July 27, 2017

Analysis finds partisan map-making advantage in Ohio

26 June 2017, 07:22 | Marion Schneider

Illustration by Mike Taylor

US Map Pixel Art

Republicans, who held 106 state House seats after the 2010 elections, have fared even better under the new map.

"There's one answer for that, one word: gerrymander", said Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Yes, observers note, it has contributed to the lopsided political numbers in a state where presidential elections are often seen as a tossup.

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

The amount of partisan advantage favoring Missouri Republicans was fairly typical when compared with other states.

Republican critics of Democratic concerns over gerrymandering point to what they say is Democrats' poor campaigning, their concentration in cities-a sort of "voluntary gerrymandering", some say-and their lack of incumbents to explain the Republican voting advantage.

Only five states had a larger "efficiency gap", or the percent of seats won by Republicans beyond what would be expected based on their statewide average share of votes. In Florida, Republicans had about 11 more seats in the state House than would be expected, one of the largest margins in the country. "The result in this decade's maps has been a persistent and consequential seat advantage in favor of Republicans that will likely endure for the remainder of the decade".

In North Carolina, about 2.4 million votes overall were cast for Republicans in the state's 2016 congressional races, compared to about 2.1 million Democratic votes. How the court rules could influence congressional redistricting and legislative reapportionment nationwide after the 2020 Census.

Newly elected Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Ryan Mulholland of Sheridan credited his party's values for the GOP's overwhelming dominance.

Former Republican state Rep. Jeff Kottkamp sat on the House committee that redrew House maps.

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"It's become a little bit of a hard sell with our larger majority because we have a lot of people who have not served in the minority", Torr said. Judge James Russell tasked three non-partisan special masters with drafting a plan for fair, compact and evenly distributed districts.

Republican House Speaker David Ralston has said lawmakers were merely "trying to put communities of interest together".

But he said every legislator tried to push for districts that increased their chances for re-election. "Do we want the members of the legislature drawing the maps to pick their constituents, or do we want the voters to pick their representatives?"

The 2010 "fair districts" constitutional amendment was aimed at preventing that practice.

Several Democratic Georgia lawmakers teamed up with Republican state Sen. These people were selected to go in the Cabinet because they were in safe Republican seats.

Likewise, he said state Senate maps are drawn fairly, but Democrats underperform in districts they should win.

"You end up having these extreme ideas instead of those that are more central", he said, because candidates only have to please their party's voters.

"I don't care who it is", she said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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