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The Great Gerrymander of 2012 - NYTimes.com


The Great Gerrymander of 2012 NYTimes com

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Using statistical tools that are common in fields like my own, neuroscience, I have found strong evidence that this historic aberration arises from partisan disenfranchisement. Although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense, the rather asymmetrical results may surprise you.

Through artful drawing of district boundaries, it is possible to put large groups of voters on the losing side of every election. The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based political group dedicated to electing state officeholders, recently issued a progress report on Redmap, its multiyear plan to influence redistricting. The $30 million strategy consists of two steps for tilting the playing field: take over state legislatures before the decennial Census, then redraw state and Congressional districts to lock in partisan advantages. The plan was highly successful.

I have developed approaches to detect such shenanigans by looking only at election returns. To see how the sleuthing works, start with the naïve standard that the party that wins more than half the votes should get at least half the seats. In November, five states failed to clear even this low bar: Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

There's the flaw right there: To see how the sleuthing works, start with the naïve standard that the party that wins more than half the votes should get at least half the seats.

History has shown people prefer split governments across all levels.

If the Republicans can successfully lobby states where Obama won to split their electoral college appointments according to popular vote, the next presidential election will be a lot closer.

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