Friday, October 21, 2016

The rigging of our elections — legally, by Republicans

By David Daley October 20, 2016

The race for 2020 is on — and it’s about time. President Obama indicated Monday that his top political priority after leaving the White House would be redistricting reform. His former attorney general, Eric Holder, will coordinate the Democrats’ mega-million campaign to earn back a seat at the table when new legislative lines are drawn after the next census.

Obama intends to battle the gerrymanders that have produced GOP super-majorities in state legislatures even when Democratic candidates win a majority of votes — and which have tilted the congressional map so far in the Republicans’ favor that most nonpartisan analysts believe the House remains out of the Democrats’ reach even as polls show Donald Trump’s favorability cratering.


in 2010, savvy strategists based at the Republican State Leadership Committee executed a plan called REDMAP, short for Redistricting Majority Project, and forever changed the rules.

Their plan was so elegant that it’s amazing no one had hit on it before. Most district lines are crafted by state legislatures. Republicans spent $30 million on local state house races in blue and purple states like North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, with the goal of tipping state legislatures red — and then having complete control over the map-making process that would determine district lines for the next decade.

Republicans zeroed in on 107 seats in 16 states — and by winning those, and more, they took complete control over drawing 193 congressional districts. That’s a pretty good headstart in the fight for a 218-vote majority; the Democrats, by contrast, had complete control over just 44.


The lines provided the Republicans with a firewall in Congress that withstood Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection. Indeed, Democrats retook the Senate in 2012, but could not budge the House: Democratic House candidates won 1.4 million more votes nationwide than Republicans, but the GOP maintained a 234-201 majority.

The new district lines — crafted with the help of dazzling new computer technology and easily obtained data bases loaded with demographic information — corralled so many Democrats into so few seats in Pennsylvania, for example, that a near-100,000 edge in the popular vote nevertheless resulted in a 13-to-5 GOP edge in the congressional delegation. A 240,000 vote edge in Michigan still sent nine Republicans and just five Democrats to Washington. In Ohio, where Republicans captured almost 52 percent of the aggregate House vote, they netted themselves 12 of 16 seats.


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