MapFriday: Hypothetical 5 District City Council
Redistricting is the most political process there is by very defintition. Given there is not the normal inter-party conflict within the city, its even harder to figure out how such a big change would be implemented. The typical way a majority tries to mitigate the power of the minority (however defined) via reapportioment is to stack, pack, and/or crack them.
But here is a question. Will there be one majority-minority district or two? This is the corollary to the debate that has popped up in the city of Pittsburgh during the last two reapportionments (and its original apportionment not that long ago) as to whether there should be 2 or 3 majority African American districts. Some basic demographics, geography and Constitutional issues will likely force there to be one clear majority minority district. But what about a 2nd?
How I think the math works out: unless there is one concentrated African American district stretching from the Hill District to Homewood, there is likely to be a district with a relatively even split between Black and White voters in some other district elsewhere within the City... Could it be that the African American population not in the primary minority district winds up split and diluted across a number of districts? That is possible although geography makes it a little difficult. The Voting Rights Act and its legal precedents to date could come into play at this point. There are some clear directions out there as to what is permissible in terms of creating majority-minority or minority impact districts.
However that does not mean a 2nd district would easily elect a 2nd African American. Reapportionment looks at total population, but the demographics of the voting age population can be different. In 2000 the total population in the city of Pittsburgh was 27% Black-only... however, mostly becasue of some different age demographics, the voting age population was 23% Black-only. Thus even if there is a 2nd district that was marginally a majority Black district in total, the voting age population could be more even.
One way or the other, apportioning 5 districts will be a very contentious issue because with so few on council, each vote counts a lot. This could get really ugly. If you have read all that and are still with me.. you may be one of the few who would be interested in some work I have done in the past on Voting Patterns by Race in Allegheny County.