redistricting

This is what the new gerrymandered Ohio district centered on Columbus looks like. It’s a beaut.

Unlike Luis Gutierrez’ famous “earmuffs” district in Chicago, this district wasn’t drawn as a majority-minority district for Voting Rights Act compliance. (The VRA requires the creation of majority-minority districts.) It was drawn purely as a Democratic vote sink. 

This is a great early example of what the GOP is going to be able to do now that the party has unprecedented control over redistricting in the wake of massive state-level victories in the 2010 elections. For more, check out this story.

In August, a panel of federal court judges ruled that new district maps drawn by Texas’ Republican-controlled legislature weakened the influence of Latino voters and in some cases evinced “discriminatory intent” against both Latinos and African Americans. Two days later, another panel of federal judges unanimously struck down a voter-ID law passed by the legislature in March 2011, arguing that it would disproportionately harm African-American and Latino voters. The judges did not address whether there was discriminatory purpose behind the legislation, but they noted that the legislature failed to pass amendments that would have mitigated the law’s discriminatory impact.

Both of these decisions hinged on Section 5, which requires certain states with a history of racial discrimination in voting — including Texas — to prove that any changes in their voting laws or procedures do not hamper the voting rights of minorities. Enacted in 1965, the Voting Rights Act aimed to eliminate discriminatory voting practices that had long been used to suppress the black vote, particularly in southern states.

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As of this writing, every single state except Hawai’i has finalized its vote totals for the 2012 House elections, and Democrats currently lead Republicans by 1,362,351 votes in the overall popular vote total. Democratic House candidates earned 49.15 percent of the popular vote, while Republicans earned only 48.03 percent — meaning that the American people preferred a unified Democratic Congress over the divided Congress it actually got by more than a full percentage point. Nevertheless, thanks largely to partisan gerrymandering, Republicans have a solid House majority in the incoming 113th Congress.

A deeper dive into the vote totals reveals just how firmly gerrymandering entrenched Republican control of the House. If all House members are ranked in order from the Republican members who won by the widest margin down to the Democratic members who won by the widest margins, the 218th member on this list is Congressman-elect Robert Pittenger (R-NC). Thus, Pittenger was the “turning point” member of the incoming House. If every Republican who performed as well or worse than Pittenger had lost their race, Democrats would hold a one vote majority in the incoming House.

Pittenger won his race by more than six percentage points — 51.78 percent to 45.65 percent.

The upshot of this is that if Democrats across the country had performed six percentage points better than they actually did last November, they still would have barely missed capturing a majority in the House of Representatives. In order to take control of the House, Democrats would have needed to win the 2012 election by 7.25 percentage points. That’s significantly more than the Republican margin of victory in the 2010 GOP wave election (6.6 percent), and only slightly less than the margin of victory in the 2006 Democratic wave election (7.9 percent). If Democrats had won in 2012 by the same commanding 7.9 percent margin they achieved in 2006, they would still only have a bare 220-215 seat majority in the incoming House, assuming that these additional votes were distributed evenly throughout the country. That’s how powerful the GOP’s gerrymandered maps are; Democrats can win a Congressional election by nearly 8 points and still barely capture the House.

Partisan gerrymanders, like the one that now all but locks the GOP majority in place, have been the subject of repeated court challenges. America can thank the five conservative justices on the Supreme Court for allowing these gerrymanders to continue.

h/t: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

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Right-wing gerrymandering could be on the brink of a CRUSHING defeat at the Supreme Court.

In an order handed down today, five justices hinted that the court may STRIKE DOWN the GOP strategy of “bleaching” congressional and legislative districts.

A ruling like that could prevent right-wing legislators from packing African American and other minority voters into as few districts as possible – a strategy Republicans use to destroy minority voters’ influence in as many districts as possible.

This would be a game-changer for North Carolina, Virginia, and other states where Republicans have deployed this ugly tactic. Add your name today to tell the Supreme Court to STRIKE DOWN racially discriminatory gerrymandering!

http://dlcc.wiredforchange.com/o/6377/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=232

As we’ve gotten more aggressive in partisan redistricting, one effect of this … has been the drastic diminishing of the number of swing districts. So what this means is that districts are becoming more and more red, or more and more blue. If you’re going to win in a red congressional district, then that means you have to be as right wing as possible in the primary – the guy who’s the most conservative wins. And then, really the general election doesn’t count because it’s a red district. The same with a very blue district — you have to be all the way to the left and that’s the person who wins. Those individuals who come to Washington are not individuals who are predisposed to view anything with the desire to compromise. And we saw this phenomenon take place most recently in 2011 rather dramatically with the debt ceiling debate. There have been studies that have shown that the people who were most apt to vote for the debt ceiling deal were people from the swing states and the people least apt to vote for it — the people who were keeping us on brink of default — were those who came from very, very hardcore districts, in this case, usually red districts, Republican districts. And so yeah, it’s a matter of some concern, as we see the intensifying gridlock in Washington, D.C., there’s no question that redistricting has played a role in that.
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Need another reason to support pro-choice Democratic women up and down the ballot? Here’s one:  Although Democrats earned 1.4 million more votes in congressional elections than Republicans in 2012, they had33 fewer seats in the House. How? Gerrymandering. Republican-led state legislatures are whittling Democratic voting power by drawing oddly shapedCongressional districts.   What’s worse? Gerrymandering often reduces the political power of women and people of color the most. If redistricting lines aren’t drawn fairly in 2020, it will continue to be an uphill battle for Democrats to take back the House of Representatives. Watch our video for more information.

Husted’s solution to this perceived problem of Democrats and the national media picking on him? He says we should make Ohio less important in the election by dividing up our electoral votes by Congressional district.

This is huge and should raise giant red flags. Under the current winner-take-all system, Obama won all 18 of Ohio’s electoral votes. Under Husted’s plan, 12 of those 18 electoral votes would be handed to Mitt Romney, the popular vote loser.

As in Pennsylvania, Republicans gerrymandered Ohio within an inch of its life. Even though Obama won Ohio, Republicans carried 12 of 16 seats in Ohio’s House delegation. This gerrymander would have all but ensured that Romney carried the overwhelming majority of Ohio’s electoral votes, regardless of how he performed in the state overall.

Indeed, if the Corbett/Husted plan to rig the Electoral College had been law in several key Republican-controlled states that President Obama won last Tuesday, America would now be looking at a very different future. Assuming that Mitt Romney won every congressional district that elected a Republican House candidate in these key states, the Corbett/Husted plan would have given Romney 17 electoral votes in Florida, 9 in Michigan, 12 in Ohio, 13 in Pennsylvania, 8 in Virginia, and 5 in Wisconsin — for a total of 64 additional electoral votes.

Add those 64 votes to the 206 votes Romney won legitimately, and it adds up to exactly 270 — the amount he needed to win the White House.

I don’t think the problem is being partisan as much as it is being objective. Which is possible whether you are Dem, Repub, Independent, whatever. Maybe Brewer just wants the chairperson to be as objective as SHE is. Ha. To want to look at spouses political leanings is just showing how petty this has become. If it doesn’t come out they way Brewer wants it to, they will simply cry bias.

Under the Republican plan, GOP lawmakers in several states that supported the Democratic candidate for president in recent elections would stop awarding all of their electoral votes to the winner of the state as a whole, and instead award most of them one-by-one to the winners of individual congressional districts. In part because of widespread Republican gerrymandering, if Republicans had implemented this election rigging plan in six key states where they currently control the state government — Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin — Mitt Romney would have won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by nearly four points.

Efforts are already underway in several of these six key states to enact this election rigging plan and all but ensure that the next President of the United States is a Republican — regardless of how the American people cast their votes in 2016. Seven Pennsylvania state house members introduced a bill implementing the GOP election rigging plan this week, and the plan already enjoys the support of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett ® and state Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi ®. A bill backed by Virginia State Senator Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr. ® would implement the election rigging plan in Virginia. And Wisconsin Republican state Rep. Dan LeMahieu is behind an election rigging bill in his state. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted ® expressed support for the Republican election rigging plan, but he later backed off that support following significant criticism.

Michigan is a blue state. It supported the Democratic candidate for president in every single election for the last two decades. President Obama won the state by nearly 10 points last November. And yet, if the Republican election-rigging plan had been in effect last year, Romney would have likely won a majority of the state’s electoral votes.

H/T: Ian Millhiser at Think Progress Justice

Anglo district boundaries were redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren.
—  U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Griffith • In his court’s recent decision to ditch Texas’ redistricting maps, which were in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the court found. Schools and hospitals, for example, were removed from districts with black incumbents. And, as Griffith notes above, country clubs were added to districts with white incumbents. On top of that, a lawyer used the phrase “no bueno” when emphasizing that the plans used shouldn’t leave a paper trail. The Texas Attorney General plans to appeal the ruling, which comes as part of a recent history of redistricting in the state that led to jail time for Tom Delay.
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Redistricting: There’s a music video for that.

Before this year, there were no Senate districts with a [black voting age population (BVAP)] of 50 percent or higher. Now there are nine. A lawsuit filed by the NAACP and other advocacy groups calls the redistricting maps ‘an intentional and cynical use of race that exceeds what is required to ensure fairness to previously disenfranchised racial minority voters.’

And it’s not just happening in North Carolina. In virtually every state in the South, at the Congressional and state level, Republicans—to protect and expand their gains in 2010—have increased the number of minority voters in majority-minority districts represented overwhelmingly by black Democrats while diluting the minority vote in swing or crossover districts held by white Democrats. 'What’s uniform across the South is that Republicans are using race as a central basis in drawing districts for partisan advantage,’ says Anita Earls, a prominent civil rights lawyer and executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice. 'The bigger picture is to ultimately make the Democratic Party in the South be represented only by people of color.’ The GOP’s long-term goal is to enshrine a system of racially polarized voting that will make it harder for Democrats to win races on local, state, federal and presidential levels. Four years after the election of Barack Obama, which offered the promise of a new day of post-racial politics in states like North Carolina, Republicans are once again employing a Southern Strategy that would make Richard Nixon and Lee Atwater proud. […]

According to data compiled by Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, precincts that are 90 percent white have a 3 percent chance of being split, and precincts that are 80 percent black have a 12 percent chance of being split, but precincts with a BVAP between 15 and 45 percent have a 40 percent chance of being split. Republicans 'systematically moved [street] blocks in or out of their precincts on the basis of their race,’ found Ted Arrington, a redistricting expert at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. 'No other explanation is possible given the statistical data.’

The 27th District of Texas...

It’s shaped like a Glock pistol. There are a lot of funny shapes in Texas because of the rather imaginative map drawings. One of them is called the ‘Texas Jumbo Shrimp.’ There’s another one that looks like a bottle opener. These maps can be very, very fanciful - they’re these kinds of impressionistic representations of the yearnings and deviousness of politics today.

– Robert Draper on the funny shapes that come out of redistricting

Ohio Republicans Are Behaving Childishly:

Ohio Republicans are cheating voters by creating false urgency. Republicans have delayed issuing a new Congressional redistricting map as late as possible while creating a gerrymandered map that cheats voters.

This is what children do. Dad says, “Johnny, go back and make your bed.” Johnny, as he is rushing out the door to catch the school bus says, “ NOooo, I can’t Dad or I’ll be late for the bus.” Children delay properly making their bed (the gerrymandered map) until they think it is too late. Then, the children blame something else. This is what immature children do - they are selfish, self-centered, and don’t care about the household. Dad now has confirmation that the child is incapable of making good decisions and helping run the household. Ohio Republicans are behaving like children and not capable of running Ohio (the household) or properly making a Congressional District map.

The problem is the delay. Good parents (voters) don’t let it happen. You tell children to go back and properly make the bed. The children will continue to protest and continue the delay. Dad’s response stays the same and he adds, “Go back and properly make your bed. The longer you take to do it, the more likely you’ll miss the bus.”  Maybe the child will miss the bus, and a good parent (the voters, the workers) will insist the bed is properly made.

Ohio Democrats have done the right thing. Democrats told Republicans to go back and properly make the redistricting map. Democrats said to Republicans, ‘Democrats will not vote for emergency legislation to change the spring 2012 primary date until you make a proper map (you can’t leave the house until the bed is properly made). 

Maybe the Republican controlled Ohio Legislature will be late, but Republicans must not be allowed to behave childishly and to childishly control the lives of workers and voters. Republicans must do the right thing or their privileges will be taken away (voted out of office).

And remember what the bus driver Governor John Kasich said. Kasish said either get on his bus or he will run over you with his bus. This is not who I want as a bus driver for workers and voters!

Vote for the Party that says Yes: When Democrats Vote - Democrats Win.