03 April 2016

Why Democrats can't regain control of the House

Even if a Democrat wins the presidency -
Why not put another beloved, big story in play and consider whether the House might flip? There is one very good reason: It is not going to happen.

One hesitates to call anything impossible during a campaign season that has upended so much historical wisdom. Nevertheless, this is impossible. But if we’re going to have seven more months of debating whether the Democrats have even the tiniest chance of capturing the House, it is important to understand all the politics and recent history which explains why it’s off the table, even if Trump leads the GOP into an epic rout at the presidential level...

...how sophisticated the GOP redistricting operation was in 2010 and 2011 — and how it has made our politics more extreme both in the House and in many state legislatures. It was different, perhaps historically so, thanks to driven GOP strategists determined to take full advantage of redistricting, new mapping and demographic technologies that made it easier than ever to craft unbeatable GOP majorities, and the wave of post-Citizens United dark money which helped fund it. They called it REDMAP, for Redistricting Majority Project, and did it ever live up to its name...

This Pennsylvania district, the 7th [inset at right], explains a lot if you want to understand just how precisely mapmakers did their work after 2010. Every one of these lines — described by some as Donald Duck kicking Goofy — exists to draw specific Republicans into this district, and to make as many surrounding districts as Republican as possible. Then, mapmakers packed so many Democrats into Chaka Fattah’s Philadelphia district that he won with more votes than any congressman in the country in 2012...

Let’s keep all of these numbers and the reality of these maps in mind when talking about the prospect of Democratic control over the next few months. Any piece or cable news discussion on this topic that does not include REDMAP or understand how the 2011 redistricting was different and more advanced than any that came before isn’t just missing part of the story. It’s missing the entire story, and engaging in punditry as fantasy.


  1. Gerrymandering is so undemocratic. Or maybe I should sat unDemocratic.

  2. This is nothing new and not only practiced on one side of the aisle. I live in a very, very gerrymandered district in Illinois - it was absolutely gerrymandered by Democrats for their benefit.

  3. They should be fair and just overlay a square grid to define districts.

  4. California is also an example of extreme gerrymandering. However in this case, the Democratic party actively subverted a citizen's non-partisan initiative process to keep redistricting away from party politics.


  5. Though there is no real way to guarantee fair districts using district maps, gerrymandering serves no purpose but to subvert democracy. Using the system that many European countries use where there is a total vote taken and a number of seats are awarded to a party based off of the percentage of the vote their party received. The Democrats and Republicans both would be against this method as it undermines two-party supremacy as minority parties would actually receive seats; even if only a few.


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