Artificial city

Edley: Illinois Democrats are trying to create an artificial democracy | Guest columnists

By Bill Edley

The new 2022-2030 Illinois Congressional map has the dubious distinction of being one of the most gerrymandered Congressional maps in the country. Princeton University’s Gerrymandering Project presented the new Illinois Congressional map with an “F” grade.

And the downstate 13th congressional district, currently held by Republican Representative Rodney Davis of Taylorville, is perhaps the most gerrymandered district in Illinois.

During the passage of the final map last year, an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Illinois Democrats defended their gerrymandering by saying such redistricting guarantees minorities and other residents of Illinois an equal voice in government.

Illinois 13th is a narrow, rolling district representing seven southern Illinois counties. Six counties are each divided between two or more congressional districts. The 13th contains only one entire county – the mostly rural Macoupin County.

The six counties divided are Champaign, Macon (Decatur), rural Piatt, Sangamon (Springfield), and the two metro-eastern counties of Madison and St. Clair.

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Mapmakers in Illinois did not limit themselves to carving only townships, cities, and counties. They also divided the neighborhoods.

Constituencies are the smallest electoral unit to be reported. There are 74 split precincts out of the total 662 precincts of the new 13th District. Thus, measuring Democratic election performance will only be accurate after voters cast ballots in the upcoming 2022 primary and general elections.

However, there are rough estimates.

Democratic performance represents the percentage of votes an average Democratic candidate can expect in an average election year based on past election history.

The new set of Democratic performance estimates for the 13th District would give the Democratic nominee in an average election year a 4 to 11 percentage point advantage over the Republican nominee.

In 2012, “The Almanac of American Politics” ranked the former 13th District as “equal”, meaning no discernible advantage for either side.

Since 2012, with the collapse of Democratic Party support outside major cities, Democratic performance ratings in the former 13th District have shifted to Republicans, giving them a 4-point advantage over Democrats in 2020. And Republicans have won all the elections until 2020 in the former 13th arrondissement. .

It’s unclear what the new Democratic performance will be in 2022. Especially since most political commentators are predicting, not an “average election,” but a GOP 2020 landslide in the November election of the year. who is coming.

But one statistic is clear.

According to available data from the 2020 census, minorities in the new 13th arrondissement make up 32% of the population, with blacks contributing about 20 percentage points. Establishment Democrats also drew the map of the previous Congress. The old 13th arrondissement contained only 19% minorities, with blacks making up about 12%.

It is evident that the Democratic mappers pushed the new 13th district to favor the election of a Democratic member of Congress by carving out rural communities, while carving out minority communities, thus increasing minority proportionality by more than 50%. Blacks in the new congressional district are nearly double their representation percentage compared to the old 13th district.

Chicago Democrats have ensured that regardless of Democratic performance in 2022, minority turnout will boost Democratic performance in the new 13th District.

However, the radical gerrymandering of establishment Democrats coupled with the selection of their preferred candidates for Congress has created a mystery.

Why did Chicago Democrats draw a heavily Gerrymander 13th Congressional District by increasing the minority population, then decide to steal in a non-minority Peoria native (Peoria is not in the 13th), who worked and lived in Washington and had never voted in the old or new 13th congressional district?

The mystery contestant is Nikki Budzinski. She comes from a highly respected and politically active Peoria family. Illinois’ 17th congressional district includes Peoria. And, the Peoria-based 17th District is also an open seat without an incumbent congressman running. The 17th is rated favorably for a Democratic candidate.

So why isn’t Budzinski running for Congress from her hometown of Peoria, the 17th district?

Really, reported in November that Budzinski “has voted in Chicago for each of the last five elections.”

My experiences as a former Democratic state legislator, Democratic National Convention delegate, and Democratic Party activist for 40 years have revealed that Democrats in Chicago have very little respect for voters downstate. Democratic Party insiders think they can rig the system and voters downstate won’t see the difference.

This approach hasn’t worked lately.

In 1990, Democrats held six of Illinois’ eight congressional districts. Today, only one of six downstate congressional districts is represented by a Democrat, and that one Democrat has decided not to run again in 2022.

After the 2022 election, even if Chicago Democrats draw gerrymandered maps, Southern Illinois could very well be left without a single Democratic member of Congress.

Bill Edley is a Democratic Party activist. He lives in Springfield, Illinois.