Democrats may benefit from gerrymandering — AP analysis

Rachel Hardy
June 26, 2017

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it - in the drawing of lines for hundreds of USA and state legislative seats.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

The AP analyzed the results of last fall's USA and state House elections across the nation, examining the percentage of races lacking major party opposition and calculating state partisan advantages using a statistical method created to detect potential political gerrymandering.

Republican candidates for the Connecticut House of Representatives received more overall votes than Democrats in the 2016 election, but an Associated Press analysis shows Democrats managed to win in districts by larger margins. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were almost three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

Republican lawmakers have steadfastly defended the state districts lines as legal and fair, and noted that many GOP candidates have won in districts that Democratic in presidential elections. All had districts drawn by Republicans after the last Census in 2010.

Democrats won 57 percent of Colorado's state House seats in November, even though Republicans won 50.4 percent of the statewide vote.

Under the 2011 map, Republicans now fill 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in the U.S. House - or 72 percent - despite winning 54 percent of the statewide congressional vote in 2016.

The state legislature redrew Kentucky's House districts in 2012. The Republican edge in Michigan's state House districts had only a 1-in-16,000 probability of occurring by chance; in Wisconsin's Assembly districts, there was a mere 1-in-60,000 likelihood of it happening randomly, the analysis found. South Carolina's lone Democrat in Congress represents a district gerrymandered as majority minority.

The efficiency gap is the subject of a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Party control of redistricting is a powerful driver of the efficiency gap".

MI provides a good example of how the formula works. It cuts through three counties - and has three House seats, two held by Democrats. That amounted to an efficiency gap of 10.3 percent favoring Republicans, one of the highest advantages among all states.

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Republicans control both legislative chambers and hold all statewide offices.

Former Republican state Rep. Jeff Kottkamp sat on the House committee that redrew House maps. He blamed Democrats for their own losses. "Their problem is weak candidates who run poor campaigns based on bad ideas, not the districts", said House Speaker William J. Howell spokesman Christopher West.

The next round of redistricting will be after the 2020 census, and it could be a very different process.

Energized Democratic opposition to President Donald Trump means Virginians will have a lot more choices when they pick members to the state House of Delegates this year. Colorado's map was drawn by a Democratic-dominated commission that Republicans criticized as "politically vindictive".

The AP analysis addressed how much of that is caused by voter preference and how much is caused by partisan gerrymandering.

In Texas, Republicans gained almost four excess congressional seats compared to projections from a typical votes-to-seats ratio, according to the AP's analysis. While it also showed Florida Republicans' advantage in Congress was slightly more than should've been expected, it wasn't to the point that clearly indicated gerrymandering.

One of the largest Democratic congressional advantages was in Maryland, where Democrats controlled redistricting.

"Republicans really put their foot on the gas when Bush got elected", said Steve Schale, a Democratic political consultant.

"That's just a baseless supposition to blame that all on line-drawing", he said.

That analysis looked only at U.S. House races, while the AP analysis also includes state legislative elections.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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