I suspect if I were to show you this map and tell you that, in Texas, Travis County (Austin) was the blueberry in the tomato soup, you’d be able to find it.
So let’s say you’re the heavily Republican Texas legislature. And let’s say that Lloyd Doggett’s (D-Austin) continued employment in Washington D.C. really peaves you off. But Austin is already split into three congressional districts that, combined, sprawl out to include all of 17 counties and parts of 4 others. So we’ve already got large swaths of Travis County included into two Republican districts. Most people would say that’s enough.
But not these guys. Under the new plan Travis county will be split into five districts. You would be able to travel from Fort Worth to San Antonio (more than 250 miles north to south), or from Houston to Leakey (over 250 miles east to west) while remaining exclusively in congressional districts that include parts of Austin. Talk about cracking! Almost certainly four of these disctricts would be Republican, and the fifth would combine the most Democratic portions of Austin with the most Democratic portions of San Antonio. East Austin and south San Antonio! Now that’s packing!.
Whatever your thoughts on gerrymandering – I’m ambivalent; it has its pros and cons – you’ve just got to admire the artistry and chutzpah behind this map.