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By now you've probably heard that last November, American voters chose to give Democrats control of the presidency and both chambers of congress in this past election.  Wait, both chambers?  No, Republicans maintained control of the House despite Democratic candidates receiving 1% more votes than Republicans.  How could this possibly happen?  Well thanks to gerrymandering, Republicans have an unfair advantage in the House of Representatives and were able to hold onto power when the public voted them out.  Repeat after me, this is no different than when George W. Bush won the electoral college while losing the popular vote.  The will of the people is being denied and Democrats need to WAKE THE F*CK UP and get angry the way we did after Republicans stole the election in 2000.  Tell all of your Democratic and left leaning friends and even your annoying libertarian relatives that through legalized theft known as gerrymandering Republicans stole the House of Representatives.

Nationally, Democrats won 50.6% of the two party share of the House popular vote, but only won 46.2% of the seats.  Breaking it down by some of the states we get:


In every state, Republicans won a higher seat share than their vote share (Georgia and a few others are deflated since some Republicans were uncontested).  Though gerrymandering didn't contribute a great deal in states like Georgia where drawing single-member districts is what screws us, there are others like Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas where gerrymandering cost us multiple seats per state.


In contrast, Democrats had far fewer opportunities and weren't nearly as ruthless and in Arkansas even gerrymandered a map that gave Republicans all four seats!  In both Illinois and Maryland we could have gained 1 more seat with more aggressive maps.


Looking at some states that had an independent or bipartisan commission or a court draw the map, on average the seat shares are much more representative of the partisan vote shares.

So what can we do, no what must we do, if we want to have a functioning democracy free of Republican hostage taking over the debt ceiling, harsh austerity, and institutionalized gridlock? Our immediate priority needs to be an organized effort to put non-partisan redistricting constitutional amendments on the ballot in states Republicans gerrymandered the crap out of.  When the Supreme Court won't strike down partisan gerrymanders, establishing through ballot measure an independent citizens commission like that in California or that in Arizona is our best option over the near term.  Longer term, we need to focus on winning the governor's office in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2018 to veto Republican maps.  However, with the prospect of not being able to take the house until 2022 at the earliest under the current maps, redrawing the lines is the only way we have a shot at taking the house this decade.

Here's where you, me, the rest of the Daily Kos community, and Democrats in general come in. We need to get active in organizing these constitutional amendment initiatives in certain states, meaning fundraising, signature collection, and campaigning once these measures are on the ballot.  Independent redistricting, when the campaign is properly funded, polls very well and is a slam dunk at the ballot box.  Passing these amendments now can give us several more seats in the House and help even out Republicans' unfair advantage.  The bang for the buck is tremendous compared to the average congressional campaign and if you've ever donated money to a federal Democratic candidate, your return on investment will be even better here.

Being just a college student in North Carolina, I don't have a budget or a political network of activists and volunteers at my disposal, but I do have time, motivation, and most importantly the facts.  So to summarize:

The 3 states where initiatives will be most effective are 1. Michigan, 2. Ohio, and 3. Florida

The steps we need are:

1: Organization - we can start by planning a campaign to coordinate activists and volunteers so that we can start fundraising and circulating petitions.  This is where those of you with experience working for and/or running campaigns, or the connections to those who have themselves will come in.  Aside from fundraising, this will be the most important step as

2: Fundraising - Daily Kos users have contributed millions of dollars over the years to various Democratic campaigns at all levels.  If we can tap into just a fraction of that potential, the return will be much higher than donating to any particular congressional candidate.

3: Activism - This could be as simple as informing your fellow Democrats of the fact that we won the house popular vote and gerrymandering is the reason Republicans are still in power.  This is no different than had Obama won the popular vote and lost the electoral college and every Dem should realize this.  Additionally, those of us in Michigan, Ohio, or Florida can help gather signatures and do the nuts and bolts things that constitute modern campaigning once the measures are on the ballot.  So whether you just want to spread the word or go out and volunteer, please do something!

All in all, these three states could send anywhere from 7 to 13 more Democrats to Congress and give us a vastly improved chance at breaking Republicans' hold over the state legislatures in all three states

So if you're on board thus far and want to learn about specifics, follow me over the fold to see what the maps currently and might look like for each state and the steps required to place these measures on the ballot.

Edit - Thanks everyone for helping this get on the rec list :) I look forward to having discussions on how we can begin to organize these types of ballot measures.

Priority #1: Michigan



This is the Michigan congressional map (apologies to any Upper Peninsula folks) passed by the Republican controlled state legislature and signed by governor Rick Snyder (R), who recently signed Right to Work for less legislation into law.  As should be immediately apparent, southeastern Michigan is a contorted mess.  It also very efficiently packs Democrats into just 4 districts, leaving us 5 total while Republicans and Mitt Romney won 9 of the state's 14 districts in a state where Barack Obama won by nearly 10%.

What might a non-gerrymandered map of the state look like and how many seats could we expect to gain?  Here is one plausible map I've drawn using Dave's Redistricting App that is similar to what a citizens commission might draw:



Had this map been in use for the 2012 elections, we might have won three more districts, the 7th, 8th, and 11th.  Were it to be in place for this cycle's 2014 midterms, we would have a great shot at picking up the 11th where nutjob Kerry Bentivolio (R)'s district shifts nearly 7% to the left.  After that, Mike Rogers (R)'s 8th district becomes a prime pick up opportunity without a gerrymander to crack Lansing, representing a 6% shift leftward.  State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D) would make an excellent candidate if she decided not to run for Governor or Attorney General instead.

That's two probable pick ups right out of the gate, but the benefits don't end there.  The 4th district, represented by Republican Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R) becomes 4.5% more Democratic with the unification of the tri-cities area.  Camp is well entrenched, but with a strong campaign and the continuing unpopularity of congressional Republicans, this one could be competitive.  Additionally Fred Upton (R)'s 6th district becomes nearly 2% more Democratic and after his surprisingly weak showing (for a long-time incumbent) last year, he could potentially be vulnerable.  If a commission indeed drew Battle Creek into the district as I have, former 1 term Rep. and ex-state senate minority leader Mark Schauer (D) would make an excellent candidate.  Furthermore, the 1st district, where tea partier Dan Benishek (R) barely eked out a victory over former state Rep. Gary McDowell (D), remains just as competitive.  On the negative side, Paulista Justin Amash (R), who won by just single digits sees his 3rd district become 2% more Republican.  Finally, 5th district freshman Dan Kildee (D) and Dean of the House John Dingell, Jr. (D) both see their districts weakened, but not enough to be vulnerable.

This doesn't even begin to cover the state legislature, where the Republican gerrymander in the state House of Representatives saved the party's bacon and where their state Senate gerrymander makes it impossible for us to ever win that chamber.  This last point is what makes non-partisan redistricting have no drawback in Michigan.  We will never be able to gerrymander the state ourselves so there's literally no reason not to prevent Republicans from doing so.  As my area of expertise is federal politics, rather than at the state level, I can't say with any clarity how many seats we might gain, but if the map ended up looking anything like this it would be several.  With Rick Snyder's sinking popularity and non-gerrymandered legislative maps, we might even be able to win the trifecta for the first time since the 1982 elections.

The Role for Activism

So how could this much improved map come to pass?  Per Ballotpedia constitutional amendment initiatives require 10% of the number of votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election or 322,609 valid signatures (meaning we'd need to collect a decent amount higher as some will be thrown out).  Petition gatherers must be registered voters in the state and we have a 180 day window to collect them all.  This shouldn't be terribly difficult to achieve in a state that cast 2,564,569 ballots for Barack Obama, or nearly 8 times the required signatures.  Primarily, clearing this hurdle will involve mobilizing volunteers or, if we could raise enough money, paid signature gatherers.  Democrats successfully put measures on the ballot last year, such as an effort that attempted to enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution (though it lost 57% to 43%) as well as a successful referendum that blocked the state's odious Emergency Manager law Republicans had passed to circumvent locally elected governments.

The hardest part of the process here will be collecting enough valid signatures.  Once on the ballot we just need a few million dollars to run a campaign familiarizing people with the amendment and I guarantee it will pass the 50%+1 threshold with flying colors.  Conveniently, Democrats are already planning on putting another amendment on the ballot, one to preempt the state's recently passed Right to Work for less law.  It would be a great feat of efficiency if the labor movement would get involved here too as there are hundreds of thousands of union members in the state alone who could easily help us clear the signature hurdle.

So how can you help?  One step would logically be for lawyers familiar with constitutional law and the initiative process in the state to formulate legal initiative language that will be constitutional (again I am not a lawyer).  Then, as we did in the Wisconsin recalls in 2011-2012 and the Michigan and Ohio labor initiative campaigns from 2011 and 2012, we need organization.  That means any of you who are politically active in Michigan should call your contacts, whether they be fellow activists, elected officials, union representatives, etc. and start formulating a plan to organize a signature drive.  Once the signature petition process has been organized, we will need fundraising.  The bang for the buck here is likely much better than any congressional race as just a few million can help us elect multiple new Democrats.  Ideally, with a readership as large as Daily Kos has, front pagers like Markos will get involved here too as Daily Kos has been responsible for a good chunk of the money raised and volunteer hours spent during the Wisconsin recalls in particular.  Were I living in Michigan, I would certainly volunteer, but my means of activism are limited to donations and the soap box, which is why I need you, fellow Kossacks, to get involved!

Priority #2: Ohio



Even worse than in Michigan, Ohio Republicans and governor John Kasich (R) were able to draw a map that packed Democrats into just 4 of 16 districts in a state Obama carried.  Northeast Ohio is a mess, Cincinnati is cracked, and Toledo is combined with western Cleveland.  We were only competitive in two districts other than those we held, but both Betty Sutton and former Rep. Charlie Wilson lost.  While there are many ways to draw the state, here is one version I feel is decently plausible:


Of our four incumbents, the only one whose seat is no longer perfectly safe is Marcy Kaptur (D), but this area is trending Democratic and she is well entrenched and would have nothing to fear in 2014.

Of the seats we would be favored to pick up are the 1st, where Steve Chabot (R) gets a compact Cincinnati seat and would lose to someone like former Rep. Steve Driehaus (D).  If Driehaus declined to run, Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory (D), who is black, would make a great candidate in this 26% black district.  In total, the district shifts 7% towards Dems and was easily carried by Obama.

Next comes the 5th district which is radically different than the actual gerrymandered version.  Now, there are multiple ways to draw this seat and some aren't as favorable to us as this, but it's nearly 9% more Democratic with Obama carrying it both times and is essentially an open seat with incumbent Rep. Bob Latta (R) being drawn into the safely Democratic 9th district.  This seat is by no means safely Dem, but with our current political environment Democrats should be modest favorites to pick it up.

Our third probable pick up is the 7th district.  Incumbent Republican Bob Gibbs (R) sees his heavily gerrymandered seat dismantled and West Cleveland's district is restored.  Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) might try to run again here as this is now essentially his old district, but after his crushing defeat in last year's primary, his odd flirtation with running for congress in Washington State, and his latest venture as a Republican-meme-enabling "Democrat" on Fox News will probably prevent him from winning the primary were he to run.  Regardless, Democrats will be heavily favored to pick up this district that easily gave Obama over 55% last year.

The fourth and final probable pick up sees a restored Akron-based seat ripe for the taking for former Rep. Betty Sutton (D).  She ran a great campaign last year in a much more conservative district when her old one was shredded and would easily secure this seat for us.

Additionally, there is one more seat in which we would be more competitive, Bill Johnson (R)'s 6th district.  Former two term Rep. Charlie Wilson (D), whom Johnson ousted in the 2010 wave, fought a good race last year losing by just 6.5% in a district Obama lost by nearly 13%.  Without a GOP gerrymander, this district reabsorbs heavily Democratic Athens as well as parts of Wilson's old state senate district with places like New Philadelphia.  Democrats in Appalachia took a beating this year, but with Obama's 2012 percentage increasing by 3.2% this district would have been a coin flip last year.  Hopefully, if a map like this were implemented, Wilson would give Johnson another run for his money.

Finally, I should note that I do not believe that the 11th district should be required by the Voting Rights Act to be majority black as Republicans drew it.  There is not enough racial polarization in northeast Ohio to require a Cleveland to Akron racial gerrymander.  Black voters would clearly have the ability to elect the candidate of their choice in incumbent Rep. Marcia Fudge (D).  Also, in this iteration of the map, freshman Rep. David Joyce (R) sees his district eliminated, but other plausible maps could instead eliminate 16th district Rep. Jim Renacci (R) while making Joyce's district much more favorable than the current iteration.

As with Michigan, Republicans also heavily gerrymandered the state legislature, similarly preventing us from possibly capturing the state House of Representatives last year and making it practically impossible to win the state senate.  Any redistricting commission should also be tasked with redrawing state legislative lines in a fair and impartial manner as well.

The Role for Activism

So what can we do to help make a map like the one I drew a reality?  Per Ballotpedia again, constitutional amendment initiatives in Ohio require valid signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election, or 385,247 valid signatures.  This is equal to just 1/7th of the 2,827,621 votes Obama won last year.  Unlike Michigan though, signature gatherers do not have to reside in the state meaning we can send volunteers from neighboring states in to help with the effort.  Furthermore, there is generally no time limit for how long we have to collect signatures; they only need to be filed 125 days prior to the general election.  Also, like Michigan, initiative amendments only need to clear 50%+1 to pass.

Unfortunately, good government groups with the half-hearted help of some Democrats actually placed an independent redistricting commission amendment on the ballot last year, but thanks to a wide lack of funding and Ohio's asshole Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) giving the initiative intentionally misleading wording on the ballot, that measure went down to a huge defeat.  If we place an initiative on the ballot again, all we need to do to counter Husted's trickery is run a well funded campaign around how we need to remove the ability for legislators to choose their voters and actually run ads showing the ridiculous looking map.  With enough campaign funds and volunteer outreach, Democrats and Independents in the state should be enough to clear 50%+1.

So how can you help?  Like with Michigan, I have no experience or political contacts in Ohio and wouldn't even know where to begin.  If you're in Ohio and/or know people there who are politically engaged, inform them about the actions we can take to fight back against Republican gerrymandering.  As with Michigan, we'll need to determine ballot language that is constitutional and then organize a campaign to collect valid signatures  Unions in particular, who successfully waged a ballot campaign in 2011, can be a big help if they got behind the measure as could Democratic party bigwigs like former governor Ted Strickland (D).  As with our past campaigns in Ohio and Wisconsin, above all we need organization, volunteers, and fundraising.  If we can get this amendment on the ballot we can send 3-5 more Democrats to congress and have a chance to end Republicans' control of the legislature.

Priority #3: Florida



Finally, we have the congressional map passed by the Republican controlled legislature and signed by deeply unpopular incumbent governor and all around disgusting human being, Rick Scott (R).  As is typical of (semi) southern states, Democratic votes are already quite heavily concentrated in certain urban areas, but the Florida map does its best to pack Democrats as much as possible into just 7 districts.  Particularly grotesque is Corrine Brown (D)'s 5th district, which masquerading as a black minority district, stretches from Jacksonville to Gainesville to Orlando to soak up as many Democrats as possible.  Another Democratic vote sink masquerading as a VRA required black district is Alcee Hasting (D)'s 20th district in southeast Florida.  Finally, one of the more blatantly gerrymandered districts is Kathy Castor (D)'s Tampa-based 14th district which uses water contiguity to take in St. Petersburg in neighboring Pinellas County to protect long time incumbent Bill Young (R).

What makes this map even more ridiculous is that Republicans claim it adheres to the Fair Districts Amendment that voters passed via initiative in 2010.  While Democratic groups have sued and the cases are currently working their way through the court system, there is no guarantee that the current map will get stuck down.  Furthermore, even if the legislature is forced to redraw the lines they can still tweak them to favor the GOP somewhat.  This should be totally unacceptable to Democrats and we need to push for a full-fledged independent redistricting commission.

Florida is a somewhat difficult state to map due to its peninsular shape and dense population clusters so there are many different maps a commission could realistically draw, but here is my best attempt at a map that ignores partisanship and tries to adhere to communities of interest and respecting local boundaries where practical:



The biggest difference between my map and the currently used one is that I dismantled the flagrantly gerrymandered 5th district.  Instead of meandering from Jacksonville to Orlando, it becomes completely comprised of just Jacksonville and some inner suburbs in Duval County.  Corrine Brown would hate it, but given how she aided Republicans in trying to defend their own gerrymander in court, she deserves to lose her seat.  Make no mistake though, this district would be solidly Democratic for a moderately liberal Democrat and current Jacksonville/Duval County Mayor Alvin Brown (D) would be a fantastic candidate and he has a lot of statewide potential as mayor of conservative Jacksonville anyway.  While dismantling the 5th replaces one liberal Democrat with a more moderate one, the payoff is in Orlando where we get a very safely Democratic seat centered on western Orange County.  Former Chief of the Orlando Police Department Val Demings (D) ran a great race against christian fundamentalist Dan Webster (R) last year in the 10th district and lost by just 3.5% in that conservative district.  Under this map, Demings would easily win this much more Democratic seat and as a great potential statewide candidate, she and Alvin Brown together are well worth trading in Corrine Brown for.

Next comes the Tampa Bay area.  The Fair District Amendment was clearly ignored by Republicans here and I've rectified that by adding St. Petersburg back to the 13th.  20-term incumbent Bill Young has long been rumored as wanting to retire with the GOP having to prod him every cycle into running again.  He only won by 15% last year, his worst showing in 20 years and second worst ever, and with his district seeing Obama's 2008 performance increase by 4.5% I would be very willing to bet he would just retire.  2012 nominee, former congressional staffer and attorney Jessica Ehrlich (D) would be a strong candidate and even if Young doesn't retire would give him the fight of his life.

In addition to the previously mentioned districts, Steve Southerland (R)'s Tallahassee based 2nd district remains competitive for a Blue Dog as Alex Sink (D) won it in her 2010 gubernatorial race and Senator Bill Nelson (D) won it handily last year.  Corrupt 16th district Rep. Vern Buchanan (R)'s district also remains largely unchanged and somewhat competitive as we came within 7% of beating him last year.

Moving on to south Florida, I encountered a lot of difficulty deciding how to draw the lines, so view this part map as a general guideline.  What should definitely happen though is the dismemberment of the 20th district. Hastings would still have a good chance of winning the primary in any new Ft. Lauderdale district as he has been in congress for 20 years, has had little trouble in the past with primaries, and the district would retain a substantial black population, though no longer close to a majority.  This should allow black voters in Palm Beach County to have a better shot at electing the candidate of their choice, though there really isn't enough racially polarized voting in southeast Florida (compared to north Florida) for that to really matter much.

Subsequently, first term Rep. Lois Frankel (D), a newly minted member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, gets a much safer 22nd district.  Unfortunately, at least for the way my particular map turned out, freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), who defeated tea party firebrand and war criminal Allen West (R), gets a 2% more Republican district.  Murphy will already be a target as this district was carried by Romney by a modest margin, but he's thus far proved a very talented politician and would have a decent chance to hold on.

Finally, we get to the three Hispanic VRA districts in Miami-Dade County.  I'll admit I really had no idea how to draw the lines between the three of them, but given how A) Republicans tried to gerrymander all three to be as conservative as possible and B) all three trended heavily Democratic in 2012 and one sent Joe Garcia (D) to congress, I would have to imagine that either Garcia's seat gets a good deal more Democratic, or that one of the two Republicans, Mario Diaz-Balart (R) or Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) would get a more Democratic seat.

In total, we could probably expect to gain 1-3 seats with an independently drawn Florida map.  As with both Michigan and Ohio, Republicans gerrymandered the state legislature too and I don't see how we wouldn't gain seats under fairer maps, though I doubt it would be enough to capture either chamber.  Florida is one state where adopting an Arizona style redistricting commission that also valued competitiveness (in addition to communities of interest) would be worth pursuing over a California style strictly non-partisan one, though those familiar with Florida constitutional law would be better able to make that decision than I can.

The Role for Activism

Unlike the previous two states, voter initiated constitutional amendments in Florida have to clear a 60% supermajority threshold.  While I actually like this idea as it can prevent hateful crap like North Carolina's recent Amendment 1, it does make passing redistricting reform in Florida somewhat more difficult.  Nonetheless, both redistricting reform amendments passed this threshold in 2010 of all years, so I feel pretty good about our chances of winning at the ballot box in 2014.

The initiative process itself requires proponents to gather enough valid signatures equal to 8% of the total ballots cast in the last presidential election, or 676,811 signatures.  For reference, Obama won 4,237,756 votes last year, more than 6 times the required number of signatures.  Additionally, we need to collect signatures equaling at least 8% of the presidential vote in at least 14 of the state's 27 districts, which shouldn't be too difficult.  Furthermore, signature gatherers do not need to be Florida residents or voters.  Finally, while signatures stay valid for two years, they must be submitted by February 1st to be on the next general election ballot.  Obviously, as with all petition gathering, we'll need more than the required number as some will be invalid, but as with the other states this hurdle should be easily cleared with enough resources.  The fair district amendment campaigns of 2010 spent roughly $2 per signature in the process, or about $1,366,000 in total to put one of the initiatives on the ballot.

Unfortunately, activists have already tried to put a redistricting commission amendment on the ballot in 2006 and it was blocked by the state Supreme Court.  However, that decision (pdf) was based on the initiative passing district standards as well and since amendments can only address a single issue the court blocked it.  Fortunately the court did not oppose the merits of the commission itself and with the fair district standards having passed in 2010, my non-legal opinion is that we should have the green light to put an independent commission on the ballot.

Next of course comes organization and fundraising.  The same as with both other states, we'll need people experienced running campaigns and ballot initiatives in the state to help organize volunteers and solicit donors to be able to execute the campaign.

To reiterate, an independent redistricting commission in Florida could net us 1 to 3 more congressional seats and help us in our goal of flipping the legislature.

Priority #4: Arkansas

 photo ARCongressionalMap_zps687c2f12.png

 photo ArkansasCongressionalMap2012Data_zps8543aca5.png

While not nearly as worthwhile as any of the first three, Arkansas is a state where non-partisan districts could also help us.  Arkansas was an absolute disaster when it came to redistricting; as I've previously detailed, Arkansas Democrats quite foolishly tried to keep 3 of the state's 4 districts winnable, rather than draw a 2-2 map.  In addition to poor line drawing, we fielded very weak candidates in all three districts who predictably lost big.  Now that Democrats have lost the legislature for the first time since Reconstruction and look set to lose the governor's office as well in 2014 (pdf), there won't be an opportunity for a do over.

However, Arkansas has the amendment initiative available and if we instituted a California style start-from-scratch commission here, we might get a map that looked something like this:

 photo ARFairMapoverview_zpsa399c015.png

 photo ArkansasFairMapData_zps266c7d28.png

This map gives us a clear Democratic district with the Delta based 1st, which moves 4% towards Democrats thanks to adding Pine Bluff.  With a stronger candidate like Chad Causey (D), our 2010 nominee and chief of staff to former Rep. Marion Berry (D), and not having Romney's coattails we could definitely beat incumbent Rep. Rick Crawford (R).  Additionally, the 2nd district remains competitive though it becomes slightly more Republican (though Obama gets a higher percentage).  Incumbent Rep. Tim Griffin (R) is not overly popular and as long as we don't nominate a liberal Dem we should at least be competitive in the 2nd.  Yes, unfortunately neither of the two districts will yield a liberal, but I'll take a moderate Blue Dog over far right Republican any day of the week, especially when they represent another vote for a Democratic speaker.  Lastly, enacting a commission now will prevent Republicans from drawing an actual Republican gerrymander for 2022 when they will likely control the process.

Priority #5: Nebraska

 photo NebraskaCongressionalMap2012_zps8320c2ba.png

 photo NebraskaCongressionalMap2012Data_zpsc22c7522.png

Similarly to Arkansas, Nebraska is a state where non-partisan districts will only be a mild boost.  While the only competitive district is the Republican-leaning 2nd, incumbent Rep. Lee Terry (R) barely eked out a victory over Douglas County Treasurer John Ewing (D) with a winning margin of just 1.6%.  While this district is hardly aggressively gerrymandered, Republicans did swap out relatively less Republican Bellevue and Offutt Air Force Base in eastern Sarpy County for even more heavily Republican rural areas in the western part of the county.  A neutral map would not have done this and might have looked more like this:

 photo NEFairMapoverview_zps2b3d2757.png

 photo NEFairMapdata_zps9deb463a.png

Though the difference is rather small with Obama's 2008 performance increasing by just 0.6%, that small difference on paper could have narrowed Terry's margin to just 0.4%.  If the race had been run under these lines it would have been a coin flip.  Additionally, since Nebraska is one of just two states to split its electoral votes by congressional district, Obama would have had a slightly better chance of winning here.  Maybe he would have invested more in the district, putting Ewing over the top, but we can never know.  Still, Terry remains an appealing target as he habitually underperforms in what should be a fairly easy Republican hold and when every little bit makes a difference, pursuing independent redistricting can only help.  The best scenario would be to pass an Arizona style commission that considers competitiveness as well; Terry would lose if his district were just a few points more Democratic and the electoral vote would be genuinely up for grabs.


So if you've made it this far thank you very much for reading and please, please get involved and help make this strategy a reality.  While in an ideal world we would have fair districts nationwide with mixed-member proportional representation on top so that line drawing doesn't affect the partisan control of congress (and no senate or electoral college too), we don't live in an ideal world.  I'll support independent redistricting in Illinois and Maryland when we get it in Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, but when Republicans have institutionalized an unfair advantage in the House of Representatives, I adamantly believe that pursuing independent redistricting in these key states is the best way to counter what is essentially electoral theft.  So please, spread the word and get involved!

Originally posted to sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:45 PM PST.

Also republished by State & Local ACTION Group, Three Star Kossacks, and Youth Kos 2.0.

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    KingofSpades, rolet, slothlax, Puddytat, OutCarolineStreet, Sylv, Dobber, cassandracarolina, Boppy, Jeff Y, Chaddiwicker, Cecile, DownstateDemocrat, Ajax the Greater, fumie, Simplify, chrississippi, ItsSimpleSimon, thankgodforairamerica, sgary, blue aardvark, CoExistNow, Beetwasher, Just Saying, Lily O Lady, westyny, itskevin, LynChi, lgmcp, MKSinSA, anodnhajo, eru, tobendaro, peachcreek, LSmith, banjolele, DianeNYS, CTLiberal, RandomNonviolence, hubcap, Bronxist, concernedamerican, arizonablue, greycat, blue muon, Radiowalla, elijah311, Shelley99, Troubadour, sixeight120bpm, whenwego, Quicklund, Brian82, JayRaye, AndersonDelValle, cybersaur, Shockwave, howd, Glacial Erratic, AZ Sphinx Moth, Sapere aude, poopdogcomedy, jolux, emelyn, DvCM, remembrance, MBishop1, nzanne, Alexandre, ybruti, MRA NY, badscience, Renee, slowbutsure, Getreal1246, Andrew C White, StonyB, JayC, monkeybrainpolitics, EricS, jwinIL14, psnyder, mrkvica, homunq, createpeace, tb92, jamess, november3rd, Transmission, Sailorben, SmartAleq, Rosaura, certainot, Gowrie Gal, duhban, rivercard, Anne Elk, tgypsy, crackpot, maggiejean, RebeccaG, Grandma Susie, kerflooey, HCKAD, statsone, Aquarius40, Sembtex, tarheelblue, Judge Moonbox, Danny Ricci, FarWestGirl, Susipsych, angry hopeful liberal, radical simplicity, Wood Dragon, CharlieHipHop, dmhlt 66, ScientistSteve, LarisaW, gizmo59, Preston S, begone, JayDean, HarpboyAK, frazer, buckstop, nomandates, SethRightmer, kurykh, Gustogirl, Going the Distance, ATFILLINOIS, FogCityJohn, eeff, barkingcat, Ray Pensador, rja, jgnyc, Jim Tietz, Subterranean, hooktool, twigg, Marihilda, temptxan, highacidity, Odysseus, Tirge Caps, annan, 1BQ, tofumagoo, Bailey Savings and Loan, Railfan, ichibon, pat bunny, TexasLefty, greenchiledem, cherryXXX69, BrowniesAreGood, wayoutinthestix, IamNotaKochsucker, petulans, Audrid, la motocycliste, PBnJ, yella dawg, GoUBears, LynnS, subtropolis, Nulwee, Meteor Blades, Glen The Plumber, anastasia p, NBBooks, dgb, MattTX, yoduuuh do or do not, cyberpuggy, countwebb, dragonlady, solesse413, DavidHW, roses, WisJohn, Lost and Found, FisherOfRolando, outragedinSF, chantedor, prgsvmama26, Alibguy, wader, grollen, CodeTalker, 2014, fhcec, Marko the Werelynx, Loose Fur, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, camlbacker, walkshills, tecampbell, Williston Barrett, science nerd, spooks51, jan4insight, TheMomCat, SaoMagnifico, MikePhoenix, basquebob, stevenaxelrod, seeking justice, Mlle L, gulfgal98, Davui, afram1, glitterscale, dkmich, ksh01, reginahny, winstongator, MartyM, ctkosh, sable, markthshark, DRo, Cat Servant, YaNevaNo, schuylkill, ratzo, Minnesota Deb, missLotus, chloris creator, End game, pamelabrown, deha, freerad, WisVoter, marshstars, DarkestHour, bumiputera, Mr Raymond Luxury Yacht, UFOH1, Carol in San Antonio, jabney, BB10, RockyMtnLib, kefauver, randomfacts, hlsmlane, recentdemocrat, Ishmaelbychoice, turn blue, jnhobbs, surfbird007, RUNDOWN, papercut, Turbonerd, abgin, Loudoun County Dem, JamieG from Md, el dorado gal, nightsweat, SandersRavilyn, Libby Shaw, Darth Jeff, WithHoney, Eddie L, 88kathy, Anthony Page aka SecondComing, kl5, litoralis, LillithMc, argomd, grumpelstillchen, Devsd, Possiamo, R rugosa alba, CoolOnion, Obama Amabo, filby, appledown, manneckdesign, exNYinTX, MarkInSanFran, madgranny, ewmorr, Lefty Coaster, ManhattanMan, TexDem, Stargate77, deeproots, LeislerNYC, RW, humanunit, CS11, Robynhood too, MichaelNY, terabytes, jarbyus, Chi, Skaje, Glenn Magus Harvey, Aaa T Tudeattack, Tennessee Dave, Carlo

    NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

    by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:45:10 PM PST

  •  Are their any districts (9+ / 0-)

    in Minnesota that are likely to shift from Republican to Democrat?  Michelle Bachmann's seat seems safe for her but I was wondering if there are any other options.

    Say "No" to Chained CPI.

    by Arlys on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:54:37 PM PST

  •  It would take a lot of work (13+ / 0-)

    But it can be done.  Probably not until next redistricting or maybe even the next, but a worthwhile endeavor.

    There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

    by slothlax on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:59:27 PM PST

  •  Massive meaty diary (29+ / 0-)

    Thanks for posting this.  Taking gerrymandering nation wide is a threat to our very concept of democracy.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:00:12 PM PST

  •  Thanks, will read in detail nt (7+ / 0-)
  •  not stolen (17+ / 0-)

    The democrats would have gerrymandered just as badly if they could have.  We did it where we could, IL is one state we did it and here in MD we drew a map to get rid of Bartlett.
    Until we have independent commissions drawing districts this will continue to happen.

  •  In Arkansas (6+ / 0-)

    I think what hurt Democrats the most was Obama dragging down the top of the ticket, which is why Republicans were able to gain control of the legislature.  Mike Beebe and local Democrats remain relatively popular in the state.  Dustin McDaniel is a different story.

    We should focus on winning the Arkansas governorship - with Bill Halter or Dustin McDaniel.  I don't think McDaniel is out yet by the way.  He's unpopular right now but there are still almost two years before the election and people will forget about his scandal by then.  Look who just won the Lt. Gov. seat in neighboring Missouri - Peter Kinder - despite an embarrassing story and a landslide victory by Jay Nixon and Claire McCaskill.  So if we can win the governorship convincingly in 2014, which will be tough but not impossible, we may be able to sweep Democrats back into the legislature.  Hopefully they will see how stupid and uneffective their "gerrymander" was and move some counties around.

    •  That was certainly part of it (4+ / 0-)

      the other is just that voters there seem to be realigning to the Republicans in general.

      I had previously written in much greater detail about Arkansas and we easily could have gotten a 2-2 map, but I just don't see how McDaniel possibly wins at this point.  I think it's overwhelmingly likely that there wont be a Democratic trifecta in place in 2020 and the odds are good that it will instead be a Republican one and they'll unpack Northeast Arkansas in a heartbeat.  I'd much rather take a probable seat now than the slight possibility of one several cycles down the road.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:16:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Fantastic diary, and exactly what's needed (21+ / 0-)

    Thank you for taking the time to compile and present it.

    Here in Texas, gerrymandering has been taken to extreme lengths, but we are doing our best to turn the state a beautiful shade of bluebonnet blue.

    Bluebonnets and Fence

    Those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it... in summer school.

    by cassandracarolina on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:07:14 PM PST

  •  Great specifics (6+ / 0-)

    Knowledge Democrats, a movement starting between myself an a fellow Kos member Augustin, is geared on working dialog to enable progressives to be able to communicate in lean conservative/deep red conservative districts across the country.  For anyone who is welcome, you can contact me and get started.

    Our Kos page:

  •  Gerrymandered seats is killing Republican Party (4+ / 0-)

    So they might be winning the battle with all their shenanigans, but they're losing the war.  Because when they create "safe seats" it means none of these candidates will be able to run state wide because in needing to vote extreme right to stave off a primary challenge they end any chance they'd have to appeal to the state wide voter, nor know how to.  

    "The world is made for people who aren't cursed with self awareness" -Annie Savoy (Bull Durham)

    by Jacoby Jonze on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:18:01 PM PST

    •  Off base (7+ / 0-)

      You may be right that severely gerrymandered seats breed extremist Representatives who would be poor candidates for statewide races, e.g. Senate or Governor.  But so what?  The extremists get into the House of Representatives and do a lot of damage there, and the fact they may never move up to Senator is far, far from "killing" their party.  We need to have an honest shot at winning the House because the nation's pursestrings are there.

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:55:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Worse, they're doing damage in state leges (6+ / 0-)

        Our state lege has a veto-proof Republican majority in both houses. And Democrats got MORE votes statewide for the House in November. This is why we've had almost four dozen hearings on abortion, including one where a fetus "testified," but not a single one on our education funding, which our state supreme court has declared unconstitutional several times in the last 15 years.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:02:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's even worse in North Carolina (0+ / 0-)

          since the governor can't veto redistricting, we got royally screwed, and since there's no initiative process, we're looking at a permanent Republican majority.  And when I say permanent I mean it.  Democrats will always be concentrated enough in the state that Republicans can make the median seat in each chamber several points more conservative than the state and Republicans will get a redraw every 10 years to fix for changes.  I don't see any scenario where Democrats will retake the legislature in my lifetime barring some unforeseen massive realignment in the state, though our best hope is to take the state supreme court and strike down their maps.  We almost certainly won't win the legislature this decade as even in a 2006 style anti-Republican wave it would be tough.

          NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

          by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:39:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Permanent is a long time (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Attitudes in NC are shifting and the people moving to the state tend to be more liberal.  One thing that Republicans did was to make a concerted effort to take back the state houses (NC especially) for the purposes of redistricting.  Effort matters.  Before a week or so ago, I did not know who my state reps were, and have already forgotten one!  While I was not active or even paying attention to those races, I was fairly involved in the Presidential election.  A stronger organization, and more information will help a lot.  A worry is that the overall improving economy will be something that Republicans in the state house will take credit for.  Dems got a lot of blame for the high unemployment rate.

          •  North Carolina was just awful all around (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Legislative Democrats took veto power away, fearing a Republican governor in 2008 who would veto a Dem gerrymander.  In a surprise, Gov. Perdue (D) held on in 2008.  Yet the GOP took back the state legislature in 2010 and drew their own gerrymander that Perdue was helpless to oppose.  And this had brutal ramifications for congressional races as well, costing us three instantly, probably a fourth in the next decade, as well as shoring up a 2010 GOP gain that probably would have swung back our way.

            It's going to take an incredible Dem wave to break their gerrymander.  I'm not sure it's even possible until changing demographics 20 years from now makes North Carolina a very different state.

    •  Or they might be winning (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, ahumbleopinion

      First party to control 38 states can win the big prize.

      Constitutional Convention: Where the country can be forged anew.

      "Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you might still exist, but you have ceased to live." Mark Twain

      by Void Indigo on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:00:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent work! (9+ / 0-)

    And the corollary: keep the momentum from 2012 going into 2014.

    Economics is a social *science*. Can we base future economic decisions on math?

    by blue aardvark on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:31:49 PM PST

  •  Maryland was horrid (4+ / 0-)

    That's our gerrymander, yes, but it is the most disgusting one of the decade, IMO.  I don't know why we had to draw it like that.  I just drew one on DRA in about twenty minutes that is 7-1 Dem and not nearly as ugly:

     photo maryland_zps89c6a812.png


    Delaney (Green) 55-43 O
    Harris (Light Green) 38-60 M
    Hoyer (Light Pink) 57-42 O
    Edwards (Orange) 76-24 O*
    OPEN (Yellow) 68-31 O*
    Van Hollen (Turquoise) 67-32 O
    Cummings (Gray) 78-21 O*
    Sarbanes/Ruppersberg (Purple) 60-39 O

    Done.  You don't need a global tracking device to find the districts now.  Steny Hoyer will have to get in his yacht and sail across the bay to Salisbury, but he'll live.

  •  I think... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, peachcreek, ybruti, Jim Tietz

    ...that how the initiative is written is extremely important, not only in the guidelines the commissioners must follow, but also in how they are chosen. Following from Wiki is how the California process worked:

    In November 2008, California voters passed Proposition 11, authorizing a state redistricting commission.[1] The California Bureau of State Audits (BSA) adopted regulations on 20 October 2009.[22] The Applicant Review Panel was randomly selected on 16 November 2009. The initial application period to apply to be on the commission began on 15 December 2009 and continued through 16 February 2010.[23] The BSA issued more regulations in 2010 dealing with how the first 8 commissioners would select the remaining 6.[24] The required supplemental application period began on 17 February 2010 and continued through 19 April 2010.[23] California Proposition 20 was passed in November 2010.[23]

    The California State Auditor collected nearly 5,000 completed applications out of over 30,000[25] for the commission. A three-member panel of auditors reviewed the applications and conducted interviews to establish a pool of 20 Democrats, 20 Republicans, and 20 applicants from neither major party. The panel submitted the list of 60 of the most qualified applicants to the Legislature on September 29, 2010.[23]

    The California Assembly Speaker, the California Senate President Pro Tempore, and the minority party leaders in the Assembly and the Senate, as authorized by the law, jointly reduced the pools to 12 members in each pool. The Legislature submitted a list of applicants remaining in the pool on 12 November 2010.[23] The State Auditor then randomly drew three Democrats, three Republicans, and two applicants from neither major party to become commissioners on 18 November 2010.[23] Finally, these first eight commissioners selected six commissioners from the remaining applicants in the pools on 15 December 2010.[23][26]

    So the commission ended up being bipartisan and randomly chosen, and this was acceptable to the electorate. In a previous attempt in California to set up a redistricting commission, the bill said that the lines would be drawn by retired judges. Both parties, who at that time were somewhat competitive with each other, opposed independent redistricting, and sponsored an ad that killed the initiative. The ads implied that current judges would be involved and that the judiciary should be kept out of the process. The lightly informed electorate agreed.

    No one ever created a vibrant economy by building houses for each other. Houses are built because there is a vibrant economy.

    by Doug in SF on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:46:38 PM PST

  •  Nice to see such pragmatic specifics. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, MKSinSA, Boppy, highacidity

    This is a long-term fight, and you've provided a long-term plan of action.  

    Life is good. Injustice? Not so much.

    by westyny on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:48:07 PM PST

  •  Like this, but your FL comments I have to call out (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, sawolf, MRA NY, Aquarius40, Odysseus

    Red Hastings was acquitted of all charges (not found "not guilty" but acquitted) his impeachment was overturned until the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could impeach a judge over any reason it see fit (not just crimes).  Go ahead and Google, Wikipedia, whatever you wish. That is why he has so much support in the black community, because they feel he was rail roaded. By just , repeated attacks on him, you weaken your case.

    Secondly a map that knocks off two members of the CBC in Florida will generate very little support with black voters in Florida. Yes a case can be made that Jacksonville's mayor Brown would be a strong favorite to win the seat that knocks off Rep. Brown, but a map that "weakens black voters" in the state won't get much support with black voters.

    Understanding the dynamic in states helps quite a bit, not trying to hijack your diary, but I think its important to make these points.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:52:53 PM PST

    •  I did not know that about Hastings (5+ / 0-)

      Additionally, there's just no way of knowing what they would do to his district until the commission did something.  I've seen iterations of it where it's 33% black and he would easily survive the primary.  Additionally, I think black voters are disenfranchised by the current 5th district as it's pretty clear that Val Demings, who is black and was pretty clearly the candidate of choice of the black community in Orlando, would have gotten elected.  Plus, had this sort of map existed last year it's possible, depending on how the lines were drawn, that a black candidate could have won the nomination in the 22nd and at the very least the black community there would have the ability to elect its candidate of choice.

      If I had to guess what the commission would do, I think we'd end up keeping Hastings but replacing Brown with Alvin Brown and Val Demings.  

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:03:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have my doubts about "independent" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, Mannie, MRA NY, Odysseus, ManhattanMan

    redistricting authorities, though.  Isn't that just replacing one group of individuals (elected partisans with known biases) by another group of individuals (un-elected partisans with secret biases)?  

    I'd prefer to see an an absolutely rule-based set of computer algorithms, that weights and applies TRULY objective criteria like waterways, highways, county lines, population densities, etc.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:58:13 PM PST

    •  That algorithm is called the human brain (4+ / 0-)

      There is no way we could have computers draw the maps while still taking into account the Voting Rights Act and communities of interest.  Since humans are the ones doing it the best way is to require a compromise like the California commission did.

      If you really wanted to solve the problem once and for all you need to have proportional representation like many European democracies have because single-member districts will always have some sort of bias, whether its partisan, racial, or geographic.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:06:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree. (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elijah311, MrSpock, MartyA, MRA NY, Odysseus

        Getting humans to accept and agree on a consistent weighting of criteria to suit all cases is indeed a tall order politically.  But technologically, the programming challenge itself would be MORE than possible.    The Voting rights act could easily be incorporated.  Communities of interest by ethnicity, by language, by party registration, by you name it, could easily be incorporated.  Census data is theoretically the driver for redistricting and census data already contains the necessary inputs regarding those communities.

         The sophistication of the decision tree could be far beyond anything that the average human commissioner could every hope to apply. And it would be truly fair because it would be UNIFORM from state to state and district to district -- something that can never happen where humans engage in horse-trading based on their personal perceptions.

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:18:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lgmcp, Mike Taylor

          As a computer programmer I see no reason why a computer could not draw district lines as well as, if not better than, a human. It also has the benefit of being standardized across all states, and being devoid of political influence.

          Since there are probably many many different valid district maps per state, I'd also like the final map to be randomly chosen from a list of potential candidates. The reason for this is that I don't want the final map to be known with certainty ahead of time. This would force representatives to consider more than just their district since they might have to win reelection from a district with a slightly different constituency in a future election.

          •  I'm not saying this is impossible by any means (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but every single time I've ever seen someone attempt to draw districts by computer it's a ridiculous mess that doesn't come remotely close to properly representing communities of interest or preserving minority rights.  If someone can write a program that can effectively take those sorts of things into consideration, I would absolutely love to see it.  I'll reiterate though, by merely using single-member districts it's impossible to eliminate all forms of bias and the best solution is to add some form of multi-member districts or better yet proportional representation like nearly every other developed democracy has done.

            NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

            by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 05:39:08 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have no problem with multi-member districts (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              sawolf, lgmcp, highacidity

              ...or proportional representation.

              Hmm... So people have really tried and failed at making a redistributing algorithm. I generally underestimate the complexity of these type of things, but I would not have thought that this problem would be so difficult that it would not have been solved if people gave it a shot.

              My curiosity is peaked enough that I'll that I might take a look at solving it. At the very least I'd find out what the major hurdles are. If the algorithm proves too difficult, I can see breaking the problem down into smaller pieces, and then using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to dole out those pieces to many different people to solve. You'd then pick the solutions that the most people selected, and build the districts from them.

              •  straightforward greedy algorithm should do it. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                Wikipedia: Greedy algorithm

                As long as what you're trying to preserve is actually represented in the data, start with the biggest and clump together from there.  Round it out by forcing city/county/township lines to be the boundaries.

                -7.75 -4.67

                "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

                There are no Christians in foxholes.

                by Odysseus on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 08:09:39 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

        •  But the problem is (6+ / 0-)

          that no partisan-blind algorithm will ever be truly fair; and generally, they favor Republicans. Imagine a state with 4 districts and one city. Say the state as a whole is 50/50 D/R. But the city core will be something like DDDDR (80% D), while the suburbs, towns, and rural areas will be something like DDDDDDRRRRRRRRR (60% R). So any natural algorithm which doesn't arbitrarily split up the city core will give 1 D and 3 R districts. Additional considerations such as "communities of interest" or majority-minority districts will only make that skewed outcome more, not less, likely. See also

          The real solution, as others have said, is proportional representation (PR). There are various forms of PR that are good: multi-member districts, mixed-member PR, or biproportional delegated systems. Though I would strongly support any of these, my preference is for biproportional delegated systems, because they're the smoothest transition from our current system.

          Here's how one such system, "Proportional, Accountable, Local (PAL) Representation", would work:

          0. Districts can remain unchanged. (Since gerrymandering would no longer matter, eventually legislatures would turn over redistricting to an independent commission.)

          1. The ballot lists the candidates from your local district. You can vote for any of them, or write in a candidate from some other district.

          2. It takes well over 50% of a district to win a seat. For instance, in Michigan, with 14 seats, it would take 1/15 of the statewide vote, which is 14/15 or 93% of the average votes per district, to win a seat. So most representatives would not win with the votes they got directly inside their own district. Thus, within each party, the candidates with the fewest votes would be eliminated, and they could pass their votes to the stronger candidates in their own party. So even if you were in a minority in your own district, your vote would be almost certain to end up helping to elect someone somewhere in the state.

          3. Representatives are assigned multi-district territories so that each district is covered by one representative from each party (generally, whichever of that party's representatives who got the most write-in votes from that district).

          If this plan were used nationwide, it would have many advantages: almost no votes (under 20%) would be wasted and almost everyone would have a representative whom they'd helped elect; small parties would have a fair chance to grow and show their true support (more winners like Bernie Sanders); any state whose results are fair and proportional under the current system could keep the same representatives under this system (so it isn't an intrinsic threat to incumbents); and yet the ballot has no new complications (unlike multimember districts or mixed-member PR).

          Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

          by homunq on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:09:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We need to dump "communities of interest". (0+ / 0-)

            It has turned into an excuse for packing a bunch of brown people into the same district. This reduces democratic (and Democratic) representation.

            On the other hand, maybe we should declare White Evangelical Christians a "community of interest" and pack them all into a few districts.

            Charles Rangel is my Congressman and he's a good one. But I would trade him for three Liberal White Guys in a heartbeat. Three congressmen are better than one.

            •  This is exactly the kind of infighting (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              that a good (not party-list) PR system could avoid. You have every right to say you'd trade one great black male representative for 3 good white male ones. But others would have every right to decide the opposite. We need a system that doesn't shackle different interests together just because they happen to have some arbitrary geographical line drawn around them.

              With PAL representation, as I suggested above, minorities from across a state could write in a strong minority candidate from one district. Or they could choose some other interest and vote for the best candidate from that perspective. Their votes would either be a necessary part of electing the candidate of their choice, or that candidate would be able to use them to help elect other similar candidates from the same party.

              Mixed-member proportional or multimember districts would each do less for dispersed communities, but would at least allow such communities to form their own separate parties (which could caucus with a given main party, but still work independently for certain issues.)

              Senate rules which prevent any reform of the filibuster are unconstitutional. Therefore, we can rein in the filibuster tomorrow with 51 votes.

              by homunq on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:49:16 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

      •  No, You Need An Algorithm To Block Shenanigans (0+ / 0-)

        Without some kind of hand objective numbers quantifying the result, there's no way to guarantee fairness.

        A limited amount of wiggle room for "communities of interest" and whatnot can be carved out as follows:

        1. Define a numerical "gerrymandering measurement" (e.g. the in-jurisdiction area within the smallest circle containing the district divided by the actual area of the district, summed for all districts -- the mathematics might need to be a bit more statistically involved, but that's the basic conept).

        2. Anybody and his brother may present a proposed map.

        3. Reject maps that fail other preexisting legal criteria (e.g. too much variation in population between districts).

        4. Reject maps that have a gerrymandering measurement greater than 20% (or whatever) higher than that of the map with the lowest gerrymandering measurement.

        5. The politicians get to fight it out (bringing "communities of interest" etc into the debate), but must choose one of the maps that survive Step 4 without further modification.

        On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

        by stevemb on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:36:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Steps 2 & 4 Allow Advocacy, Within Honest Limits (0+ / 0-)

          Addendum: The real advantage of this method is that Step 2 allows a wide range of community-of-interest agendas (minority representation, political party balance, etc) -- but anybody who gets too greedy gets frozen out at Step 4.

          On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

          by stevemb on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:41:01 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I one is truly unbiased. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
    •  I'd rather have unelected non-partisan maps (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Than Republican Gerrymanders when the Republican party dis-assembles how these states allocate their electoral votes to a system that gives them out based on their congressional district winners.

      That would be an absolute shit storm.

      Swingnut since 2009, 22, Male, Democrat, CA-49 (home) CA-12 (college)

      by Daman09 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:16:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree that this sucks and we have (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elijah311, a2nite

    to do something about it, but unless laws were broken a la Tom DeLay's 2005 GOPAC shenanigans, they did NOT "steal" the house, they merely engaged in hugely immoral and unethical but perfectly legal tricks to hold onto the house.

    Is there any signs that laws were broken, because if they were, and it was widespread or coordinated at the national level, it opens up the possibility of nullifying some elections and forcing new elections under redrawn districts.

    Any chance of that?

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:06:55 PM PST

    •  Laws may not have been technically broken, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sawolf, highacidity, Orlaine

      but the secrecy, speed, financing, and absolute blocking of input in the way the maps were drawn is certainly well into unethical territory.  It probably would have been illegal if laws written years ago had foreseen the hyper-partisanship that the GOP has used to create so many unrepresentative districts.

      “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

      by ahumbleopinion on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:06:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Republican theft of the House (6+ / 0-)

    is a home-invasion robbery that turned into a hostage situation.

    Pour yourself into the future.

    by Troubadour on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:35:38 PM PST

  •  What do we do about Pennsylvania? We can (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, MRA NY, a2nite, Aquarius40, WisJohn

    certainly get rid of Tom Corbett in 2014 but I would love to see GOP Congressmen Lou Barletta, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach, Pat Meehan and Charlie Dent get the boot.

    Funny Stuff at

    by poopdogcomedy on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:55:44 PM PST

    •  As I said in the intro (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, WisJohn, James Allen, newfie

      we'll have to elect a Democratic governor in 2018.  Same goes for states like Wisconsin, Virginia, Texas, basically any state that Republicans will otherwise gerrymander that doesn't have the amendment initiative and where Republicans don't have veto proof majorities.  Unfortunately Pennsylvania Republicans probably drew the best overall gerrymander of the redistricting cycle and I really don't see us having a good shot at picking up any of the districts now that Altmire seems done with politics and Fitzpatrick won easily.

      If we had a map like I had drawn here we would have added Jason Altmire, Tim Holden, and someone from Delaware County to replace Meehan.  Dent would have had a tough reelection but probably would have won while Gerlach's would have been closer.  Oh and Critz would have been in a dogfight against Tim Murphy but ultimately would have still lost.  PA-03 would have also been more competitive but I think we might have lost it by 8 or so.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 05:04:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well we can certainly give Corbett the boot in (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        a2nite, Aquarius40, newfie

        2014 and then re-elect our Dem governor in 2018.  Right now it's looking Treasurer Rob McCord is our guy.

        Funny Stuff at

        by poopdogcomedy on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 05:28:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And if Pa. GOP try rigging presidential evs then (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, WisJohn

          disgust (esp. in Phila. suburbs) may also give the state House to democrats. And surprisingly the state senate, forever GOP, isn't 100% out of reach.
          2010---R29 D20 (one vacancy)
          2012---R27 D23

          State House
          2010---R110 D91
          2012---R110 D93

          "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

          by TofG on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:09:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not sure I'd say... (0+ / 0-)

        Republicans drew the best map in Pennsylvania.  I think Ohio is more devious.  

        Certainly it flaunted the results to the greatest degree, but PA-08 is predicated on Fitzpatrick, and while he's youngish at 49, drawing a district for a particular incumbent (rather than to favor your party as a whole), is always kind of bad.  In addition, Pennsylvania still has three borderline competitive seats (PA-6, PA-7, PA-15), while Ohio only has two (OH-10, OH-14).  And while the Philly suburban districts headed the wrong way (measured by PVI) in 2012, minorities continue to move into all of them, meaning over the longer run they should become more competitive than the two Ohio seats.  

        I think Virginia will be viewed as the dummymander of the decade though for the Republicans.  It's like they weren't trying with VA-02 and VA-10.  

    •  Gerlach is (0+ / 0-)

      like dogshit that you stepped into with your sneakers on.  He has wedged himself into that crevasse of a District and is nearly impossible to get out.

      Truthfully he does a very good job of just being there and not doing much to get attention.  Then comes time to vote and people vote for him because he seems like a nice guy and besides the giy running against him is suspiciously less American looking.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:24:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Love and recs from MI 1 snowbirds! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Odysseus, WisJohn

    We spent August and September making calls for McDowell in MI 1. He lost by a slim couple-hundred-vote margin due to a flood of Koch Kash and gerrymandering (near Flint.) Bummer! But as soon as the snow melts, we'll be back volunteering.

    Your analysis is very much appreciated. We have two years to TALK to our neighbors.

  •  Awards? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Odysseus, Orlaine

    Is there any kind of award given for kick-ass diaries?

    This one wins.

    Congratulations, Sawolf.

    We need to follow up with this material and focus on getting the traction you talk about.

    This is very sensible in promoting the most potent returns on an early investment.

    Hopefully, Sawolf, you'll stay with this and get an echo chamber.

    "... all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." --Mark 11:24

    by november3rd on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 05:59:44 PM PST

  •  Don't forget about the State Houses & Senates! (6+ / 0-)

    This shouldn't be limited to Congressional districts... in a lot of cases the State legislature seats are gerrymandered just as badly.

    Agree completely that this ought to be a huge focus in 2014 in terms of money/organizing.

    •  I absolutely agree and we've already seen this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      done in a few states that would otherwise be heavily gerrymandered such as Missouri, though not for congressional districts (though it wouldn't change the outcome there anyway).  For states like Michigan that recently passed Right to Work, the legislature is so heavily gerrymandered that Republicans have a 70% majority in the state senate, all in a state where Obama won by nearly 10%.

      If I had the expertise of local geography needed I would have drawn maps for the state legislatures too, but I did link to one good proposal for the Michigan senate that shows a Dem majority is very much attainable without gerrymandering.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:07:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  are you also endorsing re drawing districts (0+ / 0-)

    so that racial make up is not a factor? Because that is one of the aspects of gerrymandering. And also note, gerrymandering is and age old practice of both parties. I agree that a non partisan district mapping process would be ideal. But that would also dilute minority representation.

    •  Yes and no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Odysseus, James Allen

      In the near term, which means these voter initiated redistricting commissions, redistricting should absolutely still take into account minority representation as is currently required by the VRA, though not as heavily enforced as it would be if liberals controlled the Supreme Court.

      In the longer term though, I would love to see a move to proportional representation which would allow us to run a set number of minority candidates for our party so that it doesn't matter if a minority voter lives in a very heavily white area, they can still have the chance to elect a minority if they so choose (or vice versa for that matter for whites in heavily minority areas).  However this would end the two-party system and require a constitutional amendment so...

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:12:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  seems your two goals are at odds (0+ / 0-)

        districts drawn on honest ground for populations, and yet, special districts strictly for minority candidates. This is exactly how the gop draws districts, in adhering to the VRA, gerrymands. "Here's a few minority districts (often created out of bizarre continuances) while we retain control over others. In practice, you cannot have it both ways.

      •  I am in Oh-11 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and you do not have to draw the district down to Akron to maintain a majority or almost majority black district. African-Americans are spreading to Cleveland's west side, and also out to the eastern suburbs, some of which were sliced off and given to Oh-14 which is an interesting case. The Republicans didn't really protect it. It's still a swing district. They figured that with Steve LaTourette's inexplicable popularity, it wasn't worth wasting voters on. But then LaTourette suddenly retired in August. And the Democrats weren't running a real candidate this time, preferring to put their resources elsewhere. If the Democrats in this district can recruit a strong  candidate early, David Joyce is toast.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:06:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  OH was able to collect enough signatures to get (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    an anti gerrymandering constitutional amendment on the ballot.  But it was a complicated process and the big money behind Republicans was able to create enough doubt to get it defeated. We might have a chance with a more simple process, but the effort to get the signatures again is a big challenge.

    If Republicans try the electoral college trick, that would probably be enough to motivate another signature collection effort, maybe for both at the same time.

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:10:34 PM PST

    •  There was nothing wrong with the process (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if what you are referring to is the system placed on the ballot. The GOP managed to demonize it but it is a good system (A lot of what they said was just lies, and they would lie about even a perfect system, if there were such a thing). They spent tons of money, they wrote complicated and off-putting ballot language, and slimiest of all, they made it a yes vote on Issue 2. A year earlier, a no vote on Issue 2 repealed SB 5, Kasich's signature union-busting legislation. They even used similar graphics to confuse people.

      They won't try the electoral college trick in Ohio. Even Husted walked back on it. The blowback would eject every statewide Republican from office, and it would be repealed. They won't spend political capital on this.

      I am hoping another attempt to pass nonpartisan redistricting is in the offing. We shall see. The lege is talking about passing something but if the current system is about a 5 on a scale of 1-100 and Issue 2 would have been about a 90, what they are proposing is maybe a 15 or 20. It still keeps politicians in charge.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:10:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The main thing wrong with the process was that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Republicans were able to successfully demonize it.  I collected signatures for it and would do it again.  We really need to find a way to overcome the gerrymandering.  

        It may be possible to pass something that can be articulated in a way that casual voters are not scared off by it.  I agree that if Republicans try the electoral college trick in OH, it could be penny wise but pound foolish.  The successful opposition to SB 5 gives me hope.

        “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

        by ahumbleopinion on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:57:55 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  state funded unis will help tank these amendments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    psnyder, chloris creator

    amendments will be much harder because in most states they will become a regular target of local RW radio blowhards using talking points and timing and guests coordinated by the national GOP think tanks and almost all of that will be completely ignored/unknown by the activists trying to pass the amendments.

    many of the loudest of those radio stations depend on our universities for sports broadcasting for community standing and ad dollars. it needs to end.

    the RW radio monopoly has been used successfully to defeat and pass initiatives all over the country for 25 years and it has been successful because progressives/liberals/dems ignore it.

    the GOP think  tanks will taylor their RW radio programming to whatever state you're in. you could have hundreds of dedicated activists working on it and all they need a a few blowhards reading the talking points all over the state to tens of thousands for as long as it takes to distort the intent and scare the voters.

    the left needs to organize an effort to fix this problem and hasn't even tried yet.

    in every state our universities are being USED by the republicans to sell their crap (see link in sig) and those unis are making a joke of their mission statements. they need to be forced by the student groups and communities those stations undermine to declare their intent not to renew those contracts and look for alternatives. when a few do that other will be shamed into following and the RW radio advantage will dissolve.

    and use transcription software  and a few computers in every state to find out what's getting blasted from those stations and respond in real time instead of after the GOP reality has been sold. when people can read RW radio it will lose the element of surprise.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:24:32 PM PST

  •  Diary refers to how mad we got in 2000.... (0+ / 0-)

    "the way we did after Republicans stole the election in 2000"

    I don't remember that. Who got mad?
    Did Al Gore?
    Did Bill Clinton?
    I remember James Baker getting mad that Al Gore was "trying to steal Florida."
    I remember puggy lawyers and operators by the plane load getting to Florida a.s.a.p.
    I remember SCOTUS Scalia going off the deep end.

    But I don't remember Democrats out in the street.

    Our Democratic leaders (including Al Gore) said suck it in.

    AND please don't get me started about Ralph Nader.

    You can't rewrite history. Worst President Evah. May his name be stricken from the hall of records.

  •  Brilliant diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Very good job with the details, too.

    19, Male, MD-8. Fan of University of Virginia athletics.

    by Danny Ricci on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 06:45:18 PM PST

  •  Love it, but you are WRONG ! (0+ / 0-)

    We Democrats stayed home in 2010, knowing the redistricting was coming up. We stayed home, because Barack didn't put OUR favorite project first. We stayed home because our feelings were hurt when it took more than 100 days to undo 8 years of Bush.  We stayed home because  we voted in the LAST election and things didn't turn out perfectly.  We pouted, got pissed off, listened to the Very Serious People, and let the Republicans walk away with the seats we had fought hard to take in 2006 and 2008.  

    WE DID IT TO OURSELVES.  The Republicans just did what we knew they would do.  It is OUR fault.  

    Yes, we have to dig ourselves out of the hole we dug for ourselves, and a little more besides because the THUGS are trying every day to steal a vote here, and a seat there.  

    Every day is election day.  The GOP knows this.  A few of us know it. A lot of Kossacks know it.  It is the more basic truth which underlies your remarkably fine diary.

  •  As a Michigan resident, I appreciate your work on (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, eeff, Jim Tietz, Orlaine

    this. Michigan is badly in need of many governmental reforms, but redistricting reform is one of the most important.

    If life was fair, we wouldn't need unions.

    by ScottyUrb on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:03:39 PM PST

  •  Link to Cuyahoga County Dem Party (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Possiamo

    Where most of the work has been done so far to stop gerrymandering.


    They can always use some help.  

    For some strange reason the ODP web site is down this evening.  GOP must be messing with them again.  

    Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

    by Betty Pinson on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:04:32 PM PST

  •  Enough of the crybaby meme. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you don't like it, then maybe the party had better win some State legislative races and stop proposing unreasonable redistricting plans.

    Gerrymandering is just another word for both parties stacking the deck to guarantee safe districts.   Both parties do it.  They just do it better.

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

    by SpamNunn on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:13:33 PM PST

    •  Stupid post (0+ / 0-)

      Simply saying we should win so WE can disenfranchise people and hack up states is anti-democracy in the worst way. You're saying we should propose our OWN unreasonable maps after we win? I guarantee that if we did that, the big GOP money would pour into the campaigns for nonpartisan redistricting and in Ohio for sure, the media would have its knives out for the Democrats in a way it never has for the Republicans (Their attitude this time was "Oh well, it's unfair but that's how it is. That would NOT be what they'd say if Democrats did it).

      Sorry, but I put the good of citizens and communities over political parties. Your negative attitude is hurtful to democracy.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:18:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'd support a national redistricting commission (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Americantrueandblue, sawolf

      Assuming it had the force of a constitutional amendment. The fact that Democrats didn't unilaterally disarm in the like 2 states we controlled where in mattered doesn't mean I don't think gerrymandering is harmful.

      Also, State legislatures are gerrymandered too, you know.

  •  This is brilliant and can be shared (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with wonks like me.  Is there a version for me who will just donate money or put their name on a petition?

    "Since when did obeying corporate power become patriotic." Going the Distance

    by Going the Distance on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:16:51 PM PST

  •  Nicely Done (0+ / 0-)

    What part of NC are you in?
    I'm in Concord.

    I'm also looking for someone that would like to go to DC for the Presidents day Rally.

  •  A few other options... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Missouri - it's fairly easy to amend the state constitution.  I think the 2-6 division is fairly natural, and minus cracking Saint Louis up, it couldn't be changed much, but more neutral map-drawing could result in a slightly more competitive MO-2.  Certainly it should stop there being a Republican super-majority on the state level, which is a good thing.  

    Utah - My understanding is in Utah you can have citizen-initiated statutes, but they have to be voted down by the legislature before they go to the voters.  It's a no-brainer that with nonpartisan redistricting, we'd get a compact, SLC-based district which someone besides Jim Matheson should be able to hold down.    

    •  I contemplated including both (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen

      Missouri and Mississippi, since we might get a somewhat better 2nd and 4th district in MO and we might get lucky with some type of commission in Mississippi drawing the 3rd to be much blacker and more Democratic, but it really isn't worth it.  With Missouri the districts improve marginally at best since I highly doubt a commission would crack St. Louis, although maybe an Arizona style one might and Wagner could be vulnerable.  With Mississippi you definitely need an Arizona style "competitiveness" criteria since the actual map was court-drawn and pretty definitely non-partisan.

      It's a shame there was no way for the DOJ to force a second VRA black district in Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina and Fort-Worth while also forcing an additional Hispanic VRA district in South Texas.  Neutral maps I've seen or drawn show that it's ridiculously easy to do this in a compact manner and my opinion is that these should be required, though with Mississippi and Virginia I don't think you can require the 2nd one, but it could be drawn.

      Also, for states like Utah that are ridiculously Republican I'm sure they would find some way to circumvent the statute so it doesn't seem worth pursuing, but yes you would absolutely get a safe Dem seat in SLC and Matheson would be screwed.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:47:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The enemy: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hooktool, sawolf, WisJohn


    Great diary. Undergraduate, huh? Damn!

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:34:08 PM PST

  •  diary of the year - I don't usually bookmark (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    anything but tech docs but ... this qualifies as a tech doc.
    There is no other fight worthy of more attention on this site. This should be on the front page daily.

    If you didn't like the news today, go out and make some of your own.

    by jgnyc on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:38:12 PM PST

  •  Just a college student? Damn! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Its always better to be shot from a cannon than squeezed from a tube" Hunter S. Thompson

    by hooktool on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:40:09 PM PST

  •  What a sick country! (0+ / 0-)

    Sorry for being so negative but the us of a is making me ill.  How is this even tolerable?  Now, we hear the wonderful news that republicans are attempting to gerrymander the presidential race with proportional electoral votes.  So a bunch f small rural pa suburbs can usurp the majority of pa votes for instance.  This is a sure sign of a democracy in decline.  We are rapidly being turned into a corrupt oligarchy where a wealthy minority will stay in power by colluding with ea brains clinging to their bigotry.  Sickening.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:44:11 PM PST

  •  I'm way too tired from watching yesterday's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    inauguration coverage, which I recorded and still haven't fully caught up on (I recorded several channels and have also been editing and saving much of it for my video library), so I can't offer anything very substantive in response to this most excellent diary. But I'm watching Rachel talk on today's show how the VA legislature took advantage of the absence of a longtime black VA state senator yesterday who wanted to see the inauguration, to pass a sweeping new redistricting law that would effectively give the GOP a permanent majority in the statehouse no matter how blue VA got. Pretty scary stuff.

    We're at war with the GOP. Anyone who doesn't get that is in deep denial or just clueless. I'm glad that Obama's speech yesterday was so defiant and unapologetic, because that's what we need to fight the GOP, not mealy-mouthed calls for bipartisanship, which is literally impossible until they're crushed. We're at war and we need to realize that we're at war, and act like we're at war, or WE will get crushed. These people are subverting democracy one state and district at a time, and even if we turn the whole country blue, they could still win strictly on manipulating the rules.

    We must crush them till they're (politically) dead. And then we have to drive a (political) stake through their (political) heart.

    And then (politically) kill them again.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:46:47 PM PST

  •  AMAZING diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Forwarding this on.

  •  We have plenty of good Ohio maps, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    much better than yours. That isn't the problem. The problem is, although 53 maps were submitted by citizens to and rated on a variety of factors, the Republicans ignored all of them (just like they ignored the sham "public hearings" they held around the state) and came up with a map that, when put through the drawthelineohio rating system, came in 54th — with less than half the score of the worst citizen-drawn map.

    They didn't just shatter Cuyahoga (Cleveland); they also shredded Toledo, Akron, and Canton. They deliberately dismembered most of the big urban areas (except Columbus where they submitted to the fact that its bluing was starting to jeopardize their 2000 gerrymander) to drain the voice of the urban areas (where 75% of Ohio's citizens live) and weaken the Democratic parties there. They also drew more extremely right-wing Republicans such as Jim Jordan into big urban media markets to blanket those markets with their ads and their messaging. There were multiple levels of damage they were trying to achieve here.

    Jon Husted is a dick.

    by anastasia p on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 08:55:56 PM PST

  •  Voter Initiatives (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daman09, sawolf, Possiamo

    Some of these states have provisions for voter initiatives to be put on the ballot.  Take the lesson learned in California where an independent commission draws up the districts.  The best solution is to end the gerrymandering once and for all.  It would be better for our democracy, make the Congress more representative and probably work to the Democrats advantage in the short and long-run.   It is also the best hope between now and 2020 to fix the mess that 2010 created when the GOP took over these blue/purple states.   Get initiatives on the ballots where possible to change how the districts are drawn.  Then the next time the GOP takes control they will not be able to redo whatever we might undo.

    The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones! - John Maynard Keynes

    by Do Something on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:00:16 PM PST

  •  Beautiful diary. Can you do Virginia, too? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, Possiamo

    I've lived in my house 20 years, been in the same congressional district the whole time. Now suddenly, this year, we got new voter registration cards (3 times!) and the last one had us in a different district. I even called to ask what-the-heck, because I thought there was a mistake.

    It might even be changed yet again, because yesterday, as you may know, our dear leaders in Richmond passed yet another new redistricting map.

    (Tom Delay and his TX wrecking crew should never have gotten away with off-year redistricting.)

    "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

    by solesse413 on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 10:09:19 PM PST

  •  One of the best diaries I've read here (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orlaine, sawolf, Daman09, MichaelNY

    I tip my hat to you, sawolf, and I completely, totally agree with you. Fair redistricting is a civil right. And I'd be happy to trade in Democratic gerrymanders in Illinois and Maryland for fair maps in Ohio, Michigan, and Florida. Would that we could force the same in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

    Keeper of the DKE glossary. Priceless: worth a lot; not for sale.

    by SaoMagnifico on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:21:30 AM PST

  •  awesome amount of work went into this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Libby Shaw, sawolf, MichaelNY

    diary and I appreciate it very much.

    I would take exception to your fretting about being a student and not an activist. You are already an activist. Your student status may even confer upon you some ready made partisans for this effort.

    We are a people that can get mountains to move out of our way, but it is because one or more of us have a singular focus. And yet now we need more than one focus to heal what is broken, I fear. Voter rights would come under that rubric. And would it not be a part of those rights that our singular vote should have the same standing as any other singular vote? And that would require redistricting that ensures such.

    American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

    by glitterscale on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 02:54:21 AM PST

  •  Mobilizing to change the balance of power (0+ / 0-)

    is something I could support.  I'm sick of more and better Dems because look where we are now and then compare it to where we were then.   It's a loser.

    The MDP is useless.  The unions in Michigan aren't going to help anybody but themselves, and they will only help their own.  None of them stepped forward to help the teacher unions that I could see, and the UAW is the most self-serving union I've ever seen.    

      I have little hope for Michigan.

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House.

    by dkmich on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 03:13:26 AM PST

  •  Extremely important diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eXtina, sawolf

    However it is rather long and intimidating.  You might want to break it up into several - by state, for example.

    by chloris creator on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 05:26:01 AM PST

  •  Fantastic work nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, MichaelNY

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 06:35:48 AM PST

  •  Equal protection (0+ / 0-)

    "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    14th Amendment ( )

    These gerrymandered districts give Republican voters a greater portion of the vote than voters in Democratic districts, so they violate the 14th Amendment.


    Now we just need someone to challenge them in court.

  •  This is an outstanding diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Regarding Maryland, I still think that eastern shore seat could be won by Democrats if they would get their act together up there.

    You should consider reposting this diary in smaller segments. It's a lot to take in all at once!

    Shop Liberally this holiday season at Kos Katalog

    by JamieG from Md on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:54:08 AM PST

  •  Wow (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This is the most important thing we should be working toward. The Dems are functioning under the old rules being polite while the Rethugs are pulling every dirty trick they could think of to stay in power. Thank you for your post.

  •  They just want to go back to the three-fifths rule (0+ / 0-)

    in the Constitution. So the votes of city residents will count much less than the votes of rural Fundamentalist shitkickers with The Bible For Dummies in one hand and an AK47 in the other. Because cities are filled with, you know, Negros. And Jews and Hispanics  and gays and socialists too. People who arent real Americans. Heck, maybe they can even make our votes count only two-fifths. or one. Because they care ever so much about the Founders wanted.

    •  Back in the segregationist era... (0+ / 0-)

      Many politicians wanted reapportionment to be based upon the number of voters, not the number of citizens, as in some southern states voter turnout was only 10% of what it was in similar-sized states in the North.  

      It would have been good if it had happened back then, but the longer-term implications would have been...weird.  On one hand, it would mean that Republicans (assuming history turned out roughly the same) would be able to draw less Democratic districts.  On the other hand, it would also mean that states like Texas would have a lot less electoral clout than they do now.

  •  Bravo, sawolf (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, MichaelNY

    What an amazing diary!  Thank you for your activism and hard work.  Our party needs more young folks like you.  Please stay active and very involved.  

  •  Looks like the Gated Community is the district. (0+ / 0-)

    Slicing the vote.

    My gun control petition was shot down.

    by 88kathy on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 08:49:31 AM PST

  •  Both sides do this, not just the GOP (0+ / 0-)

    How can anyone who reads and blogs here everyday believe that only the GOP is engaged in gerrymandering.  For the last several years, how many of us here have proposed maps that benefit our party?  Maryland was totally gerrymandered by us Dems and we gained a seat.  Illinois, with a Democrat governor and legislature, was gerrymandered and the result was that we picked up four seats and almost got a 5th seat.  How many of us here were upset with New York Governor Cuomo because he did nothing to try to pick up some house seats for us? I know I was.  

    If you want to say that the process is corrupt and that we should do a commission, as we did here in California, I would totally agree.  But, for anyone on our side to complain about the GOP when they are doing exactly what we are doing, is complete hypocrisy.  

    •  Did you even read what I wrote? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      In contrast, Democrats had far fewer opportunities and weren't nearly as ruthless and in Arkansas even gerrymandered a map that gave Republicans all four seats!  In both Illinois and Maryland we could have gained 1 more seat with more aggressive maps.
      Of course Democrats do it too, but Republicans had far more opportunities to gerrymander and did so much more aggressively.  The net outcome is that gerrymandering this past redistricting cycle benefited Republicans considerably more than Democrats.
      While in an ideal world we would have fair districts nationwide with mixed-member proportional representation on top so that line drawing doesn't affect the partisan control of congress (and no senate or electoral college too), we don't live in an ideal world.  I'll support independent redistricting in Illinois and Maryland when we get it in Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin
      Plus, at the end I clearly said I wanted every state to be un-gerrymandered, but I don't believe in unilateral disarmament when your opponent is poised to strike.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 09:39:56 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, I read what you wrote (0+ / 0-)

        You are saying that the GOP was much more aggressive than we were and that we should fight fire with fire.  You are saying we can either wait until the 2022 elections or we could put ballot initiatives in the states that would benefit us the most and then undo the redistricting.  In other words, you are saying we need to be even more aggressive than the GOP, not less or equally aggressive.

        All I was saying was that this gerrymandering has been occurring for 200 years or so and that both sides do it.  In California, where we did an independent commission, it actually benefitted the Democrats because there are so many more Dems in this state.  So, we didn't lose anything by playing more fairly.

        If we want to be selective in what states we push for these independent commissions, sure, why not.  But, clearly California proved that we don't have to do universal disarmament.

        In the larger sense, while we can certainly go forward and push to change the system, just remember, that after the redistricting in 2000-2002, the GOP did some incredible gerrymandering, in Pennsylvania, for example, but, by 2006, they lost lots of US House seats there, because of corruption and ineptitude on the part of their individual members.  I say this because with all these hard core right wing seats in the US House, the extremists they enable to come in will only burn their own bridges long before 2022.  

        The more swingier their districts are, the more likely the members have to vote in the middle, as you alluded to.

        The upcoming debate on gun control will certainly be a test of this, in that if legislation passes that most people can agree on, this will benefit us.  If we push for legislation that is seen as an affront to those from different cultural backgrounds, i.e., red states, we will only fall further back in the midterms of 2014.  

        Certainly the midterms of 2010 had a lasting effect on us, in bringing in GOP governors and legislators just in time to take full advantage of the redistricting process.

  •  timing? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, MichaelNY

    I'm wondering when these various ballot initiatives would come before the voters. Could they feasibly be put on the ballot before the next midterm, and if so, in which states? If they end up on the ballot during the midterm, it seems to me it might be better to wait. If we can't change the district boundaries before 2014, perhaps it would be best to wait until the next presidential election when turnout will be higher and, more than likely, less white and less republican.

    •  That's a little bit tricky (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The deadline comes up soon in Michigan and Florida so we'd have to shoot to put them on the 2014 ballot.  In Ohio the deadline is 125 days before the general election (early July), so we theoretically have enough time to get it on the 2013 ballot and have it go into effect for 2014 if it passes.  Similarly, the Arkansas deadline is 4 months prior to the general election so 2013 is doable in time for 2014's congressional elections.  Nebraska only holds even-year elections so the deadline is a long way away at July 2014.  That's fine though since we'll need presidential turnout in Omaha in 2016 to flip the seat anyway.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 11:50:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  wisconsin recalls (0+ / 0-)

        ...suffered from poor timing. Folks were so anxious to get rid of Walker, they ended up holding the recall at a time when the UW students were away. They might have succeeded in disposing of the Imperial Walker if the recall election had been during the presidential. I can see an argument in favor of changing the districts with referenda in 2014 so that we have a better chance of taking the House in 2016. If we lose, we could always try again in 2016.
        However, I can also see an argument against that. Sometimes it's best to wait until you are likely to win, and not succumb to the idea that you'll get 2 bites at the apple when in the real world, losing saps resources and squanders peoples energy.

  •  You know, I love your stuff usually, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sawolf, MichaelNY

    but I have to disagree with this.

    Gerrymandering is par for the course. We do it, they do it. It's been done since the colonial era. The issue is that we lost by crazy margins in 2010-- which is where the makeup of the state legislatures that did the gerrymandering was determined--, but that happened fair and square.

    If the 2010 elections had never happened, and the Democratic state legislatures that were in office in most states after 2008 had drawn the maps, they wouldn't have drawn fair maps either.

    I don't see this as stealing the House, it happened by tactics that were fair game and were applied by everyone.

    Now, here's the real issues that people should take action about.

    1) Reapportionment in general, not gerrymandering.
    Even in states that weren't gerrymandered by Republicans we did terrible in the House. And in counterfactuals, honestly, if a citizen's commission that wasn't made up of DailyKos members drew Congressional Maps, they wouldn't result in fair outcomes either.

    That's because redistricting disfavors voters that live in concentrated areas. That's historically always been true-- there's papers from the 1960s showing that. And it's always going to be true unless redistricting is specifically designed to remedy that-- it derives from very basic facts about geography, such as the First Law of Geography-- close things are more closely related.

    The problem is that only recently, those voters all support the same party. In the 1960s, a lot of rural voters were Democrats, and a lot of suburban/urban voters were Republican, but that's not true anymore, and thus it's introduced a giant natural bias into the system that dwarfs everything you can do through gerrymandering.

    If you didn't draw a Florida map that was actually designed to elect a lot of Democrats while looking good, your map wouldn't have had that outcome.

    But don't focus on gerrymandering. This--largely-- isn't even a partisan issue. It's an urban/rural issue that happens to disfavor Democrats because we live in cities.

    2) The  Electoral College schemes to award Electoral College votes by Congressional District. Now, that's actual treason because it means (after having read point 1) that gerrymander or no gerrymander, Democrats would basically be barred from winning the Presidency in everything short of an Obama 2008 landslide. And even there, if they picked the states to apply this law in skillfully, I'm not actually sure there are no ways those schemes would have resulted in a McCain victory.

    Those bills kill our Democracy not much less directly than shooting at Fort Sumter does.

    •  Oh sure, and as I pointed out in the diary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY, twohundertseventy

      proportional representation is the only truly "fair" solution, especially compared to just drawing non-partisan maps nationwide since as you point out Democrats are certainly more concentrated.  However I do have a hypothesis that if we had a national California-style commission, Democrats would have narrowly taken the house and I tried to show this when I presented "fair" maps for all the states and I think that was a good first effort, but I really want to turn that idea into a true research paper, maybe when I write my dissertation so that I can correct for any inherent pro-Democratic biases that I would have in drawing the lines.

      Also when I used the word "stole" it's because A) I wanted it to get on the rec list and B) couldn't think of anything else that was concise enough yet would still get people to be active in working towards a solution.  If you're familiar with most of the other articles I've written I don't write with nearly as much bombast so it was really about the audience and I'd say it had the intended effect.

      The main point of this diary wasn't just to say whether gerrymandering is fair or unfair or whether commissions solve the problem (though I did weigh in on both), but it was to get people to do something constructive.

      I do have to agree though that our system is just inherently unstable and if you're familiar at all with Juan Linz's the Perils of Presidentialism (pdf) it seems pretty obvious that we're headed to some sort of constitutional crisis.

      NC-06/NC-04; -9.12, -8.62; Yellow Dog Democrat

      by sawolf on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 09:45:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes they stole it by (0+ / 0-)

    getting more votes! The horror. And if Bush stole the election why didn't anyone ever do anything about it?

    Like we did in the Senate and the WH: Don't whine. Recruit good candidates. Have sound policy. Get out the vote!

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