Election 2012

The Republican Party’s Best Friend: Gerrymandering

Sam Wang:

As of now, counting the leader in each undecided race, the new House will be 235 R, 200 D, a gain of only 7 seats. ThinkProgress reports a popular-vote tally of 50.3% D to 49.7%, a margin of D+0.6%. Both results are within range of my prediction.

However, this is quite notable. The popular vote was a swing of more than 6% from the 2010 election, which was 53.5% R, 46.5% D. Yet the composition of the House hardly changed – and the party that got more votes is not in control. This discrepancy between popular votes and seat counts is the largest since 1950.

The districts were brutally gerrymandered after 2010, giving Republicans the ability to flummox the system and thus preserving their House majority even though they lost the popular vote. Perhaps we need a nonpartisan way of drawing the district boundaries -- maybe couple it with filibuster reform.

Sam Wang had another great point about the notion of apportioning electoral votes based on (gerrymandered) congressional districts:

Incidentally, some readers have suggested to me a reform in the Electoral College so that each Congressional district votes for its elector directly. As you can see, such a rule change would allow redistricting to influence the fairness of the Electoral College. Winner-take-all state races occasionally cause a problem, but which party gains is somewhat variable. It seems that there are worse things than the status quo.

Exactly right.

  • bphoon

    Here in Kansas, RW extremists tried hard to gerrymander our congressional districts but, fortunately, there were enough moderate Republicans who formed a loose coalition with the few Democrats in the legislature that they voted down each plan as it came up. We ended up getting redistricted by the federal court. Probably the fairest way of doing it all things considered.

    Unfortunately, eight of the moderates were targeted by the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and Americans for (Koch Brothers) Prosperity and the both houses of the new legislature will be controlled by the wingnuts and aligned with Governor Brownback. Lucky the next census is a decade away.

    For my money, we should work on a Constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College all together. It has outlived its purpose. Since President and Vice-President are the only two truly national offices, they should be elected directly by popular vote. That way, all the American people will have a hand in electing the President and VP, not just those in six or seven states.

  • D_C_Wilson

    The republican party’s worst enemy, though, is demographics. A lot of regions in the country are changing rapidly. Many “safe” districts today may not be so safe for republicans in the next 4-8 years. The democrats need to hit hard and start winning state legislative races now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kitty-Smith/100000047475312 Kitty Smith

    The idea of splitting the electoral votes isn’t in and of itself unfair–in fact, it could be more fair–but tying it to the possibility of complete and utter gerrymandering?

    Before anything like that is implemented, one would need to completely reform districting rules.

  • Brutlyhonest

    Too bad the right wing powers understood the importance of controlling Congress during a census year (2010) while many “progressives” stayed home and pouted.

    • D_C_Wilson


      Not just Congress, though. In most states, redistricting is done by the state legislatures and that’s where the battles are going to be won in the next few years.

  • Draxiar

    If the Republican Party was a Pro Wrestler they’d gloat that they won the belt fair and square after caving in their opponents head with a pipe.