Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 26, 2014

Which State has the Most Gerrymandered Districts?

Christopher Ingraham: The point of gerrymandering is to “give your opponents a small number of safe seats, while drawing yourself a larger number of seats that are not quite as safe, but that you can expect to win comfortably.”

“The compactness of a district —  a measure of how irregular its shape is, as determined by the ratio of the area of the district to the area of a circle with the same perimeter —  can serve as a useful proxy for how gerrymandered the district is. Districts that follow a generally regular shape tend to be compact, while those that have a lot of squiggles and offshoots and tentacle-looking protuberances tend to score poorly on this measure.”

“I calculated compactness scores for each of the districts of the 113th Congress and mapped them so you can see where the least compact — and likely most-gerrymandered –districts are.”

North Carolina comes out near the top with three of the ten most gerrymandered districts.

 

gerry Which State has the Most Gerrymandered Districts?

  • pbrower2a

    I notice some severe gerrymanders in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Democrats may be the plurality in both states, but Republicans get the majority of House seats.

    • EricFromTheHill

      Yep. And remember these districts were formed after 2010.

      • pbrower2a

        ALEC + Republican snake legislatures = government of the money, by the money, and for the money.

    • CincinnatiRIck

      Don’t know about Pennsylvania, but you clearly don’t have a clue where Ohio is concerned…it’s a bonafide swing state that neither party can take for granted. Moreover, the Democratic votes in Ohio tend to be compacted in inner city districts…largely by geography rather than political design.

  • moderatesunite

    this is a pretty good method for most states, but the severity of the West Virginia results seem exaggerated to me, much of it is because of the irregular shape of the state itself.
    A better method might be to use compactness but control for the boundary of the state in some way.

  • Jeff Schmidt

    “The point of gerrymandering is to “give your opponents a small
    number of safe seats, while drawing yourself a larger number of seats
    that are not quite as safe, but that you can expect to win comfortably.”

    I believe another way to state this is to create districts where your opponents have wasted supermajorities, in order to create districts where they have a slim minority, so that a state where the other party has a narrow majority can be shifted slightly in your favor. So, for example, instead of 3 districts with say a 55/45 split, you have one district with like a 90/10 split in your opponents favor (every vote over 51% is effectively ‘wasted’), and 2 districts with like a 47/53 split in YOUR favor? Is that about right?

    • tomwest

      Yes. The informal terms are “packing” and “cracking”.

      • CincinnatiRIck

        When you have a population that has neighborhoods and precincts voting 90% for one party, what do you expect? They “packed” themselves.

  • Davd Turner Smith

    In Ohio in 2012, Obama won. Our House delegation is 12 GOP, 4 Dem..as if the GOP took 75% of the Ohio House vote…… surprise! they didn’t….

    • pbrower2a

      That is the design — so that the House of Representatives can become a House of Corporations. It has been done before — in Italy, at one time… Government was to represent economic interests, but in fact the government gave nominal and ineffective representation to workers and small farmers but the critical power to economic elites.

      Ohio Republicans arranged one district so that it stretched from Toledo to Cleveland so that it could pit two Democratic Representatives against each other in the subsequent election. In Michigan the Republicans put the Congressman who had the barest loss by a Democrat into the district of an entrenched Republican so that I get represented by someone who believes that no human suffering short of slavery is excessive so long as it churns a profit for plutocrats.

  • Anonymous

    They’re mostly in areas with large African American and Hispanic communities.

  • Anthony Lott

    gerrymandering should be illegal this is where we need a constitutional amendment

  • YONATAN C

    THERE ARE MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN WITHOUT AN UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION BILL SINCE LAST DECEMBER. THESE FAMILIES HAVE HAD TO FACE EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, PERSONAL BANKRUPTCY, AND HOMELESSNESS, WHILE THE POLITICIANS PLAY “PARTY POLITICS’ IN THE SENATE. THIS IS TRULY UNEXCEPTABLE. WITH SO MANY PEOPLE HURTING AND LOSING EVERYTHING, WHILE THE REPUBLICANS HOLD THE EXTENSION BILL “HOSTAGE” FOR POLITICAL LEVERAGE. HOW DARE THESE SELF-RIGHTEOUS, SELF-IMPORTANT, CAREER POLITICIANS, DENEY MILLIONS OF PEOPLE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE. THESE WORKERS HAD FAITHFULLY PAID INTO THE SYSTEM FOR YEARS OUT OF THEIR PAYCHECKS, BELIEVING THAT HELP WOULD BE THERE FOR THEM TOO, IF THEY SHOULD NEED IT. SENATORS LIKE JOHN BOEHNER, ACT AS IF THIS MONEY BELONGS TO HIM PERSONALLY TO DISTRIBUTE AS HE WISHES. THERE WASN’T A PROBLEM WHEN CONGRESS APPROVED A FOREIGN AID PACKAGE FOR THE UKRAINE, COSTING BILLIONS OF TAX PAYER’S DOLLARS. WHY IS THAT? WHAT ABOUT AMERICANS IN NEED HERE AT HOME?

  • rgrif50ish

    While there are instances where one party really sticks it to the other, most gerrymandering is done by both parties working “independently” but with plans that are remarkably similar in protecting incumbents. Ex. The Democrats want to ensure that there are two inner city districts that can safely re-elect for decades the black members of Congress that are already there. The Republicans are more than happy to give Democrats two safe seats in return for four suburban seats that are 55%/45% Republican leaning. When seats are lost in NY or mid-western states because their population growth is negative or below average, both parties look hard at any district where the incumbent is retiring and try to redraw lines to protect all the other districts.

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