Black caucus unhappy with redistricting | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Black caucus unhappy with redistricting

Posted By on Sun, Jul 24, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Roby Brock at Talk Business notes unhappiness among black Democrats that redistricting maps from Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel produce 11 majority black House districts where there are now 13. Beebe would note that two more districts are barely below the 50 percent level. But a bare majority is not enough for the Black Caucus. Sen. Jack Crumbly, a black senator from East Arkansas, fears a 51 percent black majority in his redrawn district isn't enough to guarantee his re-election. Already, there's talk of a lawsuit. (Some Republicans are also brooding about their treatment, but in terms of potential lawsuits, I don't think Republicans are yet considered a "protected class" in the U.S. legal system, though they hope to be before long.)

Thoughts:

* While incumbency is a consideration, I don't think the legal standard REQUIRES guaranteed re-election of an incumbent. See what Republicans have done in Texas and North Carolina to get an idea of what majority control mischief can produce.

* Will today's federal courts require super majorities in redistricting to preserve minority interests? I don't think affirmative action is much in favor these days.

* Population decreases in the Delta make it exceedingly difficult to maximize influence of a fairly diffuse black population.

* Black politicians could do VERY well in 48 percent minority districts if black voters participated at rates equal to other voters. With racially polarized voting, they'd need only about 10 percent of the white to win. Black voters have not, historically, participated at rates equal to other voters, not even in 2008, when Barack Obama led the ticket.

* I'm still interested to see voter performance in the minority districts created by the Democrats and Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin, who came up with more bare-majority black districts. I'd guess that the partisan measure of historic votes in those districts back to 2008 — using votes for president, U.S. Senate and governor as key guides — wouldn't show the Republican majority-minority districts as a walk in the park for black Democratic candidates.

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