Drawing clever political districts is one way politicians in Texas and elsewhere avoid accountability — by protecting themselves from voters who disagree with them. They do this by stuffing weirdly shaped geographic districts with voters who agree with them. A new examination of redistricting shows how effective legislators have done that nationally — and in Texas, and how changing the rules for drawing political maps could dramatically change who represents you at the state and federal Capitols. FiveThirtyEight unleashed a fascinating series of maps for their Gerrymandering Project series Thursday as the U.S. Supreme Court considers several cases that could solidify or disrupt redistricting practices in Texas and other states.
In two closely watched cases, the court is deciding whether it’s possible — as a matter of law — to draw political districts that are so partisan they strip voters of their constitutional rights.
The data-centric news site crunched the numbers and lines and devised seven different ways to draw congressional maps for all 50 states: maximizing Republican seats; maximizing Democratic seats; matching each district’s partisan lean to that of the state overall; maximizing the number of highly competitive seats; drawing the greatest possible number of seats with minority-majority populations; drawing the most compact districts possible, using a computer algorithm; and drawing the most compact districts possible while crossing county lines as few times as possible.