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By now you've probably heard that last November, American voters chose to give Democrats control of the presidency and both chambers of congress in this past election.  Wait, both chambers?  No, Republicans maintained control of the House despite Democratic candidates receiving 1% more votes than Republicans.  How could this possibly happen?  Well thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans have an unfair advantage in the House of Representatives and were able to hold onto power when the public voted them out.  Repeat after me, this is no different than when George W. Bush won the electoral college while losing the popular vote.  The will of the people is being denied and Democrats need to WAKE THE F*CK UP and get angry the way we did after Republicans stole the election in 2000.  Tell all of your Democratic and left leaning friends and even your annoying libertarian relatives that through legalized theft known as gerrymandering Republicans stole the House of Representatives.

Nationally, Democrats won 50.6% of the two party share of the House popular vote, but only won 46.2% of the seats.  Breaking it down by some of the states we get:

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In every state, Republicans won a higher seat share than their vote share (Georgia and a few others are deflated since some Republicans were uncontested).  Though gerrymandering didn't contribute a great deal in states like Georgia where drawing single-member districts is what screws us, there are others like Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas where gerrymandering cost us multiple seats per state.

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In contrast, Democrats had far fewer opportunities and weren't nearly as ruthless and in Arkansas even gerrymandered a map that gave Republicans all four seats!  In both Illinois and Maryland we could have gained 1 more seat with more aggressive maps.

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Looking at some states that had an independent or bipartisan commission or a court draw the map, on average the seat shares are much more representative of the partisan vote shares.

So what can we do, no what must we do, if we want to have a functioning democracy free of Republican hostage taking over the debt ceiling, harsh austerity, and institutionalized gridlock? Our immediate priority needs to be an organized effort to put non-partisan redistricting constitutional amendments on the ballot in states Republicans gerrymandered the crap out of.  When the Supreme Court won't strike down partisan gerrymanders, establishing through ballot measure an independent citizens commission like that in California or that in Arizona is our best option over the near term.  Longer term, we need to focus on winning the governor's office in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2018 to veto Republican maps.  However, with the prospect of not being able to take the house until 2022 at the earliest under the current maps, redrawing the lines is the only way we have a shot at taking the house this decade.

Here's where you, me, the rest of the Daily Kos community, and Democrats in general come in. We need to get active in organizing these constitutional amendment initiatives in certain states, meaning fundraising, signature collection, and campaigning once these measures are on the ballot.  Independent redistricting, when the campaign is properly funded, polls very well and is a slam dunk at the ballot box.  Passing these amendments now can give us several more seats in the House and help even out Republicans' unfair advantage.  The bang for the buck is tremendous compared to the average congressional campaign and if you've ever donated money to a federal Democratic candidate, your return on investment will be even better here.

Being just a college student in North Carolina, I don't have a budget or a political network of activists and volunteers at my disposal, but I do have time, motivation, and most importantly the facts.  So to summarize:

The 3 states where initiatives will be most effective are 1. Michigan, 2. Ohio, and 3. Florida

The steps we need are:

1: Organization - we can start by planning a campaign to coordinate activists and volunteers so that we can start fundraising and circulating petitions.  This is where those of you with experience working for and/or running campaigns, or the connections to those who have themselves will come in.  Aside from fundraising, this will be the most important step as

2: Fundraising - Daily Kos users have contributed millions of dollars over the years to various Democratic campaigns at all levels.  If we can tap into just a fraction of that potential, the return will be much higher than donating to any particular congressional candidate.

3: Activism - This could be as simple as informing your fellow Democrats of the fact that we won the house popular vote and gerrymandering is the reason Republicans are still in power.  This is no different than had Obama won the popular vote and lost the electoral college and every Dem should realize this.  Additionally, those of us in Michigan, Ohio, or Florida can help gather signatures and do the nuts and bolts things that constitute modern campaigning once the measures are on the ballot.  So whether you just want to spread the word or go out and volunteer, please do something!

All in all, these three states could send anywhere from 7 to 13 more Democrats to Congress and give us a vastly improved chance at breaking Republicans' hold over the state legislatures in all three states

So if you're on board thus far and want to learn about specifics, follow me over the fold to see what the maps currently and might look like for each state and the steps required to place these measures on the ballot.

Edit - Thanks everyone for helping this get on the rec list :) I look forward to having discussions on how we can begin to organize these types of ballot measures.

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As many political junkies, Democrats, and liberal activists are well aware, Democrats won the popular vote for the House of Resentatives in this year's election, but thanks to gerrymandering only won 201 seats.  Unfortunately, Republican gerrymanders weren't the only reason for this, just the most important one.  In many states, Democrats drew a sub-optimal map or experienced key recruiting failures and must share in the blame.  Ground zero for Democratic self-sabotage was Arkansas.

Arkansas Democrats, until this year's election, had held the state legislature since Reconstruction and along with our hold on the Governor's and Attorney General's offices maintained total control over both congressional and legislative redistricting.  Eager to retain the legislature, state Dems drew an aggressive gerrymander of each chamber which certainly helped minimize some of our losses there this year.  With the congressional map though, Democrats foolishly tried keep both of the two seats lost in 2010 winnable as the previous decade's map had done.  Then, 6-term 4th district Rep. Mike Ross (D) retired after the map was drawn, depriving us of his incumbency and leaving us scrambling for a replacement candidate.  The result is that instead of three seats, we now hold zero of the state's four districts.  How could Arkansas Democrats have drawn a better map and what makes the map they drew a "Dummymander"? Follow me below the fold to see how.

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Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 08:45 AM PST

Drawing a Democratic Pennsylvania 13-5

by sawolf

Since this week seems to be "dust off your old fantasy maps week" on DKE, I wanted to post this beauty I constructed using the state's partisan average of 2004-2008 statewide races as a guide.  Unlike the actual, horrific looking GOP gerrymander that whittled us down to just 5 seats to their 13, this map reverses that ratio.  While it's clearly gerrymandered, none of the districts comes remotely close to being as ugly as the actual 7th district, among others.  Again, keep in mind that I'm relying on the partisan average rather than Obama numbers because Obama underperforms local Dems significantly in southwestern Pennsylvania and overperforms considerably in the Philadelphia suburbs.

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Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 08:55 AM PST

A Clean, Solid 7-0-1 Maryland

by sawolf

Several diarists here have shown that it's possible to get 8 Democratic seats out of Maryland, but due to parochial interests, Maryland Democrats instead drew a 7-1 map.  This map cleans up the monstrosity that is the Sarbanes/Ruppersbergermander and draws 8 districts which are all Dem on average, and 7 of which are at least 60% Obama.

Poll

Would Frank Kratovil have won a rematch with Andy Harris?

46%19 votes
53%22 votes

| 41 votes | Vote | Results

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Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 03:20 PM PST

Another Compact 8-6 Georgia

by sawolf

Seeing as jnnca just posted a Cleanish 8-6 Georgia Map, I figured I'd dust off one of mine that had been lying around that is also 8-6 and "clean" but takes a bit of a different approach.  This one would elect 7 solid liberals, 5 of whom would probably be black, and 1 John Barrow.  All 8 districts are Dem on average under the DRA numbers.

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Welcome to the third and final edition of my race ratings for the 2012 elections! You can find my January and June versions for the House here and here, and the Senate here and here.  As with the previous editions each rating assess the likelihood that the Democratic or Republican candidate will win and not simply the likely margin of victory.  Let's get started!

Poll

How many senate seats will Dems win?

2%2 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
4%4 votes
5%5 votes
12%12 votes
20%20 votes
22%22 votes
22%22 votes
9%9 votes

| 97 votes | Vote | Results

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Tue Sep 11, 2012 at 08:50 AM PDT

Political Geography, Part 4: The West

by sawolf

This is the fourth and final part of my series looking at the political geography of elections at the state level.  In it, I present maps and data for the average of statewide races from 2004 to present by county for each state and by precinct where data is available.  This is to give you a better visual idea of which parts of a state are more or less friendly to each party.  Additionally, I compare Obama's 2008 performance to the average to see which areas he performs better or worse than would be expected by a local Democrat.  You can find part 1 on the Northeast, part 2 on the Southeast, and part 3 on the Midwest here.

All county level data is from Dave Leip's Atlas while all precinct level data was taken from Dave's Redistricting App.  You can click on most of the maps for a larger image.

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This is part three of my series looking at the political geography of elections at the state level.  In it, I present maps and data for the average of statewide races from 2004 to present by county for each state and by precinct where data is available.  This is to give you a better visual idea of which parts of a state are more or less friendly to each party.  Additionally, I compare Obama's 2008 performance to the average to see which areas he performs better or worse than would be expected by a local Democrat.  You can find part 1 on the Northeast and part 2 on the Southeast here.

All county level data is from Dave Leip's Atlas while all precinct level data was taken from Dave's Redistricting App.  You can click on most of the maps for a larger image.

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This is part two of my series looking at the political geography of elections at the state level.  In it, I present maps and data for the average of statewide races from 2004 to present by county for each state and by precinct where data is available.  This is to give you a better visual idea of which parts of a state are more or less friendly to each party.  Additionally, I compare Obama's 2008 performance to the average to see which areas he performs better or worse than would be expected by a local Democrat.  You can find part 1 on the Northeast here.

All county level data is from Dave Leip's Atlas while all precinct level data was taken from Dave's Redistricting App.  You can click on most of the maps for a larger image.

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This is the first of what will be a four part series looking at the political geography of the states in order to get a better idea of how each party does outside of just the presidential elections.  I'll also compare Obama's 2008 electoral performance to an average of the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections as well as various statewide races since 2004 to understand which areas are more favorable or hostile to Democrats downballot.  Additionally, for states that have precinct average data on DRA I've mapped out the states at that level, but for every state I've also mapped the county level political geography.

The first set of maps will detail the partisan Average PVI comparing each county or precinct to the state at large.  The second set compares Obama's performance to the partisan average while controlling for the difference between Obama's numbers and the average statewide.  Thus, if a county is more Democratic on average than the state, but Obama did worse than his statewide numbers, he would underperform.  This gets somewhat distorted in states where Obama did significantly worse or better than average across the board, but is excellent in states where his statewide performance was similar.

All county level data is from Dave Leip's Atlas while all precinct level data was taken from Dave's Redistricting App.  You can click on most of the maps for a larger image.

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Disclaimer - I am currently in the process of revising this article to incorporate actual election results from 2012 and to provide more research to support alternative maps. (January 2013)

This November's elections for the House of Representatives will be the first cycle to take place after decennial redistricting resulting from the 2010 census.  As many observers of American politics will know, gerrymandering is a topic which infuriates many independents and partisans alike.  Due to their historic gains in the 2010 elections in many states, Republicans were well positioned to exercise control over redistricting covering a large fraction of districts.  In this diary, I take a look at how the implementation of non-partisan redistricting nationwide would impact the 2012 elections to the House of Representatives.

Several states already have independent commissions, or because they had split partisan control of the state government required a court to step in and draw the lines.  For these states, such as California, I assumed no change to the maps since they were actually drawn independently.  For the others, I've used Dave's Redistricting App to draw the lines, relying on uselectionatlas.org for political data and my own knowledge of local and regional politics from years of extensively following Daily Kos Elections (formerly Swing State Project).

Note: the maps I present are mainly used for analyzing the political impact of redistricting and as such I think they are quite realistic.  You may disagree with some of the particular localities I've included with a certain district, but the goal was to put regions and communities of interest together.  And of course, if you disagree with how I've drawn something, feel free to try drawing it yourself!

New Congressional Districts by Presidential Vote
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full size, customize-able png image here
For those of you who haven't seen it yet, here is the new map of congressional districts in place for the actual 2012 elections.  See DKE's Complete Redistricting Resources for individual state maps.  You can find election percentages for the districts here.

Control of Redistricting by Party
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Dark Blue/Red - Democratic/Republican control
Light Red - Bipartisan Commission adopted GOP plan
Purple - Bipartisan Compromise
Gray - Independent Commission, Court-Drawn or At-Large

As should be immediately evident, Republicans control redistricting in far more states than Democrats.  Below I'll present maps for all of the dark red and blue states.  Additionally, I've included maps for Oregon and Kentucky which were compromise maps, as well as Washington state and New Jersey where Republicans were able to push through maps that were favorable to them.  Let's get started.

Poll

How many more seats would Democrats win with fair maps?

10%22 votes
2%6 votes
12%26 votes
20%43 votes
13%29 votes
13%28 votes
8%18 votes
5%11 votes
1%4 votes
12%27 votes

| 214 votes | Vote | Results

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Redistricting in the United States took place in 2011 and 2012 following the midterms of 2010 where Republicans made historic gains across the nation.  These gains left them well positioned to control redistricting for congressional seats and state legislatures across the country.  In this diary, I look at what would happen if Democrats had won the closest seats prior to redistricting by applying a uniform swing of 5% to see what impact this would have had upon redistricting.  Obviously this is just a counter-factual and 5% is a rough benchmark, but this diary is just for fun.  The races I am considering are generally whatever was up for election last prior to redistricting.  This includes all 2010 gubernatorial, legislative, and house races, as well as the 2009 gubernatorial races and 2008 state senate races for 4 year terms.  I will also detail close senatorial and other statewide races from this period, but they of course do not impact redistricting.  Note, I have ignored most multimember legislative seats since none of them would have determined redistricting control.

You can find my previous diaries on what if redistricting had taken place following 2008 here and here.

Poll

How many seats would Democrats have won in 2012 in this scenario?

8%2 votes
12%3 votes
0%0 votes
4%1 votes
20%5 votes
24%6 votes
20%5 votes
0%0 votes
8%2 votes
0%0 votes
4%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes

| 25 votes | Vote | Results

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