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View Diary: The cost of gerrymandering (255 comments)

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  •  Gerrymandering isn't the whole story (16+ / 0-)

    It is a very important contributor, but it doesn't totally explain the differential.

    Another big factor is the concentration of Democratic voters in urban and minority communities. It is not uncommon for some of these districts to vote 80%+ Democratic (and the Voting Rights Act encourages creation of these more heavily Democratic districts to facilitate election of African-American and Latino representatives).

    Republican voters tend to be somewhat more efficiently distributed - while there are a few areas (parts of Utah, Idaho, Oklahoma, etc) that run up similarly one-sided Republican margins, they are numerically far less significant than the Democratic vote concentrations.

    There is no question that Republicans use this concentration of Democrats to minimize Democratic representation.

    But it is also true that, unless we move to a system of proportional representation (ain't gonna happen), the overwhelming Democratic margins coming out of urban concentrations produce a built-in Republican advantage in terms of distribution of seats (although that advantage doesn't come close to fully explaining the differential in seats coming out of this election).

    My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world - Jack Layton

    by terjeanderson on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:40:10 AM PST

    •  Every state is allotted a minimum of one (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue aardvark, a2nite

      representative. For Republicans, this means there are 5 seats that are just plain old statewide races in very red states.

      •  7 statewide seats (4+ / 0-)

        5 currently send Republicans to the House (Alaska, Montana, ND, SD, and Wyoming).

        2 currently send Democrats - Delaware and Vermont.

        But these statewide seats don't really throw off the redistricting calculations very much.

        Nationally, House districts have an average of about 647,000 people.

        3 of these 7 seats have more people than that - 1 Democratic seat (Delaware with 897k) and 2 Republican (Montana with 902k and SD with 754 k).

        4 of the 7 seats have populations below the average - including 3 Republican-held seats (ND at 642k, Alaska @ 626k, and Wyoming at 563k), and 1 Democratic (Vermont @ 608K).

        The practice of ensuring each state has at least one Representative gives the Republicans a seat advantage of at the very most 1 or possibly 2 seats over a purely population-based distribution model. It is certainly far less important than the dynamics of voting patterns and district map-making in states with multiple members.

        My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world - Jack Layton

        by terjeanderson on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 12:48:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Absolutely... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terjeanderson, skibum59

      While gerrymandering was of course an issue, nonpartisan maps in Kentucky, Tennessee,  and Missouri wouldn't have netted us any more seats this year.  You'd need to divide the Democratic urban bases up to make more Democratic seats, and that's something you can only do with a gerrymander.  I'm not sure that gerrymandering cost us any seats in Wisconsin either.  Yeah, Ribble and Duffy got better seats, but they also won by wide margins.  

      Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Carolina were the devastating states for us.  Michigan, Indiana, Georgia, and Virginia probably cost us only one seat a piece.  Texas and Florida are black boxes - we have no way of telling how good they could have been, given the Republicans decided to triage and throw us some districts.  But insofar as we gained seats in both states, they weren't net losses.  

    •  True. And I'd take it a (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SpamNunn, Miggles, terjeanderson

      step further -- gerrymandering was NOT a big factor. It was a distant third to incumbency advantage and the geographic dispersion/concentration you describe. The Monkey Cage (poli sci blog) has had excellent coverage of this issue.

      Grew a mustache and a mullet / Got a job at Chick-Fil-A

      by cardinal on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 11:27:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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