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J is for Gerrymander (Part 2)

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:
An Atheist in Church

An Atheist in Church

And not only in Boston

And not only in Boston