Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Worst. Iowa. Maps. Ever.

Worst. Iowa. Maps. Ever.

I know, I said I wasn't going to draw maps. I get too much anxiety thinking about something that I can't impact. But the Register's tool is too much fun.

So I drew maps. Just not serious maps.

Instead, I tried to imagine ridiculous configurations that would look cool and mathematically work, but which would fail on every other possible level.

I started this one by just going horizontal across the state, starting with the northern and southern borders, hoping to have four districts span the state east to west. Didn't quite work but came close; moved a couple counties around for population balance.

In Map 2 I start with a vertical line based in the Des Moines longitude. I got four districts that border both Minnesota and Missouri, though I don't quite get the stripe look I wanted thanks to the bulge west and then east in the Des Moines district. The western district actually looks plausible.

I also, accidentally, got a Latham-Boswell pair and the other three on their own, though Loebsack loses Johnson.

I'm looking for diagonal stripes these next two.

In map three I start in the northwest and southeast. And again I get the Latham-Boswell pair.

This time, while striving for ridiculous, I get TWO reasonable looking districts, one for King and one for Loebsack.

The same member combinations, and the same two plausible districts, happen when I start with the southwest and northeast. Though I do like the very narrow Polk-Marion connection where the district narrows to a mile or so south of Runnells.

I guess I have to try harder... I manage to give Steve King all four corners of the state! Hey, other states draw districts like that for real.

While I'm at it, I try to make the smallest possible metro area district I can, which I can't do with less than eight counties. In the 60s, when we had seven districts, Neal Smith had four counties: Polk, Story, Boone, Webster.

I also like the Clayton to Carroll turf I gave Bruce Braley. But that's nothin' compared to the grand finale...

My goal was to make the state into a bulls-eye of concentric circles. It's impossible; the border counties are more than a district, so I had to leave a gap in the neighborhood of Flav's Fried Chicken in Clinton.

I cheated a little by connecting Humboldt on a point both at the northwest and northeast. But that might actually pass constitutional muster; districts connected by a point exist in other states. And I don't think we have any now, but there have been districts entirely surrounded by another district. I remember a two district Nevada, 80s I believe, when one district (Middle of Vegas) was surrounded by the other district (Entire Rest Of State).

I challenge anyone working with the 99 puzzle pieces of the 99 counties to draw a worse map than this.

No comments: