People feel passionately about redistricting. They don’t like how it’s done, or how it’s disadvantaged their party, or both. So when political scientists come along to say “redistricting might matter less than you think”—for the outcomes of the 2012 House elections, for party polarization, for declining electoral competitiveness—people get cranky. For example:
Suck on it Monkey Cage and prove me wrong with maps.
So there’s clearly room for more thinking and discussion about the effects of redistricting. Here are 4 things I think are important to discuss or at least mention.
1) To say that something matters less than is often suggested is not to say that it doesn’t matter at all. This should be obvious, but apparently it’s not sometimes. So I am making it clear, in hopes that people will stop arguing with a straw man.
2) A lot depends on the counterfactual. As we’ve discussed before, making a causal claim—“the 2011 redistricting caused the Republicans to retain a majority after the 2012 election they otherwise would have lost”—entails making a claim about what the “otherwise” is. The challenge becomes not only agreeing upon some relevant and realistic counterfactuals, but agreeing upon what would have resulted under those counterfactual scenarios. Which is not easy.
Full Article: Navigating Debates about Redistricting — The Monkey Cage.