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View Diary: The cost of gerrymandering (255 comments)

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  •  Agreed. But maybe, thanks to Tom Delay, it doesn't (51+ / 0-)

    have to be. He set the precedent for redistricting in the middle of the census cycle and got the Supreme Court to say it's legal. I say we make a priority of taking over some state legislatures and governorships in 2013 and 2014 and do it ourselves. I say Democrats in Colorado and Minnesota should do it now. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    •  It can't be done in Colorado (17+ / 0-)

      The state courts have ruled that mid-decade redistricting violates the state Constitution. In doing so, they invalidated a remap passed by a GOP trifecta in 2003-04.

      37, MD-8 (MD-6 after 2012) resident, NOVA raised, Euro/Anglophile Democrat

      by Mike in MD on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:41:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm pretty sure the US Constitution trumps (4+ / 0-)

        a mere state constitution.

        Do it anyway, and make the state courts say no.

        •  But only prohibitions (4+ / 0-)

          When the USC says that you can't do something, then the state constitution is irrelvant.

          When the state constitution says that you can't do something, that governs the state. The Supreme Court merely said that the USC doesn't prohibit it.

          •  Citizen's Redistricting Commissions (6+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pelagicray, nolagrl, roadbear, bear83, BYw, kevin k

            Wherever possible, referendums to create Citizens Redistricting Commissions or systems like Iowa's ought to be promoted vigorously:

            (from Wikipedia)
            "The Iowa Legislative Services Agency uses computer software to generate a proposed redistricting map, disregarding all factors except population. Although the legislature must still approve the final maps, this process has not been contentious in the past. According to Ed Cook, senior legal analyst with the Legislative Services Agency, "The thing that makes us unique to most states is basically we don't take into account any political information."

            For congressional redistricting, the Iowa Code does not permit redistricting maps to split counties. For state-level redistricting, counties and cities should be split as little as possible. Greater leeway is given in splitting larger counties and cities. State law also mandates that all districts are drawn within one percent of their ideal population. Under the 2010 Census, ideal congressional districts for Iowa would contain 761,589 residents..."

            Approaches like these make for less polarized elections, more actual middle ground between candidates, and in California at least, representatives who actually reflect the demographic makeup.

            "Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." ~Soren Kierkegaard

            by Beastly Fool on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:03:04 PM PST

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            •  Taking redistricting out of the hands (4+ / 0-)

              of politicians is a formidable problem, but one that will happen when voters demand it. How to get both liberals and conservatives outraged by how their votes are distorted by gerrymandering is the key issue.

              They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations ... (2Timothy 4:4-5, New International Vsn.)

              by Two cents from Derwood on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:07:22 PM PST

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    •  It depends on each state's laws. (12+ / 0-)

      The Constitution doesn't bar mid-decade  redistricting, but each state's constitution or statutes may.

    •  It would backfire in Minnesota (8+ / 0-)

      There are some regions of the country where gaming the system like this is a cultural taboo, and Minnesota is definitely at the core of one of them.

      Besides, a large chunk of the problem in Minnesota is candidates and ticket-splitting, which aren't easy to handle in districting.  Both the Paulsen district (3) and the Kline district (2) are Obama-voting districts, yet with Republican congressmen that aren't getting serious challenges or anyone making a serious case for a challenge.  

      As things stand now in Minnesota there's only one solid Republican seat -- unfortunately, Michelle Bachmann's -- and one other seat where only a conservative Democrat can win (Peterson's; even as effective a campaigner as Wellstone couldn't quite carry this district).  Districts 2 and 3 ought to be considered opportunities for Democratic growth, not barriers to it, and Paulsen and Kline are almost as right-wing as Bachmann -- they certainly aren't moderates in the Frenzel or Ramstad mode.

      •  Good point (0+ / 0-)

        Obviously, you know the state better than I do, but I do know a little bit about the good government tradition in Minnesota and Wisconsin (although Wisconsin is not so rosy right now), and I can see how that might backfire.

      •  The numbers in these states were already "gamed" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ryepower12, bear83

        Getting fairer redistricting would have yielded a bunch more Dem reps in Congress...

        “Parties do not lead revolutions. They follow them. And then only when forced to.” Joe Bageant

        by tgypsy on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 12:58:07 PM PST

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      •  Its a simple equation in MN (0+ / 0-)

        If you cheat you lose.....(See Wendell Anderson for a prime example of a political flameout.)

        The DFL's biggest problem is its split from the Indepenence party. (I have often written that these two parties are a prime example of a can't live with/without marriage.)

        If anything the DFL should propose and push fusion voting through the legislature. (Along with statewide IRV)


      •  Everyone likes to think their states are different (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not sure I buy it.

        Democrats can just simply explain that, as seen in Texas, this stuff is done now,  find a few fake republicans who think it's a swell idea, and talk enough baloney to make it go over well enough.

        The key would be to get the ball rolling now, so it's forgotten by the time the next election rolls around by all except the Republicans who now have vastly different districts.

        The 'vastly different' being the key -- even if they aren't anymore or less conservative, it's much easier to run a newcomer against an incumbent when that incumbent is working with a completely new district.

      •  I think we can take Bachmann. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Beastly Fool


        There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 04:02:48 PM PST

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    •  We can win without going back to the redistricting (7+ / 0-)

      well.  The districts the the Republicans created depend on low turnout on our side.  Crank up turnout, and we can win.

      •  But we had high turnout on our side this year (4+ / 0-)

        Certainly higher than we will have in an off-year.

      •  Um, no, we can't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bear83, Bob Friend

        The turnout was cranked up to the max and we still got smoked this time around.

        Maybe ten years from now, after populations have shifted enough, we'll have a chance to win back the House... but otherwise, we have absolutely, positively no shot, short of the Republicans becoming the whigs, and as much as we all fantasize about it, that's not going to happen.

        And I've got more news for you: redistricting will only get worse for us next time around, if we don't do this now, because the people who vote on redistricting in most states get voted in office on low-turnout years.


        Why is it that Democrats always bring a (plastic toy) knife to a NRA-sponsored machine gun shoot out of a fight?

        I get that so many of us have delicate sensibilities and care more about playing by abstract rules they create up themselves in their own sphere of what they consider is 'fair' than, say, you know... winning.

        The Supreme Court said states can redistrict pretty much whenever it wants.

        Those are the rules, fair as defined by the "refs."

        Let's play by them, and not by the rules of the wimpiest spoiled brat on the block who cries because all the  kids 'wouldn't play with him' because he wasn't willing to play by their rules, which allowed contact.

        Don't think any Republican state would think twice about redistricting if they thought they'd get some advantage from it. My guess is they already had the majorities in most of these states to max out their efforts, but should they think for even a second they can do better in the future... they will.

        Let's beat them to the punch.

        •  Why not go the Non-Partisan way? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Beastly Fool, Miggles, bear83

          California in my opinion did it smart by making the redistricting Non-Partisan. Why don't we simply make a drive to get every state to adopt that into its constitution?

          That districts are to be drawn by a non-partisan advisory board? The results might not be quite as good for Ds as partisan redistricting but it's still proven quite effective (Dem supermajority for the first time since the Tax revolt) and best of all it preserves our legacy of being fair-minded first.

          Winning is certainly important, but we must not forget that the means make the end. In more than a few cases, losing is preferable to winning by underhanded means.

          •  Yet another plastic toy knife. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't want to be "better" than them, I want to win. We deserve to have a democratic gerrymander in Cali, but we gave that away one year.

            And probably, (surmising, don't really know) it was a public initiative backed by heavy R-sourced money that caused CA to go with a commission and take away our chances for a democratic gerrymander.

            •  We weren't going to have a Democratic gerrymander (0+ / 0-)

              California Dems were so focused on incumbent protection that they never would have gone for a Democratic gerrymander.  They drew the lines in such a way that even "non-partisan" redistricting was a net plus for us.  

              There was never going to be a Democratic gerrymander in CA.  

        •  But note that 2020 is a presidential election year (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy, bear83, Justin93

          The Repubs may have benefited from a low turn out in 2010, but 2020 is a presidential election year, so our turn out should be  high enough to give us a chance at taking governorships & other critical state offices.

          "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them." -- Pres. Obama (1/20/2009)

          by zizi on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 05:02:20 PM PST

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          •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

            Most governorships are now elected in off years. We may have a shot to win some legislative seats in '20, but it will be hard due to the current gerrymanders. Given that we will have so many states with republican legislatures, we will have to win back a lot of governorships in 2018 in order to force neutral, compromise maps after 2020.

            Unless we figure out how to create heavy turnout for a mid-term election, absent an unpopular war, that will be a tall order. Republican governance is likely to be with us at all but the presidential and (sometimes at the) senate level for most or all of the rest of my life.

            Steep price being paid for all the people who stayed home in 2010.

            •  The GOP is making themselves toxic though.. (0+ / 0-)

              They keep getting more and more extreme, to the point where even gerrymandering may not be enough to keep them in office.  In fact, gerrymandered districts actually contribute to this extremism.  

              That plus demographic changes suggests to me we have a shot of retaking the House long before 2020.  A lot of the gerrymandering could turn out to be a dummymander by the end of the decade.  

              What I think happens is we take back small majorities by the latter half of the decade.  Then in 2020 redistricting removes a lot of the built in Republican advantage and they go to being a small minority for at least a decade.  

      •  no, we do need to pay attention to this. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Beastly Fool

        There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 04:03:25 PM PST

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      •  Dems and Independents (0+ / 0-)

        sat on their butts in 2010 and we had poor turnout and whenever that happens the "scumbags" win.  It really cost us big and shame on us, it would be Speaker Pelosi again to work with Majority Leader Reid and President Obama.  We must never, ever take mid term elections so lightly and we need to mobalize to retake the governorships and state legislatures again in pivotal states or at least have enough members so that RePugs don't have super majorities to force crap, radical, Right Wing, Tea Bagger bullshit through.  Either it's a country run by the people's duly elected representatives or one run by an Oligarchy og the rich and entitled such as the Koch boys.

    •  Nearly impossible in Ohio (17+ / 0-)

      We might be able to take back the Governor's seat, but the GOP has tightly gerrymandered all the state house and senate districts.

      The best bet here may be trying again for a ballot initiative that puts legislative reapportionment power in the hands of a non-political entity.

      Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 12:52:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Beat Husted in '14 and push for another initiative (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Beastly Fool, madhaus
        •  Getting too old for that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Beastly Fool

          The younguns are going to have to step up and get the job done.

          Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

          by Betty Pinson on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 01:34:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Why wait for 2014? (0+ / 0-)

          I'm hoping it joins marriage equality on the 2013 ballot, and that proponents start to educate people sooner. The marriage equality group has been working toward this since January.

          Jon Husted is a dick.

          by anastasia p on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:24:54 PM PST

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      •  We'll continue to put the initiative on the ballot (7+ / 0-)

        until it passes. In Ohio, legislative gerrymandering is even more tilted that congressional gerrymandering. And the way things are going there's no "might" about taking the governor's seat or even sweeping ALL the statewide offices right down to treasurer Josh "The Empty Suit" Mandel.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 03:23:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I like that idea. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Beastly Fool

        You could get lots of indies on board with that, I bet.

        There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 04:04:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What about a referendum on one man one vote (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Nobody mentions that case anymore but the Warren Court effectively did away with rural run states by requiring largely equal districts.  That gives your urban population more clout which as a dem is what you want.
          I did voiting rights cases myself and I worked with experts to get relatively equal districts.  
          Take a look at your districts and see if there isn't a lot of urban population concentrated in one district and less population in another.  If the original case isn't any good any more, then managing a referendum on the creation of districts of equal population may be the way to go.

          WE must hang together or we will all hang separately. B.Franklin

          by ruthhmiller on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 07:32:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  interesting idea! (0+ / 0-)

            I guess this is why it's helpful to know history/have an institutional memory.

            Thanks, Ruth--this sounds like it could really work.

            There are some things that are unforgivable. Your willingness to play political games while people suffer and die is one of them--Onomastic

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Dec 11, 2012 at 10:45:47 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Taken into account using current maps (0+ / 0-)

            There's something like a +/-5% margin in each district which will pass judicial scrutiny on unevenly drawn district grounds.

            Modern GIS software makes it easy to make districts just inside this margin of error so they don't trigger legal review.

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