There I fixed it: Ungerrymandering Idaho

Continuing our series on gerrymandering and its effects: last time I announced my ambitious project to fix the 435 U.S. House districts, one state at a time. Today is where things get interesting. Who da ho?

Suggested new Congressional Districts for Idaho (red and green), along with the boundary between the official new districts (white). Click for a larger view.

Idaho has two House districts to plan. The map above shows both the districts I came up with (red is District 1 and green is District 2). The white line shows the boundary between the new districts that were approved by Idaho’s independent, bipartisan redistricting commission in a public meeting on November 5th, 2021.

I made my “there I fixed it” map without consulting the official new districts set by the redistricting commission, because I wanted to get a fresh and independent look at the solving the problem of dividing up the state into reasonable electoral districts. My approach, as I outlined on Monday, is to start with the largest metropolitan area in the state and move out until I fill up one district. In the case of a state like Idaho that has only two districts, that’s all I need to do: filling up one district will automatically set the other, which will include all census tracts not selected.

There is only one reasonably large metropolitan area in Idaho: Boise. The 2010 Idaho Congressional Districts map annoyingly split the city of Boise, so I wanted to make sure to keep the Boise metropolitan area as part of the same district. I kept it all in District 1. I ended up having to put the dividing line across the Twin Falls metropolitan area – and indeed, the city of Twin Falls (Idaho’s eighth-largest city). But I managed to put most of Twin Falls into District 1, with only the northeastern edge in District 2.

What about the actual map that will be used for Idaho’s House elections from 2022 to 2032? It’s not too bad. It’s actually a big improvement over the 2010 edition, which split the city of Boise. The new map features almost all of Boise in District 2, except for a small area in the southwest in District 1.

Montana is creepy

So that’s one more state ungerrymandered. Including Idaho with the six one-district states means that we are now at seven down, forty-three to go.

Up next: Idaho’s frenemy, Montana.

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