Thursday, 18 January, 2018

AP analysis shows how gerrymandering benefited GOP in 2016

Hilda Schwartz | 26 June, 2017, 01:40

The AP used a mathematical formula to determine the effects of gerrymandering, in which the party in power alters voting districts to its advantage, in federal and state legislative races across the country.

Missouri's state House efficiency gap score favoring Republicans was close to the median of all states analyzed, resulting in about six additional GOP seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share Republicans received in the districts.

That bucks a national trend in which Republicans control two-thirds of all statehouses.

The state House went from a 71-49 Democratic majority in 1994 to an 81-39 Republican majority after the 2002 election when districts were redrawn by Republican lawmakers.

According to the AP analysis, Colorado's Republican congressional candidates won 51 percent of the statewide vote in November to maintain their 4-3 margin. 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.

"The outcome was already cooked in, if you will, because of the way the districts were drawn", John McGlennon, a professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary and a Democratic politician, told the Associated Press. That would make for an expectation of about 65 percent, or 65 seats, going to Republicans in Indiana. Political scientists say gerrymandering can cause a lack of competition, as party-friendly lines discourage challengers.

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

A separate statistical analysis conducted for AP by the Princeton University Gerrymandering Project found the extreme Republican advantages in some states were no fluke. Republican candidates for Ohio's U.S. House seats won 58 percent of the votes but 75 percent of the seats.

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Republicans controlled both MI legislative chambers and the governor's office when the maps were redrawn in 2011.

"I think it's a balance but again, it's also important to, at least in my mind, respect those boundary lines of the cities, towns and counties and school districts as much as possible", he said.

"Republicans have done a good job of targeting those areas and getting good candidates and putting a lot of money into marginal districts, which they tend to win", he said.

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

Torr argues gerrymandering, whether to build and keep political power or, as some in the minority party argue, to build competitive races, is damaging.

Democratic Sen. Matt Jones was a House representative appointed to the 2011 legislative reapportionment committee.

The AP scrutinized the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election past year using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage.

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