Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hi, this is Bruce Maples publisher forward, Kentucky. This is the first of three special podcasts that we are putting up all in one night about the redistricting process in this year's legislature, we have three different guests, three different podcasts. You'll find them all with redistricting in the title. I hope you'll listen to all three. Thanks for joining us. Here's our first one. I'm talking now with Robert Connie, a data scientist in Louisville. Robert, welcome to movie Kentucky
Speaker 1 00:00:27 Forward. Yeah, thanks Bruce. I appreciate being here. So
Speaker 0 00:00:30 We're in the middle of redistricting or maybe we're close to the end of it. And I understand that instead of the blobs of color on a PDF that we were given, the, you actually have reverse engineered some sort of understanding of what's in these actual maps. Uh, tell, tell me more about that.
Speaker 1 00:00:52 Yeah, it's, it's kind of interesting. It's this is, uh, making maps is a space that I think everybody has at least some level of interest in, uh, and yet, like I think, you know, it's a kind of complicated subjects and it's not easy for everybody to do. Uh, it takes some investment in the skills needed to do it. So, um, you know, reverse engineered is kind of a funny term that I don't think that's quite what I did. The, the Republicans, they did not provide shape. They did not provide, you know, the, the data most professionals use to create maps and software. What they did was they provided legislation and the legislation had lists of precincts across the state, um, you know, by county, in the counties that they split the, the, which, which precincts went with, which districts and I had to basically scrape those PDFs, uh, you know, OCR technology, if you're familiar with that, uh, being able to take the text out of those PDFs and then wrote a small program that crawled through those PDFs and assigned the precincts to the individual districts based on what was in the bills. And then from that list of precincts, which were then matched with specific districts, I have a shape file of all the precincts in the state of Kentucky minus Davies county, which is a different story. Uh, and then I was able to kind of group those together and develop, create a shape file for my precinct shape file that, um, matched what was in the proposal legislation from the Republican caucus for the, uh, for the house in the Senate, in Congress. I have yet to do the Supreme court, but I will do that soon.
Speaker 0 00:02:36 Okay. So you and I both work in it in different or have worked on it. So for the benefit of those who are listening, what is let's real quickly, what is a shape file? We keep using the term.
Speaker 1 00:02:47 Yeah, that's, that's fair. And I, people have asked me for the, you know, I created the shape file, the technical shape file. Um, and people have asked me for the Shapefile over time and I realized a day or so that some people are just asking for the map. Those are the things that they're not equivalent, uh, that necessarily, so the shape file essentially is just a database. Um, there's different ways to think about it, but I think probably the way that maybe the largest number of people would be able to grasp onto it, it's basically like a database where one of the, you know, values and a key value payer as a geography, uh, and basically it draws polygons. Um, and it gives you, you know, the edges for all the polygons and you can have higher resolution or lower resolution based on how big or the size of the file you want to have.
Speaker 1 00:03:36 Um, and you know, it will draw those polygons around a plane, and then you have to tell the piece of software, what plane you're working with. And the most common one that I use is just latitude and longitude. That gets me where I need to go most of the time. But if you're drawing a map of a very small area, you know, there's different projections that professional geographers use where they will be like north America. Some of them there's like different ones for Kentucky and Minnesota based on where you are based on the earth, because the earth isn't flat. Um, so that's basically what a shape file is. It's a set of polygons on top of a plane and then the plane matches to the Earth's geography in some kind of way. So when you tell the computer here is where the squares and rectangles and everything go, uh, on the map, uh, it will, it will know where to put them.
Speaker 1 00:04:24 So that's, that's basically what a ship shaped bile is. And then you take that shape file. And what I do is I use a separate piece of software that it's called leaflet and leaflet is just a mapping program that will take a shape file and allow you to, you know, do chloroplasts, which chloroplasts are basically coloring in polygons. And I'll do them shaded red to blue for Democrat to Republican or purple to orange for non-partisan races and stuff like that. So I can kind of color in those and then color in the individual precincts, uh, with, with the same sort of technology. So you can kind of see, you know, how these different districts vote in, in different kind of ways.
Speaker 0 00:04:58 I need to warn everybody that I'm, I'm showing great restraint here because, uh, we can geek out on this for quite a while probably,
Speaker 1 00:05:06 But that's been my week most of the time. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:05:10 So now that you've got the shape files and you filled in the data from the bills and you now know which precincts go in, which districts, which they did not give us originally, what did you learn? What did you see when you put that together compared to say, cause I know you've done this before for previous elections and so on and so forth. So generally speaking, preliminarily, what did you see?
Speaker 1 00:05:37 Well, I think right now I'd probably want to plug my website K Y political data.com, um, which allows everybody to see what they want to see. Um, I have uploaded all of the, the I've used the shape files to create maps that you can then use. And then I've overlaid, uh, all the, all of the elections going back to 2018. So the 2018 and 2019 elections, and then 24 Jefferson county, which includes a precinct level information. Unfortunately we don't have precinct level information for 2020 besides Jefferson county. So what I was able to see in those maps is, is basically, you know, what I, you know, if you haven't heard much of, uh, anybody else talk about these, these maps so far that the big theme to me, um, is first of all, messing with a lot of democratic incumbents. Um, it's not necessarily that a lot of democratic incumbent seats are much less winnable, although that's true of some, um, someone that, you know, you're not going to be able to take away, you know, Pam Stevens Stevenson seat.
Speaker 1 00:06:36 You're not going to be able to take away Morgan McGarvey C, but what you can do is give them all new voters. Um, you can give, uh, you know, they, they redistricted, um, Mackenzie Cantrell and Lisa Wilner into the same district. Uh, they redistricted Marilu Marcien and Josie, Josie, Raymond under the same district, Josie, Raymond, uh, her district was split into several different areas. Um, and there's a place that's very close to her house that has no incumbent that it would have been a matter of moving three precincts around, uh, to give her a district. Um, that was, uh, that currently has nobody in it. So that's what I'm talking about. When I say they're, they're mostly like messing with, uh, with some of our democratic incumbents. Uh, now that's, that's true of some of our urban areas, Louisville and Lexington. Uh, and once you get outside of there, um, you know, there is a lot of kind of cracking of places that, you know, have voted Democrat in the recent past and are kind of trending in that way again.
Speaker 1 00:07:32 So smaller cities, you know, you, you, if you look at a map of, of Covington buddy, weekly's district voted for his old district, voted by 10 points for Hillary Clinton, which, you know, there's not a lot of districts in Kentucky that you could say that about his current district barely voted for, for Andy Beshear, who did pretty well, um, across the state, you know, one, the state as a whole, um, you know, you're looking at Richmond, it's split into three different seats, uh, not exactly the biggest city in the world. Uh, Elizabeth county town split into three seats. Um, oh, it's burrow split into two seats the way they did Paducah split into three seats, uh, bowling green, you know, there's one seat kind of in central bowling green, but instead of it only incorporating bowling green and incorporates a lot of bowling green and then grabs area in the broader Warren county, um, area, uh, and shifts that into a seat to make it more, more Republican, definitely giving a chance to a Republican there, Hopkinsville, they cracked it right down the middle.
Speaker 1 00:08:30 There was no reason to do that. You know, Hopkinsville is not going to have it, doesn't have enough population to have its own seat, but there's no reason to have it in two seats. You can have all of Hopkinsville in one seat and then incorporate area some area from, you know, you could, you could say like outlying Hopkins county and then, um, wait a minute Hopkinsville, even in Hopkins county. That's right. Am I getting that right? Uh, and then the next door county, which is where Russellville is. I'm not exactly sure which county, but that's true across the state. You know, Ashland's basically divided into, um, Pikeville I think, is divided into, um, you know, that, that's just kind of the way it has gone is, is that any area, um, that has any amount of population has basically been split and then put into, um, uh, a district with a lot more rural area and that's kind of, what's happened, um, across the state, uh, on the house side.
Speaker 1 00:09:18 Okay. What about the Senate side? Anything unusual there? Um, there, you know, the Senate there's a little bit less leeway. There was the same kind of just like moving voters around and, and, um, Jefferson county, um, I don't think it's, you know, obviously, uh, Morgan McGarvey is currently running for, for Congress in the third district, uh, which did remain intact. That was something good that happened there. Um, but his district, if he chooses to run it, and again, it's mostly shaped in the same kind of strange Crescent moon shape that it wasn't before they just kind of shifted. Uh, it, it, you know, just imagine that you put a pin in the top of this district and then just swung it about three hours, um, clockwise. There's no real reason for them to do that. They just gave him all new voters for, I don't know what reason, um, there's some strange stuff going on up in Northern Kentucky.
Speaker 1 00:10:10 Um, you know, Northern Kentucky seen a lot of population growth and, and the Boone county seat that was all of Boone county is now only half of Boone county, but the Kenton county seat, um, which is, you know, still only a good chunk of Kenton county lost three random precincts, right in the middle of central Covington. So all of Covington saved three precincts right in the middle of downtown are now in district 23. And those three downtown districts have been added in with Newport and Dayton and, and, you know, those, those kinds of, uh, uh, river communities in, uh, in, in Campbell county. Um, and they now are with just three random precincts that are hanging out in Covington. So there's no real reason for them to do that, but they did it, um, you know, and I'm kind of going over some of the egregious things that happen, but I do want to pause here and at least point out that this map while it does present significant challenges.
Speaker 1 00:11:02 And, um, and in 2022 could potentially, you know, as time goes along, if macro trends hold be kind of a help to Democrats because of the way that trends are kind of moving, you know, like I mentioned, they split Paducah into three districts and that's going to make it really hard to win any of those in 2022 but six years down the road. You know, as we do see consolidation into larger areas in, in Kentucky, you know, you could see two of those districts, uh, go towards Democrats later on in the decade. Um, that's also true, um, you know, up in Northern Kentucky where they did kind of crack buddy, we seat by giving them a much more Republican district, but they had to, they had to put those voters somewhere. So now those, a lot of those voters are in district 63 in district 64.
Speaker 1 00:11:46 Um, whereas, uh, you know, representative weeklies in district 64 to 65. So now, you know, he's going to have trouble holding the district 65 and 2022, but, you know, come 20 26, 20 28, all three of those districts may be re uh, you know, some districts where Democrats can compete. So, so that's just kind of a few of the things I'm talking about. Um, I, the last one I did want to mention when we talked about Democrats, who've gotten messed with, on the house district, uh, on the house side, I didn't want to go without mentioning Sherrilyn Stevenson, who I think probably got the strangest deal of anybody. Um, she represents kind of south Lexington right now. Um, you know, mostly going, uh, I think her current district, um, I think it mostly kind of goes, uh, you know, out, um, out, you know, I think it's 64 as this room knows us 25 and, um, you know, Boonsboro road, that area, um, and, and kind of south Lexington, and that's the 88th district now.
Speaker 1 00:12:47 They kind of kept just a small portion of the area where she lives in south Lexington and then gave her all of like north Fayette county. So if you're thinking about Lexington, like if you'd go out Newtown pike, it's where a new town pike intersects with, um, 64 and points north of there. Um, it, you know, it's, it's, uh, also out 75, once you get past the 75, 64, um, you know, interchange that kind of less dense area in Fayette county. And they also gave her a good chunk of Scott county, including part of, uh, Eastern Georgetown. So, you know, not an area she's very familiar with, not a place that's really all that close to her house. Like that's to get to the other side of the district, that's like a 30 minute drive or something. So, you know, that's, that's just a good example of, of the ways they've, they've kinda messed with some of the democratic incumbents. It's going to be hard for her to hold that seat, but it was a seat that was carried by, you know, Heather French Henry in 2019, it was carried by, by Andy Beshear. It was not carried by Greg's Dumbo. So that's kind of gives you a sense of where that seat stands. Um, going into 2022, basically
Speaker 0 00:13:50 Since we don't have precinct level data for anywhere except Jefferson county, because of the voting centers, uh, we can't really take the 2020 election and projected really well onto this map, but you said you did take the 2018 election with the caveat that this is all based on your initial analysis, and it's just running numbers against the map. Uh, what do you see in terms of seat shifts in each chamber?
Speaker 1 00:14:18 It's going to be really hard because in addition to just kind of the shifts having to do with redistricting, you're also facing the normal political headwinds that any, you know, income pre presidential incumbents party faces in this year. So, you know,
Speaker 0 00:14:33 But if everybody voted, if every precinct voted exactly like they did in 2018, what can you say what that
Speaker 1 00:14:42 I haven't run? Um, I haven't well on in which election, you know, uh, are you talking about the, the gubernatorial election? Cause I don't that we're going to be able to achieve that, you know, that was, that would put Democrats at like 40 seats. Um, are you talking about how they voted in the attorney General's race because that would put them closer to like 20 seats say, you know, there's no, I was
Speaker 0 00:15:03 Talking about the 20 18 20 18
Speaker 1 00:15:07 House. Um, yeah, no, I, I haven't. Well, and the problem with that is you have so many uncontested races and that's not going to be true because a lot of the areas that were uncontested, um, are, are going to be contested because of the way that they've consolidated a lot of the map, you know, you had some areas. Um, I think, you know, I think like Angie Hatton's seat, I believe when I'm contested in 2018 and might know when I contested in 2020, I might've gotten uncontested in 2018, but I think it's highly unlikely that, um, the area of pike county, um, where she used to represent, and I don't think she does anymore. That's going to be contested territory by Republicans and in 2020. So it's just kind of hard to compare apples to apples there. Yeah. So I D I do want to say, you know, I have the ability for you to kind of play around here, Bruce.
Speaker 1 00:15:53 I know that you've, you've got these questions, uh, and I did build some tools for people to be able to play around in this, uh, with this kind of way. So, you know, you can kind of see the overlay of district 88, if you wanted to see kind of like, which is Sheryl and Stevenson seat. If you wanted to see, you know, I'm just going to pull it up right now, just so I can, I can tell you if you wanted to see how it voted in the attorney General's office, you know, uh, Dino Cameron won by 600 votes, uh, in district ADA. But if you wanted to see, you know, how Heather French Henry did, um, you could see that, you know, she won by almost 800 votes herself. So, you know, pretty big swing in district 88, but you could look that up yourself and also to kind of see where the precincts are, um, where she did well. So, um, you know, if that's something that interests you, you could go there, you can check it out yourself. Give me the address. One more time. K Y political data.com
Speaker 0 00:16:40 K Y political data.com. Robert Connie, thank you so much. Uh, let's see
Speaker 1 00:16:45 What happens. Yep. Thank you very much.
Speaker 0 00:16:47 That was Robert Connie data scientists living in Louisville, who took the data that was provided by the Republicans in their redistricting bills and created shape files and maps of the new districts so that people could look at the result, the actual results of the redistricting. As I said, this is the first of three podcasts that we're posting tonight. All of them will have redistricting in the title. Hope you will listen to the other two. Thanks.