IPPSR report analyzes new election maps

October 18, 2021 - Cindy Kyle

Michigan State University’s Institute for Public Policy and Social and Social Research released a new report analyzing proposed maps redrawing congressional and legislative districts and headed to public hearings this week.

The report outlines an innovative tool and guide for Commission and public comparison of 10 draft proposed maps collaboratively drawn by Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistrict Commission (MICRC.) The draft maps give shape to the districts governing 2022 elections for Michigan’s representation in the U.S. Congress, state House and state Senate.

This year’s redistricting represents an historic first. The task is this year entrusted to 13 members of the MICRC randomly selected from a pool of qualified applicants. The commission was established and seven mapmaking requirements added to Michigan’s Constitution and approved by the voters in 2018.

“We hope the Commission and the public will use this report to understand how the maps can change – in shape and location – as they meet the constitution’s new criteria,” said Dr. Matt Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at MSU.

The report, at ippsr.msu.edu/redistricting, finds many Commission maps scoring appropriately on metrics associated with its criteria but recommends that the MICRC give quick attention to:

  • Repair some U.S. Census blocks not assigned to any districts.
  • Re-evaluate its approach to comply with the Voting Rights Act to ensure that African- American voters can elect candidates of choice in primaries and general elections.
  • Identify and follow a more a systematic way to choose among Communities of Interest, rather than following generic requests for what areas should be in what districts.
  • Embrace a broader set of measures of Partisan Fairness that incorporate comparisons against universes of possible maps.

Dr. Jon Eguia, Ph.D., MSU Professor of Economics, is the report’s lead author. “Our report offers a quantitative analysis of the commission’s draft proposed maps,” he said. “We stress that we don’t evaluate whether a map is good or bad overall.”

Some maps, the report noted, also await analysis and some measures are not yet available. Please see ippsr.msu.edu/redistricting as analysis is updated. In addition to the initial analysis, IPPSR plans a full report of Michigan’s new redistricting initiative in summer 2022.

IPPSR is reviewing the state’s redistricting effort plus providing training and technical assistance to the Redistricting Commission under a two-year, $250,000 grant from The Joyce Foundation of Chicago. Under the grant, IPPSR is working with the University of Michigan’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP), to sharing resources, conducting educational programming and evaluating the redistricting initiative.

The report also includes analysis of State of the State Survey questions posed to Michigan citizens, and Michigan Policy Insiders Panel queries to Michigan policy leaders who work in close observation of state government.

In the surveys, citizens indicated they generally like the idea of the MICRC, but aren’t as confident their input will make a difference in commission decisions or that they will engage in one of its public hearings.

The Commission voted Oct. 11 to release the four congressional maps, three Michigan Senate maps, and three Michigan House maps detailed in IPPSR’s report. These Draft Proposed maps will be subject to a round of public hearings to be conducted around the state from Wednesday, Oct. 20 to Wednesday, Oct. 27. The MICRC is expected to vote on final maps by Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.

IPPSR is a campus center for policy analysis, political leadership development and training and survey research. It is home to the Michigan Political Leadership Program, Office for Survey Research and Correlates of State Policy database for students, faculty and researchers.

CLOSUP, the Center for Local State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, conducts, supports and fosters applied academic research to improve understanding of local, state, and urban policy issues.