New California redistricting maps are out. Here’s why they might change elections — and how you can offer feedback.
California’s citizen redistricting commission this week unveiled aproposal of what congressional andlegislative districts could look like for the next 10 years — and they show some big shifts among Northern California’s districts for the House of Representatives.
“There's a lot of wackiness in Northern California” in the latest round of unofficial drafts — or “visualizations,” as the redistricting commission refers to them — said Paul Mitchell, a Democratic consultant who works on redistricting for governments including the city of Los Angeles and New York state.
The visualizations will likely change significantly as the commission takes public feedback and refines its maps in the coming weeks. Official first draft maps are due by Nov. 15 and final versions will be adopted by the end of the year.
“The visualizations for Northern California were created as a result of public input received over the summer,” said commission spokesperson Fredy Ceja. “We ask that the public visit our website to review proposed visualizations and send commissioners feedback.”
Californians can submit feedback on the proposed maps through the Dec. 27 deadline.
“We are fluid, we are responsive to comments we are receiving,” said commissioner Trena Turner.
Sacramento, West Placer districts
The cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento would make up a single congressional district, with lines similar to the one currently represented by Rep. Doris Matsui (D). That district would swap out the Arden and North Highlands area for Rancho Cordova to the south.
A major possible change? Arden, Carmichael and other northern Sacramento County communities would be combined with the western Placer County communities of Roseville, Rocklin and Folsom to form a potentially-competitive swing district.
According to data from Mitchell’s company Redistricting Partners, voters from this proposed district chose President Joe Biden by four percentage points in 2020, but Gov. Gavin Newsom lost these suburban voters by 6 points in 2018.
State of Jefferson … plus Davis?
Perhaps the biggest head-scratcher according to Mitchell is the state’s northeastern-most district, currently represented by Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa. Under the commission’s visualization, the district remains a sprawling mass covering Redding, Chico, and other rural inland areas, but it also includes a piece that reaches down to encompass Yolo County’s Clarksburg wine region and liberal college city Davis.
“There's going to be a lot of lefty vegetarian, latte-drinking Davisites calling into the commission, I think, to tell them that they do not want to be put into that district,” Mitchell said.
Indeed, several Davis residents called into the commission’s public comment period Thursday evening and asked to be grouped with communities in Yolo and surrounding counties, citing shared transportation, water sources and interests with those areas.
Some commission members also questioned why Butte County was separated from neighboring Yuba and Sutter counties, which also have shared interests.
Ultimately, Mitchell predicts the proposed district will change significantly before final drafts are released later this year.
Split San Joaquin
The proposed congressional map breaks San Joaquin County into three different districts, another move Mitchell thought the commission was trying to avoid.
Dozens of San Joaquin residents asked the commission to keep the county intact to give its residents a stronger voice in Congress.
Under the current map, Democratic Rep. Josh Harder would face tougher re-election. His Turlock-Modesto district would shift from favoring Biden to slightly favoring Trump, according to Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman.
First read: this "starting point" map for the CA commission is decent for Rs. It eliminates a Dem seat in LA County (as expected) and imperils Harder (D) in #CA10, while leaving all incumbent 11 Rs w/ a path to victory (though Nunes & esp. Issa would face much tougher races). pic.twitter.com/dK661YHE6J— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) October 27, 2021
Other potential shifts
Aside from some of the eyebrow-raising districts in Northern California, the visualizations don’t appear to include several items on the commission’s wishlist, including maintaining both of Los Angeles’ Black-majority districts and a new Asian-majority district in the East Bay Area, something several community groups have supported.
“We're continuing to call on the commission to keep communities of interest together and ensure that their diverse voices and interests are empowered — not silenced — by new district maps,” said Julia Marks with Asian Law Caucus.
Mitchell predicts the congressional district boundaries around the state will shift in the coming weeks as the commission and their staff of line-drawers get their footing for this once-in-a-decade process.
“They’re learning as they’re doing,” he said. “There are huge challenges when you're trying to divide a state of 40 million people into 52 nice little boxes for Congress.”