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Monday, February 6, 2017

The Real Facts Behind Congressional Seats

I've often written in the past about the effect of the Voting Rights Act in making it very difficult for Democrats to win a majority in Congress.  The VRA requires states to put minority voters (who strongly support the Democrats) into so called minority-majority districts.  Those are districts for which minority voters comprise the majority of the voters; this practically guarantees minority representation in Congress.  In fact, there is only one minority-majority district in the country that is not represented by a minority congressman.  Once you remove all those minority voters to pack them into these special districts, the remaining voters are much more Republican.

I'm repeating this now because I just read another of the endless stream of fake news that the Democrats and the media put out about gerrymandering.  It's not true, but they never stop.  Oh, there may be some bits and pieces of districts that got placed because the Republican majority in the state legislature thought it would benefit their candidates, but that is not gerrymandering.  Indeed, the only reason that the media focuses so much on this practice now is that in 2010, for the first time since World War II, the state legislatures were controlled by Republicans rather than Democrats.  We always had the shaping of districts to benefit the party in power a bit, but since it is now GOP candidates who benefit, the media sees gerrymandering rather than the normal practice of district drawing.

There's more than just the VRA, however, that provides the basis for a GOP majority.  Let's use Pennsylvania as an example.  In 2016, that state voted for Donald Trump, but the margin was very close -- less than 100,000 votes.  You would think the congressional delegation should be split very closely, but it isn't.  The GOP controls the PA delegation overwhelmingly.  But here's the reason:  Out of the states 66 counties, three of them provided Hillary Clinton with over 40% of her vote total.  Those same three counties gave Trump less than 20% of his total vote statewide.  So in three counties that have about 30% of the total vote, Clinton won by 2 to 1.  In the rest of the state, Trump beat Clinton handily.  In other words, the Democrat voters were highly concentrated in just three counties.  Since congressional districts are supposed to cover contiguous territory, it is inevitable that the bulk of the PA seats are Republican.  Simply put, the result is math and not gerrymandering.

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