|Redistricting Process: Legislative
|Population Change (since 2000): 409,675
|Governor: John Kitzhaber (D)
|Members of Congress: 1R, 4D
|Party Control: Democratic
|2012: 54.5% Obama, 42.7% Romney
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New Districts by Party Representation
Redistricting Analysis: Oregon
2010 Redistricting Changes:
While Oregon state law mandates the drafting of new redistricting maps after the release of each census, in 2011 the state legislature passed its first bi-partisan supported map since 1981. According to the census, Oregon saw a 12% population increase from 2000 to 2010, though it was not large enough to change the number of congressional representatives. The state currently has 3,831,074 residents and the ideal population for congressional districts is 766,215. The Oregon population saw the largest fluctuation in its minority groups, with over 144,000 Hispanic and Latinos moving into the state and the Asian population growing from 101,350 to 141,263. The Chinese community alone grew by almost 1.5 times and the Asian-Indian almost doubling. Overall, minority populations in the state grew at three times the rate of the Caucasian population. The Hispanic population increased by 63.5%, the Asian by 39.4%, and the African-American by 24.3%. While the creation of another congressional district was not necessitated by the 2010 Census, the growing diversity in Oregon signified a distinct change in Oregon’s demographics and provided an additional element for the state legislature to consider while redistricting.
Although the state legislature drafts the redistricting plans, the House and Senate have to approve it and the Governor has the ultimate decision of supporting or vetoing it. In addition, the state government must reach out to local community members through public hearings in order to receive input on the plan before drafting the new map. Between April 1 and June 9, 2011 these meetings were held and local organizations were able to share their input in the process.
In Oregon, redistricting plans must be submitted by July 1, after which the court will accept petitions until August 1 and will decide whether to dismiss the petition or enact the redistricting map by September 1. Senate Bill 990, the redistricting plan passed in 2011, was submitted on June 1 and was notable for its support from both House and Senate Republicans and Democrats. In fact, of the 24 Senate members in favor of the plan 16 were Democrat and eight were Republican. The plan found even stronger support in the House with 58 out of the 60 representatives supporting it, an especially significant success considering the House is split 30-30. Because Oregon kept the same amount of congressional representatives there were minimal changes in district lines, and the most significant re-mapping included the division of Multnomah County and the separation of Albany and Clackamas Counties.
Figure 1: Oregon’s Congressional Districts as of 2011
Map Courtesy of W. R. Hammons’ American Politics Guide
While the final plan garnered bi-partisan support, former State Treasurer Tony Meeker preemptively petitioned the plan before it was voted on by the State Senate and House. The Plaintiff highlighted the requirements for congressional districts outlined in ORS 188.010, specifically noting that the plan would violate the criteria of each district being “of equal population” as District 1 (before the 2011 redistricting plan was submitted and as of the 2010 census) had a population of 802,770, whereas the ideal population was 766,215. However, as the final redistricting plan reflected this growth, the case was dismissed and the Court mandated that Meeker could not bring the lawsuit back.
In the wake of the plan both Republicans and Democrats are optimistic that the map will provide them with stronger support. While the Republican bet hinges on the growth of Clackamas County, the Democrats predict the acquisition of Albany will secure their ability to keep four out of five congressional seats in the state.
Oregon’s First Congressional District contains some of the most populated counties within the state and reaches from Sheridan to the Washington state border. District 1 encompasses Clatsop, Columbia, Washington, Yamhill, and parts of Multnomah County, all of which experienced population growth between 2000 and 2010. Two of the district’s largest counties, Multnomah and Washington, grew by 11.3% and 18.9%, respectively. In addition, Columbia County grew by 13.3% and Yamhill by 16.7%, whereas Clatsop only increased by 4.0%. Because of Multnomah’s growth parts of the area were separated in the 2011 redistricting plan, and District 1 lost Bridelmile, Hillsdale, and Multnomah Village to District 3.
In addition to the loss of parts of Multnomah, District 1 also gave up a portion of the North Waterfront, a major industrial area of Portland. However, in the past 3 decades 127,000 private-sector jobs were created in Washington County and residents’ median income was $61,000, more than $10,000 greater than the national one. In addition, the district has a greater amount of manufacturing jobs than any other within the state and has some of the state’s largest private employers within its borders, including Intel, Nike, Columbia Sportswear, and Genentech. Farther west, Clatsop and Tillamook Counties contributed significantly to the state’s total exports of lumber. Because of these large companies (and especially the timber) District 1 is especially economically reliant on trade.
While drafting changes for Multnomah County the state legislature assumed David Wu’s continued representation of the district for the next election, however, in late 2011 he resigned and there was a special election. The sudden move provided Republicans with a chance to find support in District 1, but Democrat Suzanne Bonamici ultimately defeated Republican Challenger Rob Cornilles in the special election.
District 2 is by far Oregon’s largest, spanning the entire Eastern half of the state and reaching three borders. The district is the only one to have historically elected Republican congressional representatives and leaned right, though State House and Senate districts across the state have supported GOP candidates. As there are very few residents or large cities east of the cascades, there was very little population growth and the size of the district was minimally changed as part of the 2011 redistricting plan (District 4 absorbed parts of Grants Pass). In fact, the populations of nine of the counties within the district decreased. Despite these shifts, Deschutes’ resident population grew by 36.7%, an extremely large influx for a county within the district. The district is also one of the least diverse in the state with 713,983 Native residents (93.8% of the district). However, Hood River is projected to grow more rapidly as it has increasing tourism attractions and with companies such as Dakine and Insitu employing many people within the area.
Eastern Oregon primarily relies on the agriculture and timber industries, though fisheries along the Columbia River also serve as significant sources of revenue. However, the federal government owns three quarters of the district’s land, severely limiting the land that can be used by timber companies.
The Third Congressional District of Oregon includes Clackamas County and Milwaukie, Gresham, Troutdale, and parts of Multnomah and Portland east of the Willamette River. Residents within the district were hit especially hard by the recession, and the median household income is $8,000 less than the national one. The district changed significantly after the redistricting plan set in place in 2011, and most notably gained Downtown Portland, Old Town, Bridlemile, Hillsdale, and Multnomah Village from District 1. In addition, Palatine Hill, John’s Landing, and Beavercreek in Clackamas County moved into the district. Despite undergoing the most change out of any other congressional district, District 3 has a lower population than both the First and Second Congressional Districts.
District 3 is one Oregon’s most decidedly Democrat districts, earning a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+21 in 2012. In addition, the residents have elected Democrat representatives since 1955, and the current representative has held the position since 1996. Between 2000 and 2010 the Clackamas county population grew 11% and reached 375,992, accounting for almost half of the population of the district. As such a large county Clackamas is growing more and more influential, especially as the county voters begin to stray from the district’s left leaning nature. In fact, Republican candidate Delia Lopez garnered 44% of Clackamas votes in the last congressional election, though incumbent and current representative Earl Blumenauer received 75% of the votes from Multnomah County.
Covering the southwestern corner of the state, District 4 includes large cities including Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Roseburg, Coos Bay, and Grants Pass. Congressional Representative Peter DeFazio has held the district since 1987, and voters have elected Democratic representatives since 1975. However, the district has a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+2, affirming its ability to sway in favor of either party in coming elections. In fact, DeFazio faced serious competition in the 2010 congressional elections from Republican runner Art Robinson, winning by less than 9 percentage points (compared to receiving 82.3% of the votes in the 2008 election). However, significant campaign contributions may have affected the race, for $650,399 was spent on Republican campaigning while Democrats only received $33,709 from interest groups and political parties.
The Fourth Congressional District is the least diverse of all those in Oregon with Natives representing 95.1% of the total population. All of the counties within the district grew, most notably Linn County growing by 13.2%. While Lane County accounts for 322,959 out of the 741,792 residents in the district, many of those are students enrolled in either the University of Oregon or Oregon State University and thus the amount of residents doesn’t best represent the voting population within the district.
District 5 saw the most significant changes on its border with District 3, losing parts of Clackamas County, John’s Landing, and Palatine Hill. It reaches from the Pacific coast all the way till southern Portland suburbs and as far east as Mt. Hood and includes Lincoln, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, and parts of Benton and Multnomah Counties. However, the district gained parts of Milwaukie, Mt. Scott, Happy Valley, and parts of North Portland. In 2010 Democrat incumbent Kurt Schrader won the election by less than 5 percentage points, suggesting growing GOP support in the state. In fact, the district has a history of swaying, and 2008 was the first year in which a representative of the same party as the incumbent was elected. Furthermore, the district’s Cook Partisan Voting Index is “even”.
In the last decade the district has grown as a whole, with the Polk County population specifically increasing by 20.9%. However, counties throughout the district grew as well, with Lincoln growing by 3.5%, Marion by 10.7%, and Tillamook by 4.1%.