Of all the problems in our democracy, near the top of the list is partisan gerrymandering. Because legislators reserve for themselves the power to draw district boundaries, dozens of seats across America are uncompetitive and tens of millions of citizens are left with little influence over who represents them. This fall, the Supreme Court has an opportunity to remedy the offense — with the help of a little math. Polarization is what makes partisan gerrymandering possible. As citizens sort themselves into neighborhoods of like-minded people, self-serving legislators can draw boundaries to artfully lasso them. Such jiggery-pokery creates districts where both parties have near-guaranteed wins. But there’s an asymmetry: the party in control — which in most states is the GOP — distributes its supporters to win as many districts as possible by small but safe margins, while packing the rival party’s voters tightly into far fewer districts.
In North Carolina, for example, the state Assembly and Senate have created a congressional map that reliably elects nine or 10 Republicans out of 13 seats. These seats are secure even when Democrats win the statewide popular vote, as they did in 2012.
Although some argue that partisan unfairness arises naturally because Democrats tend to cluster in urban areas, this is not the whole story. After the 2010 wave election and 2012 redistricting, GOP gerrymandering more than doubled the effects of clustering, flipping seats far faster than population migration could possibly explain. Of course, Democrats played the game, too, and in total, more than 70 seats were made uncompetitive for one side or the other. Republicans, however, ended up with a net gain of 16 or 17 safe seats, a difference that can almost exactly account for why they retained control of the House in 2012 despite losing the national popular vote. Without gerrymandering, their 2016 majority would be approximately 231 to 200 seats, a 31-seat margin that is substantially smaller than their current margin of 45 seats. (That might have made all the difference in Thursday’s American Health Care Act vote.)
Full Article: Can math stop partisan gerrymandering? – LA Times.