Friday, March 27, 2009

Biggest and Smallest House Districts

Never Ending Post Mortem 2008: Geographic Size

Why is there a big bump in election analysis now? Because states generally release results by county, and it's taken this long to go through the precinct results and break things out by congressional district.

The latest CQ crosstab sort of the data is by physical size of congressional district, and there's a strong correlation: the smaller the space, the better for Obama, and for House Democrats. Republicans like to brag about the seeming redness of the map, but as we'll see a lot of that red is the more cows than humans turf of the Great Plains.

The full chart is here (pdf).

Some superlatives:

  • Smallest district: Charlie Rangel's New York 15 in Harlem, also the #2 Obama district.
  • Largest district: the state of Alaska, which scandalized long-term Republican Don Young barely won, and which was on the outer fringes of the Obama radar until Palin was picked.
  • Smallest McCain district: New York 13 on Staten Island, which Democrat Mike McMahon took over after Republican Vito Fosella's triple threat scandal (drunk driving... on the way to the not his wife girlfriend's house... to see their baby).
  • Smallest House Republican district: Ed Royce's southern California 40, which was also the second smallest McCain district. I thought for sure this would be Joseph Cao in New Orleans, but the suburbs of LA, Houston and Dallas are more tightly packed.
  • Largest Obama district: Texas 23, represented by Democrat Ciro Rodriguez. It's got some lower Rio Grande valley, and takes in a lot of the empty turf between Mexico and San Antonio.
  • Largest House Dem district: The state of South Dakota, represented by my old flame Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. On the outer outer fringes of the radar but wound up safe for McCain.

    In Iowa, we have some relatively large districts; in fact, Loebsack's 2 and Latham's split-ticket 4 are near the top size for Obama districts. (The chart's not numbered, but Loebsack is on page 9 of an 10 1/2 page list, while Latham and King are on page 10.) So by national standards, we're few and far between out here.
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