FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2022
The logic of gerrymander: Yesterday, the Washington Post's Aaron Blake offered an interesting report about attempts by Dems and Reps alike to gerrymander the House for the next ten years.
Along the way, Blake noted a complaint by Missouri Republican Eric Greitens. Greitens doesn't think the GOP has gerrymandered Missouri's House districts aggressively enough.
Under the new proposed map for Missouri, Republicans would have the edge in five of the state's eight House districts. Greitens says the map should have been gerrymandered in such a way as to give the GOP seven of the eight House seats.
Here's the relevant part of Blake's report. We'll post the text of Greitens' tweet in italics:
BLAKE (1/6/22): More recently, former Missouri governor and 2022 Senate candidate Eric Greitens on Wednesday attacked his state’s GOP map-drawers. Greitens complained, not that the map was unfair, but rather that it didn’t include as many GOP districts as possible.
Some RINOs in Jefferson City have proposed a new congressional map that would mean Missouri—a state that went +19 for President Trump—could have soon be represented by 5 Republicans & 3 Democrats.
Absolutely not—MO must pass a 7R-1D map!
To be clear, Trump took 57 percent of the vote in Missouri in 2020 and 56 percent in 2016. A map in which the GOP was favored in five of eight districts would give the GOP 62.5 percent of the state’s congressional seats.
Greitens wants a gerrymander which would give the GOP seven of Missouri's eight House seats. Under the map which has been proposed, the GOP will be favored in only five of the eight House seats.
This is where the basic logic of the gerrymander comes in:
Blake notes that Trump took 56 and 57 percent of the Missouri vote in his two presidential races. On that basis, he seems to suggest that 5 of 8 House seats—that's 62.5% of the total—would be a fair allocation for the GOP.
In the simplest possible sense, that would be a fair allocation of seats. However, consider this:
Suppose a state is 57% Republican, and it has eight House seats. Uh-oh! If the electorate is 57% Republican on a uniform basis throughout the state, and if no gerrymandering occurs, the GOP will end up winning all eight of the state's House seats!
In short, there's nothing in our constitutional framework which guarantees either party a "fair" (or proportional) percentage of House seats in any particular state. It's natural to think that some such principle of fairness ought to obtain, but there's no such expectation or guarantee within our congressional framework.
Greitens wants the GOP to win seven of Missouri's eight seats. Just this once, let's be totally fair:
If Greitens had wanted to be extra greedy, he could have gone for all eight!
Jamie Raskin wants all eight: Here in war-torn Maryland, Jamie Raskin wants all eight. We're not saying he's right or he's wrong:
BLAKE (continuing directly): Democrats in Maryland have cried foul over their party drawing seven of eight districts to be Democratic-leaning, rather than all eight. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) has argued that the latter approach is warranted because of how much Republicans have stretched their own, superior advantage in redistricting elsewhere. (The GOP gets to draw more than twice as many districts.)
Raskin said Republicans “are now in the process of trying to gerrymander us into oblivion from Texas to Georgia to North Carolina to Michigan to Wisconsin.” He suggested not drawing eight Democratic-leaning districts would amount to unilateral disarmament...