Pennsylvania gerrymander gave GOP a big boost — AP analysis

Barack Obama

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it - in the drawing of lines for hundreds of US and state legislative seats.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

For its analysis, the AP scrutinized all 435 U.S. House races in November using an "efficiency gap" statistical method created to calculate partisan advantage.

Gerrymandering in congressional redistricting is not an issue in Wyoming, which has a single at-large U.S. House district won past year by Republican Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

The AP also analyzed congressional districts, but political scientists warn those measurements are less statistically significant in states with fewer than six or seven U.S. House seats like Utah.

According to the AP data, even though House Republicans averaged 57.6 percent of the vote in the 100 districts across in in 2016, they won or retained 70 seats in the House of Representatives.

Other districts - such as Beatty's, where 9 of every 10 voters favor Democrats - are virtually impossible for Republicans to win. In Michigan and Wisconsin, for example, the partisan advantage gained by gerrymandering was unlikely to occur by chance, according to a separate analysis AP commissioned from the Princeton University Gerrymandering Project.




The efficiency gap is the subject of a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. The new boundaries allocated more political representation to the central and western parts of the state and less to sparsely populated eastern counties, where the changes met resistance. But the Louisiana Legislature wasn't among those examined, because Louisiana didn't hold statehouse elections in 2016.

MI provides a good example of how the formula works. But Republicans have a 7-4 majority in the state's congressional delegation and now control the state House 66-34. New Hampshire has only two districts, both of which were won by Democrats. The majority and minority party leaders in each legislative chamber each select one person to serve on the commission; the state chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties also each select a commissioner. He blamed Democrats for their own losses.

"The outcome was already cooked in, if you will, because of the way the districts were drawn", John McGlennon, a professor of government and public policy at the College of William and Mary and a Democratic politician, told the Associated Press. Democrats lost four seats to Republicans. And they moved Republican-performing areas into closely divided districts held by Republican incumbents. Chris Jones testified in federal court he tried to accommodate requests from a large majority of delegates, both Republicans and Democrats, who sought to tweak lines, sometimes to draw out precincts where they had historically performed poorly. But in the end, Maine's districts remained much the same as they had been even as gerrymandering produced odd-shaped districts in other states.

According to the AP analysis, Colorado's Republican congressional candidates won 51 percent of the statewide vote in November to maintain their 4-3 margin. The efficiency gap scores show Republicans picked up at least two excess seats each in MI and North Carolina.

Even with the new lines from a year ago, Virginia's congressional district favors the GOP, the AP's analysis shows.

Democratic Sen. Matt Jones was a House representative appointed to the 2011 legislative reapportionment committee.

"That's just a baseless supposition to blame that all on line-drawing", he said.

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