J is for Gerrymander (Part 2)

“The simple truth is this: America is the only major democracy in the world that allows politicians to pick their own voters” (David Daley, Ratf**ked).

As described in Part 1, Chris Jankowski’s plan to create an impregnable Republican majority in Congress (and many state legislatures) for at least the next decade was ingenious in its simplicity:

  • Focus on those states where flipping just a few seats would ensure your party’s domination of legislative redistricting following the 2010 census. Those included such national swing states as Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida.
  • Pour money into those few seats (where “a lot of money” = a few thousand dollars) in the last days of the campaign, “blitizing” the unsuspecting incumbent with negative ads it’s too late to answer.
  • Create a redistricting map that crams Democrats into a few odd-looking districts and spreads the Republicans comfortably into the rest.
  • Form an “unholy alliance” to guarantee minority Congressional seats by creating districts that were 75-80% African American, enabling you to create comfortable Republican majorities elsewhere.

Did it work?

  • Consider Pennsylvania: in 2012, following redistricting, Democratic congressional candidates received 2,793,538 votes. Republicans got almost as many (2,710,070). The result? Republicans won 13 Congressional seats, Democrats 5.
  • Or take Florida, where a 41%-36% Democratic voter-registration edge produced GOP majorities of 81-39 in the state house and 28-12in the state senate.
  • Finally, Michigan, which Obama carried by 10 percentage points, yet Republicans won 9 of the 14 Congressional seats – although not the newly drawn 14th district, which packed urban black voters from Detroit to Pontiac into a district that looked like this:

    Michigan’s 14th Congressional District

James G. Blaine

About James G. Blaine

Most of us undervalue what seem our tiny contributions to our communities and the world. As a result, we feel powerless, even victimized. But, like the butterfly effect in science, the lives we lead with our families, in our communities, and at work – all the so-called little things we do – collectively change the world. As I grow older, my ambition grows more modest but not less important: to participate fully and to contribute what I can. That’s my goal with this blog.