Editorials: Why ‘gerrymandering’ doesn’t polarise Congress the way we’re told | Harry J Enten/guardian.co.uk
You ever hear a point of view that is so infuriating that you want stick your head out the window and yell? I go bananas when I hear an opinion that goes against well-established political science literature. That happened this past weekend when respected television journalist Tom Brokaw said the House of Representatives is becoming increasingly polarized because of gerrymandering. Don’t get me wrong, I love Brokaw. It just so happens that he is wrong, and posts about the effect of gerrymandering on redistricting have been written over and over again in past months. It could be that Brokaw doesn’t quite understand what gerrymandering is. For those who don’t, gerrymandering is the manipulation in the drawing of House districts to ensure a desired result. Brokaw’s assumption is that politics is becoming more polarized as the result of gerrymandering in districts in which Democrats and Republicans are increasingly safe from worrying about a competitive challenger from the other party. While it is true that House districts are increasingly “safe”, this is the case even when controlling for redistricting. Last week, Nate Silver noted that there was an 8% increase in polarization independent of any effects of redistricting in 2012.