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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GOP’s Gerrymandered Hold on Power Defies Electorate

TDS has run a number of posts lately on the Republicans’ undermining U.S. democratic institutions. It’s an important topic which deserves even more coverage than it has been getting, since the principle of majority rule in U.S. democracy is at immediate risk. David Horsey writes on the topic in today’s L.A. Times and his “Short of voters, Republicans gerrymander their way back to power” sheds new light on the issue:

Republicans have become a devious party that believes if you cannot win by following fair rules, there is nothing wrong with rigging the game. To their constitutionally endorsed advantage in the Senate, they have added a manipulated advantage in the House of Representatives that some Republicans would like to leverage into an advantage in presidential elections.
…This push was rewarded in the 2012 election. Sam Wang, an associate professor at Princeton University, has done a thorough analysis of election results that was published in Sunday’s New York Times. Wang found that even though Democrats received 1.4 million more votes than Republicans in House races, the GOP won 234 seats to the Democrats’ 201. How did this happen?
Wang identified 10 states in which representation has been skewed by gerrymandering. In Illinois and Texas this has created a mild bias toward Democratic candidates; in Indiana there is a mild bias toward Republicans. In Arizona, the distortion in favor of Democrats is bigger. Most significantly, though, in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, Republican candidates have been given a huge advantage by legislative redistricting driven to favor the GOP.
As a result, in those 10 states collectively, the Republican vote in 2012 was just 7% higher than for Democrats, yet Republicans took 76% more House seats. In most games, that would be called cheating.

Horsey concludes with a sobering warning: “You could call all of this the desperate act of a dying political party, but so far it looks more like the brilliant strategy of a powerful minority determined to prevail.”
In effect, Republicans are thumbing their collective noses at American voters. ‘Don’t like our finagling with the principles of democracy? Whaddaya gonna do about it?’ It’s up to Democrats to see that they will get a resounding answer in November ’14.

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