Redistricting Process: Legislative Population Change (since 2000): 198,532
Legislature: Democratic Seats: 9 (-1 from 2010)
Governor: Deval Patrick (D) Members of Congress: 9D
Party Control: Democratic 2012: 60.8% Obama, 37.6% Romney

Map Instructions:

Three maps are available for each state. Each has new district outlines in bold.
Click on each district on the map to see more information.
Click the arrow button to switch between districts that are close together.
New Districts by Party Representation

2010 Redistricting Changes: Massachusetts Loses One Seat

Old Districts by Partisan Voting Index with New District Outlines
Old Districts by Party Representation with New District Outlines

After the 2010 Census showed that Massachusetts’s 3.1 percent population growth was well below the national average, 9.7 percent, the state lost one electoral vote decreasing from ten to nine. Yet residents of the Bay State can hardly complain. In terms of size, Massachusetts ranks 44th in the United States, but is tied for 12th in electoral votes. Underneath that number, however, are broader demographic changes. Massachusetts’s population growth has been largely composed of minorities. In 2010, Whites made up 80.4% of the population, down from 81.9% in 2000. At the same time, however, the African American population grew from 5.4% to 6.6% and Asians from 3.8 to 5.3%. The largest group was the Latino and Hispanic population. The Hispanic and Latino population grew 41% between 2000 and 2010, and now makes up 9.6% of the Massachusetts population. Coupled with the overall population drop, these changes have complicated the redistricting process.

Under Massachusetts law, the task of redistricting rests with the state legislature. Every ten years, a committee composed of both House and Senate officials is formed to create new maps. These maps are then voted on by the House and Senate. After this, the governor decides whether to sign or veto the legislation, at which point it either returns to the Assembly for revision or gets signed into law. At first glance, the process hardly seems contentious. Every office in Massachusetts is controlled by Democrats. Deval Patrick, the governor, was an assistant Attorney General under Bill Clinton, and a close associate of President Obama. Of the 40 members in the Massachusetts Senate, 36 of them are Democrats. The breakdown in the House, while slightly less pronounced, is overwhelming nevertheless—144 of the 160 members are Democrats. In fact, every single congressional district in Massachusetts is represented by a Democrat. Another interesting quirk of the state is its extremely late primary on September 6, 2012, which is only two months before the general election.

Even with this overwhelming one-party control, the initial redistricting process in Massachusetts was surprisingly dramatic. Prior to 2010, every time Massachusetts lost a seat, a representative had voluntarily retired. This time, no incumbent retired right away, raising the specter of an ugly intra-party fight. These issues were compounded by the fact that senior members of the Massachusetts delegation, Barney Frank, John Oliver, and Jim McGovern hold leadership positions. Chairman of the Massachusetts Redistricting Committee Michael Moran attempted to meet with the current delegation in DC, and later planned to hold a fundraiser during his trip. A Massachusetts television network questioned that decision, noting that Moran had never held a fundraiser in DC before. Moreover, the venue was booked by Representative Michael Capuano, a congressman whose district Moran was responsible for redrawing. The fundraiser was later cancelled after the Chairman of the State Republican Party, Jennifer Nassour, criticized Moran for engaging in a conflict of interest. After months of bickering over which incumbents would run against one another, speculation finally ended when ten-term District 1 Representative John Olver announced his retirement on October 26, 2011, followed shortly by Representative Barney Frank. While those announcements came as a relief for Democratic politicians, citizens of western Massachusetts voiced their concern, believing Olver’s withdrawal would encourage the commission to allocate only one representative to their region.

Olver’s retirement allowed the redistricting commission to finalize their maps on November 15, 2011. They passed the State House with a vote of 122-29 and the State Senate by 31-6. On November 21, 2011, Governor Patrick signed the maps into law. Because of the loss of a district, boundary lines are significantly different.

First District

From 2001-2011, western Massachusetts, which borders New York, Vermont, and Rhode Island, was represented by both District 1 and District 2. Because Western Massachusetts is the most rural part in the state, District 1 occupies a vast area and is geographically the largest of the state’s nine districts. In fact, the old district covered almost 1/3 of state. It is also the most changed after the redistricting process, at least geographically. In the new map, District 1 is encompasses all of Western Massachusetts, and is composed mostly of rural counties. While the district lost parts of Franklin County, it now covers all of Hampden County and a sizable part of Worcester.

The Commission favored large changes to District 1 after the census showed that the region grew at a rate of only 1.7%, the lowest in the state. Two of the main counties covered by the First, Berkshire and Franklin, actually saw a population decrease between 2000 and 2010. In order to maintain a consistent population, the district added parts of the more populous southern Massachusetts, while giving up the rural parts of Franklin County, which had a population of only 71,472. Instead, it covers parts of Hampden, a county of 463,490 residents. As a result, District 1 is has 727,515 total residents to an ideal 727, 514. Its largest city, Springfield, is third most populous city in Massachusetts. District 1 also stretches towards the middle of Massachusetts in the suburban portions of Worcester County.

Eighty-two and one half percent of the residents in District 1 are white, 6.4% are Black, 1.8% Asian, and 15% are Hispanic. This breakdown bears a resemblance to Massachusetts’s diversity as a whole, which has 84.1% white, 7.8% African American, and 5.8% Asian, and 9.6% Hispanic. Berkshire, a county completely encompassed by the First, had its Latino population nearly double between 2000-2010. Many of the cities within the district, including Springfield, Holyoke, and Westfield also experienced high levels of Latino growth.

Second District

District 2 is located in the middle of Massachusetts. It has parts of the old District 1, 3, and 5. Because the old District 2 is now almost completely subsumed by District 1, the second is now almost entirely new. Since the district does not house any of the highly populated coastal areas, it is the second largest in area. The Second District splits Worcester County with the First, Middlesex with the Third, and Norfolk with the Fourth and Fifth. District 2 houses many of the suburbs in Worcester County, and has a large proportion of white collar jobs. It contains Worcester, the second largest city in Massachusetts at 172,648 people. The Massachusetts legislature was able to draw a population of exactly 727, 514.

District Two is 85.2% White, 4.3% African American, 4.6% Asian, and 8.4% Hispanic. While the percentage of minorities is not high, it is only slightly lower than Massachusetts’s state average. Many of the cities within the county have experienced significant Latino growth. In Worcester, the Latino population increased from 26,155 to 37,818, a 44.6% change.

Third District

The new District 3 is also located in the middle of Massachusetts, bordering Vermont and New Hampshire. The old District 3 extended to the south eastern coast line, but the new district is almost completely inland. Indeed, District 3 bears little resemblance to its predecessor, and only two cities, Clifton and Marlborough have carried over. Instead, the district draws heavily from the old First and Fifth. Additionally, it encompasses parts of both the more rural inland and the less densely populated northern parts of Massachusetts. The district has managed to have 727,514 residents, matching the ideal population. Part of this is because of population growth in cities. Lawrence for example, had a 6% increase in population, the fifth highest in the state. The district’s largest city is Lowell, the cradle of industrial revolution, which also is the fourth largest city in the state. District 3 is quite diverse in comparison to the state, with 79.5% of residents white, 3.6% African American, 6.8% Asian, and 16.2% Hispanic.

Fourth District

District 4 is near the southern part of Massachusetts, and borders Connecticut. The Fourth has shrunk considerably, and has lost many cities including West Point, Dartmouth, and New Bedford. At the same time, the Fourth has gained more inland cities like Wrentham, Easton and Sharon. In addition, it occupies portions of Norfolk and Bristol County. With these changes, the new district is a combination of the old Third, Fourth, and Ninth. While the majority of the Fourth District has relatively high population density, it has none of Massachusetts’s ten most populous cities. The closest, Newton, is the eleventh largest city in the state, and accounts for 85,945 residents. The fourth district has 727,515 people. Racially, the district is composed of 89.0% White, 2.4% African American, 5.2% Asian, and 3.5% Hispanic.

Fifth District

District 5, previously located in the north, is now more inland. The new district closely resembles the old Seventh than the Fifth, and has almost completely changed. The only overlap between the new and old districts is the cities of Wayland and Sudbury. District 5 is almost completely in Middlesex County, save for the city of Southborough, which is part of Worcester County. Notable cities include Medford, home to Tufts University, and Lexington. District 5 has a population of 727,515, missing the ideal population by just one. The district has relatively high ethnic diversity: 79.4% are White, 4.8% are African American, 9.1% are Asian, and 7.3% are Hispanic.

Sixth District

Besides the inclusion of Bilerica and Tewksbury, District 6 has remained largely the same. It is located on the most northeastern portion of Massachusetts, bordering New Hampshire and extending to the Atlantic Coast. The District is located almost entirely in Essex County, although a small portion extends into Middlesex. Essex County has been growing more slowly than most other areas in Massachusetts. From 2000 to 2010, the population only grew by 2.7%, as opposed to the state’s growth of 3.1%. This is not to say the district is growing slowly everywhere. In the more coastal cities, growth is significantly above the state average. For example, the city of Danver had a population increase of 5%, North Andover of 4.2%, of Peabody by 6.5%. The district is heavily Caucasian with an 88.0% white population, 2.9% African American population, 3.6% Asian population, and 7.2% Hispanic population.

Seventh District
District 7 is the most compact and densely populated district in the state. The new district is a combination of old Seven and old Eight. It covers large portions of Boston, Cambridge, and Milton, and includes all of Everett, Chelsea, Somerville, and Randolph. Boston is by far the largest city in Massachusetts, and has 625,087 residents. The Seventh District is extends to parts of Cambridge, the fifth largest city in Massachusetts, with 106,038 residents. These two cities make up the majority of the district’s population, which exactly matches the ideal at 727,514 people. Of these 727,514 residents, 481,846 live in Boston and 52,928 live in Cambridge.

District 7 isn’t notable just because of its inclusion of large cities. The district made headlines when the Democratic assembly decided to make the Seventh a minority-majority district for the first time in state history. Indeed, the Seventh has the largest minority proportion in Massachusetts. Only 43.4% of residents are non-Hispanic whites, leaving a minority population of 56.6%. By comparison, the district with the next highest proportion has a 28% minority population. Creating the district proved controversial. Proponents justified the decision by noting that all representatives at the time were Caucasian. They cited the need for the representatives to be more diverse, and hoped a minority-majority district would encourage the election of minority representatives. Critics accused the assembly of racism; one political science professor accused lawmakers of concentration minorities in hopes of getting Republicans elected in other districts.

Eighth District

District 8 occupies most of coastal area previously inhabited by the old Ninth District. While not enormous, it spans several counties, touching Suffolk, Norfolk, and Plymouth. It shares parts of Boston and Milton with the Seventh. The largest city entirely in the district is Brockton, also the sixth largest city in Massachusetts, with 93,529 residents. Overall, the district has a 727,514 residents, exactly the matching the ideal. Furthermore, the Eighth is relatively diverse, and is inhabited by a population that is 77.2% white, 8.0% African American, 6.5% Asian, 4.8% Hispanic.

Ninth District

District 9 encompasses a large portion of the south east coastline. The new district is a combination of the old Tenth, Ninth, and Fourth. It stretches from the north end of Plymouth County down to the island of Nantucket. The largest city, Quincy, has 91,703 residents and is also the eighth largest city in Massachusetts. While the coastal regions in the north of the district are well populated, fewer residents reside towards the south. Overall, however, District 9 has a population that almost perfectly matches the others, at 727,514. Of these, 88.4% are White, 2.5% are African American, 1.1% are Asian, and 4.3% are Hispanic. This makes the district the most heavily Caucasian in all of Massachusetts. Between 2000 and 2010 however, every county in District 9 had a Latino population which grew far faster than the general population.