There I fixed it: Ungerrymandering West Virginia

Continuing our gerrymandering series: Almost Heaven…

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

Usual deal with this map: my fixed districts are shown by color: red for District 1 and green for District 2. The white line shows the boundary between the state’s two districts, adopted by the state legislature and signed into law by Republican governor Jim Justice.

Last week, we met the first state in my list to gain a representative in the House: Montana. Today, we meet the first state to lose a representative. West Virginia lost population between 2010 and 2020 – nearly 60,000 people, mostly from moving to other states – and so the state goes from three Congressional districts to two.

There’s not much to say about the strategy for redistricting one of only four states where the majority of the population lives in rural areas. Although Jefferson County at the tip of the Eastern Panhandle is part of the Washington, DC metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the largest MSA mostly within West Virginia is Huntington (+Ashland, Ohio), which ranks 150th in the country; the MSA containing the state capital of Charleston ranks 190th.

Huntington and Charleston both end up in District 1, both by my accounting and by the officially legislated districts. Either way, the district border splits the state in half, north and south. Like the entire state, both districts are heavily Republican, and will produce little drama in the general election this November.

What will be interesting is that the loss of a district means that two sitting representatives – David McKinley (R-WV-1) and Alex Mooney (R-WV-2) must now run against each other in the Republican primary in the northern district. Mooney is a darling of former President Trump, which would seem to make him the favorite, but because of the way the lines got drawn, most of the new district overlaps with the old district that McKinley represented, where is quite popular. So who knows. We’ll find out when the primary happens on Tuesday May 10, 2022.

Ten states fixed, forty to go.

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