Why Gerrymandering Matters
Gerrymandering is not going away any time soon. It will just be used in different manner, a manner in which to achieve congressional districts with a fairer representation of the district’s constituency.
Why won’t gerrymandering go away? The districts are too big at an average of 700,000 people per district. This is the result of Congress freezing the number of Congressional Representatives at 435 in 1929 and reapportioning the districts of each state based upon population every 10 years. The inequality of this methodology can be seen in a comparison between Wyoming with its one Congressional Representative and it population of 586,000 as compared to California and its average size of 700,000 for each Congressional District. If the average was set at 586,000 people per district as Wyoming has, then California would gain 15 more Congressional Representatives.
The Washington Post has an article up on the impact of both unfair gerrymandering and a fairer version of gerrymandering as dictated by the court The later achieves a much fairer split of the districts meant to represent the makeup of the population within the state and their political interests as discovered through national elections.” One state fixed its gerrymandered districts, the other did not.“
The picture depicts the change in numbers of Republicans and Democrats elected to office as determined by the Congressional districts make up. Pennsylvania had its districts redrawn by the court and “a 53 percent majority in the popular vote yielded a hair under half of the contested seats for Democrats — a big difference from 2016, when 48 percent of the vote gave Democrats 27 percent of the seats.”
In North Carolina, the districts were not redrawn. “The old maps were still in place and a electoral result in 2018 was identical to that of 2016. Despite a Democratic wave in which more than half the state’s voters opted for a Democratic House candidate, Democrats won one-quarter of the contested seats.”
Michigan passed Proposal 2 which established a civilian board to redraw the boundaries of the Congressional districts. I suspect it will still have issues as it will be selected by the legislature.
Oh come on. Wyoming’s total population is 579,000 and it is one of only two states with a population smaller than the 700,000 which rates one congressional district. Giving California 15 additional representatives based on the population of one state is nitpicking of the first water. Wyoming’s population is under the mandate by 28%, Vermont by 10% and no other state is below 700,000.
The number of districts per state has nothing to do with what gerrymandering is about anyway. Gerrymandering is about an improper award of seats to one party or another within the state.
1. The Senate represents by state. Every state gets two Senators.
2. The House represents by population. The founding fathers never intended for the number of Representatives to be frozen and neither did they intend for some districts to have a million and others to have 579,000. Neither did they intend Congressional districts to have an average 700,000.
3. Having Districts at 700,000 makes gerrymandering easy and allows Representative to be unresponsive to constituents who disagree with them. Smaller districts make for more responsive Representatives.
4. There is no pressing need for Representatives to meet in Washington DC. They can do it regionally and meet together via webex like most of businesses do today. No need to pay for expensive apartments then either.
The issue is representation by population in the House so each state is equal in their representation of its population. The House was established to do just that as stated in the constitution and the Federalist papers. Gerrymandering in each state allows the political parties to elect more of their representatives and send them to the House in Washington DC. You do not know this?