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Analysis: Looking at Arizona’s draft redistricting maps

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Posted at 6:23 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 20:59:46-05

PHOENIX — In October, the five-member Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission adopted draft congressional and legislative maps.

One major difference between how this has played out this year compared to what happened ten years ago was the commission’s adoption vote was unanimous. Commissioners are now on a tour around the state to gather public opinions and thoughts on district boundaries.

While boundaries may still go through changes prior to the final vote, it looks like there may be big changes coming to Arizona’s congressional map.

For most of the past decade, northeastern Arizona’s congressional district has been the largest in the country to be represented by a Democrat (First Ann Kirkpatrick and then Tom O’Halleran). The draft map version of the district incorporates heavily republican Yavapai County, virtually ensuring a district that will be safely in the hands of the GOP for the remainder of this decade.

At the opposite end of the political spectrum, Republican David Schweikert has held a seat anchored in Scottsdale and Fountain Hills since winning re-election in 2012. The new draft district in that area also reaches deep into central phoenix all the way to 19th and Grand avenues, combining some of the poorest and wealthiest neighborhoods in the state.

According to the commission’s own data, Republicans would maintain a slight advantage of fewer than two points, an easy pick-up for Democrats when the national political environment is in their favor.

So far, the congressional map earns high marks from experts.

The Princeton Gerrymandering project gives it an “A” while FiveThirtyEight’s analysis has determined that the delegation split would most likely be five Republicans and four Democrats.

The state legislative map also received an A from Princeton. Their analysis shows that Republicans would typically have a slight advantage of one to three seats.

At least two of those districts were only won by a Republican Senate candidate by less than five points, meaning that if the political wind switches back to Democrats like 2018 they could potentially control at least one of Arizona’s chambers, something that hasn’t happened since 1992.

What Happens Next

The maps are not final.

Members of the public have four remaining opportunities to have their voices heard in front of the commission. The next scheduled public meeting is in Avondale with a satellite location in Pinetop.

People can also go to the mapping hub to see the maps and leave a comment. After the public comment period the commission has scheduled a series of seven “final decision” meetings where comments will be taken into consideration and boundaries may change. The last scheduled final decision meeting is December 22 when the commission hopes to vote on a final map.