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View Diary: The race away from the middle in state legislatures: An interesting new study on party polarization (98 comments)

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  •  On more note (1+ / 0-)
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    wu ming

    McCarty and Shor even link to an article that shows that independent districting reform actually backfired with regard to partisan polarization. In other words, partisan polarization continued to get worse despite the fact that redistricting this cycle was done by an independent commission without regard for incumbency. Yet another silver bullet in the heart of the "redistricting causes polarization" theory.

    In fact, I think that this work may actually undermine the above post insofar as it shows that no matter how districting occurs, that the districts themselves can provide a safe harbor for polarized legislators.

    Really, the whole concept of districting itself is inherently biased towards the GOP because of the distribution of partisan voters:

    Chen, Jowei and Jonathan Rodden. "Unintentional Gerrymandering: Political Geography and Electoral Bias in Legislatures." Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2013(8): 239-269.
    Furthermore, what we've seen in scholarship thus far in this area shows that the act of redistricting itself reduces bias relative to the baseline (the maps just previous to redistricting) in the translation of votes to seats. If there were a causal link between redistricting and polarization, what we'd see given the two studies cited below is a decrease in polarization immediately after redistricting... We, however, have never seen that happen.
    Gelman, Andrew and Gary King. "Enhancing Democracy Through Legislative Redistricting." American Political Science Review 88(3): 541-559.
    Cain, Bruce. "Assessing the Partisan Effects of Redistricting." American Political Science Review 79: 320-333.

    23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

    by wwmiv on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 05:47:41 PM PDT

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    •  California is in many way an outlier (1+ / 0-)
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      wu ming

      The 2000 redistricting was a party protection redistricting that actually served to make California more Republican than it actually was. The 2010 redistricting thus reflected 2 rounds of ideological shifting, as and independent round of redistricting actual matched Cali's party make-up.

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

      by dopper0189 on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:28:17 PM PDT

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      •  This is true (1+ / 0-)
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        wu ming

        For the exact reasons that ...

        Gelman, Andrew and Gary King. "Enhancing Democracy Through Legislative Redistricting." American Political Science Review 88(3): 541-559.
        ... explain. Redistricting removes bias from the system, no matter whether it is partisan or nonpartisan.

        23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

        by wwmiv on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:30:04 PM PDT

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        •  Explain NC then. NC didn't become widly more (0+ / 0-)

          conservative since 2000. I think you could make a very strong case the reverse has happened (more self indentifying liberals, and increase in the percentages of its minority population, more competitiveness at the Presidential level, etc) I don't see how the redistricting that took place there in 2010 removed bias.

          -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

          by dopper0189 on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:34:15 PM PDT

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          •  ... (0+ / 0-)

            No no no. You misunderstand. I never said that there weren't partisan effects of redistricting (there are). Republicans were in control of the legislature during redistricting and ofcourse created a map that was biased toward them. The "removing bias" aspect is that, on balance, a new map will be less biased than the previous map (because the previous map compounds bias over time because of partisan trends and population growth trends given the length of time that it is in force). This means that the current map is likely less biased away from the political mean in the state than the previous map was at the time immediately before redistricting.

            A big however exists here, though, insofar as the results are an average of all maps. It is entirely possible that certain very very very well crafted maps are more biased than that baseline. In this particular case, I would argue that North Carolina is one of those.

            23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

            by wwmiv on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:40:52 PM PDT

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            •  I think were talking past each other (0+ / 0-)

              I agree on your point. I was arguing that independent redistricting creates less polarization than partisan redistricting does. My central point is that I think partisan redistricting has created polarization (something independent redistricting doesn't). Look at the members of the US House from Arizona, created by an independent committee. They tend to be more to the center than others states in the South West.

              -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

              by dopper0189 on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:47:01 PM PDT

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              •  Oh yes yes yes (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wu ming

                This is definitely true:  

                I was arguing that independent redistricting creates less polarization than partisan redistricting does.
                But this is not:
                My central point is that I think partisan redistricting has created polarization
                Re-read the comments above for why, but I'll leave you with a very simple and pithy point that shows why this isn't the case:

                If redistricting causes polarization, then why do we observe the same amount of polarization in bodies which are not districted such as the Senate?

                Looking at the House members from Arizona: they tend to be more centrist not because their districts are more centrist, but because their primary constituency (their co-partisan voters) are more centrist themselves and thus choose to nominate a centrist. And this is only the case for the Democrats. The Republicans in Arizona are batshit insane.

                23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

                by wwmiv on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:52:14 PM PDT

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                •  Well no no no (0+ / 0-)

                  Sorry. I'd tweak your first sentence (the one that I said was true) to say the following:

                  I was arguing that independent redistricting creates less bias than partisan redistricting does.
                  Sorry, I misread.

                  23 Burkean Post Modern Gay Democrat; NM-2 (Raised), TX-20 (B.A. & M.A. in Political Science), TX-17 (Home); 08/12 PVIs

                  by wwmiv on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:53:21 PM PDT

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