New Hampshire among states with GOP redistricting advantage

Brandon Parsons
June 26, 2017

An analysis by The Associated Press has found that partisan gerrymandering influenced the outcomes of numerous congressional and state legislative races across the country last fall, giving an advantage to Republicans.

The AP scrutinized all 435 U.S. House races from November using a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage. The formula is created to detect races where one party might have won or retained seats in the legislature through drawing district lines favorable to the party in power.

Gerrymandering in congressional redistricting is not an issue in Wyoming, which has a single at-large U.S. House district won a year ago by Republican Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Roughly 20 percent of seats up for election had just one major party candidate - seven for Republicans and six for Democrats. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal.

Other districts - such as Beatty's, where 9 of every 10 voters favor Democrats - are virtually impossible for Republicans to win. An Associated Press analysis found those districts also have produced a consistent Republican advantage that has helped swell the GOP's majority to some of highest levels in state history - higher even than what would be expected based on Republicans' share of the vote.

The analysis found that Virginia was among those states with Republican-skewed state House districts as well as congressional districts. The majority and minority party leaders in each legislative chamber each select one person to serve on the commission; the state chairmen of the Republican and Democratic parties also each select a commissioner.

Even with the new lines from a year ago, Virginia's congressional district favors the GOP, the AP's analysis shows. They moved Democratic-performing areas into districts that were safe for Republican or Democratic candidates.

But "part of it is the gerrymandering issue, in that districts are simply drawn in such a way that it is very difficult" for Democrats to win in many parts of the state, Beatty added. That would make for an expectation of about 65 percent, or 65 seats, going to Republicans in Indiana. And they moved Republican-performing areas into closely divided districts held by Republican incumbents.

The victor in more than 40 percent of all state Assembly or House races last November ran unopposed by a candidate from the other major party. Political scientists say gerrymandering can cause a lack of competition, as party-friendly lines discourage challengers. The AP analysis shows that congressional lines in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas have been drawn in a way that gives Republicans an edge.

The national Republican State Leadership Committee, the force behind the party's surge in state legislative elections, attributes its victories to candidates who better represent their communities.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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