Almost three weeks ago, two guerrilla delegations to the New Jersey Distribution Legislation released their first sentences for the new state legislative map. Each of them modestly obeyed the standards laid out a commission tie-break by Philip Karchman, but both did not enter into a number of key aspects.
In the end, those two cards were completely repealed in favor of a compromise reached by both sides over three feverish days last week. The result is a bipartisan map, which in most cases shows a clear improvement over any original proposal.
Under many measures, the compromise card is more compact than both original proposals; it includes six counties that share three or more counties, less than any proposal, and has a slightly better Reock compactness score (a mathematical measure of district compactness).
Only seven current executives moored from their present districts according to the compromise card, less than eight were displaced by the Democratic proposal and eleven by the Republican proposal. Even this figure overstates the gap represented by the new map, as a number of current leaders – such as Assembly members Christian Baranka (R. Jefferson) and Brian Bergen (R. Danville) – will simply be able to trade districts.
And perhaps most importantly, the card is clearly not conducive to one political party to the same extent as both proposals. In the 2021 gubernatorial election, the middle district voted for Governor Phil Murphy by 5.7 points, meaning he was 2.5 points more democratic than the state; on the contrary, the Democratic Party’s original proposal had a bias of D + 4.2 on the constituency average, and the Republican proposal had a bias of R + 3.6.
But there is one point on which the compromise map is failing: the creation of more constituencies with a minority. The map shows 17 districts where colored people make up the majority of the population, and 23 where the majority are white.
At first glance, this is an improvement over the current legislative map, in which 15 constituencies with a majority majority and 25 constituencies with a white majority are totals that are markedly inconsistent with a state in which about 48% are colored.
However, this does not improve either the original proposals, each of which also had 17 constituencies with majority minorities, or 19 or 20 constituencies of majority minorities as many defenders had hoped. These hopes were known in two public hearings commission, which took place after the release of the original draft proposals.
“We are somewhat disappointed that none of the maps are making as much progress as we deem necessary [on creating majority-minority districts]”- said the president of the Latino Action Network Christian Esteves at the first public hearing. “We ask the commissioners on both sides to sharpen their pencils and try to do better.”
According to Henal Patel of the Institute of Social Justice in New Jersey, a non-partisan group affiliated with the Latino Action Network and other groups within the New Jersey Coalition of Fair Districts coalition, the insider-dominated commission did not go far enough to include testimony that they got.
“It is clear that they listened to a lot of testimony, both from what the public gave them and from what the defenders did,” Patel said. “And we really appreciate that. At the same time, there are many communities that remain divided. ”
The result of the two-party process was a map that protected more incumbent leaders and provided a more balanced party gap than the two original proposals, but one that did no better than either proposal to create more minority constituencies.
It is also necessary to delve into the relatively minor changes that the commission eventually made from the current map, because it is unclear that they will lead to a significant shift in representation in the legislature.
The 5th district is one of two districts that will move from the majority of whites to the majority of the minority, which was made possible by the relocation of Pensauken from the 6th district. However, two of the current 5th District lawmakers, State Senator Nils Cruz-Perez (D-Barrington) and MP William Spearman (D-Camden), are already colored people, so there is not much room for minority representation in the country. .
Another district that was transferred from the white majority to the white plurality 27th districtwhich unites West Orange, Milburn and Livingston with Moncler and Clifton, two different cities now in the 34th arrondissement.
But white people still make up 49% of the population – and 51% of the voting age population – in this new 27th constituency, and the delegation is most likely to arrive in 2023 – an all-white trio of former Gov. Richard Cody (D-Roseland) ), Assembly member John McKeon (D-West Orange) and Assembly member Thomas Giblin (D-Montclair).
This contrasts sharply with the redesigned 27th constituency originally proposed by both partiesin which Irvington and Hillside would be teamed up with West Orange and Livingston to make the county a Black set. After loud complaints from Codethis configuration was abandoned, which was a failure for those seeking more than two constituencies with a majority or majority constituency of blacks.
The compromise card also rejects the Republican proposal to create a multiple asian county in Central Jersey, and creates only 10 counties where white people are not the largest population, compared to 12 on the Republican map (and according to the 10 proposed on the Democratic map).
“This map is largely unavailable,” Patel said. “It doesn’t reflect the fact that we’re almost half colored people right now, in New Jersey.”
The downside of the lack of additional minority-majority counties is that a small number of counties, primarily the 28th county in Essex and the 33rd county in Hudson County, have extremely concentrated minority populations. In the 28th district, 72% are black, and in the 33rd – 68% are Hispanic, which Patel described as “packaging”.
“Imagine this happening in the southern state,” Patel said. “We would all call it packaging. There are no reasons that should happen. This was not the case on the two proposed maps. “
The only place where the new map is likely to have an immediate impact on minority representation is in Hudson County, where State Senator Nicholas Saka (North Bergen) postponed State Senator Brian Stack (D-Union City) after they were placed in the same district. An open seat in the Senate Stack reserves the will almost certainly go to MP Raja Mukherjee (Jersey City), who will represent the county with many whites with America’s significant Asian population.
None of this means that the New Jersey legislature will not become more diverse in 2023 and beyond, regardless of the boundaries of the map. In a number of constituencies, including the 2nd, 14th, 17th, 36th and 38th, there are a large number of non-white but completely white legislative delegations, which may change over a decade.
But for those hoping the redistribution process will lead to a major leap forward to a more diverse legislature, the final map will certainly be a disappointment.