| A History Lesson
In 2000, the (absolutely beautiful) state of Connecticut lost a Congressional district, going from six to five seats.
At the time, freshman Congressman Rob Simmons held CT-02, Chris Shays held CT-04, and Nancy Johnson held CT-06. Because of Republican John Rowland's presence as Governor, the Democratic legislature wasn't able to gerrymander, and a compromise was passed. Johnson and Waterbury area Congressman James Maloney were placed in a "fair fight" district, with some conservative areas of Johnson's seat going to CT-01, and some liberal areas of Maloney's seat going to CT-03 in order to create a 50/50 type seat. Democratic towns and cities like Meriden, Waterbury, and the rolling hills of northwest Connecticut created a Democratic base, while southern Litchfield County, Wolcott, and Prospect created a Republican base. Unexpectedly, the race wasn't even close. Johnson thumped Maloney. The newly drawn three Republican seats all voted for Al Gore in 2000, foreboding bad times in CT for the GOP, but we were able to outlive our expectations for a few more years.
Fast Forward to 2006-2008
In 2004, CT-02 voted 54% for Kerry, CT-04 voted 52% for Kerry, and CT-05 voted 49% for Kerry. Those numbers didn't seem too terrible, and our three Republican Congressmen were cruising in Connecticut... until 2006. Rob Simmons lost his seat by EIGHTY-THREE votes to 2002 loser Joe Courtney. Nancy Johnson lost her seat in a brutal and nasty race to State Senator Chris Murphy, only garnering 44% of the vote (a 16 point drop off from 2004). Only Chris Shays survived, and he was the only Republican incumbent in New England... until losing to Jim Himes in 2008 by four points.
Connecticut Congressional Races in 2010
In 2010, the GOP nominated State Senator Sam Caligiuri in CT-05. Interestingly enough, Caligiuri held Chris Murphy's old State Senate Seat. In CT-04, State Senator Dan Debicella was nominated. In 2008, CT-04 gave Barack Obama 60% of the vote, an 8 point boost from 2008, and in CT-05, Obama won with 56% of the vote, giving Democrats a 7 point boost. The CT GOP seemed bullish about its chances, and poll showed the GOP slightly favored in each race in the home stretch, but Murphy and Himes won by 8 and 6 points, respectively. While those same seats seemed to love their Republicans for years, they now seemed to love their Democratic incumbents.
The 2010 Connecticut Governor Race
In the 2010 Connecticut Gubernatorial election, former Stamford Mayor and Democrat Dan Malloy defeated former Ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley by a razor thin .56% margin. I compiled data from the race and created this map of results by town, much like the Boston.com Massachusetts election results maps. Mayor Malloy over-performed President Obama by 11 points, so realize that most of those Republican towns that are under 60% Foley were probably won by President Obama.
Here is the color key for the map.
65+ R: Almost brown
60-65 R: Crimson
54-60 R: Bright Red
50-54 R: Tomato
50-54 D: Light Sky Blue
54-60 D: Dodger Blue
60-65 D: Blue
65+ D: Navy
The following table shows the two party vote share between Foley and Malloy in the Congressional Districts from this past decade. (yes, it is mislabeled) The 4th District is wrong... I forgot Bridgeport in this table.
The 5th District Today:
Very early in 2011, newly re-elected Chris Murphy announced his (likely successful) candidacy for the US Senate, and the D+2 PVI CT-05 is now open. A prime opportunity for a pick-up, the GOP is fighting hard to win this seat. Democratic House Speaker Chris Donovan (D-Meriden) will be the Democratic nominee, and while he is popular, it may prove very easy to tie him to toxic Dan Malloy. While CT-05 in current form should be competitive, I attempted to draw two seats. The first is a Republican drawn seat that would likely lock in CT-05 for the GOP in 2012, and the second is a compromise that pushes CT-05 to R+2. I just hope that once CT-05 elects another Republican, it will once again become comfortable with electing one long-term.
In Connecticut, Democrats hold the trifecta. However, maps must be passed by a 2/3rds threshold in the Connecticut Legislature that Democrats don't currently hold. Therefore, Republicans aren't completely shut out. My proposed Republican 5th District and compromise 5th District are below the fold.
Before looking at these numbers, here's another reminder. They represent the two party vote (with the WFP Malloy numbers added to the Democratic numbers), so Republican numbers may be ~.5% off. The numbers are quite accurate, but since I couldn't split towns, they may be very slightly off.
A Republican Fifth District
Going into negotiations with the Democrats over redistricting, we should aggressively push for a clean but Republican 5th District. In this version of the Fifth District, I removed Waterbury, Meriden (which is the home town of likely Democratic Fifth District nominee Chris Donovan) and Northwest Connecticut. Democrats would never agree to this R+4 seat, but Republicans might as well be aggressive as negotiations start. Not a single town in this seat voted for Dan Malloy. This map would also shore up 4th District Congressman Jim Himes, forfeiting his seat for the near future, unless Bridgeport sinks into the ocean.
Anyway, here is the proposed district:
Connecticut as a whole
The table below shows the Obama/McCain percentages, and the Foley/Malloy percentages of the proposed seat.
A Compromise Fifth District
Since Speaker Donovan is from Meriden, I added Meriden back into the Fifth District. For a less Republican seat, I also added Waterbury and NW Connecticut again, and ditched the Hartford suburbs to Larson and some New Haven suburbs to DeLauro. If I were Republicans, I wouldn't budge on taking Himes's Republican towns, meaning northern Fairfield County. I also wouldn't budge on taking the Republican towns of New Haven County. Democrats would probably want to weaken this R+1 district to EVEN, but you'd probably have to split New Britain, and I don't have individual precinct numbers.
The district is shown below.
Compromise Fifth District
Connecticut Congressional Map
Republicans should not accept anything worse than what I drew as a compromise district here. A court map of Connecticut would likely yield a better result for the GOP, and almost certainly would not include Meriden in the district. It may not even include Waterbury, instead including rural or suburban areas more similar to the 5th (like retaining the wealthy suburban Hartford areas I dropped in the compromise, or rural/exburban areas like Granby).
Democrats may try to maneuver around the 2/3rds rule, but the unpopular Malloy may not want to take any political hits at this time, and wouldn't want Republicans, who have filibuster power in the legislature, to make his life way harder. Democrats also would try to avoid a court map, as Donovan likely would be drawn out, so I think they would be willing to play ball on a compromise. Jim Himes would get a completely safe seat, so why not?
There is a history of Connecticut redistricting compromises; the map from this past decade was a compromise. Let's push for one for the next decade, too.
It is quite possible that Frank Guinta could be the only Republican Congressman from New England in 2012. It is also possible that we may not have any Republican Congressmen anywhere north or east of New York. Richard Tisei, Kevin Raye, and our CT-05 nominee can change that. If we are going to try and gain on our Congressional majority, New England gains need to be in the game plan. Let's do it.