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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Unveil War on Gerrymandering…at Last

From Jonathan Martin’s New York Times article, “Democrats Unveil a Plan to Fight Gerrymandering“:

The Democratic Governors Association is creating a fund dedicated to winning races in states where governors have some control over congressional redistricting, the party’s first step in a long-range campaign to make control of the House more competitive.
Billed as “Unrig the Map,” the effort will target 18 of the 35 states in which governors play a role in redistricting, and where new congressional maps could allow Democrats to win House seats that are now drawn in a way to favor Republicans. The fund will be used for governors’ races over the next five years, leading up to the 2020 census.
Democratic officials said that they hoped to raise “tens of millions” for the effort and that they believed they could gain as many as 44 House seats if lines were more favorably redrawn in the 18 battleground states. Many of those states still have Republican-controlled legislatures, but with Democratic governors in place they could at least veto the next round of congressional maps and send the disputes to the courts.

“About time” or “What took them so long?” seem like appropriate responses, before we settle for “better late than never.” But this campaign is really a call to arms for Democrats, who get it that all the good we do in presidential election years is rigged to be undone in the following midterm elections, and without a congressional working majority Democratic presidents will be doomed to nibbling at the fringes of social change into the forseeable future.
Martin reminds his readers of one of the most disturbing political statistics in recent memory — that Democrats won 2 million more votes than Republicans in 2010, but still we got “shellacked.” The presidential race gets all of the media glory, but the midterms define the limits of the majority’s hopes and dreams, thanks in large part to gerrymandering. Yes, political apathy and voter suppression also play important roles in the midterm “correction.” But having no plan to fight gerrymandering has proven to be a loser.
But ther DGA initiative won’t be cheap. As Martin points out,

..Democrats have also been badly outplayed and outspent in the battle for statehouses. Both parties operate networks of political committees intended to channel national money into governor and state legislative races. But the Republican version is far better financed: The Republican Governors Association, for example, spent $170 million during the 2014 cycle, compared with $98 million for the Democratic Governors Association.
Democratic governors and strategists have often complained that their donors are too focused on more glamorous presidential and Senate races, while Republicans have been pouring money into state-level contests.

Martin concludes by quoting top Democratic donor Peter Emerson, who said, “We’re late to the game, but we don’t have to come up with a new strategy — we just have to adapt to their strategy.”
Better we should improve on their strategy and use our edge in social media and small donor contributions to fund the campaign. Dems simply must make this campaign a priority or accept the alternative — perpetual gridlock.

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