Reassessing Redistricting Criteria: Finding the Core of a Congressional District

Authors: Kalyn Rossiter*, Ohio Northern University
Topics: Political Geography
Keywords: district core, congressional redistricting, census
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Congressional redistricting in the United States takes place at least once every ten years but the process has long been controversial and expensive. This is partly due to the eight criteria, some of which are not well defined, each state may follow when drawing these important boundaries. I examine one of the eight criteria, preserving the core of the previous district, which requires states to maintain the core of the previous congressional district (CD) when delineating new CDs. However, a definition of how that core should be determined does not exist. Using techniques within a geographic information system (GIS), I offer three methodologies to define a core of a congressional district, including identifying the overlap in area of the same CD from two different years, identifying the overlap in population of the same CD from two different years, and creating inscribed circles for each CD to compare two different years. In addition, I identify the impacts of the size of the core that is preserved on who is elected to Congress. Results show that on average for the United States, 64% of the previous CD’s area was maintained when delineating new CDs after the 2010 Census using area, 71% was maintain when using population, and 35% was maintained when implementing the inscribed circle methodology. Furthermore, there was not a strong correlation between the person or party elected changing from the previous election, when compared to the percentage each CD was preserved.

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