Redistricting Battle Royale in 2012

Redistricting Battle Royale in 2012


I last wrote about how one aspect of the 2012 elections, the battle for the Senate, is not getting the attention it deserved.

Likewise, too few people are paying attention to the role redistricting will play in the battle for partisan control of the U.S. House. Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg suspects that the net result of redistricting will be a wash with Democrats netting just one seat. As Rothenberg acknowledges, however, many states have not even drawn their new maps yet (Mississippi, for instance).

Unfortunately, too many analysts look at the short-term of just the next U.S. House elections, but all 50 state legislatures are affected. Given the anti-woman Republican crusade, we should give the state legislatures their deserved amount of attention.

Redistricting essentially locks things into place for the next decade, so the careful critic looks at the number of opportunity districts. These are districts where the total minority population is large enough that minority voters have a reasonably strong chance of electing their preferred candidate.

In Mississippi, Republicans want to decrease these opportunity districts by reducing the minority population in some districts from 44% to 39%. Go here for a primer on exactly how this happens. Their public goal is making these districts easier for Republicans to win, but it is hard to deny that this goal is not also anti-Black. In reducing the number of districts that Black candidates can effectively compete in (because in Mississippi, where I reside, many Whites see the Democratic Party as a Black political party and vote for Black candidates in very low numbers), the GOP strategically tries to reduce Black political power in the state.

Anyone who is telling you voter ID laws don’t serve the same purpose is pulling your leg.

The same applies for Latino voters and Latino candidates. In Texas, the Republican Party’s redistricting plan specifically tried to reduce Latino influence on politics in the Lone Star state.  We’re watching that fight now unfold in the Supreme Court.

At the same time, I believe the GOP is playing what is clearly a rear-guard action. Every year America’s Hispanic population gets larger. This population is relatively young, but once its voting strength matches its population strength, Republicans will rue the day that they focused more on picking on Latinos rather than wooing them.

This is the real story of redistricting.


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