Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?
November 19, 2019, 01:25:30 pm
News: 2020 Presidential Predictions (Primary) are now active.

  Atlas Forum
  General Politics
  Political Geography & Demographics (Moderator: muon2)
  US House Redistricting: General (search mode)
Pages: [1] Print
Author Topic: US House Redistricting: General  (Read 88247 times)
Posts: 23

« on: August 03, 2015, 09:27:38 am »

I recently wrote the attached article for the Selous Foundation. It makes the often overlooked point that so-called "independent commissions" and the courts generally favor Democrats if you look at the results of the 2012 redistricting. In fact, these appointed officials (who are not directly responsible to voters like legislators) produced more than twice as many US House gains for Democrats as did the states controlled by Democrat legislators.
Unfortunately former NRCC Chairman and VA GOP Congressman Tom Davis has just joined with former Democrat Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (story is below) in a major effort to get these appointed commissions passed throughout the nation. So I am sure there will be a major move to get some in the GOP to support an "independent" redistricting commission. The California model commission Tauscher thinks is so wonderful caused the GOP to lose four more US House seats and produce a 38-15 overwhelmingly liberal congressional delegation. It also increased the huge lead the Democrats had in the State Senate and Assembly.    
Here is my latest article for the Selous Foundation which debunks the belief that appointed commissions and the courts are fair and independent in redistricting
I would appreciate your comments and suggestions

Experience Shows that There is no Such Thing as an “Independent Redistricting Commission”

The Democrats six seat edge in 2012 was largely due to its five seat gain in the nine states with appointed commissions (which controlled 99 U.S. House seats) and its seven seat gain in the nine states, where the courts intervened and drew the map for 120 U.S. House seats. This means that in 2012, for maybe the first time in U.S. history, appointed rather than elected officials decided the boundaries of a majority of (219) U.S. House districts.

By Jay O’Callaghan l July 29, 2015

The Supreme Court’s recent 5-4 decision in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission upholding Arizona’s congressional map as drawn by its appointed redistricting commission has set off a wave of support for this concept in the mainstream media. Unfortunately, experience shows that such commission usually favor Democrats progressive political agenda over Republicans freedom agenda as did the Arizona commission which created a 5-4 Democrat U.S. House plan in 2012, despite a Romney 53-44% victory and a 52-43% 2012 vote for Republican candidates for Congress.

Most of these redistricting commissions are chosen, like the one in Arizona, by left-leaning lawyers (in this case from Arizona’s judicial nominating commission) according to Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  He points out that, “if you are going to have gerrymandering of congressional districts, it might as well be done by a state legislature, which is accountable to the people, rather than a commission like this,” which is accountable to no one.

As Chief Justice Roberts noted in his dissent, “some of the commissioners were motivated in part in some of the line drawing decisions by a desire to improve Democratic prospects in the affected districts,” and that the Commission retained a mapping consultant who “had worked for Democratic, independent, and nonpartisan campaigns, but no Republican campaigns.”

Moreover, in the Arizona decision, SCOTUS strove to redefine the word “legislature” to include unelected, unaccountable, undemocratic bodies like Independent Redistricting Commissions.

The Arizona experience was repeated across the nation according to a study by this author of 2012 U.S. House election results and what method of redistricting was used as reported in the 2014 Almanac of American Politics. Democrats gained five U.S. House seats and won the 99 U.S. House seats created by appointed redistricting commissions in nine states by an overwhelming 66-33 in 2012.

As long time almanac author and political expert Michael Barone points out, the Republican advantage in redistricting is overstated.  “Republicans after 2010 controlled redistricting in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina (138 House seats). But Democrats controlled redistricting in Illinois and Maryland and, by successfully gaming purportedly nonpartisan redistricting commissions, in California and Arizona (88 House seats)… Remember that despite Republicans’ redistricting advantage after the 2000 Census, Democrats won majorities in the House in 2006 and 2008. If opinion changes, redistricting doesn’t matter.”

In fact, a look at who finally created the 2012 district plans in each state after many courts ended up intervening  in the process shows that Republicans only ended up drawing the map (through their control of the Governor and state legislatures) in 15 states with 149 seats. This is only a little more than one third of the 435 US House seats. The GOP won 110-39 in these states for a gain of seven with the Democrats losing ten.

But overall this GOP gain was wiped out easily in states which used appointed redistricting commissions, had Democrat control of the legislature, adopted bi-partisan compromises or where a court ended up drawing the map.  Democrats actually gained six seats in the 43 states which redistricted their U.S. House seats. They gained five seats in appointed commission states, three seats in Democrat controlled states, one seat in states with bi-partisan compromises, and seven seats in states where the courts finally ended up drawing the districts.

The Democrats six seat edge in 2012 was largely due to its five seat gain in the nine states with appointed commissions (which controlled 99 U.S. House seats) and its seven seat gain in the nine states, where the courts intervened and drew the map for 120 U.S. House seats. This means that in 2012, for maybe the first time in U.S. history, appointed rather than elected officials decided the boundaries of  a majority of (219) U.S. House districts.

This decided edge for Democrats through mainly appointed judges and commissions in deciding district lines is highlighted by the takeover of the process by the Florida Supreme Court in its recent decision ordering the GOP-controlled legislature to redraw the lines in eight districts. The court ordered the legislature to use a map prepared by experts from the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee and another Democrat judge gave the legislature only 75 days to redraw it.

The court’s 5-2 decision was made mainly by the same judges that voted in 2000 for a lengthy recount in key Democrat counties to help elect Al Gore President until it was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The mainly Democrat appointed courts have used the new and confusing Florida “Fair District” constitutional amendment to pressure the GOP-controlled legislature to draw a map that helped the Democrats gain four seats in Florida in 2012. Some experts believe that the court may takeover the entire map and help Democrats win a majority of the state’s once heavily GOP congressional delegation.

As Michael Barone said, “the fact is that supposedly nonpartisan redistricting commissions are not going to get rid of polarization (which results from voter attitudes) or gridlock (which results from the executive’s low negotiating skills).”  But the growing use of these appointed commissions with appointed judges may give the Democrats a reasonable chance to win the U.S. House after 2020.

Jay O’Callaghan has worked extensively with issues involving the U.S. Census Bureau including serving as a professional staff member for the House Government Reform Census Subcommittee, as a senior legislative analyst for the Florida House of Representatives Redistricting Committee and for two U.S. House members. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis. 

Political Blotter: Tauscher ramps up independent redistricting effort #News      
1 day ago      The Oakland Tribune BY Josh Richman The Oakland Tribune    


Former East Bay Rep. Ellen Tauscher announced Tuesday that she's bringing on a former colleague from the other side of the aisle to co-chair her effort to export California's citizen-redistricting model to the rest of the nation.

Tauscher, a Democrat formerly of Alamo who represented part of the East Bay from 1997 to 2009, said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., will co-chair YouDrawTheLines2021, an organization she formed to take reapportionment power away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions. She launched the effort in the wake of last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Arizona's independent redistricting commission -- and by extension, California's as well.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Tauscher said she's thrilled to share the group's leadership with Davis. "Independent nonpartisan redistricting commissions, like the one we have in California, create the opportunity for more competitive districts and for more moderates of both parties to get elected to Congress," she said.

Davis said the effort is "critical to getting Congress working again."

"Creating independent nonpartisan citizen advisory commissions in even five or six states before the 2020 census could make all the difference to the make-up of Congress in the next decade," Davis said. "Ellen and I will be reaching out to our former colleagues and like-minded state elected officials of both parties in these key states to put the wheels in motion to get this done over the next five years."

The project will focus on passing ballot initiatives in key states over the next three election cycles to approve the formation of independent, nonpartisan citizen redistricting commissions based on California's model, which was passed in 2008.

Tauscher left her House seat in 2009 to become undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, serving under then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She held that position until February 2012, when she became special envoy for strategic stability and missile defense, remaining in that post until August 2012. She now splits her time between San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
Posts: 23

« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2015, 05:02:23 pm »

Thanks I think those are all excellent points. What bothers me the most is the hypocrisy of many commission supporters and the plaintiffs in Florida (Common Cause, LWV). They act like they are the only ones with pure motives when in fact they have a political agenda to elect more Democrats. The media coverage has been terribly one sided.
There is actually less transparency in Florida redistricting due to the so called Fair Districts. The plaintiffs have presented countless maps in the congressional case but it is very difficult to find their maps in a kmz or doj file so you can really analyze them. The latest plaintiffs map that the Florida Supreme Court suggested the legislature use was produced by Democrat party consultants. None of the plaintiffs maps supporting a east-west minority congressional district from Tallahassee to Jacksonville are easily available in a kmz or doj format on the internet. They have in fact never been filed in the legislature's two sessions on congressional redistricting. As a result I have not been able to find their maps at the Florida redistricting committee websites so they have not been subjected to the intense public scrutiny that the legislature's maps have received. All the legislature's maps are at this website and can be seen down to the block level. You cant say that the plaintiffs have been as transparent. They dont even show what the political performance for every district is in the map they recently proposed. And I don't believe I or anyone else should have to wade through pages of legal briefs to find it.
If anyone can find a place on the Internet where I can find a doj file or kmz file for all the maps that the plaintiffs have proposed. please reply to my post. I am especially interested in the latest map which the Florida Supreme Court suggested that they use as a guide. I think that this information should be available to everyone not just a few lawyers, consultants and academics.
Posts: 23

« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2015, 06:49:54 pm »

Appointed commissions and courts controlled the drawing of 219 out of 435 US House districts in the last redistricting cycle. Elected Republican officials controlled less than one third with Democrat elected officials the rest. The fact that these appointed officials and courts generally favored Democrats in this cycle was the main reason for the eight seat gain Democrats had in 2012.

As for transparency I have still received no word from Common Cause or the League as to where I can find on the Internet a kmz file of the map that they proposed for Florida congressional districts that the Florida Supreme Court endorsed in its recent decision.

Today, these two organizations demanded more oversight of the Florida legislative staff while they prepare a base map for next week's special session. The lack of transparency has really been on their side as I wonder what oversight there was of their map which was prepared by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Pages: [1] Print 
Jump to:  

Login with username, password and session length

Terms of Service - DMCA Agent and Policy - Privacy Policy and Cookies

Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines

© Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Elections, LLC