Question concerning Gerrymandering and House vs. Senate

Discussion in 'Politics' started by SavannahMann, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. SavannahMann
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    SavannahMann Gold Member

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    Right now, it looks like the House is a Toss Up, or perhaps slightly favored towards Democrats. At the same time, the Senate is almost certainly going to remain Republican.

    RealClearPolitics - Election 2018

    Now, the claim from Democrats for years has been that Gerrymandering prevents the Democrats from taking the House. Yet, the Senate is not Gerrymandered by any stretch of the imagination. There are no drawn districts in the Senate Elections, all of those are state wide. Everyone in the State can vote for the Senator, regardless of what District they are in.

    So the question, if Democrats take the House, and the Republicans keep the Senate, does that mean that the districts are Gerrymandered to favor Democrats? The States as a whole seem to favor Republicans, and if that is the case, as evidenced by the make up of the Senate, then how do you explain the Democrats taking the House and not the Senate?

    If the districts are not Gerrymandered in favor of Democrats in this scenario, then why doesn’t the House reflect the same averages as the Senate? If a majority of Senators are Republicans, then why not a majority of the Representatives?
     
  2. BULLDOG
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    BULLDOG Diamond Member

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    51 Republican senators 47 Democratic senators and 2 independent Senators who caucus with Democrats. 49 to 51 doesn't seem to be that big of a difference to me. Only 1 change would make them equal.
     
  3. longknife
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    longknife Diamond Member

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    Gerrymandering is a travesty.

    Every time an attempt it made to make a voting district more sensible, the other sides runs to their favorite judge to get it overturned. It goes to SCOTUS who returns it saying it's a state matter. The state corrects it and the losers once again take it through the courts.

    There is going to be a major political earthquake after the 2020 Census with major efforts to redraw Congressional Districts in every state.

    The deciding factor will be the federal judges now being nominated and appointed by President Trump. It may change the American political structure for decades to come.
     
  4. kyzr
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    kyzr Gold Member

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    I'm not sure the federal judges will make the call, it seems to me that its the State supreme Court's leanings that determine when gerrymandering is legal or illegal. We need more conservative state supremes to balance the "legitimate" gerrymandering.
     
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  5. Claudette
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    Claudette Gold Member

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    Both parties are guilty of it.
     
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  6. Timmy
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    Timmy Gold Member

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    Gerrymandering has caused all this friction in DC because it promotes extremists representation .
     
  7. candycorn
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    candycorn Alis volat propriis

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    Good points but there are a few you’re ignoring. Midter
    Those are excellent points to be sure. But there are a few your post ignores in my view.

    Midterms are historically points of electoral decline for the party that holds the Oval Office. This is due to the party that doesn't have the Oval being more energized along with the inevitable retreat the President has to make away from their campaign promises. For example, there was no health plan either proposed much less ratified. Remember the infastructure plan? Neither did Trump. Trump lied about that. For the hard right voters, some are going to be upset that he hasn't fired his DOJ staff or locked up Hillary. Last night he campaigned for someone he dubbed a "liar" hundreds of times during the campaign. Values voters who thought he may not be so bad are likely suicidal at this point. And this isn't just a Trump phenomenon...all Presidents have things they have abandoned, have not completed, and have disappointed their base to some extent by this point. Anyway, the party that has the Oval loses some support going into the mid terms and the party out of the oval is energized.

    Next, gerrymandering to get 100% is neither legal or practical. You can't hem in every Republican or Democrat; nor can you totally exclude every Republican or Democrat by gerrymandering. So what you end up with is congressional districts that are 60/40 or 55/45. When you have a percentage point swing in the single digits, those districts are in play. When you have population shifts, those districts are in play. When you have enthusiasm on the other side, those districts are in play. That is the danger you invite when you gerrymander.

    And for the Senate, There is an A, B and C group of seats up for election every 2 years. Some have more blue states than red, some have more red than blue, rarely is it 50/50. The 2018 midterm is a heavy red meaning that a lot of red states are electing senators.
     
  8. well named
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    well named poorly undertitled Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    The main factor that's missing from your analysis, as candycorn mentioned, is that the entirety of the house is up for re-election every 2 years whereas only 1/3 of the Senate is up for re-election, because they serve 6-year terms. It happens to be the case that the majority of seats up for re-election are already held by Democrats (see for example the first chart here), so that limits their possible gains to begin with. It's also generally been true for the last couple decades that the demographic groups which favor Democrats tend to have higher turnout in presidential election years than in the mid-terms. The Democratic Senators up for re-election this year won their seats in the presidential election year of 2012 but now must hold them in a mid-term year, which is generally less favorable to them. That's why you see a number of Democratic senators in red states in close matchups, e.g. in MT, AZ, MO, and FL. All of those things make it difficult to do some direct comparison between the House and the Senate in the way you are trying to do.

    If you want to understand the impact of gerrymandering in the house, one way to see it is in the relationship between expected net seats won by Democrats and expected popular vote margins in House races, as for example presented in the polls-only 538 house prediction model

    [​IMG]

    It makes sense that the net advantage in seats varies close to linearly with the advantage in the popular vote, but you'd expect the apportionment of seats to be about even when the popular vote is even. Instead Democrats need to win the popular vote in house races by 7% or more in order to gain a bare majority of house seats. This isn't entirely the result of gerrymandering, it's also a consequence of natural sorting of voters into urban and rural areas, where rural areas tend to have a greater number of representatives per capita and urban areas fewer, even in states which are not plausibly gerrymandered against Democrats. Democrats are concentrated in more urban areas and thus their votes are diluted by that geographic segregation as well as by gerrymandering. You can find a lot more details here.
     
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