We’re heading toward the big show, when it comes to redistricting; oral arguments start next week, and we’re about five weeks away from a putative decision, just in time for Minnesotans to find out what precinct they get to caucus at.
And things are still very much in flux.
Jake Grovum at Politics in Minnesota has an excellent piece that sums up the main issues involved in the redrawing of the state’s lines.
The big yak about the Legislative (and, let’s be frank, GOP) plan is that it combines all of Northern Minnesota into one big Eighth district; it lumps a bunch of conservative northwestern Minnesota in with the always-Trotskyite Iron Range.
The single northern district plan prompted howls of protest from DFLers, especially on the Iron Range, but some say the demographics may force the five-judge panel to consider exactly that kind of realignment.
“The GOP map in the northern district is something that the panel is going to take seriously,” Jacobs predicted.
The DFL would very much like to protect the DFL’s one-time sinecure, and make it (in their dreams) easier for a DFLer to retake in 2012.
But the simple fact is the state’s demographics are changing; the Range and the Twin Cities are shrinking, along with much of outstate Minnesota – and the ‘burbs and exurbs are booming. Those are facts, found in the census.
Not in the census, or through any other empirical source, but I will bank on it being true – the DFL-dominated regions are shrinking precisely because they are DFL-dominated regions. The Range is dying, partly because the market for steel got priced overseas back in the sixties through the eighties, and partly because the DFL has spent decades trying to kill off any surviving parts of the mining industry (although somehow apparently believing that as long as there’s a strong union, the workers will continue to get paid for being there).
And as to the Twin Cities?
The metro-area corollary to the outstate dilemma is how to best balance the booming suburbs and exurbs with a mostly stagnant, yet distinct, urban core.
And the metro area is, I suspect, an even better example of my theory; sixty years of lock-step DFL domination, fiscal profligacy and politicized social policy have sent a fair chunk of the Metro area scampering for the ‘burbs. You can see twenty or thirty years into the future by looking at an area’s schools – and when double-digit percentages of Minnesota’s parents, especially ethnic minorities, are decamping from the metro school systems in favor of charter schools and open enrollment in the ‘burbs, that doesn’t bode well for the Cities’ futures; to paraphrase the great political scientist George Clinton, when parents free their kids minds from the metro school systems, their asses will follow.
And they’ve been following for a generation now, and it’s only accelerating. The DFL – and their retinue of astroturf activists at Draw the Line, Common Cause MN, the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits and Take Action Minnesota – desperately want the redistricting process to ignore this, and to give disproportionate representation to areas that do not have the population to deserve it, because the people are voting with their feet.
It’s this dynamic that points to perhaps the strongest advantage for Republicans — both in congressional and legislative districts.
The demographics are in the GOP’s favor. Republican attorneys already persuaded the five-judge panel to consider a more expansive 11-county metro area rather than the traditional seven-county region.
The entire mission of groups like Draw The LIne and Common Cause is to try to prevent, or forestall, that realization.
And they don’t care how they have to torture fact to do it.
More later this week.