LRC Senate Draft - Balanced Metrics and Population

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Map Link Summary This proposed revision to the LRC Senate Preliminary Plan pursues improvement across a wide range of assessment criteria, partly through a reduced emphasis on protection of incumbent senators. In exchange for increasing the risk to a few incumbents, this proposal offers benefits in all of the following areas: Population equivalence Minority representation Compactness Jurisdictional splits Competitiveness Partisan bias and proportionality. Each of these areas is discussed in turn below. Lastly, because the impact on incumbents is clearly a concern for caucus leaders, I have included a detailed analysis of this topic. Population Equivalence A key objective in amending the LRC Draft was to narrow variations in population among districts and regions. Districts in the LRC plan vary nearly 5% in either direction from the target population, close to the maximum indicated by case law. Further, southwestern districts are collectively underpopulated relative to those in the southeast - a potential legal vulnerability in view of the concentration of minority voters in the region disadvantaged by this imbalance. The proposed changes reduce the overall deviation from 9.59% to 5.30%. The regional difference between southwest and southeast is eradicated. (The exact comparison depends on which districts are counted in each region.) Notably, these reductions were accomplished in tandem with substantial improvements in compactness, minority representation, and splits of jurisdictions (see below). As the Commission is aware, a gain in one of these areas typically involves sacrifices elsewhere. Minority Representation The DRA Minority Representation score jumps from 51 to 68, reflecting enhancement in each component of this metric. Of particular importance, Hispanic voting age population in SD2 rises from 34.05% to 42.69%, and the seat is vacant. Sen.Tartaglione has been drawn into the adjacent SD5, which is made available by a contest of incumbents in SD6. (See below.) Including her precinct in SD2 would slightly augment Hispanic VAP; but as Chair Nordenberg and Leader Ward have noted in a different context, a vacant seat offers a better prospect of electing the Commonwealth’s first Hispanic senator. Compactness The DRA compactness score improves markedly, from 53 to 70. The “Know it When You See It” rating rises from 54 to 64. Reock improves from .3669 to .4283 and Polsby-Popper from .3312 to .3756. Much of the improvement stems from de-emphasizing protection of incumbents. This topic is addressed at length below. The shift of districts toward more densely populated areas also enhances compactness to some degree. Jurisdictional Splits 20 counties are split a total of 40 times, reduced from 22 and 42 on the LRC Plan. These reductions, coupled with refinements to some remaining splits, raise the DRA splitting score from 63 to 69. The ten precinct splits on the LRC Draft are eliminated. Municipal splits were almost certainly reduced as well, as these are closely correlated with county and precinct splits; but municipal splits have not been tallied separately. Competitiveness Creating competitive districts was not a point of emphasis. Nonetheless, DRA’s competitiveness score rises from 22 to 27, based on the 2016-2020 Election Composite dataset. This increase may help address criticism of the LRC Draft for a paucity of competitive districts. This metric is controversial, and highly sensitive to the mapper’s choice of historic election data. I have included it for completeness, not as evidence of improvement. Partisan Bias and Proportionality Chair Nordenberg has shared his view of SCOPA’s 2018 League of Women Voters decision, suggesting that the Free and Equal Elections Clause requires some degree of proportionality. The changes proposed here do not pursue proportional representation per se. (For example, SD37 - a key inflection point for control of the chamber - remains a safe Republican seat.) Nonetheless, some reduction of bias is evident in the relevant metrics. Votes bias drops from 2.13% to 1.40%, and seats bias from 4.57% to 3.66%. Accordingly, DRA’s Proportionality and Partisan Bias scores rise from 93 to 100 and from 54 to 63, based largely on enhanced opportunities for Democratic gains in Lancaster and Erie Counties. Impact on Incumbents This topic appears to be of keen interest to several Commissioners, and has profoundly shaped the Preliminary Plan, so I have chosen to address it in detail. I hope this information will support a candid public debate. Possible indirect partisan effects are discussed below. Potential Primaries Between Incumbents The proposed changes would create two more clashes between Republican incumbents than the LRC Draft. These clashes have no direct partisan impact, as the relocated districts, SD21 and SD35, would retain strong Republican majorities. SD50: Michele Brooks vs. Scott Hutchinson. Senators Brooks and Hutchinson reside in adjacent counties, Mercer and Venango. These counties have experienced population declines of approximately 8% and 10% respectively since the 2010 census, in a region that has lost population and appears further depleted by prisoner reallocation. The LRC Draft keeps these incumbents separate by extending SD50 and SD21 to the south. In this way, the Draft pushes the main effects of population trends into Allegheny County, where all five districts are underpopulated, and into the middle of the state, toward the vacated SD34. A simpler solution is to add Venango to SD50 and redraw the region accordingly. There is no direct partisan impact; SD21 moves south and remains a solidly red district comprising Butler and Armstrong Counties. As SD21 is odd-numbered, the LRC may wish to reverse these district assignments, subject to advice of counsel. SD41: Wayne Langerholc vs. Joe Pittman. Senator Langerholc’s home in Cambria County poses several challenges. He is surrounded by Senator Pittman to the west, Sen. Stefano to the south, and Sen. Judy Ward to the east in adjacent Blair County - all in a region that has lost population and is further depleted by prisoner reallocation. The LRC Draft relieves some of this pressure by extending Sen. Ward’s district farther east, into former territory of the vacated SD34; this shift is consistent with our solution to the LRC map’s regional imbalance. Unfortunately, the same shift to the southeast tightens the squeeze on SD35, as SD21 moves into Butler County, pushing SD41 into conflict with SD35. My previous proposal created two potential primaries in this region: Langerholc vs. Judy Ward and Pittman vs. Stefano. This update reduces the clashes by half, and limits the conflict to a pair of odd-numbered districts. Sen Langerholc faces Sen. Pittman in SD41, and SD35 shifts to Perry and Cumberland Counties. This change has no direct partisan impact, as the relocated SD35 remains solidly red. The overall shift of population toward South Central Pennsylvania contributes to a more competitive SD36 in Lancaster, but this effect is independent of the incumbent conflict in the west. SD20: Lisa Baker vs. John Yudichak This conflict is included for completeness. Sen. Yudichak became an independent in 2019 and joined the Republican caucus. The LRC Draft has already moved his district, SD14. His plans for the 2022 cycle are unknown; he appears unlikely to challenge Sen. Baker in a primary. Potential General Elections Between Incumbents SD6: Robert Tomlinson vs. John Sabatina This clash of incumbents will not please either caucus leader. In deference to their influence, my previous submission retained the traditional division between Philadelphia and Bensalem. The case for breaking this barrier includes the demographics of Northeast Philly itself, plus an opportunity to draw the remainder of Bucks County in a manner consistent with constitutional principles and the preference of most residents. (See SD10 below.) If Sen. Tomlinson seeks an eighth term, this race will be a difficult one for both incumbents. Other Contested General Elections Involving Incumbents SD10: Steve Santarsiero Residents of all affiliations have rebuked the LRC’s treatment of Bucks County. Resectioning Bucks into Lower, Central and Upper districts - as proposed by most advocates - substantially narrows Sen. Santarsiero’s margin. SD16: Judy Schwank The LRC draft sacrifices compactness to keep Sen. Schwank in SD11’s safe seat. Shifting her Ruscombmanor home from SD11 to SD16 likely ends her tenure. This change could be reversed, with adverse impact on compactness in Berks County. SD14: Pat Browne The LRC Draft protects Sen. Browne by dividing Allentown to keep him in SD16. Consolidating Allentown in SD14 puts him severely at risk. SD15: John DiSanto [no change from LRC Draft] The current SD15 is heavily gerrymandered. Redrawing it to comprise only southern Dauphin County - as the LRC Draft already does - puts Sen. DiSanto in distinct jeopardy. SD18: Lisa Boscola In contrast to the LRC Draft, Sen. Boscola benefits from the reunification of Bethlehem in SD18. She might still face a challenge, but this change expands her comfort margin. SD20: Lisa Baker [Entry truncated by form. For full narrative, see:]

Quantitative Analysis

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