Archive for gerrymandering

"Absence of a strong wave comes as something of a setback for GOP"

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democracy setback

A report just came out from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate. It confirmed what many of us already knew: that Americans are "staying away from the polls in droves." Not good, not good at all. The prediction is that the midterm primary elections will set record lows in voter turnout. "Who cares?" many of you may be asking. Well, per the Los Angeles Times, that would be a real setback for democracy:

Why does that matter? “It presents a danger to our society insofar as democracy does thrive on the consent and involvement of the governed,” said Curtis Gans, director of the nonpartisan election research center and a decades-long student of voter behavior. “Leadership needs some form of mandate.”

The study says a major factor in the low turnout is a sense of futility: congressional districts consciously drawn to favor one party or the other, which leave many voters wondering why they should bother participating when the outcome is preordained.

Got that? Gerrymandering is a major culprit. Scroll through our many posts on that subject.

gerrymander definition

To repeat, low voter turnout is bad for democracy... and usually bad for Democrats, specifically.

Adjacent to that article was another one about a different kind of setback. It has a somewhat encouraging title (key word: somewhat), No partisan wave building for fall elections, but GOP gains likely:

[F]or now, the absence of a strong wave comes as something of a setback for Republicans, who had hoped earlier this year that the unpopularity of President Obama's healthcare law would guarantee big gains for them.  [...]

The public's dismal view of Congress probably accounts for some of that lack of enthusiasm about voting.

That last sentence is an understatement, IMHO. Our own Sherry Hardy wrote a great post about that here, and I followed up here.

Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

And from the Timing Is Everything Dep't., Steve Kornacki subbed for Chris Matthews on Hardball and treated us to his own "Let Me Finish" segment in which he opined on the long game for Democrats:

Kornacki:

Right now, at least, it doesn't look like a big Republican wave is building, and it does look like Democrats can at least hold their own this fall. And if they can do that, then it sets up the real battle in 2016...

In 2016, Republicans won't just get to take shots at the White House, they'll have to put up a candidate of their own. They'll have to write a platform of their own, run on an agenda that might not sit that well with most Americans. There could be a huge opportunity for Democrats...

2014 is important to [the Democrats], but 2016? That's the ball game.

You know what to do:

vote  turnout  gotv

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Judge: Florida redistricting a "mockery," illegally favors GOP

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redistricting

Florida (aka Flori-duh) Republicans just got a major smackdown from a circuit judge who ruled that their congressional redistricting map was illegal. North Carolina, are you paying attention?

The map is now invalid because it "violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts," per the Los Angeles Times. Or to put it another way, the GOP hoped to pull a fast one on Democratic voters and failed miserably. The plan is "invalid."

In Florida, the GOP controls the Legislature, and the judge said that they did that with "improper partisan intent" in 2012.

gerrymander definition

gerrymandering via Doonesbury

Oh, but it gets worse. Judge Lewis also said that those (ir)responsible tried to keep the whole thing a big secret. And you know what they say about cover-ups...

cover up 2 cover-up...where...

cover up worse than crime

In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature's Republican political consultants had "made a mockery" of the redistricting process, tainting it with "partisan intent."

Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering - that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other. [...]

Lewis noted that legislative leaders and political operatives had deleted emails and other documents outlining their redistricting efforts.

As the League of Women Voters of Florida president said, the ruling "exposed the conspiracy to influence and manipulate the Legislature into violating its constitutional duties."

Of course, Republicans will blame those pesky activist judges. Like the ones on the Supreme Court, GOP?

nice try no cigar

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Twofer: Hispanics aren't casting ballots; the political "news" media is MIA

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hispanics vote logo

I read the New York Times headlines every morning on my trusty New York Times app. When my barely-open eyes are able to focus, I link over to read the ones that grab me. Two very important headlines did just that, one about Hispanics, and one about the national "news" media:

Let's take them one at a time, starting with local journalists leaving beltway reporters in the dust with their mouths hanging open and their eyes popping out:

help!

All politics is local, which may explain why The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Chesterfield Observer both took David Brat’s Tea Party challenge to Mr. Cantor seriously [...] Congressional races are a mess to cover because there are so many of them... The math of covering someone who may become one of only 100 senators is far easier. [...]

No one wants to stray from the white-hot center of power for fear of being stuck in some forsaken locale when something big happens in Washington — which is why it has become one of the most overcovered places on earth.

That Beltway provincialism is now multiplied by the diminution of nonnational newspapers. The industry as a whole is about half as big as it was in 2007, with regional newspapers suffering acute cutbacks. [...] Plenty of reporters are imprisoned in cubes in Washington, but stretched news organizations aren’t eager to spend money on planes, rental cars and hotel rooms so that employees can bring back reports from the hustings. While the Internet has been a boon to modern reporting ... it tends to pin journalists at their desks.[...]

The quants took a beating on this one, partly because journalists are left to read the same partisan surveys and spotty local reporting as Mr. Cantor’s campaign staff, whose own polling had him up by more than 30 points.

That made MY eyes pop out. Well, actually, it didn't. It did, however, reinforce what I already knew about news coverage, and that's pretty frustrating. So what it really did is made me do this:

banghead gif

On to Hispanics, another frustrating report, because it examines why they don't make it to the polls, what's preventing them, and how change is inevitable. Fortunately, this piece has a happier ending:

One reason is that no demographic group is more marginalized in American elections than Hispanics. Many are ineligible to vote, while those who can vote often do not or are concentrated in noncompetitive districts and states. [...]

The explanation for the gap starts with the most basic rules of voter eligibility. [...] Eligible Hispanics are also less likely to vote than other Americans. A big part of the reason is demographic: Hispanics are younger than other Americans, and voters of all racial and ethnic backgrounds become significantly more likely to vote as they age. [...]

The power of Hispanic voters is further diluted by geography... Finally, Hispanic voters are concentrated in noncompetitive states and districts, diminishing their role in the most important races.[...]

Hispanics are earning more clout in presidential elections. It is in those elections, not in the fight for Congress, where Hispanics could ultimately force the hand of Republicans.[...] In time, the political underrepresentation of Hispanics will end. The Hispanic share of the electorate will steadily increase... But for now, Hispanic voters will struggle to get their voices heard.

Please link over and read the parts I left out. These are two very important articles that answer a few questions, pose a few more, and explain why so many of our heads are exploding on a daily basis.

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Oops! Republican: I never drew Fla. redistricting maps favoring GOP. You used my name!

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gerrymandering, redistricting via Doonesbury

Note: Headline corrected, changed.

One of the reasons it is so important to get out the vote in November is that Republicans have concocted redistricting maps to favor their party, making it nearly impossible for Democrats to win. Unless, somehow, by some miracle, Dem voter turnout is so huge that they can pull off a victory despite the gerrymandering.

That's how desperate the GOP is. They know they can't win on the issues, because they have no ideas, other than bashing President Obama, holding fake hearings on fake scandals, and obstructing every Democratic piece of legislation that comes their way. So they resort to dirty tricks like lying about redistricting.

As a friend of mine put it, "They put the mandering in gerrymandering."

gerrymander

ˈjerēˌmandər/

verb

manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

achieve (a result) by manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency.

"a total freedom to gerrymander the results they want"

Redistricting is one thing, but cheating outright (allegedly) is quite another. Now the GOP in Florida is in legal hot water.

Via the Miami Herald:

The trial over Florida’s redrawn congressional districts took a dramatic turn Thursday when the judge closed the courtroom to the public and a private citizen — whom legislators had commended for having drawn portions of the final congressional map — testified he did not draw any maps and that his name was used without his permission. [...]

The plaintiffs, a coalition of voters led by the League of Women Voters and seven Democratic-leaning individuals, accuse legislators of allowing political operatives to conduct a “shadow” redistricting process to benefit Republican incumbents and candidates in violation of the Fair District amendments to the Florida Constitution. [...]

Posada testified he never drew the map, never submitted it, and the Gmail account in his name that was used to submit the maps was not his. [...] John Devaney, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued that the Florida Supreme Court has said that any partisan bias nullifies the maps under the Fair District standards. “If it’s not this case, there will never be one,” he said.

P.S. and by the way, the mystery map maker was a former member of the Florida State University College Republicans. The GOP exploited a loyal member of their own party.

And that concludes today's episode of "Republicans Eating Their Own."

eating their own

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A Populace Pump For Electile Dysfunction

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Electile Dysfunction

It doesn't get much funnier than this -- and what candidate hasn't worried at one time or another of suffering from "ELECTILE DYSFUNCION?" This one may actually give you a boner, er, Boehner. See if the orange-tinged House Speaker knows the difference as his opponent seeks to pump up the votes against him.

From Raw Story:

House Speaker John Boehner’s Tea Party challenger in the Ohio Republican primary, J.D. Winteregg, released a parody advertisement today that accuses the speaker of suffering from “Electile Dysfunction.”

The Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC decided to back Winteregg after internal polling revealed that only 25 percent of Rep. Boehner’s constituents favored him over a generic Tea Party challenger. The PAC initiated a “two-pronged approach” similar to the one that Scott Brown used to catapult him into office: a dedicated “ground game” on the local front coupled with a national fundraising campaign.

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VIDEO: The most important election you haven't heard of

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voter suppression doj can't tell us what to do

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Chris Hayes:

In August, [the mayor of Pasadena, Texas] started pushing a plan to shrink the number of districts from eight to six, and replace those two with at large seats to be voted on by everyone in Pasadena.

And by everyone, we mean the town's white voting majority.

One of two Hispanics on the council, Cody Ray Wheeler.:

He decided to make a full power grab and he didn't care who you'd have to step over to get it.

Hayes:

To the community, the goal of the plan was clear: Dilute the power of the Hispanic vote and hand two seats to the majority white voting population, ensuring the citywide majority white voting population could band together and retain their power.

Wheeler:

What this effectively does is give the south part of town, the Anglo part of town, the majority of the council.

Hayes:

It turns out this is precisely the sort of thing Section Five of the Voting Rights Act was designed to block. In fact, Ruth Bader Ginsburg cited this precise type of discrimination from a pre-Section Five world when the Voting Rights Act came before the court earlier this year.

Justice Ginsburg:

These second generation barriers including racial gerrymandering, switching from district voting to at-large voting...

Hayes:

Did you hear that? At-large voting. It's the oldest trick in the book and it's so immediately recognizable that when a neighboring Texas town of Beaumont cooked up a similar at-large plan, it was blocked by the Justice Department in December 2012.

But then, the Supreme Court killed Section Five of the Voting Rights Act...

Now that Section Five is dead, there are thousands of potential Pasadenas all across the South.

voting rights ginsburg comment

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Cartoons of the Day- The REAL Problems With Congress

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Print

Steve Greenberg

problem1

Paul Fell

problem2

Chan Lowe

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