This district, in essence, acts as a Democratic vote sink for the Philadelphia suburbs. It starts in Bucks County, taking Bristol (Patrick Murphy’s home), and Falls, then moves into Northeastern Philadelphia, and then into Abington, and Cheltenham, as well as Upper Dublin, and Landsdale in Montgomery County, all areas that Obama did extremely well in. It then takes in Lower Merion, and Norristown on the opposite side of Montgomery County, as well as a few precincts in the West (home of Brady), before moving into Delaware County to take in Randor, and Haverford, and then into Chester County to take in Tredyffrin.

Allyson Schwartz, who is personally popular, should win a primary in this district.

Pennsylvania’s 14th congressional district
Mike Doyle (D) vs Jason Altmire (D)
Brown in the Pittsburgh Area
21% Black (23%)
73% White (73%)

Obama 66% (70%)
McCain 33% (29%)

Democrats remaining area of support in the southwest is Pittsburgh and along the Monongahela River. The 14th moves south into the bible belt to pick up the small town historically Democratic cities (that are trending more Republican but slowly) of Monessen, Two Forks, West Brownsville, and Nicholson.

Altmire knows how to run a campaign; but this is Doyle’s area. I expect him to win the primary and general election.

Pennsylvania’s 15th congressional district
Charlie Dent (R)
4% Black (3%)
83% White (90%)

Obama 53% (56%)
McCain 46% (43%)

Charlie Dent, who has a history of holding a safe Democratic seat in the Lehigh Valley, gets an easier district. He drops Easton and Bethlehem and with it, his last challenger (John Callahan) and picks up Northern Montgomery County, as well as Schuylkill County. Dent, who’s moderate positions makes him popular, looks good for now.


Pennsylvania’s 16th congressional district
Light Green in Southern Pennsylvania
5% Black (4%)
86% White (88%)

Obama 47% (48%)
McCain 52% (51%)

This district takes in Lancaster, Downingtown, West Chester, and rural parts of York County. It looks like an ugly gerrymander, but it is drawn for a moderate to conservative Republican. (R+5 or so district). No current Representative lives here, though Joe Pitts could run here. Expect a State Legislator to look at a run.

Pennsylvania’s 17th congressional district
Tim Holden (D) vs John Callahan (D) vs Chris Doherty (D) vs Thomas Leighton (D)
A highly gerrymandered medium dark pale blue (I’m probably not describing this well…)
8% Black (8%)
82% White (88%)

Obama 48% (57%)
McCain 51% (41%)

Ok. You hate gerrymanders? Now you can tell me how bad this map is. Holden’s district ties all the Democratic areas of central Pennsylvania of Harrisburg, Pottsville, Scranton, Wilkes Barre, Bethlehem, Easton, and parts of Allentown.

Holden’s base – rural farm like Democrats and Republicans are gone. It seems like a Democrat from the old working class Scranton area or Bethlehem would try to primary Holden and would likely succeed.

It is too hard to draw a map that would make a Republican district in the Lehigh Valley or northeastern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district
Deep Yellow
4% Black (2%)
93% White (96%)

Obama 49% (44%)
McCain 50% (55%)

One thing I’m sure of is President Obama will have a high dropoff in Western Pennsylvania. This area is trending fast against the Democrats and President Obama is widely unpopular here. While this looks like it would be an R+3ish district, I would expect Obama to get 46-48% here. Tim Murphy’s home is now in PA-12. A Republican in the mold of Tim Murphy who secure this district for generations.


Besides from including Pittsburgh’s southern suburbs, it also includes Jason Altmire’s base of New Castle, Beaver Falls, and Sharon. If Altmire moved here, he could win.

Here is a map of the new Lehigh Valley:

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Here is a map of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Uploaded with

Here is a map of the Philadelphia area.

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Here is central Pennsylvania.

Let me know what you think!


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