Nevada's court-drawn districts may favor Democrats — AP Analysis

Olive Rios
June 26, 2017

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it - in the drawing of lines for hundreds of US and state legislative seats.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

A new analysis of election results by The Associated Press indicates Republicans could have benefited slightly during the 2016 election from the way Kentucky state House districts were drawn. And in Georgia, which has 14 U.S. House districts, four Republicans and one Democrat ran unopposed by the other major party.

Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their USA or state House races. Democrats only hold 41 of 120 state House seats, 15 of 40 Senate seats and are outnumbered in in the U.S. House 16-11. Republicans captured 67% of the overall Congressional vote in 2016, but won all four House seats that year.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) on Sunday said she wasn't predicting that Democrats would win any of the contested congressional special elections held this year. Their model was cited recently by a federal appeals court that found Wisconsin's Assembly districts were intentionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

In Idaho, districts for Congress and the state Legislature are drawn every 10 years by a six-member commission answerable only to the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal.

The statewide average share of votes Democrats received in each district was 52.35 percent, compared to 47.65 percent for Republicans.

MI provides a good example of how the formula works.

The amount of partisan advantage favoring Missouri Republicans was fairly typical when compared with other states.

Republican lawmakers have steadfastly defended the state districts lines as legal and fair, and noted that many GOP candidates have won in districts that Democratic in presidential elections.

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". He blamed Democrats for their own losses. Democrats controlled it in 1992 when they commanded the Legislature.

In addition to MI, the analysis found a significant Republican tilt in South Dakota, Wisconsin and Florida, all of which had a Republican-controlled redistricting process after the 2010 Census.

At least two-thirds of the commissioners must vote to approve a map.

Toscano said opposition to Trump is so strong that it's overcome the reluctance Democratic candidates have had in the past to compete in a district with Republican-friendly boundaries.

For its analysis, the AP scrutinized all 435 U.S. House races in November using an "efficiency gap" statistical method created to calculate partisan advantage. So a party that receives 55 percent of the statewide vote could expect to win 60 percent of the legislative seats. Political scientists say gerrymandering can cause a lack of competition, as party-friendly lines discourage challengers.

At the congressional level, Republicans earned 58.6 percent of the vote but won 77.8 percent of seats, more than 10 percent above expectations.

A previous efficiency gap analysis conducted by Simon Jackman, a former professor of political science and statistics at Stanford University, found that the Republican advantage was even higher in the 2012 and 2014 Missouri House elections.

Democratic Sen. Matt Jones was a House representative appointed to the 2011 legislative reapportionment committee.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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