The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

by Lee Fang, Republic Report.

In the midterm elections, Republicans appear to have won their largest House majority since the Hoover administration. Republicans won on the weakness of Democratic candidates, a poor resource allocation strategy by Democratic party leaders, particularly DCCC chair Steve Israel, and an election narrative that did little to inspire base Democratic voters. That being said, in many ways, the game was rigged from the start. The GOP benefited from the most egregious gerrymandering in American history.

As Rolling Stone reported, GOP donors plowed cash into state legislative efforts in 2010 for the very purpose of redrawing congressional lines. In the following year, as the Tea Party wave brought hundreds of Republicans into office, newly empowered Republican governors and state legislatures carved congressional districts for maximum partisan advantage. Democrats attempted this too, but only in two states: Maryland and Illinois. For the GOP however, strictly partisan gerrymandering prevailed in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee and beyond.

Here’s an example from the election last night. In Pennsylvania, one state in which the GOP drew the congressional districts in a brazenly partisan way, Democratic candidates collected 44 percent of the vote, yet Democratic candidates won only 5 House seats out of 18. In other words, Democrats secured only 27 percent of Pennsylvania’s congressional seats despite winning nearly half of the votes. See the graph below:

 

A similar dynamic played in North Carolina, another state in which GOP control in 2011 created intensely partisan congressional boundaries. In the 2014 midterm elections, Democrats in North Carolina secured only 3 out of 13 seats (23 percent of NC’s congressional delegation) even though Democratic candidates in that state won about 44 percent of the vote:

 

In 2012, the first congressional election after the last round of gerrymandering, Democratic House candidates won 50.59 percent of the two-party vote — or 1.37 million more votes than Republican candidates — yet secured only 201 seats in Congress, compared to 234 seats for Republicans. The House of Representatives, the “people’s house,” no longer requires the most votes for power.

As the results from this year roll in, we see a similar dynamic. Republican gerrymandering means Democratic voters are packed tightly into single districts, while Republicans are spread out in such a way to translate into the most congressional seats for the GOP.

There are a lot of structural issues that influence congressional elections, from voter ID requirements to early voting access. But what does it matter if you’ve been packed into a district in which your vote can’t change the composition of Congress?

This article originally appeared on Republic Report.

Photo: Diliff via Wikimedia Commons

Want more political news and analysis? Sign up for our daily email newsletter!

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

For a long time, inflation has been the phantom of the American economy: often expected but never seen. But the latest Consumer Price Index, which showed that prices rose by five percent from May of last year to May of this year, raises fears that it is breaking down the front door and taking over the guest room.

The price jump was the biggest one-month increase since 2008. It appears to support the warning of former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who wrote in February that President Joe Biden's budget binge could "set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell charged last month that the administration has already produced "raging inflation."

Keep reading... Show less

Close