How Computers Turned Gerrymandering Into a Science
In a gerrymandered map, you concentrate opposing voters in a few districts where you lose big, and win the rest by modest margins. But its risky to count on a lot of close wins, which can easily flip to close losses. Justice Sandra Day OConnor thought this risk meant the Supreme Court didnt need to step in. In a 1986 case, she wrote that there is good reason to think political gerrymandering is a self-limiting enterprise since an overambitious gerrymander can lead to disaster for the legislative majority.
Back then, she may have been right. But todays computing power has blown away the self-limiting nature of the enterprise, as it has with so many other limits. A new paper by a team of scientists at Duke paints a startling picture of the way the Wisconsin district map protects Republicans from risk. Remember the Volkswagen scandal? Volkswagen installed software in its diesel cars to fool regulators into thinking the engines were meeting emissions standards. The software detected when it was being tested, and only then did it turn on the antipollution system. The Wisconsin district map is a similarly audacious piece of engineering.
When the overall Republican vote share in the state is 50 percent or more, the authors of the paper show, the map behaves much like an unbiased one. But when the map is tested by an electorate that leans Democratic, its special features kick in, maintaining a healthy Republican majority against the popular headwind. To gain control of the State Assembly, the authors estimate, Wisconsin Democrats would have to beat Republicans by 8 to 10 points, a margin rarely achieved in statewide elections by either party in this evenly split state. As a mathematician, Im impressed. As a Wisconsin voter, I feel a little ill.
GA republicans don't wait for census years. They were doing more chopping and packing earlier this year. Eric Holder has gotten involved now which I hope will get some of this undone.
But then again, I think words matter and I'll bet more than a few people consider my comments trivial.
I also consider the fact science was applied effectively in this way to be a reason the current administration and gop are against science....They've used it in tricky ways and know it's power therefore seek to limit it being used against them.
Ah! the power of power and control!