Yesterday the Independent Redistricting Commission voted to approve "Tentative Final Maps" (pending review by the Department of Justice) for the congressional and legislative maps.
Not surprisingly the vote on the congressional maps, which although they include 4 safe Republican and 2 safe Democratic districts, is generally perceived as more favorable to Democrats than the present set of maps, passed 3-2 with the two Republican commissioners (Stertz and Freeman) dissenting.
The legislative map, while not as Republican-friendly as the present map (which is essentially a Republican gerrymander that allowed the GOP to build their supermajority in the legislature) is still favorable to the GOP, and will likely guarantee Republican control of the legislature through the end of the decade. What is interesting about that is how the Republicans on the commission tried to play politics with the vote and were exposed by commissioner Herrera. Both of the Republican commissioners initially voted 'no,' (apparently to preserve the strongest case for their party to claim the maps were unfair.) Commissioner Herrera, however, voted 'present' so that the commission deadlocked and could not pass the map on a 2-2-1 vote. Commissioner Stertz then quickly changed his vote to 'yes,' showing that his opposition was indeed just for show. Credit to Steve Muratore for pointing this out.
Locally, the changes made in CD 1 from the October draft map are minimal-- to remove eastern Cochise county from the district and replace it with areas around Sedona. I doubt if this will make any significant difference, and it appears that the population shifted in and out of the district was small. CD 1 is, however, because of the inclusion of additional reservations and the exclusion of Prescott, substantially more Democratic than the old CD 1. Since Paul Gosar's winning margin was provided entirely by Yavapai County, if he ran in 2010 against Ann Kirkpatrick in the CD 1 we now have, he would have likely lost.
The changes in LD 6 and 7 from the draft map seem to marginally favor Democrats. LD 6 has picked up areas to the immediate northeast of Flagstaff and Grand Canyon Village. Residents of Show Low-Pinetop/Lakeside (heavily Republican) were upset by being split apart in the October draft map and insisted they wanted the communties to be joined together. They are-- in LD 7 (the Native American dominated district that will include the Navajo, Hopi, Apache and Havasupai reservations.) I doubt if that is the change the residents who insisted on 'sticking together' had in mind, but it's what they got. Sun Valley, a Republican area east of Holbrook also was moved into LD-7 (while areas in the far northwest corner of the state were removed from LD-7 and put into a district with Lake Havasu City and Kingman.) I believe that LD-7 may be slightly more Republican with the changes but is still virtually certain to elect only Democrats this decade. The draft map for LD-6 was considered marginally competitive but had a distinct Republican tilt. But now that it's gained more of Coconino county and lost Show Low and Sun Valley I suspect the new demographic reports that will be presented today or tomorrow will show it to be more competitive (maybe still with a Republican edge, but one that might not hold for a very conservative Republican like Sylvia Allen that scares away independents.)