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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

How the GOP Teed Up ‘Operation Redmap’

Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux has a post “Republicans Win Congress as Democrats Get Most Votes,” which provides some interesting behind-the-scenes detail about ‘Operation Redmap,’ the GOP’s successful plan to hold majority control of the House of through aggressive gerrymandering. Giroux explains:

The party began preparing two years in advance of the 2010 elections by concentrating on candidate recruitment and fundraising. The Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on state legislative races, called its effort the Redistricting Majority Project, or REDMAP.
In the 2010 campaign, the Republican Governors Association outspent the Democratic Governors Association, $132 million to $65 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group that tracks campaign giving. The Republican State Leadership Committee outspent the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, $21 million to $5 million.
…The spending and timing paid off for the Republicans, as they won control of 57 legislative chambers, up from 36 before the 2010 elections, and increased their governorships to 29 from 23, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In the wake of the 2012 elections, Republicans control 56 state legislative chambers and 30 governorships.

Giroux quotes Chris Jankowski, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee: “You can spend hundreds of millions of dollars fighting over a couple dozen congressional districts over 10 years, or you can spend significantly less and impact the shape of those congressional elections over 10 years via state legislative elections…It was a cost-effective analysis that truly bore out in reality.” Giroux continues:

Map-making software is cheaper, more powerful and widely available, compared to a decade ago. State lawmakers can build databases with detailed voter registration figures, election results and population data to project campaign outcomes and demographic trends.
It may also be easier to predict voter preferences. Party- line voting is increasing: fewer than 30 districts backed the presidential candidate of one party and a House candidate of the opposite party in 2012, the lowest total in at least 90 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“If you’re a map-maker drawing lines, that’s just gold for you, because you can very reliably use partisan voting patterns in one election to predict what it might be in another, or much more so than you could before,” said Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, a Takoma Park, Maryland-based nonprofit that wants to change the redistricting process to reduce partisanship in Washington.

Democrats have been quick to note our edge in voter turnout technology, as displayed in the 2012 elections. But it appears that the Republicans out-maneuvered our strategists with respect to redistricting leading up to 2010, and they made effective use of the necessary technology to gain leverage, as well. Democratic leaders need a project to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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