West Virginia

West Virginia

Redistricting Process: Legislative Population Change (since 2000): 44,650
Legislature: Democratic Seats: 3
Governor: Earl Ray Tomblin (D) Members of Congress: 2R, 1D
Party Control: Democratic 2012: 35.5% Obama, 62.3% 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

Redistricting Analysis: West Virginia

West Virginia’s population grew a sluggish 2.5% over the past ten years compared to the national average of 9.7%, but it still managed to retain its three congressional seats. West Virginia’s total population is 1,808,344, just 44,650 larger than in 2000. The demographic shift is just as lethargic. In 2000, the population was 95% White and 3.2% Black and in 2010, it is 93.9% White and 3.4% Black. The fastest growing group was “Other”, increasing 96.9% or by 3,012 people. The Hispanic/Latino population had the second largest growth over the ten-year period at 81.4%, but it represents only 1.2% of the overall population. 0.67% of West Virginians identify as Asian, a 31.5% increase since the last census. Finally, 1.5% of the population is multiracial, increased from 0.9%.

Both the executive and legislative branches engage in West Virginia’s redistricting process. In the summer of 2011, the West Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates formed redistricting committees. The plan passed by the legislature is subject to the Governor’s approval before going into effect. While two of West Virginia’s three members of the U.S. House of Representatives are Republicans, the Democratic Party controls the state legislature and executive branches. Democrats hold 65 of the 100 House seats and 28 of the 34 Senate seats. West Virginia’s Governor, Earl Ray Thompson, also identifies as a Democrat.

The West Virginia Senate Redistricting Committee recommended the “Mason County Flip.” The proposal would shift Mason County from the Second to Third congressional district, the favored alternative to splitting Kanawha County between two districts. Mason County residents expressed concern about being moved into the Third District, citing a lack of commonality with the southern coalfields. Nevertheless, the West Virginia State Legislature approved the congressional redistricting proposal on August 5, 2011, 90-5 in the House and 27-4 in the Senate. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signed the plan on August 18, 2011.

Even though the plan has passed the state system, several counties and cities were unsatisfied with the new legislative map. Putnam and Mason Counties, contending that their populations deserved additional representatives, filed suit against the House of Delegates in the West Virginia Supreme Court. Jefferson, Monroe, Monongalia, Wood, and Thornton Counties each filed similar lawsuits soon thereafter. After reviewing the cases, the West Virginia Supreme Court upheld the state’s legislative maps, arguing that the Court may only ensure the maps are constitutional, not whether they most effectively divide the state. Jefferson County advanced its lawsuit to the Federal Circuit. On January 3rd, the Federal Court ruled West Virginia’s redistricting plan unconstitutional, citing the inequality of population distribution. The state appealed, and on September 25th, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the lower federal court.

First District

Congressional District 1 is located in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. The district includes the industrial Rust Belt, the college town of Morgantown, and West Virginia University. The district’s three largest cities are Parkersburg, Morgantown, and Wheeling. In 2008, the area’s main industries were farming and timber harvesting. The 2010 U.S. Census did not result in any geographically change to District 1. There are 615,991 residents of the first district. Neither party views the district as politically “safe.” However, the district seems to be shifting to the right. Over the past thirty years, the number of registered independents has jumped from 2.1% to 16.1% of the total voting population. In the same period, the number of GOP identifiers has decreased by 1.7% while the number of registered Democrats has decreased by 13.9%.

West Virginia Democrats are more socially conservative than their national counterparts. Subsequently, no Democrat since Bill Clinton has won the 1st District in a presidential election. George W. Bush won 54% of the vote in 2000 and 58% in 2004. In the most recent presidential election, John McCain won 56.8% of the vote.

From 1994 to present, the only geographic change to the first congressional district was the addition of Gilmer County in 2002.

Second District

District 2 stretches from the Ohio River in the west to the Potomac River in the northeast. The district includes West Virginia’s capital, Charleston, as well as the rapidly growing Eastern Panhandle and Potomac Highlands regions. As of 2008, the major industries are coal and chemical production. Together, these industries amount to upwards of $1.2 billion in revenue. After the 2000 Census, Gilmer County, formerly part of the Second District, was moved to the First District. After the 2010 Census, the West Virginia State Legislature removed Mason County from District 2 and relocated it to District 3. The total district population is 648,186 citizens. Kanawha County, one of the larger and more urban counties, is 89%White, 7.5% Black, 1.1% Asian, 1.1% Hispanic, and 0.2% Native American. The district is evenly divided between parties—since 1950, each party has held the congressional seat approximately half the time.

Third District

District 3 is located in southern West Virginia. The district includes the state’s second largest city, Huntington, with 49,138 people. The cities of Bluefield, Princeton, and Beckley also compose the Third District. The district’s main industries in 2008 are coal and petroleum, shipping out on average $562 and $877 million, respectively. Cabell County, which includes the City of Huntington, is 91.5% White, 5.1% Black, 1.1% Asian, 1.2% Hispanic, and 0.2% Native American. The only changes to the district were the addition of Nicholas County in 2002 and Mason in 2012. District 3 is the most politically competitive of the three West Virginia districts. While Bill Clinton carried the district twice, Al Gore only narrowly won in 2000. George Bush won in 2004 with 53% of the vote and John McCain in 2008 with 55.8% of the vote.

2010 Redistricting Changes:

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