Saturday, July 31, 2021

It would not be hard to dilute Democratic votes in Nashville by splitting them up among several districts.

By Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman, Rasmussen Reports, Thursday, July 29, 2021-... Nowadays, it is Democrats who wish that the redistricting playing field was more level, especially in Atwater’s native South. ... we’ll be looking at a number of states in the Greater South that voted for Donald Trump by at least double-digit margins. Those are Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. ....a state-by-state analysis of each state. ... 

  • Number of seats: 9 (no change from 2010s) 
  • Party breakdown in 2012: 7-2 R 
  • Current party breakdown: 7-2 R 
  • Most overpopulated district: TN-4 (South-Central Tennessee) 
  • Most underpopulated district: TN-9 (Memphis) 
  • Who controls redistricting: Republicans 
2012 control: 
Republicans Going into the 2011 redistricting process, Republicans were riding high in Tennessee. In 2010, they picked up the governorship and turned a 5-4 Democratic majority in the congressional delegation to a solid 7-2 GOP advantage. Importantly, the three seats that Republicans gained seemed solid: they’d all given McCain double-digit wins in 2008, and the GOP freshmen were replacing entrenched Democrats, whose appeal would be hard for future Democratic challengers to replicate. So with Republicans’ existing edge in the delegation, the 2011 redistricting in Tennessee was in large part driven by incumbent, not partisan, considerations. For example, then-Rep. Diane Black (R, TN-6) won her 2010 primary with a 31% plurality — it was not surprising when Rutherford County, where her two main primary opponents fared well, was removed from the district. Though Tennessee Republicans ended up passing a map that preserved their comfortable 7-2 advantage, more aggressive options were considered. 

Hypothetical pro-Republican gerrymander of Tennessee
While Memphis’ TN-9 is heavily Black (radically altering it would have surely result in court challenges), Nashville’s TN-5, which is white-majority, emerged as a possible target. Currently, the three districts that surround TN-5 are all ruby red (each gave Trump at least 67% in 2020), so it would not be hard to dilute Democratic votes in Nashville by splitting them up among several districts. 

In Map 2, Davidson County is split among four districts — the most Democratic of these seats is TN-5, which would have given Trump 57% both times he was on the general election ballot. We used the Cumberland River, which bisects Nashville, as something of a natural guide, but the are many ways to crack the county.

One reason why Republicans didn’t attempt an 8-1 map in 2011 may have been TN-5’s incumbent. Rep. Jim Cooper (D, TN-5), a moderate Democrat who has represented the Nashville area since 2002, used to hold a rural seat earlier in his career, where he was reelected easily in the 1980s and early 1990s. Given Cooper’s record in non-metropolitan parts of the state, it was feasible that he’d hold on in a redder district. But rural Tennessee has continued to shift rightward, and even the strongest statewide Democrats have struggled to find much crossover appeal there. 

Our sources on both sides of the aisle believe that Cooper is in serious danger of seeing his district broken apart, allowing Republicans to likely net an extra seat in Tennessee. From a demographic perspective, many of the state’s fast-growing counties form a crescent around Nashville: Sumner and Wilson counties are in TN-6, Rutherford was moved into TN-4 for 2012, and Williamson County, the state’s wealthiest and most college-educated county, has been in TN-7 since 2002. A decade ago, those four counties had 720,000 residents, or just over the population of a single district — they now claim 860,000 residents, which is 115,000 over the ideal district population. 

On the other extreme, TN-9 has seen the slowest growth, and needs to add roughly 60,000 people — it will likely pick up some suburban Memphis precincts from TN-8, but it should still be around 65% Black. TN-8, which takes in West Tennessee, was amenable to Democrats 15 years ago, but is now a safely red seat, and it probably won’t change as much as the Nashville-area districts. 

The only two counties east of the Nashville area where Joe Biden cracked even 40% of the vote were Knox (Knoxville) and Hamilton (Chattanooga); they anchor TN-2 and TN-3, respectively. While those counties have seen some pro-Democratic trends, both districts contain a handful of deeply red rural counties, so Republicans should feel secure in each. Finally, TN-1 will likely see minimal changes — it’s been nestled in the northeastern corner of the state for essentially the state’s entire history and last elected a Democrat in 1878.

To read the full report follow this link

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

1 comment:

  1. I've been pushing, pushing, pushing our super-majority Republican General Assembly to do just that. The last thing we need is another term of Cooper voting in lockstep w/the progressives, or worse, the chicken-little progressive representing us in Congress. The GOP needs to pull out all stops to swing the House back. Does anyone think the Dems would do otherwise?