Competitive districts possible in California, new study concludes

A research report released earlier this week from the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at UC-Berkeley argued that it is possible to re-draw California’s legislative districts, following reasonable criteria, and thereby create a number of competitive districts.

Here is a brief quote of the main conclusion of the study:

After drawing dozens of potential redistricting plans, researchers concluded that attempting to create more competitive seats while also balancing other criteria would probably produce 12 to 14 competitive Congressional districts and 12 to 17 competitive Assembly seats. Currently the state has no Congressional districts and five Assembly districts that fall within the study’s definition of a competitive range. Increased competitiveness has been one of the outcomes sought by those aiming to take the process of redrawing legislative districts out of the hands of the Legislature.

The study cautions, however, that while such districts would be closely divided along partisan lines, they would not necessarily produce frequent partisan turnover. Factors such as incumbency, monetary advantages, national political trends, and candidate quality make it unlikely that closely divided districts would ensure a sharp increase in the frequency with which seats change hands, researchers found.

This is a very comprehensive report, coming from redistricting veteran Bruce Cain and the IGS’s Karin Mac Donald. The results and analysis of this report should be taken seriously by those now working diligently to reform the redistricting process in California, and in other states.

One of the really neat aspects of this research project is that they have made available their maps and plans.