A friend sends along the first look at proposed new state Senate districts, work of the Board of Apportionment staff.
I don't think these will make much sense in a small view on the blog. Take a look for yourselves by opening the PDFs, which can be enlarged, and report what you see about who gets helped and who gets hurt:
Disputations, lamentations, partisan bickering and public discussions lie ahead. The maps were drawn by staff hired by the Democratic majority of the board — Gov. Mike Beebe and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. Republican Secretary of State Mark Martin, of course, tried vainly at the outset to influence the process by improper means, but was overruled by the other board members.
The maps, in Arkansas and every state, are drawn to best suit the needs of the party in control of the process. Here, that means Democrats. Sometimes, though, all the creative mapmaking in the world can't overcome the raw truth of demographics and shifting political opinions. There will, for example, be more seats for Northwest Arkansas and fewer covering the Delta. You know what that means.
Also, and I fear this, the Democrats may be about to fall into the trap of drawing districts with specific candidates in mind, rather than taking a longer view of composition of districts according to vote history, growth patterns and other factors. If 2010 proved anything, it proved that you don't win elections by presumptions that putting up a well-known good ol' boy is enough to win. You have to recruit vigorous candidates. You have to raise money. You have to develop issues. You have to identify your voters. You have to target your voters with mail and other advertising. You have to get your voters out. A little map trickery isn't enough. Also, Barack Obama will still be president. You can bet his swarthy face will figure prominently — again — in Republican advertising strategy.