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Gerrymandering gave GOP unfair advantage in IN elections

26 June 2017

An Associated Press analysis has found that a political map-making process controlled by Ohio Republicans resulted in the party winning almost two more U.S. House seats and five more Ohio House seats in the last election than would have been expected in neutral circumstances.

The AP scrutinized all 435 U.S. House races from November using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. The study is based on a formula that compares the statewide average share of each party's vote in the districts with the statewide percentage of seats it wins.

The analysis found four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones.

In a recent case challenging North Carolina's congressional districts, political scientist Simon Jackman suggested that an initial election efficiency gap of at least 7.5 percent in a state with more than 15 U.S. House districts should attract scrutiny.

Republican House candidates received 763,824 votes in 2016, compared to 694,720 votes for Democratic candidates. New Hampshire has only two districts, both of which were won by Democrats. They moved Democratic-performing areas into districts that were safe for Republican or Democratic candidates.

At the congressional level, Republicans earned 58.6 percent of the vote but won 77.8 percent of seats, more than 10 percent above expectations.

Even with the new lines from a year ago, Virginia's congressional district favors the GOP, the AP's analysis shows.

The AP analysis addressed how much of that is caused by voter preference and how much is caused by partisan gerrymandering. Barely one-fourth of the new districts were labeled as competitive between Republicans and Democrats. They said factors other than gerrymandering could have contributed, including shifting political attitudes.

Republican candidates had other advantages, the AP found, from a larger number of incumbents to a voter base spread over more of the country rather than concentrated in cities.

The analysis measured the "efficiency gap" in Kentucky's state House races. Their mathematical model was cited last fall as "corroborative evidence" by a federal appeals court panel that struck down Wisconsin's Assembly districts as an intentional partisan gerrymander in violation of Democratic voters' rights to representation. The formula essentially measures and compares each party's wasted votes — those going to the victor in excess of what's needed for victory — in an election and shows that Virginia's GOP votes are more efficiently spread out than Democratic votes. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal.

Democratic Sen. Matt Jones was a House representative appointed to the 2011 legislative reapportionment committee.

Republicans controlled both MI legislative chambers and the governor's office when the maps were redrawn in 2011.

Gerrymandering gave GOP unfair advantage in IN elections