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By now I think it's pretty universally known that Republicans will control the House of Representatives for the next 2 years despite losing the popular vote by, at last count, over 1 million votes.  And the seat count wasn't even that close: Republicans will have 234 to the Democrats' 201, or 16 more than are needed for a majority.  This success has been widely attributed to Republican gerrymandering, which was made possible by the GOP's sweeping success at the state level in the 2010 elections.  And to a large extent, this is hard to deny:  Republicans were able to force Democratic incumbents to run against each other, compel others to run in much redder districts, and draw new seats that would be difficult or impossible for any Democrat to win.

But what I want to argue here is that Republican gerrymandering, while certainly important, is not the whole story.  To illustrate, I want to focus on the 6 states of North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.  What do these states have in common?  Well, they were all, to some extent at least, swing states this time around, and in all the GOP controlled redistricting.(1)  Ultimately, Obama won 4 of these 6 states, taking in them a combined 50.6% of the vote.  However, of the 81 House seats these states contain, Democrats will go into the next Congress controlling only 23, or about 28%.  

Now, before getting into my argument there are 2 things I want to point out here: first, a lot of the damage here was done in 2010 when the GOP killed it in marginal districts, and second is to reiterate that GOP gerrymandering here was effective and cannot be ignored.

However, and this is what I (perhaps mistakenly) think has been overlooked so far: though Republicans controlled redistricting in these 6 states, there were still 17 districts where the President won between 47-50% of the vote.(2)  Of these 17 seats, Democrats won exactly 0 last November.(3)  If the numbers were reversed and it was instead Republicans who had won 0, we would be welcoming back Speaker Pelosi next January.  

Although I principally wanted to focus on the 6 states above, largely because the numbers are so extreme, the problem does not only exist there:  In Wisconsin there are another 3 districts where Obama got between 47%-50%, in Washington State another 2, in Florida 4.  Only 1 of those 9 districts was won by a Democrat (Patrick Murphy in FL-18.)(4)

So what is my point here?  I imagine most readers here will know that when you are drawing a gerrymander, the goal is not to maximize the number of 53-47 districts or, heaven forbid, 51-49 districts that favor your party.  Rather, depending on the specific area in question, you aim for districts where your party won 55-57% of the vote.  Any lower and, at least in theory, you risk allowing the other party to upset.  Well, although the GOP was in control in all the states discussed, there was only so much they could in the face of these states' light-blue or swing-state natures.  GOP candidates would have to do the rest.  Last month, they did, and as a result we have 2 more years of Speaker Boehner and divided government.

Maybe this was an obvious point, but I thought it was worth making: even in states were Republicans controlled redistricting and were absolutely ruthless (just take a look at the NC map if you doubt this), Democrats were left with a bunch of winnable districts.  Unfortunately, they largely failed to win them.  I'm not a campaign strategist, so I don't have any grand suggestions as to how to do it, but if we're going to retake the House this is going to have to change.

(1) IIRC the Democrats were actually in control of the VA State Senate when the congressional map was passed, but let the GOP do whatever they wanted in an  (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to try to save their own skins.  For the purpose of this diary I am treating VA as if it was under full GOP control, since it effectively was (again, IIRC.)
(2)This was a rough calculation I did by looking at the drop-off for the President in each of these states and applying that to the 2008 numbers in this site's Pres. results by CD.  I know that the swing in each state will not be applied equally across each district, but I think my point will still hold when the final results are known.
(3)Although it should be noted that Mike McIntyre did hold NC's 7th district for the Dems.  Obama will probably end up with only around 40% of the vote here (!)  Of further note is that the next "reddest" district won by a Democrat in the states discussed here was PA-17, which Obama should end up winning by around 55-44.
(4)At the opposite end of this spectrum, strangely enough, is Arizona, where 3 districts fall into this range, and Democrats won all 3.  

Originally posted to gurion05 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 02:39 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Another potential method of gerrymandering (30+ / 0-)

    is to isolate your opponent party into as few districts as possible. Example - If you're Republican, carve up a district so that it contains 90 percent Democrats. Democrats will win that district, but it will keep their votes out of other adjoining districts, where they could make a difference.

  •  They've done a lot of damage, for sure (9+ / 0-)

    ...and it will take decades to undo. But I will point to Texas (!)- they are going to lose there eventually. And when that happens? No more GOP. They keep trying and trying and they are very powerful, but they will lose. Conservatives always lose in the long run, but it takes a long time.

    "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." -Mark Twain

    by jared the bassplayer on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:48:09 PM PST

  •  With regards to Arizona: (23+ / 0-)

    Our redistricting was done by an independent, bi-partisan commission last year. We also had strong democratic candidates running in the competitive districts.

    "We have created a Star Wars civilization, with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology."-Edward O. Wilson, in "The Social Conquest of Earth"

    by sparkysgal on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 03:55:13 PM PST

    •  AZ/Open Seats (5+ / 0-)

      Yeah that was probably something I should have addressed in the diary but did not:

      Those 3 AZ districts were all open seats (or I guess semi-open in the case of Ron Barber's district.)  

      In the 6 states I was discussing, the only open seats in the 47-50% Obama range were MI-11 and OH-14, which both became open after Some Dudes had already locked down the Democratic nominations.  The other 15 all had GOP incumbents running, which I think further hurt Democratic chances.  But again, that is something Democrats will have to overcome if they are going to take back the House.

  •  Maybe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, Woody, dufffbeer

    To some extent it's a gerrymandering built around the census of 2010 and voting patterns of 2006/08.  Like the 2000-03 redistrictings in favor of Republicans almost everywhere, what that does in effect is defer Democratic gains of seats to late in the decade and into numbers in excess of popular support then.  Roughly compensating for underrepresentative numbers early in the decade.

    Other than that, there's a story in the numbers and regions that Democrats are (still) winning the top of the ticket, i.e. Senate seats and Presidential Electoral College votes, in the Midwest and Great Lakes.  But are basically tying for or losing everything further down.  

    It's increasingly the other way around in the Southwest, though not as pronounced.  Though that's a lot less House seats and states.

    In both regions the trend seems to be a trend for the Party winning lower down on the ticket to slowly gain further up.

    At one level it's all demographic change.  But the level of imbalance in favor of House Republicans due to the Great Lakes/Midwest despite even popular vote numbers seems to me to point to some regional factor that favors Republicans.  

    The obvious one would be the regional economy, i.e. the incremental dissolving of its older parts there and the old mostly unable to leave, the young in part forced to outmigrate.  In better times that decline was balanced by relative boom in the Sun Belt.

  •  Agree. Many of the worst gerrymandered (10+ / 0-)

    districts are indeed winnable.  Republicans drew the lines based on two things: where Democrats live and probable Democratic vote turnout.  Thus to win we need to crank up turnout.  Instead winning 50% squeakers at the state level, we'll need probably 53-55% to get the closer gerrymanders (like the 17 that you mentioned) to go to our side.  Sure winning is harder, but we can win even with this gerrymandered deck that has been dealt to us.

    •  A good start (16+ / 0-)

      would be to actually contest some of those districts.  

      It really bothers me to see how many RWNJs ran unopposed.  

      Political compass: -8.75 / -4.72

      by Mark Mywurtz on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:12:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is what I was looking for (13+ / 0-)

        How many Republicans ran unopposed, or with weak Democratic candidates? Gov. Dean was on the right track with his 50-state strategy, and we turned away from it at all but the Presidential level to our detriment.  In 2006, he worked to find a credible candidate for every race, no matter how hopeless it seemed.  As a result, we were able to take advantage when Mark Foley's candidacy imploded over the Page scandal.  As I recall, there were several other races where we were able to take advantage of a sudden weakness in the Republican race because we had strong democratic candidates. As a result, we took the House that year, when we weren't expected to.

        In 2012 the OFA field organizers were, for the most part, incredibly effective in turning out support for the president. But at least in the state where I worked, there was very little coordination between OFA and the Senatorial and Congressional campaigns.  In the (fairly swing) district where I worked, we won all three races, but in a neighboring district we only won the Senatorial and Presidential races.  Granted, incumbency plays a big role.  But a really strong candidate and tight coordination of the campaigns could have taken us a lot closer to a win, and might have put us over the finish line.

        Of course another issue is building a farm team of lower-level elected officials who can be ready to run as effective Federal candidates.  We need to learn from Republicans on this.  But avoid learning their less-savory tricks...

        The past 50 years we: -Ended Jim Crow. -Enacted the Voting Rights Act. -Attained reproductive rights (contraceptive & abortion). -Moved toward pay equity. Republicans want to take our country back. I WON'T GO BACK!

        by petesmom on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:25:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Weak candidates is a relative term (11+ / 0-)

          My district is represented by an extreme right-winger, way out of step with his new district.  (They actually made his district bluer-but-still-light-red in order to protect some other incumbents and screw over some incumbent Dems.)  The Dem candidate was solid.  Deep roots in the area, involved in the community, good positions on most of the issues.  But he'd never run for Congress before.  He's not a multimillionaire.  And he was running against a tea-party darling.  So the amount of support he got from institutional Dems above the local level was approximately zero.

          Despite that, he was out campaigning damned near every single day for 8 months.  In every corner of a ridiculously shaped district.  Accepting every invitation, speaking to every civic and community group, even in the deep red parts of the district.  Attending every county fair, festival, parade, and all that crap.  Shaking every hand he could find.  He worked his ass off, but there was never any real money, and that's not something you can win without.  His retail politics were there, but the messaging and campaign infrastructure really weren't.  But he's probably running again in 2014, so maybe this time he'll see some support.

          Was he a weak candidate?  Well, in some ways, yes.  He couldn't self fund.  He didn't have national or state party support.  And he lost by a pretty big margin.  But in all the areas that he could control, I'd say he was a pretty strong candidate.  I guess we'll see in 2 years.

          "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

          by libdevil on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 09:35:00 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  See, this is what I'm talking about re: 50 state (12+ / 0-)

            strategy.  In '06, Gov. Dean made a point of funding just this sort of candidate.  That's how we were poised to take advantage when Rep. Foley imploded in Fl.  He caught a ration of shit from folks like James Carville and Rahm Emmanuel, who wanted him to funnel all the DNC's cash to "safe" races. But he insisted on funding candidates everywhere - maybe not as generously as the "safer" candidates, but he didn't starve them.  And we took back the House that year.

            The past 50 years we: -Ended Jim Crow. -Enacted the Voting Rights Act. -Attained reproductive rights (contraceptive & abortion). -Moved toward pay equity. Republicans want to take our country back. I WON'T GO BACK!

            by petesmom on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 10:20:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Gerrymandering got so bad in Indiana that Moderate (11+ / 0-)

    Republicans were being gerrymandered out of their own districts by Tea Baggers. The infighting within the Republican Party was so strong they started attacking one another with the weapon they've learned to use very effectively.

  •  Very interesting (13+ / 0-)

    I've been trying to campaign for Dems in several of these states that allow amendments to push for nonpartisan commissions. We gained seats in California, Florida an Arizona all states that took redistricting away from politicians.

    The GOP in the 90's effectively used the term limit movement to take over Southern state Houses. They couldn't control many of these because incumbant conservative Dems would win. For example, once Florida has term limits the GOP won the state House and began gerrymandering. We should use the anti-gerrymandering to a similar effect. Campaign on it as a "good government" movement. Yes it will benefit Democrats but don't campaign that way. If we do it I think we can win over moderate/centrist voters who by definition shouldn't like gerymandering.

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

    by dopper0189 on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 08:14:08 PM PST

    •  Yes, but do you want that in places like (0+ / 0-)

      New England and Maryland which elect WAY fewer Repubs would be the case if proportioned on the popular vote?

      That seems to totally a way to shoot ourselves in the foot if pushed to its logical conclusion.

      •  The thing I looked at it and... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Roadbed Guy, Ahianne, WisJohn, grrr

        These type of amendments will only really win in Purple states. In "single party" states the majority party can organize to kill. You need a relatively balanced state where one party is completely unfairly out of power.

        Secondly if it went to it's conclusion in all states Dems would actually gain Texas and New York are actually gerrymander in the GOPs favor. A neutral map would help the Dems. Also look at Ohio, Penn, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, etc. Of the 10 biggest states only Illinois is gerrymandered to help us.

        If you add up our losses (Massachusetts, Maryland, Illinois) to our gains it's not even close. Republicans would gain at most 2-3 seats in New England (1 or 2 in Mass, 1 or 2 in Connecticut, at the most) Repubs would gain one more in Maryland, and 2 more in Illinois. Texas alone would give us 5 and New York 3, Michigan 2, Penn 3-4, Ohio 2-3, etc. Go ahead and look. The risk is very low.

        Also since the GOP base is much more rabid, they would have a harder time winning swing districts. Look at Arizona a light red state, but there GOP candidates can't win in neutral congressional district so Dems have a majority of their seats. If this forces GOP moderation that wouldn't be such a bad thing either.

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

        by dopper0189 on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 05:57:11 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My point was that this was ONLY or MOSTLY (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          just being pursued in blue (CA) or purple (FL)  states.

          Thus the comment


          Secondly if it went to it's conclusion
          would leave deep red states like TX and UT unscathed . ..  (heck Utah might be considered small potatoes, but there's totally one blue district lurking in there if the lines are drawn correctly . . .)
          •  Remember in Texas (0+ / 0-)

            The Republicans on the State Level lost their SuperMajority in the House (of the State of Texas obviously).

            Before that, the Republicans were ramming through whatever they wanted to.... That, for now, at least has a chamber to slow them down and maybe think of the people of Texas and not just the profits to be made here.

            -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

            by MarciaJ720 on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 01:10:20 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Remember, Gov. Cuomo reneged on his promise (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichaelNY, grrr

          to have an independent redistricting.

          Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

          by milkbone on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 09:31:04 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here's the statistic to find out (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, Lawrence, kat herder, scott5js, grrr, rmx2630

    What is the falloff rate for our side?  How many vote for president, and not for representative or other downballot races.  I suspect that, just as our side does not turn out in off-year elections, they also don't pay as much attention to downballot races as the more reliable R voters.

    •  Fall-off really hurts down-ticket Dems (6+ / 0-)

      I don't have a link but there was a study that came out in '08 showing that the fall-off rates among young and first-time voters are very high, which obviously is going to hurt Democratic candidates.  

      That was certainly the case here in Wisconsin, where the fall-off numbers for State Assembly and Senate candidates were in the thousands in some districts, despite a coordinated effort with OFA to educate voters about the importance of down-ticket voting. We did not see the same issue with Republican candidates--no doubt this was the reason Walker and his buddies removed straight-ticket voting from the ballot. They knew it would disproportionately hurt Democratic candidates.

      I really do think it's going to take a much stronger effort on the part of the Democratic party nationally and at the state level to target less reliable voters during off-years and to make a stronger effort to educate them about the importance of voting for Democrats at all levels of government.

  •  I believe what happened in Virginia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Was that they didn't pass a congressional map before the 2011 elections, but then Republicans passed one when they gained control.

  •  No, It's Not the Only Factor (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GayHillbilly, MichaelNY, Lawrence

    Jerrymandering is only part of it. We are also fighting big money, which is much more important in smaller races than in larger ones, plus all the voter suppression efforts, which may have not had enough effect to overcome Obama's lead as an incumbent (and the huge campaign apparatus he had), but were enough to overcome Democratic candidates in smaller elections.

    That's why I think it is vital for the Justice Department to go after these voter suppression efforts and for Congress to strengthen our election system in a bunch of ways (that I've detailed elsewhere).

  •  if Obama had won the first debate (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ender, MichaelNY, mightymouse, WisJohn

    he would have won the House.

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 11:47:15 PM PST

  •  i've about had it with these legislative (0+ / 0-)

    republicans, specifically of the ALEC variety. The democrats need to find ways to drive out republican leaning constituencies from states we have power in. Environmental laws traditionally have done the trick.

    RRH expat (known as AquarianLeft). Also known as freepcrusher on leip atlas forum

    by demographicarmageddon on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 03:41:33 AM PST

  •  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-)
      Recommended by:

      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-)
        Recommended by:

        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.)

  •  Reason #3: Lack of a Concerted Effort (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caniac41, WisJohn

    While I am not in any way trying to assign blame in a punitive way to President Obama and the Democratic Party, their focus this cycle was primarily on retaining the Presidency and the majority in the Senate.  Which it should have been (IMO) since both were under threat and to lose one or the other (or both) would have been devastating.  The good news is that focusing our efforts in these races yielded the Presidency and increased Dem. majority in the Senate, which few were predicting.

    But, as a result, there seemed to be less focus on House races by the Dem. Party.  Since resources, both financial and boots on the ground, are always limited, priorities need to be established.  In addition to the high priority of the Presidential and Senate races, those in the reality=based community knew that taking back the House this cycle was never in the cards.  So after sufficient resources were allocated to the Presidential and Senate races, the DCCC got the left over scraps.

    So the DCCC took what they had and picked districts and candidates where they thought they had a good chance to flip from red to blue and a few where they knew they needed to defend.  All in all they did well, picking up seats to reduce Boehner's majority from 25 to 16 seats (and throwing out some Tea Party crazys to boot).

    But I do have some small criticism based on your observations of House districts we lost where President Obama did well in.  I didn't see a lot of "dual-GOTV" going on.  For example, I worked some OFA phone banks for President Obama and we were only told to remind people to vote for Obama and maybe a Senate candidate.  There was no effort made to identify House districts where we had pickup opportunities or a hold threat, and have OFA volunteers mention our House candidates during calls.  When an Obama voter was identified during a call or door to door visit, it would have been good to also mention our House candidate and tell the voter that President Obama needs so-and-so in the House in order to pass his agenda.

    Anyway, in 2014 we will only need 17 seats, the Senate won't be under as much threat, and we won't have the Presidential race to worry about, so we should be able to focus our attention on taking back the House.      

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 05:46:51 AM PST

  •  Most of these problems come with gerrymandering (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Complaining that only weak candidates are running is wrong.  Perhaps a strong candidate can pick off a scandal plagued incumbent or a surprise retirement, but it's kind of like a sucker bet--put resources into a race that you are going to lose 95% of the time is a waste of resources and they are not unlimited.  It is important to run well in races that are winnable and sustainable.  

    The cruelty of a good gerrymander is that a decent candidate can come close, but getting past close to victory is not going to happen enough to justify huge outlays of money and time from outside the district.  

    As was pointed out above, demographic changes will mute the effect of the gerrymander in subsequent elections, but these gerrymandered incumbents will have multiple terms under their belts and will be able to use incumbency to their advantage.

  •  winning more house seats (0+ / 0-)

    I agree that the Dems are not well organized enough to spot districts that need help if  Democrat is going to win. The amazing success with winning senate seats in 2012 was that the national progressive coalition focused on specific races that looked close or winnable.

    American decentralization is the wave of the new century.

    by Peter Fugiel on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 08:02:15 AM PST

    •  Progressive coalition? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CF of Aus

      Is that your name for Senator Murray and the DSCC? Because that's primarily who was responsible for recruitment and funding.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 10:57:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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