Monday, February 15, 2010

A tale of two districts

It's unavoidable in politics that the poor guy isn't buried yet and the talk is mostly about who might replace the late Jack Murtha in congress.

Here is the thing about Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District.  To understand it's makeup, let alone it's map, you have to go back and look at the redistricting that resulted in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District.  I have discussed the history behind the creation of PA-18 in the past

So take a look at the two districts.  Here is PA-18 currently held by Tim Murphy:

and here is what the now-vacant PA-12 looks like these days:

 If you are less than a six sigma jigsaw puzzler, maybe it would help to see how they fit together:

PA-12 is prety much what was left over once PA-18 was carved out deliberately. 18 might be one of the most analytically drawn districts in history. What was left over in Southwestern Pennsylvania that also included Johnstown, the home of longtime incumbent Murtha, was strung together to form PA-12. The extreme division that results between PA12 and PA18 comes out in a lot of ways.   Here is a summary of how the two districts differ by just a few metrics. 

Median Household Income (2008)$38,762$56,576
Median Housing Value$89,500$139,300
Poverty Rate (% of population)14.9%7.0%
Foreign Born (% of population)1.5%3.6%

From the 2005-2008 American Community Survey (ACS)

Those stats are pretty amazing.  You really could not have created two more different districts if you tried.  That they are not only side-by-side, but literally overlapping is a tribute to the mapmakers who came up with the boundaries of the two districts. Let's just say they were not drawn randomly.

Geography is politics!


Blogger Burgher Jon said...

Ain't Gerymandering grand!

Millions of our tax dollars are at work as congressmen and aides attempt to divide the country in to winnable bits.

Monday, February 15, 2010 1:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, it has nothing to do with your congressman (or woman). Constitutionally, the individual states re-district, not the federal government. These two districts were Gerrymandered by computer software bought by the Republican caucus in Harrisburg specifically to create a Republican Congressional district in SWPA. While there have been reports about tax dollars being used to purchase the software which date the issue back to 1996 (Source: September 12, 2008 Post-Gazette), the Republican attorneys general in PA never seem to find the time to investigate the Republican caucus, only time to bring "Bonusgate" charges against Democrats.

Monday, February 15, 2010 1:42:00 PM  
Blogger Burgher Jon said...

My State Rep then. Probably not millions then, maybe just hundreds of thousands.

Monday, February 15, 2010 1:44:00 PM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

I inform my friends in other states that PA-12 is what western Pennsylvania was, and PA-18 is what western Pennsylvania will be. What western Pennsylvania is right now is a mash-up of the two, but with PA-18 gaining influence and PA-12 losing influence.

Monday, February 15, 2010 2:11:00 PM  
Blogger Conservative Mountaineer said...

There are districts in other States just as convoluted..

For example, NC has a Congrssional District that runs along I-85.. for miles!! just to link two areas. (I think it's I-85; can't find the reference at the moment.)

I'm a resident of PA-18.. Murphy is ~90% OK for me (his support for Card Check is a HUGE No-No).

As for PA-12 becoming more like PA-18? Fat chance. PA-18 voters love Government handouts. They kept voting Murtha even when it was clear he was a crook.

Monday, February 15, 2010 3:48:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

I hate when conservatives, like our friend Conservative Mountaineer, make broad generalizations based on what they perceive to be in the minds of people that they don't understand. I would like to know how you know that PA-12 (you made a typo and I assume you meant people living in PA-12, not 18) voters love government handouts. Do the actions of Senator Shelby, when he held the government hostage by placing holds on all of President Obama's pending nominations in the US Senate until two of his pet projects in Alabama were funded indicate that the people of that state love government handouts? Just because a government official is successful in bring jobs to their district doesn't mean anything about the people who live there. In the spirit of your comment, I'm sure that if Tim Murphy's district were the recipient of some government program, the self sufficient, pull yourself up by your own boot-straps, suburban sprawl types living in PA-12 would be running for the hills (hopefully those hills aren't in the PA-12 congressional district).

Monday, February 15, 2010 6:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you some research and you will discover why these districts were created. Murtha faced a tough election in the early 90's and then cut a deal with the Republicans then in control of the State to do some redistricting to save his seat, but throw his neighboring Congressmen (Austin Murphy and Frank Mascara) under the bus.

Monday, February 15, 2010 7:56:00 PM  
Anonymous DBR96A said...

@ Conservative Mountaineer: I wasn't implying that PA-12 would become more like PA-18, just that PA-12 is a relic that will soon cease to be relevant while PA-18 will generally retain its clout.

Monday, February 15, 2010 9:33:00 PM  

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