Friday, February 25, 2011

Smallest Possible District

Yet Another Map: Smallest Possible District

My redistricting consultant, Jerry Mandering, tells me I'm wrong when I say you can't draw a district smaller than eight counties, and gave me this map.

The goal here was to make the largest and smallest districts possible, while still slopping together two other contiguous seats.

I - I mean, Jerry - started with a list of counties sorted by population and the answer was so obvious that it slapped me in the face:

Connect the two largest counties, Polk and Linn! The corridor goes through Jasper, Marshall, Tama and Benton for a mere six county district. That might actually pass commission muster, but I can't see it flying politically.

The biggest district was harder. Theoretically, the smallest 64 counties would add up to a district, with 20,000 population being the cutoff. But several of the smallest counties are on the northern and southern borders, and there's the problem of two big counties, Woodbury and Pottawattamie, isolated on the west.

In the end, I had to include PottCo to make the population balance between four districts and to connect low-population Monona and Harrison. I also had to include mid-size Cerro Gordo and Webster, for a 51 county district with no diagonal-corner cheating.

Going along the south border works better than the north; the south has more of the sub-10,000 counties. If you go through the north you have to use Woodbury instead of PottCo, and Woodbury is about 30,000 bigger.

Challenge: Draw a district bigger than 51 counties.

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