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Gerrymandering benefited GOP in 2016

26 June 2017

The efficiency gap formula compares the statewide average share of the vote a party receives in each district with the statewide percentage of seats it wins, taking into account a common political expectation: For each 1 percentage point gain in its statewide vote share, a party normally increases its seat share by 2 percentage points.

A nationwide analysis by The Associated Press shows lawmakers can cause some statehouses to skew more Democratic and others more Republican by redrawing political boundaries to cluster or divide certain groups of voters.

Across the state, the number of Missouri House races lacking Democratic or Republican candidates has risen significantly since legislative districts were last redrawn after the 2010 Census.

Pennsylvania's 16.2 percent efficiency gap favoring Republicans was the sixth highest among states previous year. But Republicans have a 7-4 majority in the state's congressional delegation and now control the state House 66-34. "The result in this decade's maps has been a persistent and consequential seat advantage in favor of Republicans that will likely endure for the remainder of the decade".

While it would be easy to say Republicans built their power because they draw the political boundaries for Congress and the Legislature, it's not as simple as that. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal.

But a new analysis of election results by The Associated Press indicates it was Republicans who could have benefited slightly from the way the districts were drawn, contributing to what would become a landslide election for the GOP. 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.

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"Republicans have done a good job of targeting those areas and getting good candidates and putting a lot of money into marginal districts, which they tend to win", he said. Its analysis showed that although Democrats had a 51 percent to 49 percent vote edge statewide over Republicans, the GOP had a majority in 102 of the new House districts compared to just 61 for Democrats. But they point out Republicans are at this point just better at raising money, recruiting candidates and winning races in districts that should be more competitive.

The efficiency gap model was developed by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee, of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

One of the largest Democratic congressional advantages was in Maryland, where Democrats controlled redistricting.

The "efficiency gap" formula creates a way to measure whether gerrymandering has helped a political party extend its power.

For Democrats to complain of gerrymandering is "pure nonsense", said Matt Walter, the Republican committee's president.

That analysis looked only at U.S. House races, while the AP analysis also includes state legislative elections.

Gerrymandering benefited GOP in 2016