I've been profiling each of the new Congressional Districts created when the state Supreme Court declared the prior boundaries unconstitutionally gerrymandered. Today I'm profiling the last of the Congressional Districts in the Philadelphia area, the new District 01.
District 01 mostly aligns with Bucks County, to the Northeast and North of the city. To accomodate the equal population requirement, it adds on Montgomeryville and Hatfield in Montgomery County.
The district is the most evenly split in the Philadelphia region. It voted narrowly for Clinton in 2016, by a slim 50.7 - 49.3 margin. This was gap was two percentage points more Democratic than the state as a whole, though the District was 5.5 point *less* Democratic than the state in 2014. Bucks County provides the prime example of a suburban swing district, with traditional Republicans who swung against Trump. (Of course, the swing did not include all Republican voters by any means, but in this district a few percentage points matters.)
The district is predominantly White, and there is not a single State House District within it that is not at least a plurality White. Within that White population, there are demographic differences. The region immediately outside of Philadelphia looks a lot like an extension of the Northeast: it is the densest part of the County, and less wealthy than the County's center, around Doylestown. The lowest five statehouse districts, including Newtown, Churchville, and everything below, constitutes a whopping 46% of the population.
That 46% of the population turns out at lower rates than the rest of the District, and only represents 42% of the votes. But in a district so evely divided, subtle swings in any region with 42% of the vote (and especially a turnout increase, which is plausible in district with such low baseline turnout) can determine the election.
Despite the low turnout South of the district, the District as a whole votes at much higher rates than the state. Measured as votes per population over 18, the district voted at a rate nine percentage points more than the state in 2016, and six points more in 2014, the last race for Governor.
The 2016 Democratic Primary illustrates some interesting splits. Consider the wealthy region around Newtown and Lambertville. It has very high turnout, and was evenly split between Clinton and Trump. However, voters there *strongly* supported Clinton over Sanders. In other districts, we've seen a correlation between support for Sanders and support for Trump, which I've interpreted as an anti-establishment (or anti-Clinton, depending on your reading) sentiment. However, these wealthy voters appear to be legitimate centrists: with a slight overall Republican lean, who voted against Sanders, while also swinging slightly against Trump.
Below are the racial splits for the District, though they deserve a strong word of caution. The calculation below assigns races the weighted average of the vote in the State House districts that residents live in. In a District so heavily White, the Black, Hispanic, and Asian residents will still live in a predominantly White district, so the differences between races presented will be understated.
This wraps up the Philadelphia District Profiles. The redistricting removed the gerrymandering that was fabricating Republican Districts out of a broadly Democratic region. The result is that every one of the five compact districts in the region would have voted for Clinton in 2016, ranging from narrow victories (today's CD 01) to the Democratic strongholds in the state (CDs 02, 03). While the state as a whole still represents a disproportionate Republican overrepresentation--Republicans would have won 56% of these districts in 2016, when they won only 50% of the vote--they are dramatically closer to matching the popular vote.
Tomorrow is the special election to replace Tim Murphy in the House of Representatives. Since I've got the machinery to analyze districts, I thought I'd prep some maps to see what to expect. The election will be held using the old districts, not the Supreme Court's new districts, and in any other year the Republican would almost certainly win. Donald Trump carried it by 19.5% just 20 months ago. The district ran 18.8 percentage points more Republican than the state in 2016 and 18.3 in 2014. But recent polls imply that this race is close. I'm not going to narrate, but thought I'd share the plots I made for myself.
I'm profiling each of the State Supreme Court's new Congressional Districts in the Philadelphia area, looking at their voting behavior and their demographics. Today, the new District 04.
District 04 covers Montgomery county, in Philadelphia's suburbs. This county had been among the most gerrymandered in the state, and saw the biggest changes under the Supreme Court's map. It's a politically diverse county, and chopping it up provided a huge boon to the Republicans. It's a swing-y county, and gets national attention as a pivotal suburb that seems to be trending Democratic.
The county combines Democratic neighborhoods in the southeast with Republican neighborhoods in the northwest. However, that doesn't end up being the relevant distinction to make. The northwest neighborhoods are sparsely populated, and represent very few votes. Instead, the most important distinction is between the heavily Democratic suburbs just outside of Philadelphia--Elkins Park, Glenside, Abington--and the marginally Democratic suburbs in the center. The GOP strategy had been to waste the votes of the former by lumping them in with all-Democrat Philadelphia, while distributing the latter with Republican districts to create safe-but-not-too-safe Republican districts.
Here's how the county used to be divided. It includes Goofy's head of the famed former District 7.
The new district is reliably Democratic.
The county is predominately White and higher income. The racial exception is Norristown, and the wealth exception is the more rural area in the northwest.
Turnout in 2016 came disproportionately from the inner suburbs. That's where the population is, but also has the highest turnout per resident.
This November is a Gubernatorial election. The turnout falls, but proportionately less than in the rest of the state. It also falls less in the southeast, so those neighborhoods are *even more* important in elections for Governor.
As I've pointed out in every one of these profiles, the Trump vote closely matches the Sanders vote. The district went 59-41 for Clinton over Sanders, a bigger Clinton win than the state overall. That was largely driven by the southeast.
The racial cross-tabs are less interesting for this district than others, mostly because it's so White. Perhaps most interesting is the stability of Hillary's primary numbers across races; she doesn't seem to have done quite so well in Black neighborhoods in the county as she did in Philadelphia.
This week, I'm profiling each of the State Supreme Court's new Congressional Districts, looking at their voting behavior and their demographics. Today, the new District 05.
District 05 is the first district we're looking at that stretches outside of Philadelphia. In total, 80% of its population comees from Delaware County, 16% from Philadelphia, and 4% from Montgomery. (That area in South Philly is deceiving; much of it is industrial and has no population).
The district contains portions of Bob Brady's old District 1, which used to stretch out to Chester in order to gerrymander Democratic votes together. It is much less gerrymandered now, though still doesn't have any Republican strongholds.
Turnout for the district is high, running six percentage points higher than the state as a whole. That largely is due to the wealthiest suburbs, where 70-80% of the over-18 population votes.
They also fall off less than the rest of the state between Presidential and Gubernatorial elections.
Again, much of the interesting story of the district is in the 2016 Democratic Primary. The district voted largely for Clinton, with a pattern that we saw in other Districts: Black neighborhoods overwhelmingly supported Clinton, wealthier White neighborhoods still supported her by around 20 percentage points, and middle income White neighborhoods and students swung the hardest towards Bernie (though still ended up at close to an even split).
This district displays the largest over-representation of White voters that we've seen so far; they represent 64% of the population, but 69% of the vote in 2014. We will see if that continues in this high-attention Gubernatorial race this November.
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