Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Gerrymandering surges on redrawing maps for states’ house seats

North Carolina Republicans are well positioned to take at least two House seats in next year’s election — but that’s not because the state is turning red.

The state remains a perennial battleground, with elections being closely divided between Democrats and Republicans. In the last presidential race, Republican Donald Trump won by just over 1 percentage point—the lowest margin since Barack Obama barely won the state in 2008.

But, last week, the GOP-controlled legislature finalized maps that redraw congressional district boundaries, dividing Democratic voters in cities to narrow their votes. The new plan took the number of GOP-leaning districts in the state from eight to 10. Republicans also have a chance to win eleventh.

North Carolina’s plan drew immediate criticism for its aggressive approach, but it is hardly alone. Experts and lawmakers tracking the redistribution process once a decade see a cycle of supercharged gerrymandering. With fewer legal restrictions and intensifying political stakes, both Democrats and Republicans have long been pushing the limits of tactics used to woo districts for greater partisan gains, often community unity or At the cost of racial representation.

“In the absence of reforms, gerrymandering in general has become worse in 2010 than in the last round of redistribution,” said Chris Warshaw, a political scientist at George Washington University who analyzed decades of redistribution maps in US states. Is.

Republicans dominated redistribution over the past decade, helping them to make more political gains in more states than any party in the past 50 years.

With three months left in the map making process, it is too early to know which party will come out on top. Republicans need a net gain of just five seats to take control of the US House and effectively freeze President Joe Biden’s agenda on climate change, the economy and other issues.

But Republicans’ potential three-seat net gain in North Carolina could be annulled entirely in Illinois. The Democrats who control the legislature have adopted a map with lines snaking like snakes across the state to make Democratic voters swoon and back Republicans in some districts.

Of the 14 states that have passed Congress’ new maps so far, the cumulative effect is essentially a wash for Republicans and Democrats, except for a few tossed-up districts. That could change in the coming weeks, as the Republican-controlled legislature considers proposed maps in Georgia, New Hampshire and Ohio that target Democratic-held seats.

Ohio Republicans have taken a particularly ambitious approach, proposing a map that could leave Democrats with only two of the 15 seats Trump won by 8 percentage points.

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Gerrymandering is almost as old as the country, in which politicians draw district lines to “crack” opposing voters in multiple districts or “pack” them into a single one to limit competition elsewhere. At its peak, gerrymandering can deprive communities of representatives from reflecting their interests and lead to elections that reward candidates who make it difficult to compromise in Congress.

Nation World News Desk
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