Colorado’s 2012 Congressional Redistricting

Posted on September 30, 2012 by

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The Previous 2010 District Map

The new 2012 Congressional District Map

Colorado has seven congressional districts. The largest, meaning geographical size not population, is district 3, which contains the entire Western half of the state including Pueblo, Durango, and Grand Junction. District 4 is next in size containing the eastern part of the state. Prior to the changes for 2012 maps, district 5 was larger than district 3; however, the districts are very similar in size on the 2012 maps. Districts 6 then 7 are next in geographical size. The smallest of the district is district 1, which includes Denver.

After the 2010 census, the Colorado House of Representative and Senate formed a committee to redistrict the state. The committee consisted of ten members (five from senate and five from the house). The senate chose Democrat Rollie Heath to be the chair, while the house selected Republican David Balmer. The rest of the committee seats were split even between Democrats and Republicans. The committee was charged with ensuring that the districts became proportionate in voter representation. In order to do this, districts needed to gain or lose voters. In order for the districts to be equal the following recommendations were made:

District 1: gain 56,418                        District 2: lose 15,348             District 3: gain 12,271

District 4: lose 6,584               District 5: gain 7,445              District 6: lose 79,356

District 7: gain 40,047

Shortly after the redistricting process began in 2011, attorneys and plaintiffs unhappy with the bipartisan maps being offered by the committee filed suits. Both major parties filed suit wanting access to redistricting maps and wanting to propose their own maps. After the initial suit, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and the Colorado Latino Forum joined the suits requesting to submit their own map. The trial began on October 11, 2011. The courts gave all involved parties deadlines of late August and early September to submit district maps. After the maps were submitted, Judge Robert Hyatt ruled on November 11, 2011 in favor of the Democratic map. He stated the Democratic map, “most accurately reflected and preserved current communities of interest in 2011.” Of course the Republicans appealed the decision; however, it was little help. The Colorado Supreme court ruled with Judge Hyatt in favor of the Democratic map because the Republican map split too many counties into too many districts.

After the entire process was complete, Edward Casso, a Democratic Representative, stated he planned on proposing legislation that would give the responsibility of congressional redistricting to an independent committee instead of the Colorado General Assembly.  Currently the Colorado government states that “the Colorado General Assembly is no longer involved in congressional redistricting process.”  Even after stating this, the website did not further state who then is currently involved in the congressional redistricting process; however, it does refer you to this video:

So how did the map change for Colorado? District 1 mainly stayed the same covering Denver.  District 2 now includes Larimer and Jefferson counties. Even though district 2 needed to lose 15,348 voters, the only major subtraction to its territory was the majority of Eagle county. The district actually appears to have grown geographically.   District 3 now includes Lake and part of Eagle county, but the district lost Otero and Las Animas counties. Since district 3 needed to grow in population, Eagle was taken from 2 and put into 3. District 4 gained a considerable amount of counties given that the census called for its population to decrease.  Larimer was the only county district 4 lost. Otherwise the district now includes Las Animas, Otero, Elbert, Arapahoe, half of Adams, and half of Douglas. District 5 mainly covers the same ground still (it only needed to gain a small number of votes). All the additions to district 4 resulted in a drastic change for district 6. The district lost Elbert, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson counties. When comparing the map district 6 seems to be the most drastically changed. The only change to district 7 was the loss of the majority of Adams county.

So numbers changed, what is the big deal you ask? The new map could have some serious implications for the upcoming election.  Jared Polis is the current Democratic incumbent for district 2. The additions of Larimer and Jefferson counties will improve his mainly democratic voting district. In recent years Larimer and Jefferson both lean Democratic; however, in the 2010 elections the votes were more evenly split between the two parties. Both counties did indeed vote for Obama in 2008; so, it is likely that they counties will go blue again due to the larger voting turn out for presidential elections.

In district 3 Scott Tipton, Republican, gained two historically fairly left leaning counties; however, he also lost Las Animas, which is also a left leaning county. Overall Tipton has the most swing counties in his district than any other incumbent. His path overall looks similar to years past.

Cory Gardner, Republican, gained three Democratically leaning counties in Arapahoe, Adams, and Las Animas, but he also gained Republican holds of Elbert and Douglas. Even with a few left leaning additions, Gardner should be able to hold on to his seat due to the high amount of right leaning counties in his district. If Gardner does remain in his seat, that means those traditionally left leaning voters will be out voiced by the right and not find much representation in their districts elected House Representative.

District 5 remains mostly Republican for Republican incumbent Doug Lamborn. Lamborn is another incumbent not facing too much change in his district, but his fellow Republican Mike Coffman is not as lucky this election. When district 6 lost Douglas and Elbert, Mike Coffman lost the majority of his voters. Coffman’s new district is mainly left leaning. Democrat Joe Miklosi is running against Coffman and must be very excited about the changing district. Miklosi has an easier run against Coffman because his greatest competition areas were redistricted out of his area. District 6 underwent the greatest change in the redistricting process, and the results will most likely be a new House Representative. The voters that were previously in 6 and who remain in 6 are most likely glad of the change because they are now getting more say in who their representative is. Given that the conservative counties that were districted out are now in a conservative district, the situation seems a win-win for voters but a loss for Coffman.

The final district is similar to district 5. Ed Perimutter, Democrat, should have little issues holding onto his seat because his district remains solidly to the left even though it lost part of Adams.

Overall the new Colorado congressional district map meant changes for a few incumbents, but the map improved situations for some voters. Only in one district were significant amounts of opposite party counties put into a district where their votes will most likely be drown out by the other party. If a new district map only majorly changes 2 out of 7 districts in a state, the standards of what citizens are used to are mainly staying intact. If citizens believe a map is drastically changing or drastically unfair, they will lash out and many law suits will be filed. This should not be the case for Colorado with the new 2012 map. The map kept intact Democrat and Republican strong hold for the most part. As far as party lines are concerned, the districts are well drawn to ensure that the majority of voters are being represented by their elected official and not being over powered by opposite leaning counties.

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