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View Diary: STUFF THIS: Let's end gerrymandering. (26 comments)

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  •  I don't put much stock in your analysis (2+ / 0-)
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    VClib, doc2

    pf what voters "intended" nationwide, or in the notion that we can fix gerrymandering.  Here's why:

    1.  Gerrymandering.  Especially here in the south, some states, to insure adequate minority representation, have drawn lines to insure a certain number of "majority minority" district.  That often means drawing lines that bring a very large number of Democratic voters (minorities vote disproportionately Democratic) into specific districts.  However, that also means that neighboring districts are often majority Republican, ensuring "safe" Republican seats.  

    Here's an example.  Louisiana's second congressional district (encompassing New Orleans) is drawn in a way that assures a Democratic, usually minority, Representative.  And most of New Orleans votes Democratic.  But of course, there are some conservative areas.  And the voters in those conservative areas of the city -- like Lakeview -- do not want to be included in the Second Congressional District, because, essentially, their votes would never make any difference.  So, they are part of the 1st Congressional District, which is certain conservative parts of Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish.  Thus, you have probably one of the most reliably Democratic seats (where Republican votes are pretty much meaningless) next to one of the most reliably Republican seat (where Democratic votes are pretty much meaningless).  

    No voter wants to be in a district where their political point of view is a very small minority, rendering their vote meaningless.  People who draw boundaries are going to be influenced by that.   When there was an exodus of voters after Katrina, the lines of District 2 had to be redrawn, but they were not redrawn to include the conservative areas of the Greater New Orleans area, because that would have either rendered those conservative votes meaningless (angering those constituents) or threatened the Democratic seat.  So, the lines were drawn up the river towards Baton Rouge, bringing in Democratic leaning areas.

    2.  What the voters "intended" in the House.  It's not a legitimate exercise, I think, to look at the national vote in a system where votes count only by district, because that affects turnout.  I know conservatives in District 2 who often don't bother to vote, because their vote really doesn't matter -- the Democrat is going to win District 2, and the Republican will win state wide, no matter how they vote.  (the only time a Republican won District 2 was when the Democratic candidate was under indictment for the $90,000 he hid in his freezer.)  Same for Democrats in District 1.  Or a Democrat in District 1 might actually have voted for Steve Scalise because there really wasn't a viable Democratic alternative.  I suspect there are more than 38,000 people in District 1 who might have voted for a Democrat IF there was a viable candidate (as a practical matter, nobody has any idea who that person was who was running against Scalise). And, if the district was drawn differently, and closer, you might have had a more viable Democratic candidate -- attracting more Democrats to the polls in District 1.  (It all works in reverse in District 2, of course -- nobody has any idea who the Republicans were.)

    In other words, the way Districts are drawn affects turnout in that District.  If you wanted to know how "the country" as a whole intended Congress to be, you'd have to have a national election with something like "vote for the House to be controlled by Republicans or Democrats" for you to be able to cite the results as meaningful in whether the country as a whole wanted Democrats or Republicans to control the House.  

    As it is, I don't put any legitimacy in saying well, let's not look district by district (which is how the election is set up), but let's pretend it was a nationwide popular vote for control of the House.  You simply can't do that -- the kind of election, and the way the districts are drawn significantly affects who votes and for whom they vote.  

    •  A thoughtful reply, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MadGeorgiaDem, a2nite, George3

      . . . but respectfully the "national voter intent" argument in my diary is a pretty small piece of the puzzle, in my opinion. On that score, you're certainly right, choosing a Congress isn't a nationwide popular affair, nor was it ever intended to be.

      I alluded quite directly how different it is, when you are talking about giving fair representation to minorities to minority, and pointed out that my own district in the Chicago area is one of the most bizarrely drawn districts in America.  I have no problem with that effort, in principle.

      That's quite different though, from the naked power-grabs like the ones enacted in Pennsylvania and Ohio in 2011, by RepubliCons; and to be fair, the one here in Illinois by Dems.

      Obama stole my Sig Line for his campaign. Forward. daveinchi's World at Large

      by daveinchi on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:33:36 AM PST

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      •  dave - check the numbers (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coffeetalk, George3

        There have been several comments here at DKOS that the numbers in this article aren't correct. It seems that they forgot to include those congressional races where the incumbent ran unopposed and the GOP had more of those races than the Dems. The actual vote total is much closer and likely the GOP had more total votes. Think Progress should publish an update with the actual final totals because this article, which may be inaccurate, now has a life of its own on the Internet, and is the basis of many articles and diaries like yours.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 07:40:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  They are not that different at all, frankly. (0+ / 0-)
        I alluded quite directly how different it is, when you are talking about giving fair representation to minorities to minority, and pointed out that my own district in the Chicago area is one of the most bizarrely drawn districts in America.  I have no problem with that effort, in principle.

        That's quite different though, from the naked power-grabs like the ones enacted in Pennsylvania and Ohio in 2011, by RepubliCons; and to be fair, the one here in Illinois by Dems.

        First, all of those are instances where lines are drawn so as to give one political constituency the best possible chance of winning that district.  Minority-majority districts do, in fact, virtually assure a Democratic win, because minorities (especially African Americans) vote overwhelmingly Democratic.  So a "gerrymandered" minority-majority district is, as a practical matter, a gerrymandered Democratic district.  Like any other gerrymandered district, it's drawn based on the demographics and assumptions as to how that demographic will vote.  

        More importantly, the drawing of Democratic majority-minority district virtually assures that you will ALSO have gerrymandered Republican districts.  If you draw the boundary lines so as to include as much of a Democratic majority-minority demographic as you can, generally that means you leave OUT the Republican-leaning demographics.  Those Republican demographic voters then have to be put in their own district where they won't provide a threat to the Democratic, majority-minority nature of the first district.  As a practical matter, if you draw lines so as to ensure a Democratic minority-majority district, the result necessarily is going to be other Republican demographic districts.  Drawing District 2 so as to keep it majority-minority necessarily meant that the Republican demographic voters had to be put in District 1, making it a "gerrymandered" Republican district.  But that was so largely because of the "gerrymandered" minority-majority District 2.  

        As a practical matter, you don't "gerrymander" only one district (whether it's a majority-minority district or not).  What you do in one district to assure a certain demographic necessarily affects the demographics of surrounding districts.  

        •  I beg to differ. (0+ / 0-)

          In an area like Chicago - which is overwhelmingly Democratic, I'm not sure how I see that drawing minority-majority districts, or even majority Democratic districts, if you prefer, automatically presumes majority Republican districts elsewhere.

          In fact, I'm pretty sure our geniuses down there in Springfield drew the new districts in the outer suburbs of our city precisely NOT to allow that to happen.  They carved up Republican constituencies and carved them up pretty well - Dems picked up 4 seats in Illinois as a result.

          It's not automatically a zero-sum equation, which seems to be what you're implying.

          Obama stole my Sig Line for his campaign. Forward. daveinchi's World at Large

          by daveinchi on Thu Nov 22, 2012 at 08:08:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not automatically. But that's what the tendency (0+ / 0-)

            is.  If you put most of type (1) voters in District A, the people you leave out are mostly type (2) voters.  That makes it all the more likely that District B is going to be mostly type (2) voters.  

            In an area that is overwhelmingly type 1 voters for a large area, then you might be correct.  You can draw a majority type 1 voter district, and there are still enough type 1 voters outside of the lines you draw so as to make the nearby district mixed.  But in many areas, drawing lines to bring all the type 1 voters in an area into one district means that the people outside of those lines are going to be majority type 2 -- that's why they are outside the lines.  

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