Commentary, News

As election begins, both gerrymandering and hopes for ending it loom large

The 2018 election is obviously an extremely important one for the future of North Carolina and the nation. Unfortunately, it’s clear that gerrymandered maps will continue to play a central role in determining the makeup off the next Congress and General Assembly. To see confirmation of this check out a new website from the good people at the Brennan Center for Justice. It includes a colorful interactive national map that shows had dramatically congressional maps have been skewed to favor Republicans.

It shows, for instance, how Republicans can retain control of Congress even by winning fewer than 50% of votes. This is from the site:

Districts across the country tend to shift uniformly in response to changes in the national vote. So by adjusting the bar that controls the parties’ national vote share, you can see how their projected share of seats increases or decreases — including the fact that if both parties win 50 percent of the vote, Republicans will still wind up with many more seats. You can also look at individual districts to see which seats change hands as the national vote changes, and to see assessments by two leading election prognosticators, 538 and Larry Sabato. (Note: The 538 number is their estimate of Democrats’ percentage chances of winning the seat, not Democrats’ expected vote share.)

To be clear, the actual national vote percentage needed for Democrats to win a majority may be somewhat lower than the map suggests, especially in a wave year. That’s because of district-specific factors like retirements, scandals, or exceptionally weak or strong fundraising. While some election analysts take those factors into account in formulating their estimates, our map focuses solely on the raw effects of gerrymandering — showing how rigged maps put one side in a hole from the get-go and thwart the will of voters.

When one hovers over North Carolina’s second district for instance, it shows that Democrat Linda Coleman will probably need for Democrats to win 57% of the national vote to win the seat currently held by George Holding.  The same holds in the ninth district where Democrat Dan McCready is up against Republican Mark Harris. That said, most prognosticators have listed both races as toss-ups at this point.

The Brennan Center site, of course, highlights the issue of gerrymandering reform and the issue of enacting nonpartisan redistricting laws at the state level. On this front, the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government are out with new survey results of where North Carolina legislative candidates stand on the issue. Learn more at http://www.nclobbyreform.org.

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