A Visual Demonstration of the Absurdity of Gerrymandering

Most Progressives, especially in the “Rust Belt” states, have had much reason to regret the failure of the national Democratic Party to generate voter turnout in 2010. During that census year, Republicans secured the governorships and large legislative majorities in many of those states and then gerrymandered districts that have allowed them to maintain 2:1 to 3:1 majorities in those state legislatures and in the federal House of Representatives, even though in every one of those states, their candidates received fewer votes, in total, than Democratic candidates received in 2012.

I still believe that that election was a disaster for Progressives, mainly because even if the Democrats regain lost ground in the legislatures, it may take a decade or more to roll back all of the anti-government, anti-female, and anti-worker statutes that the Far Right has pushed through, usually with very little citizen input and even with very little formal discussion among the legislators themselves.

That said, it is starting to look as though that election may turn out to be an even bigger disaster for the GOP. In the midst of this ill-conceived government shutdown, many Republicans are publicly making the case that, in eliminating any meaningful contests in the general elections, the gerrymandering has pushed the party too far to the Right, because the various interests collectively categorized as the “Tea Party” can control the outcomes of primaries by producing or influencing a few thousand or even a few hundred voters.

No Republican has gone this far, but an extension of that point is that the GOP grossly over-estimated the “mandate” that it had received in the 2010 elections. Before the gerrymandering, they had indeed won large majorities in many state legislatures, but they had won many of those seats by narrow margins. For instance, in Ohio, where only two out of three eligible voters are registered to vote, less than half of the registered voters actually cast ballots in 2010, even though there was a hotly contested gubernatorial contest. And, in winning the governorship, John Kasich actually received less than 50% of the vote and won by a less than 2% margin. So, Kasich received less than half of the votes from less than half of the registered voters who were less than two-thirds of the eligible voters. In sum, he won by getting the votes of about 16% of the Ohio residents eligible to vote. That is simply not a sufficient mandate to change in radical, ideologically driven ways how the state impacts the lives of the average Ohioans, without risking some serious pushback.

Last week that pushback was reinitiated with a large rally on the Statehouse lawn by women protesting the raft of anti-female statutes literally slipped at the last hour into the most recent biennial budget. [For an account of how this was done, see my post, “In Politics, Violating Your Own Truisms Is the Definition of Cynicism”: https://academeblog.org/2013/07/02/in-politics-violating-your-own-truisms-is-the-definition-of-cynicism/.

Rally at Ohio Statehouse

The defeat by referendum of the union-busting Senate Bill 5 should have been a reason for the GOP to proceed more cautiously. Instead, they have provoked a push-back from other sizable voting blocks—and political fundraisers–within the electorate.

In any case, Business Insider has provided a “quiz” that comically highlights the extreme gerrymandering that has occurred. Pairing gerrymandered districts with their “mirror” images, Walter Hickey mixes them with Rorschach inkblots and asks readers to try to differentiate them.

For instance, consider the following image:

Rorschach Blot

It’s actually not a Rorschach Blot but a “doubled” image of the 13th Congressional District in North Carolina:

Legislative District.jpeg

Hickey’s entire article can be found at: http://www.businessinsider.com/quiz-gerrymandered-gop-congressional-district-or-rorschach-inkblot-2013-10.

One thought on “A Visual Demonstration of the Absurdity of Gerrymandering

Your comments are welcome. They must be relevant to the topic at hand and must not contain advertisements, degrade others, or violate laws or considerations of privacy. We encourage the use of your real name, but do not prohibit pseudonyms as long as you don’t impersonate a real person.