1st congressional district has the most dramatic change in racial composition of any of the state's 19 congressional districts

Thanks to Azavea, the web-based software design firm that developed the Redistricting the Nation project, we now have the demographics of the old and new Pennsylvania congressional districts.

The first congressional district, represented by Bob Brady, has the most dramatic change in racial composition of any of the state's 19 congressional districts. Brady's district is currently 31.8% White and 48.0% black. His new district will be 46.9% white and 35.5% black. (The Asian and Latino percentages have changed very little.)

Across the state, most of the changes in racial composition were relatively small—generally no more than a few percentage points. The only other district which had significant change was the 14th congressional district, which contains the entire city of Pittsburgh. In the 14th, the percentage of white voters was 69.4% % in the old district, 77.37% in the new; the percentage of black voters was 24.5% in the old district, 16.53% in the new. The shift in racial composition in the 14th is not as dramatic as in the first congressional district and it does not change the racial dynamics of the race. The 14th district was and remains a district which favors the election of a white candidate. The first district has gone from a district which was very favorable terrain for a black candidate to one in which a black candidate would be significantly less competitive.

News reports suggested that Brady may have had something to do with this. Cris Brennan reported in the Daily News on 8/20/11:

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the Democratic City Committee in Philadelphia, says that one hot rumor circulating in Harrisburg about his 1st Congressional District is way off the mark.

The Redistricting Game

The Redistricting Game is a web site, designed by the University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab, designed to educate and empower citizens around the issue of legislative redistricting. Currently, legislatures themselves are authorized to redraw district boundaries, and this leads to abuses -- districts are drawn to protect incumbents and parties in power. The Redistricting Game allows citizens to see how the redistricting system works, and how it could be abused. It also provides information on reform efforts, including a playable version of the Tanner Reform bill, which would make the redistricting process more amenable to public needs.

Pretty freakin' sweet.


Hearings on redistricting, youth voting planned for Thursday, Friday

PHILADELPHIA, March 12 – State Rep. Babette Josephs, chairwoman of the House State Government Committee, said the committee will hold two public hearings in Philadelphia this week.

The first hearing, on legislation to change the redistricting process (H.B.s 81, 84 and 2047), will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 13 in the Irvine Auditorium of the University of Pennsylvania.

The agenda will be as follows:
10 a.m. -- Rep. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery
10:20 a.m. -- Rep. Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton/Lehigh
10:40 a.m. -- Rep. Mark Cohen, D-Phila.
11 a.m. -- Kenneth Myers, vice president, Jewish Social Policy Action Network
11:20 a.m. -- Sara Steelman, chairwoman, Common Cause, Pennsylvania
11:40 a.m. -- Andrea Mulrine, president, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania
Noon -- Nathaniel Persily, law professor, Columbia Law School
12:20 p.m. -- Dennis Baylor, Pennsylvania Accountability Project.

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