On the other hand, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter's northern suburban Denver district, drawn last decade to be a toss-up, has trended steadily Democratic - he won it in 2006 and held it in last year's Republican wave by a comfortable margin. There may be enough Latino growth to warrant a Hispanic-influence district around Denver, although local numbers will determine this. Whether legislators can agree on a map or the courts draw it, it is likely the state's two rural districts will have to expand into the suburbs. A compromise map would likely shore up the four Republicans and three Democrats in the state by moving some parts of the solidly Republican, fast-growing districts of Reps. Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn to the new freshmen. It is also likely the state will remain highly competitive for the foreseeable future, even if continued suburban and Hispanic growth makes it friendlier to moderate Democrats in the next decade, as it has in recent years.
-- Washington grew 14.1% in the last decade and gained a House seat. Clarke County along the border with Oregon was the fastest-growing county, and the moderate district it anchors flipped Republican last year with Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler's win. Washington's districts are drawn by a bipartisan commission, which in the past has opted for incumbency protection plans. Both the conservative part of the state east of the Cascade Mountains and the liberal eastern half rooted around Seattle and Olympia grew steadily, and with a new district to add most of the existing districts will have to shrink.
Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, whose suburban Seattle district leans Democratic and who has weathered some tough races in the last decade, would love to pick up some more Republican territory east of the Cascades, as would Herrera Beutler, and both would love to shed some Democratic areas. A bipartisan compromise could shore up both of them while creating a new Democratic district around Seattle using parts of Reichert's district, making the delegation a 7-4 Democratic advantage. Washington is now almost 9% Hispanic, and nonwhites make up about a quarter of the state's population.
-- Oregon's 12% growth, which kept the state at five House seats, can be mostly attributed to the western part of the state, especially in the slightly Republican-leaning counties near Salem and the Democratic suburbs around Portland. Much of the sparsely populated, more conservative eastern half of the state lost population, although the areas around Bend, near the center of the state, grew quickly. A trio of Oregon Democrats hold somewhat marginal seats: Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and David Wu were all held to less than 55% of the vote in 2010, although that's likely the worst year they'll face in a while.
Wu's erratic behavior may have been more to blame than his district, but Schrader and DeFazio both ran tough campaigns in districts that almost evenly split their votes between George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry in 2004. Control of redistricting is split, as Republicans gained a tie in the state House, and the legislators may decide to leave the map more or less alone, giving Walden more Republican territory and making DeFazio's or Schrader's district a little safer.