UPDATE: After the 2016 election, Democrats gained six seats in the House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives has 435 seats from the 50 states. Currently, 246 seats are held by Republicans, 186 are held by Democrats, and three seats are vacant. In order to get a majority, the Democrats would have to gain 31 seats. That is unlikely to happen anytime soon, not due to gerrymandering, but rather because of geographical self-sorting. That is, we tend to live in areas where like-minded people reside.
Wikipedia says that:
Apart from the requirement that the number of delegates for each state is at least one, a state’s number of representatives is in principle proportional to population, thus assuring reasonably consistent representation to the people regardless of the state boundaries and populations. No method of calculating a fair distribution of voting power across the various states was known until recently and five distinct apportionment methods have been used since the adoption of the Constitution, none of them producing fully proportional distribution of power among the states.
According to an article in the Cook Political Report, Democrats favor the densely populated areas on the coasts, Republicans larger, less populated states like Wyoming, the Dakotas, Kansas, Idaho, and Oklahoma. This gives the GOP a distinct advantage in terms of congressional seats.
I did a little research, and learned that this year there are more than 20 closely contested districts. I wonder what might happen if young liberals, say those who have just graduated from art programs across the country and are looking for an alternative to expensive city life, would consider starting communities in these areas.
Could sufficient interest among imminent and recent graduates in relocating to these districts improve Democratic prospects for taking control of the House? Although of course major change couldn’t happen overnight, a significant impact seems possible given that artist settlements historically have had a palpable effect on community attitudes and politics. In this light, could young artists be encouraged to locate not to existing working class communities in major cities that more likely than not will vote Democratic anyway (Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland), but to towns that are narrowly Republican–Phoenix, Kansas City, Cedar Rapids. For example, if artists are thinking of moving to the Detroit area, why not consider Ann Arbor instead of Detroit itself? It’s just west of Detroit, but it’s in Congressional District #7, which has a chance of going Blue tomorrow.
I’ve compiled maps of these districts. If you are familiar with interesting art towns in any of the districts, please feel free to post a note about them in the Comments section below. Thanks.
Arizona District 1 includes Phoenix. When I was at Yaddo I met an artist who moved to Phoenix because she could buy a condo for less than $50,000. UPDATE: Dems won the seat.
California District 10 features the town of Modesto, which is the county seat. 90 miles east of San Francisco, Modesto has an art walk on third Thursdays. UPDATE: GOP wins.
California District 25 is north of the Los Angeles County and boasts a little town called Santa Clarita that seems ripe for arts organizing. UPDATE: GOP wins.
California District 49 is on the Pacific coast north of La Jolla and predictably pricey. Maybe there are some vacant buildings inland? UPDATE: Too close to call? UPDATE: GOP wins.
Colorado District 6 is one of those strangely shaped, gerrymandered districts. Located in north central Colorado at the base of the Rocky Mountain Front Range, the district includes Aurora. UPDATE: GOP win.
Florida District 7: Inland, includes Seminole. According to Wikipedia, Tom Stovall painted a water tower in Seminole in 2000, and in 2005 local government officials “expressed dissatisfaction with the design.” Residents, however,, came to the artist’s rescue, speaking out in favor of the tower because they thought it made “Seminole unique and provided a good landmark for giving directions.” (via) UPDATE: Dems win.
Florida District 13 is on the west coast and includes the upscale shoreline communities Clearwater and Largo. Artists would definitely need some funding to make the high-priced real estate in this district a possibility. UPDATE: Dems win.
Indiana District 9 is south of Indianapolis. Former Indiana Governor Mike Pence gave up his office to join Trump’s ticket, and polls show the governor’s race is a toss up. If readers are familiar with towns in District 9, please leave a note in the comments section. UPDATE: GOP wins.
Iowa District 1. Imagine living in Iowa and participating in the caucuses. Cedar Rapids, home of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, which features the world’s largest Grant Wood collection and his studio, is in this district. Iowa City isn’t too far away. And, BTW, the University of Iowa currently has a tenure-track position for an assistant professor of painting. UPDATE: Dems win.
Iowa District 3 is home to the city of Des Moines, where the old Crane factory has been “renovated into loft style apartments for local artisans.” One bedrooms are $455-835, 2-bedrooms are $568-1015. (via) UPDATE: GOP wins
Kansas District 3 is on the northeast corner of the state and includes part of Kansas City, which seems to have a thriving art community already. Make sure you move to the right part of the city to be in District 3. UPDATE: GOP wins.
Maine District 2 is huge and lots of artists live there already. If you like skiing and lake sports, this district is for you. William Wegman has a summer place in Rangeley Lakes. UPDATE: GOP wins.
Michigan District 7, carved into a shape that looks like it belongs in one of Keltie Ferris’s paintings, is the home of liberal college town Ann Arbor, but today still leans toward the GOP. UPDATE: GOP wins.
Minnesota District 2 is south of St. Paul. I found a listing for a house in Red Wing–$64,000 for a charming arts and crafts style bungalow. UPDATE: GOP wins.
Nevada District 3 seems to be leaning Blue thanks to all the Mexican immigrants who are settling there. UPDATE: Dems win.
New York District 1 includes working class neighborhoods on the east end of Long Island, as well as the overcrowded beach communities on the south fork. Artist-surfers should consider making Montauk their new home. UPDATE: GOP wins.
New York District 22 includes a swatch, er, I mean swath, of old upstate factory towns, from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario. I bet there are plenty of old factories just waiting to be repurposed. UPDATE: GOP wins.
New York District 24 features waterfront on Lake Ontario and probably plenty of old factory buildings. Maybe Syracuse needs some adjuncts. UPDATE: GOP wins.
New Jersey District 5 is the northernmost part of Jersey, not far from Nyack, NY, home to Edward Hopper House. UPDATE: Dems win.
Pennsylvania District 8 is north of Philly and includes a corner of beautiful Bucks County, where plenty of NYC artists have summer homes. UPDATE: GOP wins.
Utah District 4, south of Salt Lake City, is beautiful landscape. Skiing and the Sundance Film Festival are main attractions, and residents would probably welcome some contemporary art projects and spaces.UPDATE: GOP wins.
Wisconsin District 8 includes amazing lakefront, the Green Bay Packers, and the Lawton Gallery at the University of Wisconsin. A couple of old buildings have been converted into artist-loft-type living spaces. UPDATE: GOP wins.
Tomorrow night as I watch the results for the presidential election, I’ll be keeping an eye out to see whether any of these districts flip into the Democratic column. Don’t forget to VOTE!
[NOTE: These maps are from Wikipedia and may have been updated since they were originally posted.]