Latinos & Redistricting

Call it the under-reported story of 2011: the once-every-ten year redistricting battle, an incredible opportunity for shifting political power.  The 2010 Census, the basis of redistricting, confirms the growth and evolution of the US Latino population.  But how will redistricting reflect that change?

That is the question posed in a recent New York Times piece by Monica Davey, which features a familiar face, Andres Ramirez.  The article opens by focusing on Nevada, where a booming Latino population has earned the state an extra seat in Congress: 

“There is consensus about one thing: that one of these districts is going to give the best opportunity yet for Latinos to elect a candidate of their choice, and that puts us in a very pivotal position,” said Andres Ramirez, a political consultant and leader of the Nevada Latino Redistricting Coalition. The group has drawn its own map — a very different one from that proposed by the state’s Republicans, but also different from the ones offered by the Democrats.

Latinos have become the political football this year,” Mr. Ramirez said.

There are, of course, complicated question around what successful redistricting looks like for this community.  Is it about carving out districts where Latino candidates can win big?  Or is it about carving out several districts where they can win at all?  And in a state like Nevada that has very recently witnessed the rise and fall of anti-Latino candidates, is it about spreading the electorate around enough to hold each potential representative accountable to the larger community?