Redistricting Commission diverse in more than just race

In 2008, California voters approved Proposition 11’s call for a commission that “reflects this state’s diversity, including, but not limited to, racial, ethnic, geographic, and gender.” In its work so far this year, the State Auditor’s Applicant Review Panel clearly achieved that goal.

Ethnicity

As previously reported, the Commission reflects the state’s racial and ethnic diversity. The numbers of Latino, African-American, Native American, and Asian-American applicants all meet or exceed their respective percentages of the state’s registered voters. (A spreadsheet showing the remaining applicants with party, ethnicity, gender, geography, and economic characteristics is here. A summary set of tables is here.)

Other Factors

As Proposition 11 makes clear, “diversity” is not limited to race and ethnicity, and the Panel’s selections reflect other elements of diversity, including party, education, and income.

Party

As required by Proposition 11, 40 of the remaining applicants are registered Democrats, 40 are Republicans, and 40 are not registered with either of the two major parties. The Citizens Redistricting Commission represents the first time that independent voters will have a significant voice in the state’s redistricting process.

Gender

Male and female applicants come very close to 50/50 balance, at 53 percent male and 47 percent female.

Education

Representing a notable but often-overlooked element of diversity, the remaining pool of applicants contains significant numbers of both University of California system graduates (53) and California State University system graduates (36). UCLA leads the pack, as 19 of the remaining 120 applicants earned either undergraduate or graduate degrees from UCLA. UC Berkeley can claim victory too, as more of the applicants (twelve) earned undergraduate degrees at Berkeley than at any other institution. Cal State Los Angeles leads the Cal State group, with 4 undergraduate alumni in the remaining pool.

Seven remaining applicants graduated from Stanford, and seven from USC. Fifteen Thirteen are Ivy league graduates, while five earned degrees at the Claremont Colleges. Three graduated from Loyola and four from the University of the Pacific. Two each graduated from of St. Mary’s and University of Texas, Austin. Rounding out the diverse educational experiences of the remaining pool are a single graduates from each of NYU, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Howard, and Pepperdine.

If you have done the math on the preceding paragraphs, you realized that many applicants have multiple degrees. Ninety-four percent (113) hold at least a bachelor’s degree. There are 23 law school graduates, 57 holders of Masters degrees, 29 doctorates, plus 3 currently earning their doctorates. Two have AA degrees, and 1 has a technical degree from IBT. Four of the 120 remaining applicants have no college degree.

(These numbers are slightly incomplete because four holders of graduate degrees did not provide their undergraduate degree or institution. A spreadsheet listing the remaining applicants and their educational backgrounds is here. A spreadsheet with the counts by school and degree is here.)

120 Applicants Map
Click for full-size map

Geography

The Panel also achieved impressive geographic and regional diversity. Los Angeles County has the most remaining applicants (21), which is no surprise as the County has the most people. Yet the San Francisco “Bay Area” region matched the “Southern Coastal” region among remaining applicants, with 35 each. The “North Coastal” region has the fewest remaining applicants (5), which makes sense since it also has the smallest percentage of the state’s registered voters (1 percent). The North and South Central Valley and Mountain regions combine for 19 percent of the state’s registered voters, and they provide 22.5 percent of the remaining applicants. The heavily-Republican Inland Empire and heavily-Democratic Central Coastal regions each have a significant number of the remaining applicants (8 and 9, respectively), representing 7 and 9 percent of the remaining applicant pool. Those regions constitute similar 7 and 8 percents of the state’s registered voters. Twenty-nine of the state’s 58 counties are represented in the remaining pool. Kern and Sonoma counties are the largest counties with no residents in the remaining pool, and they are home to 1.8 percent and 1.4 percent of the state’s registered voters. None of the remaining 27 counties without representation in the remaining pool have over 1 percent of the state’s registered voters. Representing the state’s smaller counties, Humboldt, Plumas, Amador, Mendocino and seven other counties have at least one resident each remaining in the pool, though each is home to less than 1 percent of the state’s registered voters.

Income

While the Auditor’s income categories do not precisely match the Census Bureau’s categories, the applicants appear to represent some economic diversity. Middle-income earners, between $35,000 and $125,000 per year, represent approximately 44 percent of the state’s residents and 46 percent of the remaining applicant pool. As might be guessed based on the educational backgrounds described above, higher-income applicants are somewhat over-represented in the remaining pool, with roughly 28 percent of the state’s population earning over $125,000 and 50 percent of the applicants coming from that income range. Yet the “under $35,000” income category is still represented, with 4 applicants in the remaining pool of 120.

Conclusion

California’s voters instructed the Applicant Review Panel to create a pool that reflected the state’s broad diversity, not just race and ethnicity. To date, the Panel clearly succeeded in that task. As it conducts interviews and narrows the pool down to the smaller pool of 60 finalists, it will become even more difficult to fully reflect the state’s diversity. Yet the Panel’s actions to date have shown its dedication to meeting this challenge.

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