J is for Gerrymander (Part 1)

In David Daley’s eyes Chris Jankowski is a genius. Jankowski is both the hero and anti-hero, of Ratf**ked, of Daley’s “story of how Republicans turned looming demographic disaster into legislative majorities so unbreakable, so impregnable, that none of the outcomes are in doubt until after the 2020 census.”

All it took were maps, a pencil, some states with relatively equal voter registration (like, say, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina), a lot of data and a little money.

Here’s how it worked:

In anticipation of the approaching 2010 census, Jankowski figured that if he flipped a very few state legislative seats in a very few states for very little money, the party in power would be able to draw political boundaries that would ensure its domination for years.

How few? Karl Rove estimated that winning 107 legislative seats in 16 states would enable the Republican Party to draw the lines for 190 congressional districts.

How little money? Jankowski raised $30 million total, about what Pat Toomey paid to keep his senate seat in Pennsylvania.

In Part 2 we explore how it was done, from last minute blitzes to the “unholy alliance” to gerrymandered districts like this one.

“Donald Duck kicking Goofy” aka Pennsylvania’s 7th 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.