Redistricting Woes

So Maine has to do some redistricting, because the 2010 census revealed that there's a population difference of 8,667 between the two districts. The Democratic plan would move one town (with a population of 4,340) from District 1 to District 2, leaving an 13 person difference (the article says it'd only be 11 people, but they got their math wrong). The Republican plan involved moving 139 municipalities (which contain over 360,000 people), leaving a reported difference of 1 person. According to data from the Democrats, this would give District 2 an increase of ~10,000 Republicans voters (no word on how it would affect District 1's composition). One of the Republicans defended their plan by questioning how many people even know who their representative is (Hint: We only have two, so it's not like there's a lot of possible confusion).
IMAGE(http://media.timesleader.com/images/0redistricting.jpg)
Link

Apparently, Republicans didn't think eliminating same-day voter registration, which we've had for nearly 40 years, was enough to disenfranchise and confuse voters.

Republicans taking the chance to re-gerrymander two districts that have been in Democratic hands for fifteen years is not much of a surprise, and neither is the Democratic attempt to maintain the status quo.

Aetius wrote:

Republicans taking the chance to re-gerrymander two districts that have been in Democratic hands for fifteen years is not much of a surprise, and neither is the Democratic attempt to maintain the status quo.

Yep. pompous, hilarious redistricting is one of the spoils of war, and team Red won the war of 2010. This wouldn't be any different if Team Blue had maintained strength in state congresses.

So it's not surprising that this instance of gerrymandering involves changing the district of over 1/4 of the state's population?

Stengah wrote:

So it's not surprising that this instance of gerrymandering involves changing the district of over 1/4 of the state's population?

You should see the maps of Wisconsin....

Stengah wrote:

So it's not surprising that this instance of gerrymandering involves changing the district of over 1/4 of the state's population?

Not at all, and it happens all the time. We're going through redistricting in North Carolina right now, and millions of people will be affected. Some of our gems:

12th District

3rd District

1st District

2nd District

The 12th District, in my mind, is THE example of unashamed gerrymandering. The 2nd District is the only one that changed hands in 2010, by a tiny margin - changing demographics have undermined the gerrymandering that made that a Democratic district for 70 years. Incumbents in North Carolina almost always retire, because unseating one is virtually impossible.

Aetius wrote:

Republicans taking the chance to re-gerrymander two districts that have been in Democratic hands for fifteen years is not much of a surprise, and neither is the Democratic attempt to maintain the status quo.

Yes and no.

This is a particularly egregious example, and that overreach could get their plan smacked down. Shaw v. Reno ruled that tortuously-constructed districts which were based on race were illegal. I'd expect a competent legal team to be able to make the case that swapping the district for such a large percentage of the population, when it's so transparently for political gain, is similarly prohibited.

If there were more districts, the Republicans would have more wiggle room to argue that it was to reflect population changes / better align representation with their districts / other standard justifications.

And to pre-empt an expected objection: yes, Democrats gerrymander. It is also wrong when they do it.

[Edit to add: Shaw v. Reno was over North Carolina's 12th district Aetius mentions, above]

Update

The approved plan (8-7, and not likely to pass the legislature) was the Democrat's third offering, which moved five towns in Kennebec County from District 1 to District 2, and two other towns in Kennebec County from D2 to D1 for a final difference of 1 person, which is the same difference the Republican plan had (but would have changed the district for over 1/4th of the state's population). The approved plan goes before the legislature September 27th, but no one's expecting the Republicans to let it pass.

And a decision has been made.

Both sides were able to agree on a plan proposed earlier by the Republicans (but pulled in favor of the massive changes before Democrats to do more than look at it). The final redistricting plan will only affect 11 communities, all within the same county. Unfortunately, there was no info on how many people it will affect, or what sort of a disparity it will leave between the districts, but all in all, it's a much saner plan than the one the Republicans wanted. Neither side got everything they wanted, which is the sign of a good compromise.
IMAGE(http://media.timesleader.com/images/Congressional%20redis%20copy.jpg)

Doesn't look too horribly gerrymandered, at least to a quick overview.

The demand by courts that districts be divided down to single-resident levels really screws things up. Five minutes after they sign the law, it'll be off again anyway, so they should allow for a little slop.

It's not bad, and pretty close to the plan that Democrats wanted. District 2 lost a city that's traditionally been strongly for Democrats, so the Democrat's grip on D2 is a little less firm now, but not nearly as weak as it would be under the plan Republicans wanted. The law that the districts have to be balanced isn't that onerous. It's based on census numbers so it's only comes up every 10 years. And the only reason it was problem was that Republicans decided to radically redraw the lines and refused to compromise until it looked like the courts were going to force them to accept a plan they liked less than this one.

I don't like how the zones aren't contiguous.

They are, it's just not visible in that map. Here's a map of what the districts look like now:
IMAGE(http://media.timesleader.com/images/CongDistricts092811WEB.jpg)

Stengah wrote:

They are, it's just not visible in that map.

Ah ok. That doesn't look bad.

This didn't feel like it was a good fit for any of the existing Wisconsin threads, but I didn't want to create yet another Wisconsin thread.

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin GOP came up with a highly partisan redistricting plan (first mentioned here, I believe). Two of the highlights I mentioned at the time:

Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) would see her 8th Senate District change significantly, likely becoming far more Republican. As now, the district would include parts of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. But it wouldn't include Shorewood, where the recall movement against her was launched last winter, and which has voted Democratic in recent state and national elections. Also gone: sections of the east side of Milwaukee.
Democrats said two Democrats challenging Republican senators in recall elections - Rep. Fred Clark of Baraboo and former Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum - were drawn out of the districts they are seeking. That would mean if they won this summer's recall elections, they could serve briefly but would then have to move or run in a different district in November 2012.

Democrats have been considering a lawsuit to force a more balanced set of district boundaries, but their efforts have been impeded by the GOP refusing to disclose any information about the closed-to-the-public-and-Democrats process that produced the controversial redistricting plan.

Today, a federal panel of judges (the majority of whom were appointed by Republicans) released a scathing judgement, ordering the GOP to release the requested data.

Federal ruling wrote:

Quite frankly, the Legislature and the actions of its counsel give every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process

Glad to see that at least some parts of the judiciary are willing to uphold the law at the expense of partisan affiliation.

Hopefully Wisconsin's redistricting ends up like Maine's. I think our Republicans plan was to start with such a drastic and stupid plan simply so that they could initially claim to be fighting the liberals with their refusal to accept the democrat plan, and then claim to be "reaching across the aisle" when the agreed to a sensible one at the last minute.

If only.

The Wisconsin GOP seems bent on refusing to compromise on any front, abetted by the fact that our State Supreme Court has shown a willingness to ignore relevant statutes in order to pass a partisan judgement. State Senator Dale Schultz and Representatives Dean Kaufert, Lee Nerrison, Richard Spanbauer, and Travis Tranel, are the only Republicans in our legislature who have shown any opposition to the scorched-earth, strong-arm policies being put forward by Governor Walker and the brothers Fitzgerald.

I'm just glad the federal court was willing to intervene here.

If it's anything like ours, the Republican plan is to do the weirdest sh*t imaginable to eliminate Democratic strongholds.

Like say -- putting West Cleveland and East Toledo in the same district, but not in a way that any rational person wouldn't call bullsh*t on.

Wow - I hadn't seen that one. Pretty egregious.

I'm assuming there's a lawsuit pending to revoke those boundaries?

Dimmerswitch wrote:

Wow - I hadn't seen that one. Pretty egregious.

I'm assuming there's a lawsuit pending to revoke those boundaries?

Not that I'm aware of. There was a referendum petition that was so successful that I never heard of a place to sign it (Edit: and for emphasis, I work for a TV station in Toledo that Kaptur visits frequently). They received so few signatures that the map is taking effect almost as proposed

Fun side effect: Pork Princess Marcy Kaptur has to primary against Space Cadet Dennis Kucinich. The winner might get to run against none other than Joe the mother f-ing Plumber.

Hard to believe gerrymandering is still legal. Ridiculous.

It's not just legal, LG, it's common, and it's been used in the past by both parties. It's a shameful practice, and it is at the core of why our country is so dysfunctional... because a very large fraction of our government has now gerrymandered themselves into seats they can't lose. So keeping voters happy is near the bottom of their list.

I mean, consider: Congress' approval rate is just five percent, and yet nearly every one of them will be re-elected. 95 people out of 100 think they're doing a bad to dismal job, and even that can't unseat them anymore.

LeapingGnome wrote:

Hard to believe gerrymandering is still legal. Ridiculous.

I don't know why it would be hard to believe - all that's required is to posit that people act in their own interest, and politicians are people.

Malor wrote:

It's not just legal, LG, it's common, and it's been used in the past by both parties. It's a shameful practice, and it is at the core of why our country is so dysfunctional... because a very large fraction of our government has now gerrymandered themselves into seats they can't lose. So keeping voters happy is near the bottom of their list.

I mean, consider: Congress' approval rate is just five percent, and yet nearly every one of them will be re-elected. 95 people out of 100 think they're doing a bad to dismal job, and even that can't unseat them anymore.

It's the same issue when you poll people about the economy. I'm doing fine, but everyone else is doing TERRIBLE.

I hate congress, but my rep isn't the problem.

If your rep is Republican, your rep is why Congress has been frozen since Obama took office. They are literally and explicitly doing their absolute level best to keep the Obama administration from functioning, to every degree they can legally do so.

Malor wrote:

If your rep is Republican, your rep is why Congress has been frozen since Obama took office. They are literally and explicitly doing their absolute level best to keep the Obama administration from functioning, to every degree they can legally do so.

And chances are their supporters do not see this as a problem, and neither do libertarians.

Hey! Excellent. Another strike against libertarianism: prefers non-functioning government (that still takes money and effort to run) to a government that can actually use its resources to get things done. Hint: If your belief is that [em]making an effort to break government so it can't do anything is a good way to demonstrate why government is bad[/em], you might want to reconsider. That kind of effort does more to illustrate the good things government can do that it's not being allowed to do. In general, breaking something so that it doesn't work isn't going to convince anybody that the thing itself is bad, it just makes those who broke it look like assholes.

Hypatian wrote:

Hey! Excellent. Another strike against libertarianism: prefers non-functioning government (that still takes money and effort to run) to a government that can actually use its resources to get things done. Hint: If your belief is that [em]making an effort to break government so it can't do anything is a good way to demonstrate why government is bad[/em], you might want to reconsider. That kind of effort does more to illustrate the good things government can do that it's not being allowed to do. In general, breaking something so that it doesn't work isn't going to convince anybody that the thing itself is bad, it just makes those who broke it look like assholes.

In their defense they may not be trying to keep Government from working, they may be trying to keep the Obama Government from working.

For example if the Palin-Trump dream team gets into the White House this year you may look favorably on any efforts the Democratic Congressmen made to keep them from doing a damn thing.

Yonder wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Hey! Excellent. Another strike against libertarianism: prefers non-functioning government (that still takes money and effort to run) to a government that can actually use its resources to get things done. Hint: If your belief is that [em]making an effort to break government so it can't do anything is a good way to demonstrate why government is bad[/em], you might want to reconsider. That kind of effort does more to illustrate the good things government can do that it's not being allowed to do. In general, breaking something so that it doesn't work isn't going to convince anybody that the thing itself is bad, it just makes those who broke it look like assholes.

In their defense they may not be trying to keep Government from working, they may be trying to keep the Obama Government from working.

For example if the Palin-Trump dream team gets into the White House this year you may look favorably on any efforts the Democratic Congressmen made to keep them from doing a damn thing.

If they were actively being assholes, and resisting all efforts to even begin to compromise? No, I'd still think they were being f*ckwits.

I can see one or two stands on principle, and I'd be okay with that. The republicans have done _everything_ in their power to get what they want and only what they want. That's something a 4 year old would do, not one of our elected leaders.

Edit for example: Say Obama was pushing a bill about banning guns. If the republicans went into full on kicking and screaming lockdown about that, I could understand and respect that. Same if a republican administration was pushing an anti-gay marriage law suit.

But the republicans would rather have the government shut down than do anything they don't want.

And chances are their supporters do not see this as a problem, and neither do libertarians.

There's a difference between believing that government is a bad idea that doesn't work well, and actively taking steps to make sure it happens. Believe what you want to believe about it, but if you're elected to it, you should be making sure it's doing a good job at what it's doing. Creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by deliberately preventing it from working doesn't mean that you were right. It just means it's very easy to break sh*t.

"Governments always break" is one thing, but then when you actively break the government because governments always break, well, f*ck. I mean, what can you say to that kind of bullsh*t?

If you believed that cars are dangerous, actively causing wrecks to force them to be taken off the market would be rightly regarded as a form of terrorism. "See? They're dangerous. I'll MAKE them dangerous" is mendacious and self-serving. And that applies to actively sabotaging the government in which you serve in precisely the same way.

Hypatian wrote:

Hey! Excellent. Another strike against libertarianism: prefers non-functioning government (that still takes money and effort to run) to a government that can actually use its resources to get things done. Hint: If your belief is that [em]making an effort to break government so it can't do anything is a good way to demonstrate why government is bad[/em], you might want to reconsider. That kind of effort does more to illustrate the good things government can do that it's not being allowed to do. In general, breaking something so that it doesn't work isn't going to convince anybody that the thing itself is bad, it just makes those who broke it look like assholes.

You're making the assumption that government a) can get things done, and b) the things that it does are good. Hang up the government to prevent a war in Iran? Absolutely. It's not a demonstration of how government doesn't work, it is defending the society from government depredation and violence.

Note that I don't think the Republicans are doing it for that reason. They also don't really have a problem with keeping it running, they just want concessions.