Twice this month, I have written about the gerrymandering case in Pennsylvania (links below in case you missed them). You may remember that the congressional district map was heavily gerrymandered to give the GOP unfair advantage, and the state Supreme Court ordered the legislature to re-draw the map to be more fair by February 9th, and the governor to approve and submit the new map by February 15th, or the court would have the map re-drawn. Well, a couple of the legislators balked, both deadlines were missed, so the court held true to its word and had the map re-drawn.
The new map on the left more closely reflects the partisan composition of the state, providing a more equitable opportunity for Democrats to pick up 2-3 additional U.S. House seats in November. It’s also more compact than Republicans’ original map, and it splits fewer counties and municipal areas. While Democratic candidates for the state’s 18 U.S. House seats tend to capture about half of the statewide popular vote, that’s translated into just five of the 18 seats in each election held since the 2011 redistricting.
In the last election, 2016, the majority of the popular vote was actually for democrats, but due to the manipulation of congressional district boundaries, democrats only won 5 of the 18 seats in the House. Fair? Hardly, but then the same could be said of the same year’s presidential election also, where the majority lost the election due to the electoral college.
It is a safe bet to say that the republican-led legislature will challenge the new map, but they have few options to do so, as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case, effectively upholding the ruling of the state court. The only plausible argument would be that the maps violate the Elections Clause of the Constitution, which vests in the state legislature the power to choose rules for congressional elections, and even that is a long shot.
But meanwhile, you know Trump couldn’t resist an opportunity to put his two-cents’ worth in, and he took to Twitter early this morning:
Hope Republicans in the Great State of Pennsylvania challenge the new “pushed” Congressional Map, all the way to the Supreme Court, if necessary. Your Original was correct! Don’t let the Dems take elections away from you so that they can raise taxes & waste money! – 8:11 AM – Feb 20, 2018
Appropriate remark for a president? No, but then when are they ever any more?
Gerrymandering, for any who may be unclear on precisely what the term means, is a means of re-drawing district maps to manipulate the boundaries in order to favour one party over the other. The Washington Post published an excellent article explaining the process back in March 2015 that I urge you to take a look at. The graphic below, taken from that article, provides a pretty good visual explanation.
If the map provided by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is allowed to stand, it is quite possible that the democrats will pick up an additional 2, possibly 3 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in November. It is a start, but there are more states with unfairly drawn congressional district maps that need to be challenged this year. Thus far, Pennsylvania and Florida are the only two who have taken this step. The 10 most gerrymandered states are …
- North Carolina
- West Virginia
Let us hope that Pennsylvania’s new map is not overturned, and that more states, particularly the ones listed above, get on the bandwagon to re-draw more fair and equitable maps. I am not asking for any special treatment for democrats, merely an opportunity for a fair election, such as is called for by the U.S. Constitution.