Published: Tue, June 27, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

New Hampshire among states with GOP redistricting advantage

New Hampshire among states with GOP redistricting advantage

The AP calculated the partisan advantage for North Carolina Republicans in the 2016 state and federal House races through a new statistical tool that's created to detect cases in which a political party maintained or increased its grip on power through how it drew voting districts.

Despite court approval of political district boundaries in Nevada, Democrats may have managed to get a leg up in the politically divided state's most recent redistricting process, an analysis by The Associated Press found.

Even if that advantage was neutralized and Democrats were given three more seats, Republicans would still control the state House by a supermajority well above a key two-thirds threshold required for matters like passing legislation that amends Utah's Constitution, impeaching officials or expelling a member of the Legislature. Florida was found to be one of the states with the largest Republican tilts in the state House. The AP analysis shows that congressional lines in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas have been drawn in a way that gives Republicans an edge. And only four other states had a lower percentage of contested races in 2016, when most states held state House elections, according to the AP's analysis. As the Associated Press reported last week, nearly half (42 percent) of all state legislative candidates in 2016 elections faced no major party opponent.

Republicans dominate the Wyoming Legislature without relying on the old political trick of gerrymandering, or adjusting political boundaries to gain an unfair advantage in elections, an analysis by The Associated Press found. When the Census was taken every 10 years, Democrats were in control of most statehouses and drew the districts to favor their party.

The efficiency gap method was designed by University of Chicago Law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and researcher Eric McGhee at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Interestingly, post-Civil War Republican Congresses repeatedly passed federal statues to require congressional districts to be "contiguous and compact territories containing as almost as practicable an equal number of inhabitants", but Democrats opposed the statutes and finally got the Supreme Court to deem the last statute as not binding on state legislatures. The Arizona Supreme Court soon re-instated Mathis, ruling Brewer had no legitimate reason for removing her.

MI provides a good example of how the formula works.

Districts underwent dramatic changes that broke decades of precedent: The map shifted whole counties and some of the state's larger cities into new congressional districts, and pitted two Democratic congressmen against each other to remain in Congress. Mapmakers apparently analyzed voting patterns of individual wards.

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-In Massachusetts, just 34 of the 160 state House districts had candidates from both major parties, an uncontested rate of 79 percent.

They say MI is one of the states where it's had the greatest influence.

Democrat Chad Campbell, who was minority leader in the House and appointed one of Democratic commissioners, called Freeman's view ludicrous. Democratic House Whip Carolyn Hugley criticized it as gerrymandering meant to create safer Republican seats.

But "part of it is the gerrymandering issue, in that districts are simply drawn in such a way that it is very difficult" for Democrats to win in many parts of the state, Beatty added.

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.

"There's one answer for that, one word: gerrymander", said Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. A perfectly equal vote distribution would have seen Democrats picking up almost three more seats.

An attorney leading one of the challenges against North Carolina's congressional map, Anita Earls, described the efficiency gap in an interview as "an easily applied and really easily understood measure for how much partisanship is too much". Tennessee had a 0.02 percent gap - tied for the second smallest in the nation - despite electing seven Republicans in nine districts. Yes, observers note, it has contributed to the lopsided political numbers in a state where presidential elections are often seen as a tossup.

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