While many eyes are on the current 13th House District represented by Bob Marshall that will split into two districts in 2011, another district in Prince William County will undergo significant changes due to redistricting and that will be the 50th District, currently represented by Delegate Jackson Miller. Currently the 50th has a little under 38,000 registered voters, roughly 12,000 under the average number of voters in a House District, meaning it has to grow pretty substantially in order to provide proportional representation. Surrounding the 50th District are some precincts Delegate Miller might not particularly want to have added to his district and some he might welcome, but the most likely outcome will probably be to Delegate Miller’s strong advantage.
Of course the precincts themselves are likely to be redrawn to some degree, but in general the current precincts show the political calculus that enters into the redistricting question. Pretty much no matter how you slice up these residential areas, you’re going to obtain a relative mix of political behavior and in the areas immediately surrounding the City of Manassas you see a number of Democrat-leaning areas. Using current precinct data isn’t entirely representative of what the boundaries will actually be following redistricting, but they’re a pretty good indication.
The Prince William County precincts that currently border the 50th are all currently in the 13th District, which contains 206% the number of voters it should have and definitely needs to shed precincts. The most likely candidates to move from the 13th into the 50th District, adding the 12,000 voters needed to balance the 50th with other House Districts, are as follows:
- Sudley North : 2,461 registered voters, 54% Deeds, 70% Obama, 53% Pandak
- Mullen: 3,579 registered voters, 52% Deeds, 70% Obama, 55% Stewart
- Ellis: 1,341 registered voters, 59% McDonnell, 60% Obama, 54% Stewart
- Victory: 4,955 registered voters, 64% McDonnell, 52% Obama, 60% Stewart
- Bennett: 4,441 registered voters, 68% McDonnell, 54% McCain, 62% Stewart
- Buckhall: 2,302 registered voters, 63% McDonnell, 55% McCain, 61% Stewart
Note: redistricting is based on population, not registered voters, but in the absence of 2010 census data and expecting that the ratio of registered voters to population is fairly consistent, I use that as the basis for the analysis here since this data is only a month old.
Sudley North is a precinct Bob Marshall would likely be happy to shed and Jackson Miller would not be overjoyed to have added to his district. While turnout tends to be low here, it always votes for whatever socialists may be on the ballot. Still, either of these delegates could tolerate the minor drag on their election numbers this precinct would present, although in a tight race down the road when either of these delegates move on to bigger things this precinct could be rather troublesome. Mullen is similar in character to Sudley North, but isn’t a highly likely candidate to move into the 50th since it (almost) doesn’t directly border it now. It is ripe to be carved apart and mostly merged with Sudley North, however.
Ellis, Buckhall, Bennett and Victory are all strongly performing conservative districts that Bob Marshall probably wouldn’t want to lose. Victory doesn’t currently border the 50th, but it could come in alongside Ellis. Buckhall would shift into the 50th before Bennett in order to prevent a weirdly-shaped district. Any of these would strongly balance the effect of shifting Sudley North or Mullen into the 50th.
In the end, roughly four precincts need to shift in order to move enough residents into the 50th in order to balance this district. The most logical choices would seem to be Buckhall, Bennett, Ellis and Sudley North as long as precincts aren’t carved apart and re-assembled. That would add quite a bit of conservative weight to the District and pretty much put it out of reach for the typical hyper-liberal Unitarian that Democrats seem so fond of putting up as candidates these days. The 13th District would lose a couple of pretty useful precincts for Bob Marshall, but if he were to shed Sudley North and perhaps some or all of Mullen, that doesn’t shift the dynamics of the 13th District very much. If Buckhall needs to be added to the 51st District to solve their need to expand, Victory would be a strong alternative to add to the 50th to make all the various pieces fit.
One alternative to this might be to add precincts from Fairfax County to the 50th, which would likely upset a few folks. I haven’t seen any indication that Dave Albo or Tim Hugo’s districts needs to change much, and there’s very little connection between the communities across Bull Run between Fairfax and Prince William. No one seems happy with the cross-county districts such as the 39th or 36th Senate district, where Prince William County voters feel they don’t have much of a say about who their representative in those districts will be, so such a plan isn’t likely to please anyone in Manassas or Centreville. Keeping the 50th all within Prince William makes much more sense, and is quite a bit easier for an elected official to represent.
Of course the major shake-up in the 13th District, which has to shrink to less than half of it’s current size, may introduce some other variables here. This table-top exercise pretty much is based on having the 50th gobble up anything convenient to it in the 13th simply to make it easier to fix that representational problem but if the 50th takes too much out of the 13th that could complicate line drawing elsewhere. The easy thing to do with the 13th District is to simply split it in two, but that’s not going to solve the issue of expanding the 50th or any of the other shifts that will be made. It’s going to have to be split apart, shifted around, and put together in a real humpty dumpty sequel that won’t be much easier than the original.
Get ready for some changes in the 50th coming up. What they’ll be for sure is really hard to tell for certain, but we know there’ll be a lot of changes, and as far as I can fathom these are the changes that make the most sense.
UPDATE: For a map of the current precinct assignments, click here.
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