Every decade a census is taken, and legislative district lines are drawn. This time, the stakes are higher and the outcome somewhat more in doubt than they have been in possibly the last 100 years.
The stakes are high because Obama-backlash and Tea Party momentum have come closer to turning this into a two-party state than perhaps ever before. The outcome is more in doubt because this time not only is one of the three men who will draw the lines a Republican (Secretary of State Mark Martin), but there are issues that have the potential to divide Democrat interests. State-Senator Gilbert Baker, well connected to both Governor Beebe and to national Republicans like Karl Rove, is also taking substantial interest in the project.
Very early on, Baker was pushing for a quick re-drawing of state legislative lines, saying there was an obligation to get as close as possible to the Arkansas Constitution's date of 1 February. Complying with that date is not strictly possible, because FED GOV will not formalize the data until later that month.
Among state legislative districts, one of the huge questions will be whether or not to gerrymander so as to manufacturer more minority-majority districts. If implemented, the effects will be the same here as they have been everywhere else this has been tried: it will polarize the legislature on racial issues and at the same time marginalize minority concerns. A few polticians of color might be better off, but the average black Arkansan will have less influence, not more. This is because .....
(continued, including analysis of the important question of "is Rick Crawford going to be thrown to the wolves to protect Tim Griffin?", on the jump)