Category Archives: Better Know a District
Colbert’s Super PAC American’s for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow has raised $1.02 million. Upon disclosing the amount of money earned, Colbert was quoted as saying “How you like me now, FEC?” in a letter written to the commission. To celebrate this monumental achievement, let’s have a countdown of Colbert’s top 5 moments.
One of my favorite political topics to talk about and write about here on the blog is gerrymandering. It is an act of brazen political dominance that can ensure victories, create defeats, and control the future from a little room in a state legislature somewhere. It can create massive advantages for the incumbent party, as in Maryland where
Democrats have a 7-1 advantage in seats, in a state that is Democratic, but not that much. It goes very much the other way in Florida where Republicans control 15 of the 25 seats, even with the Democrats having netted three seats in the last two elections, in a state that Obama won and is very closely split politically.
The problem with gerrymandering, put very simply, is arrogance. Those who wish to maximize seats for their party need to worry about the potential for going too far. If they put aside too many 51% districts for their party, the other party can take over those seats, undoing the advantage that the redistricting party was trying to get in the first place. Thus, Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania is a cool state. The most common description for the state’s politics is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia with Alabama in the middle. The two cities are highly Democratic. Pittsburgh’s is a more blue-collar and industrial kind, while Philadelphia has a large African-American population. This leaves the main swing area of the state as the Philadelphia suburbs.
More after the jump… (more…)
I came across this from a really cool blog called Strange Maps, a place where the internet can indulge my love of geography. Here is the map:
I recently did a big class project about the politics of Georgia. The biggest theme for Georgia and the rest of the South is the mass polarization by race. If a Democrat can get 30% of the white vote within the state, they can win. Obama got 23% and Jim Martin got 26%. Obama only got 10% of the white vote in Alabama. The patterns that this map shows is where cotton was grown, represented by dots. The areas where slaves used to live became the places where their ancestors stayed to create this map of polarized voting. Strange Maps really is a cool site and I recommend going there.
We here at the University of Michigan College Democrats official blog try to maintain the highest levels of discourse and news analysis. We attempt to rigorously examine the news both locally and nationally and bring a high level of analysis that we have from our fine educations here at one of the premier public universities in America.
But sometimes, there’s a congressional district that’s shaped like a penis. And we realize that we are still but impetuous youth:
Reviving this old series now that school is out, it’s time for the skipped Michigan 14th Congressional District.
The fighting 14th is the other Detroit district, along with the 13th.
The district is the other part of Wayne County that is not taken by the 13th or the 15th. It is based around the northwest portion of the city of Detroit, while also having Dearborn and and Highland Park. Dearborn was put in during the 2000 redistricting as a way to put Congressman Dingell in the same district as Congresswoman Rivers, a primary which I covered earlier. The district is over 60% black and is a Voting Rights Act district, designed to ensure African American representation.
The district is represented by Congressman John Conyers. It is easy to forget, with our close relationship with Congressman Dingell at the University of Michigan, that we have another living legend in our Michigan Democratic caucus. John Conyers has been in the House since 1965, giving him the second longest tenure out of any Representative, behind Congressman Dingell. As a matter of historical reference, Conyers was number 13 on Nixon’s original enemies list found here. He helped found the Congressional Black Caucus and was the first to propose a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Throughout his entire career, he has been well known as one of the great liberals in Congress this entire time. He has been a firm opponent of the Bush Administration, especially on issues of pre-war intelligence about Iraq, voting irregularities in Ohio, and lost civil liberties. Since the Democrats retook control in 2006, he is back to his old position as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
The district is one of the most Democratic in the entire country. John Kerry won 81% of the vote in the district. A Republican once represented the district. For one term. In 1946, after one of the worst election years for Democrats ever. Basically, there’s not the greatest hope for Republicans here. Conyers was an early endorser of Barack Obama and is his highest profile endorser within the state. Clinton won the district overall, but by a very slim margin and delegates were split 3-3 between Clinton and Uncommitted.
This district, along with the 14th, are the two Detroit districts.
The 13th is a Voting Rights Act district, specifically drawn in order to ensure a black majority. It is 59.9% black, coming mostly from Detroit. It is also a poor district, with a median family income of 31,000 dollars compared to the national average of about 48,000. Though the majority of the district is Detroit, it also stretches up in Wayne County to take in the rich white suburbs of Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods.
This is a very safe Democratic congressional district, where John Kerry beat Bush by 29 points. It is represented by Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. She has been in Congress for six terms and is now the Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. In 2006, she received a Saddam-esque vote percentage of 99.99% in her race with no opposition. The only real competition comes in the Democratic Primary where she had defeated the previous representative in 1996. Her main electoral vulnerability comes from the exploits of her son which have been well documented on this blog. The former deputy chief of police who was fired during the coverup of his dalliances, Gary Brown, has confirmed that he will be exploring a run in the Democratic Primary, in a Detroit News article here.
This should be the first in a series of posts to help people better know their state congressional districts and congressmen and congresswoman. Michigan is a very unique state, with a broad mix of rural, urban, and suburban areas. This series attempts to educate everybody about what the districts look like:
First up is our home district, the 15th District of Michigan:
The district is the corner of Southwestern Michigan and includes three counties. We are in Washtenaw County which is well known for its liberalism. The county as a whole voted 63-36 for John Kerry over Bush, making it Kerry’s second best county in the state behind Wayne County and along with Wayne and Ingham were the only three counties in the state to vote against Proposal Two banning affirmative action. It’s not only Ann Arbor, but also Ypsilanti within Washtenaw, while at the same time excluding the more conservative western Washtenaw County. It also includes the southern portion of Wayne County, the most liberal county in the state, and Monroe County which was 50-50 between Kerry and Bush.
This district is currently represented by the legend himself, Congressman John Dingell. The Congressman has represented at least a portion of the district since 1955, making him the second longest serving House member ever. He is the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, a post he also held before the Republicans took back control of Congress in 1994. He is well known for being one of the most powerful Congressman in the entire house and a leader on issues involving American industry, manufacturing, and health care. Perhaps most importantly, he has been a good friend to the University of Michigan College Democrats by speaking to us many times, helping us on our annual pancake breakfasts, and many other ways.
The district went through some perturbations with the redistricting in 2002. The Republicans controlled the State House, State Senate, and Governorship, guaranteeing them the right to completely draw the maps in an unfettered manner. The 15th was drawn as a way to put together two Democratic incumbents, Congressman Dingell and Congresswoman Lynn Rivers, who represented the old 13th and 16th Congressional districts. It basically took Congressman Dingell’s district, while stripping away the more central portions of Wayne County, while adding Rivers’ main base of western Washtenaw County including us here at the University of Michigan. There was a bruising primary battle in 2002, which Dingell won by a suprising margin. For more information about that primary battle, there is an extensive writeup from the pollster from the Rivers campaignhere. Congresswoman Rivers is now Professor Rivers who teaches Political Science classes here at U of M.
Congressman Dingell has served for 54 years and is expected to serve for many more. When he retires, there are many, many, Democrats in the district who would be interested in the seat, setting up what could possibly be a bloody Democratic Primary.