Humanities
Gerrymandering; Why and How?

Question Description

How is Gerrymandering legal?

Final Answer

Yes, but that's why Gary King and others came up with stuff like King's ecological inference, bivariate ecological regression, etc. to try to ensure that's not what's happening. This for example is why presently in Georgia a "minority opportunity" district only requires 36% black 18+ population, not 50% or more.

in fact, in the legal case in which this was decided it was pointed out that creating partisan advantages is actually good for democracy when those advantages represent actual local political majorities. So in states where one party benefits greatly from redistricting, there's actually an argument that represents an acceptable equilibrium because that usually follows from an election in which that party won lots of seats.

Additionally most of the nation's weirdest-looking districts are in states covered by the Voting Rights Act, meaning they exist to help maximize the ability of "communities of interest" (poor minorities) to achieve effective representation in Congress. The benchmark for that is rather complicated to calculate, but it is actually responsible for a fair number of minority representatives presently in Congress. It's not clear to me that's a problem. Prior to VRA states with 40% black Democrats would have zero black or Democratic representatives. That is no longer the case.

So it's insufficient to say that redistricting provides partisan advantages and that the districts look grotesque. There are actually reasons why that might be acceptable.

The reasons why incumbents retain an advantage has to do with a lot more than redistricting, in my opinion. Inattention to primaries and primary election rules, out of state money, and organized interests are in my view very important factors. But no, those aspects of redistricting, most people find unappealing are all legally codified and are here to stay. Your best bet is to force states to redistrict via non-partisan commission, but even then there isn't good reason to expect a massive overhaul of the system.


Ashley_R (1174)
UCLA

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