Looking At The New Congressional Landscape

By WGBH News

Nov. 7, 2011

Mass. Congress redistricting map

Under the proposed Congressional redistricting plan, the 7th District would have an increased number of minority voters. (Commonwealth of Mass.)

BOSTON — Questions about the future of Mass. residents' representation in the Capitol are flying after state lawmakers released a proposed new Congressional redistricting plan on Nov. 7.

The difficult task at hand was to bring the state's 10 Congressional districts down to nine. That was required after 2010 Census population data eliminated one Mass. seat in the House. The new plan would create an entirely new voting district in the state — and put two incumbents, Reps. Bill Keating of Quincy and Stephen Lynch of South Boston, into a redrawn 8th District. However, Keating can avoid a race against Lynch if he moves to his summer home in Bourne and runs for a new seat representing Cape Cod and the South Coast.
The Legislature's redistricting committee, which is controlled by Democrats, was arguably in the position to protect some powerful incumbents and put some seats out of reach for the GOP. But David King, a public policy lecturer at Harvard University, told WGBH's Sarah Birnbaum that the maps seemed fair.

“They're not designed, as far as I can tell, to run anybody out of Washington or to make sure that anybody goes back,” he said. King thought that if the committee were trying to protect incumbents, it would never have put Lynch and Keating in the same district — and it would have drawn lines only around highly cohesive Democratic areas.

On the contrary, he said, “It looks like they've broken up parts of cities that appear to be strong Democrat one way or the other. So I don't think that members of Congress are any safer in these seats than they were last year. They're going to have to fight for these seats in the primaries."

The new map must now be approved by the full Mass. House and Senate and signed by Gov. Deval Patrick.

Discussing the projected new state map on "The Callie Crossley Show," State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz, a vice-chair of the Joint Special Committee on Redistricting, was pleased to see more representation for communities of color. The 7th District currently represented by Michael Capuano would have a larger voting-age minority population under the new divisions. 

Download the new maps, historical maps and Google Earth data.

1842 Mass. Congress redistricting map

The more things change... the 1842 Congressional district map. (Commonwealth of Mass.)

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