On February 15, 2018, Governor Tom Wolf submitted a map to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that combined features of legislative submissions but, according to an analysis by a gerrymandering expert, was statistically more fair than the Republican leaders’ submission.
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The governor’s map is fair, is constitutional, and complies with the court’s order. Further, the map accounts for traditional communities of interests and seeks to avoid cracking, packing and unnecessary splitting of regions. The map has the same number of overall splits as the Republican leaders’ joint submission but reduces the number of counties split more than once and no county is split more than three times.
The Unconstitutional 2011 Congressional Map
Governor Wolf’s map proposal accounts for traditional communities of interests and seeks to avoid cracking, packing and unnecessary splitting of regions. Below find descriptions of the communities united in each district.
- District 1: Schuylkill West (Philadelphia/Delaware) – District 1 connects West Philadelphia with similar municipalities of Chester City, Sharon Hill, Ridley Park, and Darby. Much of the district is connected by Interstate 95 and routes 291 and 420. SEPTA’s 69th Street Terminal in Upper Darby serves the district, along with the Airport Line, Wilmington/Newark Line, and the Media/Elwyn Line.
This is an Opportunity District (in other words, Black and Latino voters make up the majority of voters in the district).
- District 2: Schuylkill East (Philadelphia) – District 2 keeps intact the communities of Northwest Philadelphia, North Philadelphia, Center City, and South Philadelphia. SEPTA connects the district through multiple bus and train lines (including the Broad Street Line and Market-Frankford Line). Interstate 95 runs up the district. This is an Opportunity District (in other words, Black and Latino voters make up the majority of voters in the district). This district does not intentionally “pack” African American voters into this one singular Philadelphia district.
- District 3: The Northwest Corner – District 3 includes Erie and the surrounding counties. For the western tip of Pennsylvania, manufacturing, retail trade, and healthcare and social assistance are the largest industry employers across all six counties. From shipping ports and vineyards to hiking and biking trails, the northern I-79 corridor of the Lake Erie region that borders Ohio and New York includes counties that are designated transitional as their economic status. District 3 includes Erie, along with other third-class cities, including Meadville, Sharon, and Titusville. Unlike other maps, this map keeps Erie County intact and builds the district along the Ohio and New York borders (keeping a distinct Northwestern PA regional district), instead of pulling in counties from central Pennsylvania.
- District 4: The 83 Corridor – Close to the Maryland border and rich with Pennsylvania history, District 4 is proximate to several interstates, making it a busy corridor for the trucking industry, commuters, and visitors to central Pennsylvania. In fact, these three counties are connected via interstates 81, I-83, I-76 and US 11/15, creating ease of travel between counties, cities, boroughs, and townships. Residents of Cumberland, Adams and York counties are also united by a sense of southern Pennsylvania pride, good K-12 schools and top-rated public and private colleges and universities, such as Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, York College, Central Penn College, and Penn State York. Many I-83 corridor residents commute to Harrisburg for work, including many commonwealth employees. This region boasts farmland, state parks, ski resorts, and seasonal festivals, as well as a variety of industries from health care and retail to technology, and manufacturing.
- District 5: Pennsylvania Wilds – District 5 joins some of the most rural communities in Pennsylvania and is known for its tourism and outdoor assets, including several state parks and outdoor recreational opportunities. This region includes all of Potter, McKean, Cameron, Clinton, Elk, Forest, Venango, Clarion, Butler, Armstrong, Jefferson, Clearfield, and part of Centre counties. District 5 is a rural district that also includes seven of the region’s third-class cities – Lock Haven, Bradford, DuBois, Franklin, Oil City, Parker City, and St. Marys.
- District 6: Keystone – District 6 encompasses the entirety of Chester County and parts of southern Berks and western Delaware Counties. The suburban Philadelphia communities it encompasses are very similar economically, demographically, and culturally. This shared identity makes a compact district that includes all of Chester County logical. This district is home to some of the top performing school districts statewide and nationally. Western Delaware County is very similar, and includes communities that fall along Rt. 1/Rt. 202, which creates regional continuity. The 2011 map siphons off communities within Chester and Western Delaware counties to create partisan advantage, and is considered one of the most gerrymandered districts in the nation.
- District 7: Montgomery County – District 7 includes almost all of Montgomery County. The size of the county requires a split – Montgomery County’s population is too large to have a single congressional district. Montgomery County is one of fastest growing counties in Pennsylvania. It includes cities and towns with similarities in size or governance including Lower Merion, Abington, Cheltenham, Norristown, Upper Dublin, Horsham, and Lower Providence. Many of the residents commute to Philadelphia or one of the business parks in King of Prussia, Lansdale, Blue Bell, Horsham or Fort Washington. The county includes a higher concentration of those employed in Professional and Technical Services compared to the commonwealth. This is a stark contrast to the 2011 map and the Joint Submission which unnecessarily splice Montgomery County into four separate districts.
- District 8: Greater Bucks County – District 8 includes all communities of Bucks County outside of those immediately adjacent to Philadelphia and connects them with similar communities on the southern borders of both Lehigh and Northampton Counties. These communities are close to New Jersey and include many similar economic traits, such as a density of trucking, shipping, and logistics companies.
- District 9: Greater Johnstown Altoona – District 9 unifies Johnstown and Altoona, two communities with deep historical and economic ties, which have been split since the 2011 maps were put in place. It brings this region together with similar smaller metropolitan areas of third class cities like Indiana, McConnellsburg, Huntingdon, and Chambersburg in Southcentral Pennsylvania. This area shares interests in tourism, resource development, and a tradition of manufacturing.
- District 10: Coal Country – In District 10, the discovery of natural gas in the Marcellus formation has provided an economic boost over the past decade in a region which was historically powered by anthracite coal. Energy production unites this region that spans the northeast portion of the state, bordering New York state. Shale production has brought new residents to the area, as well as economic growth beyond energy – housing and retail included. Coal Country is one of the most rural and heavily forested parts of the northeastern United States, and one of the least densely populated.
- District 11: The Mid-State – Known as the Susquehanna Valley, District 11 unites the Capital region to include Harrisburg and the West Shore of the Susquehanna River, which have similar political interests, thus keeping “neighbors” and communities of interest together. The district boasts many small towns, and both public and private colleges and universities, and major health care centers like Penn State Hershey and Geisinger Medical Center in Danville. In addition to state government, this district is home to various industries, including candy and confection giant The Hershey Company, and smaller manufacturers in the northern portion of the district. Many residents of this district are commuters; people live and work throughout these counties, and cross the Susquehanna River for shopping and entertainment.
- District 12: Turnpike West – District 12 groups portions of the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area into one district. The economy of this district was traditionally driven by resource extraction but has transitioned towards outdoor recreation with the Laurel Highlands and the Great Allegheny Passage Trail helping to drive tourism to the area. Unlike the prior version, this map unifies the Westmoreland County community, as opposed to dividing it into two districts. It no longer blatantly isolates Westmoreland County from its third-largest city, New Kensington. After more than 25 years, this map reunites the southern portion of Somerset County with its county seat, Somerset, Pennsylvania.
- District 13: Greater Northeast Philadelphia – District 13 includes Northeast Philadelphia and the dense suburban communities in lower Montgomery County and lower Bucks County. Interstate 95 runs along the side of the district, and many residents are served by multiple SEPTA lines, including Market-Frankford and Trenton lines. These communities share transportation services through SEPTA and health services through Aria Hospital System, which serves the city and counties.
- District 14: Pittsburgh – District 14 is centered on the City of Pittsburgh and connects it with much of the immediate suburbs. The district extends eastward to communities along the Parkway East and south into the upper Mon Valley. These communities share significant interests economically, including an evolving technology sector and strong educational and medical institutions.
- District 15: Reading-Lehigh Valley – District 15 combines the region’s four third-class cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and Reading, with their shared heritage of manufacturing and common interests, into one district. This map recognizes the communities are similar in economies and histories and should be together. The district is more compact than the current map, which meanders from Allentown to the Harrisburg suburbs.
- District 16: South Central – District 16 includes all of Lancaster County and neighboring portions of Lebanon and Berks counties. This district shares a rich agricultural heritage and identity, even as the district’s economy modernizes increasingly towards manufacturing and logistics. The separation from Chester County makes sense because the South Central region is both culturally and geographically distinct from Chester County, where a large section of the county was coupled with the seventh district in the 2011 map.
- District 17: Northeast Corner (Scranton-Wilkes Barre) – District 17 includes all of Wayne, Pike, Monroe, and Lackawanna counties, and part of Luzerne County. It unites the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and Stroudsburg regions, which have previously been divided into multiple districts. These communities, along with Nanticoke, Pittston, and Carbondale, share cultural and geographical similarities as part of the Pocono Mountain region. The outdoors and recreation are central to this district’s way of life, with many state parks, forests, and game lands within the region. The district is a fast-growing home to many bedroom communities for New York City, and some parts are included in the metropolitan area. For this reason, Pike and Monroe counties are some of the fastest growing populations in the state. Creating a compact and contiguous district for this region allows for cultural continuity, whereas the 2011 map includes these areas and extends all the way to southwestern Mifflin County, a nearly five-hour drive, and drastically different demographic makeup.
- District 18: Southwest Corner – District 18 combines the major energy-producing counties of Fayette, Greene, Washington and part of Allegheny into one compact district in the southwest with their shared industries of gas exploration and mining. The district unites businesses and families of the Mon Valley communities — communities with common interests and history — and is more compact than the current map, which excludes Fayette County.
Governor Wolf’s map, along with the Republican leaders’ submission, were independently analyzed by mathematician and gerrymandering analyst, and Tufts University Professor Moon Duchin’s analysis found that in sharp contrast to the Legislative Respondents’ Map, the governor’s map exhibited no partisan skew in comparison to over a billion randomly generated maps. It displayed all the characteristics of what it, in fact, is: a plan drawn with the sole goal of respecting the tenets of traditional redistricting criteria.
- Read the full analysis of Governor Wolf’s map proposal by Professor Moon Duchin of Tufts University. (PDF)