There are a lot of things to take away from the 2010 U.S. Census numbers released starting Wednesday. Connecticut’s population is growing, though not by that much. The eastern half of the state saw more rapid growth, though Fairfield County is still the state’s most populous. The state is getting more diverse. Our cities don’t seem to be shrinking anymore; in fact, they all posted population gains, reversing a longstanding downward trend. Hartford, for instance, peaked at 177,000 residents in 1950, fell to about 139,000 residents in 1990 and 121,000 in 2000, but has climbed back to about 124,000 now.

As our population shifts around, legislative and congressional districts need to be redrawn. A bipartisan committee in the legislature is just now starting to address this, and we’ll hear more about their plans as the summer and fall come on. The state’s congressional districts will see some change, though it won’t be nearly as drastic as what we saw in 2002, when we lost one of our seats and had to fold the 6th into the 5th. The shifts will reflect where the population is heading: the 2nd district is currently the largest, and will shrink eastward slightly. The 4th will grow geographically, as its population is now smaller than the other districts, and that may have the effect of pushing the 3rd east a little bit.

I decided to do a little playing with the numbers, though, just to see what redrawn districts could look like. This is very rough, but the numbers mostly work out. I laid down a few rules: First, I wanted to try to keep towns intact, instead of splitting them between districts. I nearly succeeded: the only town I’m dividing is Southington. Second, I wanted to put towns into districts that reflected their regional identity as much as I could. In doing this, I tried to address the odd, gerrymandered shapes of the 5th and the 1st districts, which in 2002 put the Farmington Valley and New Britain into the 5th, and Torrington and the upper Route 8 towns into the Hartford-focused 1st.

This map shows the result.

The shift of New Britain and the Farmington Valley to the 1st in exchange for Torrington and points north and a slice of Southington to the 5th seems to work, though it’s still kind of clunky. There is more of a geographic unity here, and the towns grouped by these districts have more in common with one another than, say, Winchester did with Rocky Hill or Farmington did with Danbury. The net effect might be that the 1st gets a bit more conservative, while the 5th gets marginally more liberal, though the shifting political winds of the Farmington Valley make that difficult to predict. I did keep Meriden in the 5th. You’re welcome, Speaker Donovan.

The 2nd district cedes its part of Glastonbury and its part of Durham to the 1st and 3rd respectively, and loses Madison to the 3rd. It picks up East Windsor and Portland, two east-of-the-river towns. This won’t change the character of the district in any significant way.

The 3rd moves east a little, losing its slice of Waterbury to the 5th and Shelton to the 4th. It does gain the piece of Middletown currently part of the 1st.

The 4th picks up the rest of the large town of Shelton from the 3rd and otherwise changes little.

This is just one possible scenario, one which I think groups regions together in a smarter and more logical way than the previous redistricting effort did. There are other scenarios—if Meriden were to go into the 3rd, for instance, the 5th could absorb Naugatuck and surrounding towns in exchange. The result would be a drastically more conservative district, however. The official result we see will likely be quite different! What are your thoughts?

Here’s the full list of changes I made:

Portland (1) to 2nd
East Windsor (1) to 2nd
Middletown (part in 1) to 3rd
Torrington (most in 1) to 5th
Winchester (1) to 5th
Colebrook (1) to 5th
Hartland (1) to 5th
Barkhamsted (1) to 5th
New Hartford (1) to 5th
Bristol (1) to 5th
Granby (1) to 5th
Part of Southington (1) to 5th

Glastonbury (part in 2) to 1st
Durham (part in 2) to 3rd
Madison (2) to 3rd

Shelton (part in 3) to 4th
Waterbury (part in 3) to 5th

Simsbury (5) to 1st
Avon (5) to 1st
Farmington (5) to 1st
Plainville (5) to 1st
New Britain (5) to 1st

Susan Bigelow is the former owner of Connecticut Local Politics. She lives in Enfield with her wife, and cats.

Susan Bigelow

Susan Bigelow is an award-winning columnist and the founder of CTLocalPolitics. She lives in Enfield with her wife and their cats.