Friday, February 15, 2008

UPDATE: Forecasting Reapportionment in 2010!!!

Extending from a post below about reapportionment, I used a forecasting software package to forecast county population growth in Idaho out to 2010. The package picked the best forecasting method (double exponential smoothing, single exponential smoothing, double moving average, etc.) for each county and generated county populations for each future year out to 2010. The post below explains what I mean by "northern," "southwestern," and "southeastern" counties.

The end results show the following:

1. Idaho’s total population will be 1,586,730 in 2010. That is 22.07% bigger than in 2000.
2. The average district size in 2010 (35 districts divided into total population) will be 45,335.
3. The southwestern counties will be entitled to 15.58 districts. The two big counties, Ada and Canyon, will have 593,247 people, which will be 37.39% of the entire state’s population. Ada and Canyon County continue to grow faster than the rest of the state. In 2000, 33.56% of the state's population was in these two counties. It is a compact area, too, covering just 1,644.71 square miles. In comparison, the state's other urban area, which includes Kootenai County in northern Idaho and contiguous Spokane County in eastern Washington, covers 3,008.76 square miles. In 2010, Ada and Canyon Counties will be entitled to 13.09 districts, which is a gain of one full district. Currently, one of the Canyon County districts is split into Gem County. Under the 2000 Census, all of the southwestern counties were entitled to 14.53 districts, so they will clearly gain one new district.
4. The southeastern counties will be entitled to 12.14 districts. This is a reduction from the 12.93 districts they were entitled to under the 2000 Census.
5. The northern counties decrease from the 7.53 districts they were entitled to under the 2000 Census to 7.28 in 2010.
Clearly, Ada and Canyon Counties will gain a legislative district. The numbers seem to indicate that however the next reapportionment commission draws the lines, it would need to take slightly more away from southeastern Idaho, because the drop is more than twice as big per district as the north. Idaho grows, and I know Kootenai County has and will continue to grow, but the sheer size and rate at which Ada and Canyon Counties grow really swallow up the growth in the north when it comes to legislative districts. At any rate, my best guess is that we will see a new district close to Boise and, if fairness and legality prevails, there will be 7 districts wholly enclosed in northern Idaho, 12 wholly enclosed in southeastern Idaho, and 15 wholly enclosed in southwestern Idaho (including 13 in Ada and Canyon Counties), and 1 district that could stretch into the north, southeast, and southwest, perhaps centered around Boise, Valley, Idaho, Lemhi, and Custer Counties, which would put the district within 5.58% of the ideal district size. The courts require no more than a 10% deviation from the ideal district size, which is not complicated to understand or implement, but Idaho's history with this requirement has not been good. When it comes to reapportionment, expect partisanship, gamesmanship, blame, and lots of nonsense.

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