The Electric Commentary

Friday, June 25, 2004

Mandering Meanderings

A follow up to my Karl Rove post. If the parties have become more extreme, gerrymandering is almost certainly the reason. Wisconsin lost a seat in the house during the last census and was forced to reapportion. This resulted in districts that were completely safe for the incumbents (especially in the Milwaukee area). You may have also heard of the controversial redistricting in Texas that had democratic legislators illegally hiding out in a neighboring state so that they would not have to vote on the new borders. Every time a state redraws it's line, fewer and fewer contested areas exist. What is the result?

Normally over the course of an election the two candidates will start on the fringes of their respective parties. This is because, for the most part, active partisans dominate preliminary elections. However, once the nomination is in hand, the candidates are forced to the center to attempt to pick up swing votes which, by and large determine the winner on any election. In an uncontested district there is no pull to the center. If there is no credible threat from the opposite side of the spectrum, why cater to them at all?

Which raises the question, why do legislators get to draw their own districts? Any ideas?


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