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View Diary: It wasn't just gerrymandering. (42 comments)

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  •  Comment I made in another diary (7+ / 0-)
    Part of the reason the GOP controls the House (a BIG part!!!) is because in Michigan for example, Conyers and Peters were packed into two districts the Dems won by over 80%.  Conyers won with 82.8% and Peters won by 82.2%.  Conversely GOoPer Candace Miller won MI-10 with 68.7%.  No other GOoPer even came close.  The good news here is that in a wave year the Dems can not only pick off the 3 close races but maybe another 1-2.  

    In Ohio it's even worse.  4 Dems won.  One was uncontested, the other three won with 67.8%, 72.6% and 72.5%.  Major packing of Dem voters in these districts.  Conversely Pat Tiberi with 63.7% was the highest vote getter on the GOP side outside of the orange Dildo who ran unopposed.  Of the 12 GOoPers who won in Ohio 8 of them didn't break 60% and a 9th won with 60.2%.  Again in a wave election the Dems could pick off more than the 2 close contests.  The GOP in Ohio seriously gerrymandered the Dems out.  They packed the Dems into 4 districts and spread the GOP pretty thin.  

    In PA much of the same story.  Marino on the GOP side was the big vote getter.  He won with 65.9%.  The 5 Dems?  85%, 89.4%, 68.9%, 76.9% and the slacker of the group Cartwright only won with 60.5%.  Of the 13 GOoPers who won their districts, NINE of them won with less than Cartwright did.  Again in a wave election, the Dems could well sweep some of them out.  The GOoPers ridiculously packed the Dems and spread themselves out pretty thinly.  

    Virginia?  Dems 81.2%, 64.6% and 61%.  The GOoPers?  Only 2 topped 60%.  Not even Eric Cantor topped 60%.   Again, serious gerrymandering.

    Wisconsin same shit.  Dems?  72.3%, 68%, 64.1%.  GOoPers?  Jim Stalinbrenner won with 67.9% and Petri won with 62.1%.  Ryan, Duffy and Ribble?  None of them topped 56.1%.  Again ridiculous gerrymandering.

    I'll even throw in North Carolina.  3 of the 4 Dems won with 74% or more.  The last Dem won by the skin of his teeth.  GGoPers Walter Jones won with 63.2% and Cobble with 60.9%.  Every other GoPer won with less than 60%.  That's 7 of 9 GOopers.

    The Dems need only 17 pickups to flip the House.  I'd focus on these states (as well as NY and NJ).  There are quite a few seats in these states that with a strong push and a wave can flip.  These states are gerrymandered to all hell and if the Dems regain power in these states they should redo the lines.  But short of that they should make the GOP suffer for packing the Dems and diluting the GOP voters.

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 04:56:51 AM PST

    •  Some of it is gerrymandering (1+ / 0-)
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      Some of it is an extreme concentration of the Democratic vote. Look at Michigan - Obama won by over 400,000 votes, but he won by nearly 400,000 in Wayne County alone.

      Yes, these states are gerrymandered, but the nature of the Democratic coalition is that it's based upon densely-populated urban areas, and this is more and more true every cycle.

      Add in to that the fact that most of the core Democratic areas of the six states you mention are at the edge of their states (Philadelphia, Detroit, northwest Indiana, northern Virginia, Cleveland) and that the VRA prevents baconmandering from cities to rural areas (not that that'd be either a good idea or not gerrymandering) and it's fairly clear that Democrats are generally going to need more than 50% of the vote to win 50% of the districts.

      That's not to say that there aren't plenty of gerrymandered districts in these states. Just that even fair maps would leave Democrats packed in places like Detroit and northern Virginia.

      •  "Fair" map (1+ / 0-)
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        I think the idea of a "fair" map being one that faithfully reproduces local political boundaries is something that needs to be challenged, especially by us on the left who are likely to be disadvantaged by this kind of map.  The basis problem I think is this:  why is a map drawn around city, township, county, etc. boundaries inherently more "fair" than one which respects those boundaries less but reflects better the overall partisan lean of a state?

        I think a pretty close to perfect example of this tradeoff can be seen on the Missouri map drawn by sawolf in his Non-Partisan Redistricting series here.  This is a map intended to be drawn to respect communities of interest, local political boundaries, etc. instead of promoting partisan advantage.  And I think on its own terms it is successful.  However, it still results in a map where Democrats could only  ever expect to win 2-3 out of 8 seats in a state which Obama lost by only .2% last time around and by about 54-44% this time.  Why is that more "fair" than a map which would mix city, suburbs, and country to create 4 winnable districts for Democrats?  (Please understood I am not trying to criticize sawolf here, or to imply that his map is not non-partisan as the term is commonly understand, just that we should reconsider what "fair" redistricting is.)

        The question of what is "fair" in this context is a difficult one and I think can only be answered by first examining  what we think we are achieving through our system of representative democracy (i.e. to what extent do we hope for representatives whose views are proportionate to those of the population at large?  to what extent do we view representatives as intended to advocate for local interests, which must be separately represented, and represented only along with other, similar interests, in order to be heard?)  

        •  Two kinds of fairness (0+ / 0-)

          It's not fair on a national or state level for one party to get a majority of seats from a minority of votes.

          But it's not fair on constituents in rural areas to have their votes drowned out by being attached to larger urban areas they have little in common with or geographical proximity to (or vice versa, in a Republican gerrymander).

          These two kinds of unfairness have to be balanced out against each other. Ideally you want to minimise both, but there is a conflict here.

          A particularly good example of this is the VRA, which imposes a requirement to create as many black-majority districts as possible. This stops cracking, but also packing into 80%+ black districts. The problem is that in a 55% black district, the voting intention of the other 45% of voters is not usually relevant. In a Republican map that 45% will be almost entirely other parts of the Democratic coalition, so it matters less, but that can be an issue with a smart Democratic gerrymander that constructs the 45% from extremely Republican suburbs and exurbs.

          There's a definite tension here with two mutually incompatible ideas of fairness, which is only solved because the law establishes that the right of African-Americans not to be denied a representative of their choice takes precedence over the right of other constituents in their district to have a substantial chance of affecting the result.

          (For the record, I say this as a strong supporter of the VRA - I'm not one of those who argues Democrats should do away with it to improve their position in the House.)

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