Donald Trump likes to complain a lot about fictitious Democratic–backed voter fraud during the last presidential election. But the real electoral swindle in recent memory has been pro–Republican gerrymandering following the 2010 Census, a new analysis by the Associated Press found.
The AP calculated partisan advantage in 435 U.S. House races and 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year. Its analysis was based on efficiency gap calculations of four decades of congressional and state House races by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and Public Policy Institute of California researcher Eric McGhee.
Stephanopoulos and McGhee found that “pro-Republican maps enacted after the 2010 Census resulted in ‘the most extreme gerrymanders in modern history,’” the AP stated.
According to the report:
The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were nearly three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.
While both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of gerrymandering, this latest report shows that what should have been close races to control congressional and state seats became lopsided victories putting the Democrats well out of reach of significant gains. And that has resulted in what will become an uphill battle if Democrats ever hope to retake control of state and federal politics.
Battleground states like Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, and Virginia all had strong Republican advantages, and they all had districts redrawn by Republicans after the 2010 Census, the report noted.
Republicans won as many as 22 additional U.S. House seats over what would have been expected based on the average vote share in congressional districts across the country. That helped provide the GOP with a comfortable majority over Democrats instead of a narrow one.
“The outcome was already cooked in, if you will, because of the way the districts were drawn,” John McGlennon, professor of government and public policy at the College of William & Mary, told the AP.
To explain how the efficiency gap formula works, the report cited Michigan as an example. In a state House race last year, ballots were evenly split between Republican and Democratic candidates. But Republicans won 57% of the seats, an efficiency gap of over 10%, one of the highest among all states, the AP stated. And it was the third time that had happened in a Michigan House election after redistricting.
The report notes that Republican dominance in states goes back to the 2010 elections, which put them firmly in control of redistricting after that year’s census. Since then, the party has doubled the number of legislatures and governorships it controls over the Democrats.
The Supreme Court has agreed to take on a gerrymandering case from Wisconsin that could have important consequences for redistricting nationwide ahead of the next census in 2020. But the Democrats still have a lot of work to do if they want to reverse the extensive damage that’s currently being undertaken by the Republican Party and its elected political officials.
Trump is bad, yes. But this new analysis confirms where the broader evil—and power—reside.