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Will remap reform proposal hurt Democrats?

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

* Remember my objection the other day to the Independent Map Amendment’s so-called “anti-gerrymandering effort”? It was based on what could happen to racial balance because of this particular passage

(T)he redistricting plan shall respect the geographic integrity of units of local government

* Well, minorities aren’t the only ones who should be highly suspicious of the current “reform” proposal, which already has 200,000 signatures out of the 600,000 needed to get it onto the ballot.

Check out this 2013 study by political science profs at the University of Michigan and Stanford’s Hoover Institution

We show that in many states, Democrats are inefficiently concentrated in large cities and smaller industrial agglomerations such that they can expect to win fewer than 50% of the seats when they win 50% of the votes. […]

Our results illustrate a strong relationship between the geographic concentration of Democratic voters and electoral bias favoring Republicans.

Go read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Texas Red - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:36 am:

    The Democrats can have it both ways - they use the “Curley Effect” and entitlement and transfer payments to purposely concentrate and trap minorities into urban centers to guarantee Democratic control in Chicago and Springfield. They they can’t complain when honest folks who want to equitably look at redistricting don’t follow the Democrats plan.

  2. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:37 am:

    ===to purposely concentrate and trap minorities into urban centers===


    It obviously ain’t working since 200,000 left the city in the last census period.

  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:40 am:

    As usual, God save us from the reformers

  4. - Springfield Pete - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:43 am:

    (T)he redistricting plan shall respect the geographic integrity of units of local government

    Ohio has a similar passage in their constitution. Republicans have a super-majority in both the House and Senate. In Ohio, Republicans brag that Democrats cannot draw a majority map because of the above passage. This is a partisan item, without a doubt.

  5. - Juvenal - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:50 am:

    It’s a feature, not a bug.

    Republicans hope to take advantage of the great suburban migration of the past decades to pack minority voters into as few districts as possible.

    They will argue that minority representation in the GA will remain the same under the “fair maps” proposal.

    What they ignore is that the percent of white non-Hispanics in Illinois declined from 68 percent to 63 percent since 2000.

  6. - Norseman - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:51 am:

    Perhaps the Dems should heed Rich’s advice and get out front of the issue. They could craft something that could address minority representation. But alas, they want to take their chances on a coin toss.

  7. - Springfield Pete - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:56 am:

    Juvenal - “Republicans hope to take advantage of the great suburban migration of the past decades to pack minority voters into as few districts as possible.”

    African-American elected officials from “packed” districts often have a hard time seeking a higher office because their short term politics tend to focus on winning the primary election. This is bad for African-Americans who want to have candidates run for higher offices and yet another solid reason to prevent packing along racial lines.

  8. - Team Sleep - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:57 am:

    I know the News-Gazette isn’t everyone’s fave rag these days, but they had a good write-up of some opposition to the remap. Who’s behind the group?! Two former ComEd execs and Karen Lewis. Yeah.

    President Cullerton seems to be a good deal maker. He needs to really work on a remap idea with Governor Rauner before this winds up getting on the ballot and causing the Dems heartburn (and lots of cash).

  9. - walker - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:57 am:

    I don’t see the pettion drive failing, since they learned from last time. And I don’t see the voters defeating this.

    Might be early to call it, but agree that the Dems either get out in front legislatively with a plan that does not unfairly harm minority populations, or flap in the wind.

  10. - Texas Red - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:00 am:

    Yeah it is called suburbanization - the urban decay in low income neighborhoods forces folks to move to nearby suburbs. However the political influence of the Dems is still there as they have a iron grip on virtually all elected offices . So the Dems control the City and Cook County.

  11. - The Captain - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:05 am:

    The map is a red herring. Rauner won the Governor’s race by just under 4 points and won 70 house districts in the process and yet there’s only 47 Republicans in the house. Tom Cross lost the Treasurer’s race by about a quarter of a point and won 64 house districts and yet the caucus that he used to lead could only seat 47 Republicans in the house.

    Redistricting the General Assembly is a zero sum game, you have to remove Democrats from one district in order to add them to some other district, it’s not like the map makers can just invent Democratic voters out of whole cloth and somehow disenfranchise Republicans. In order to have the Democratic supermajorities that we currently have you either need a wave Democratic year which hasn’t happened since 2008 or you need a map that has lots of districts with thin Democratic majorities. But if you have a map with a lot of districts with thin Democratic majorities then it should be very susceptible to large Democratic losses in a wave Republican election year, like 2014 was.

    But we didn’t see those large Democratic losses in the house in the wave Republican election year of 2014. Even though voters voted Republican in droves and were the majority for Rauner in 70 districts and Cross in 64 districts the House Republicans were only able to win 47 races because the map isn’t the be-all end-all of General Assembly elections.

    I really don’t care what they do with the mapmaking process. Of all the issues that need to be resolved I’d put this last.

  12. - lake county democrat - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:10 am:

    One wonders how much of this oh-so-principled opposition there would be if Rauner won re-election and the Dems were a coin-flip away from facing his map.

  13. - Arizona Bob - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:21 am:

    The biggest problem is the horrible job the House and Senate orgs do at recruiting and supporting candidates. Radogno, Cross and Durkin just spend disproportionate amounts on their cronies and they pretty much say every other Republican candidate can pound sand. The way the districts are set up are more for incumbent protection than anything else. I remember Dillard being called on Mother’s day, when Madigan and Cullerton were drawing the maps, and him being asked if he was ok with the way they were changing his district. Congressional districting is far more unfairly gerrymandered by the Dems, and often is set up to get force two GOP Reps to compete against each other.

  14. - Button is broke... - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:22 am:

    I always thought that this way the reason Republicans in Illinois wanted redistricting reform. They are the minority party and this would take something away from the Democrats who are in control. Look at Arizona where the state Republicans sued and tried to get the redistricting amendment to their constitution declared unconstitutional. They outnumber Democrats by a good amount and they wanted the power to draw the map themselves. (The AZ Senate is 17 Repub 13 Dem, AZ House is 36 Repubs and 24 Dems. The congressional delegation is only 5 Repubs and 4 Dems.)

  15. - Bill White - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:23 am:

    Some of you may find the gerrymandering antics of Floridians to be entertaining.

    = = =

    Perhaps more amusing is the Indiana Republican who advocated for “fair maps” before the 2010 Census and in retaliation his own party drew a new map placing his house 500 yards outside his previous district.

  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:24 am:

    ===Congressional districting is far more unfairly gerrymandered by the Dems, and often is set up to get force two GOP Reps to compete against each other.===

    The 2014 results would seem to belie that first notion.

    And Congressman Phelps’ predicament 14 year ago belies the second.

  17. - Amalia - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:34 am:

    “Is such a hypothetically neutral or pro democratic gerrymander achieveable in real life practice?”

    please come to Illinois, political science “wizards.”

  18. - A guy - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:38 am:

    ===Will remap reform proposal hurt Democrats?===

    It will absolutely hurt the way they’ve been doing things.

  19. - Fedralist - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 11:44 am:

    My observation and my observation only.

    There is probably a large degree of truth in this study. However, it appears to me that more and more Blacks and particularly Hispanics have moved into the formerly White suburbs. Their numbers are not huge and as a result they will be ‘out voted’ in those largely White and newly redistricted districts. More and more minorities will be packed into a large portion of Chicago districts.

    Result is dilution of impact of minorities in elections and this favors Republicans- for now.

    But for the future this may not hold. Hispanics and Asians are growing in huge numbers in these suburbs and will someday exert a lot of votes and power- for the Democrats.

    Things change.

    Could be off base. Any comments?

  20. - muon - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 12:03 pm:

    The geographic concentration argument is less valid in Illinois than in some of the other states in the paper. Many states have very sharp divisions between cities with 80%+ Democratic votes and suburbs with 60%+ Republican votes. Large areas with this type of division creates the type of concentration problem observed by the authors. It is the existence of large, securely Republican areas that are distinctly less Republican than the Democrat’s areas are for them that causes the bias. Note that this requires the Republicans to control areas that are safe, but not as safe as the Democrats base areas in the cities.

    Illinois is dominated by the population in Chicagoland, where over 70% of the population lives. The suburban area around Chicago has far more pockets of Democrats than many other cities. Some of that is due to older commercial centers like Joliet, Aurora, Elgin, and Waukegan merging into the greater suburban areas. They bring a greater minority population to the suburbs as well. But there are other suburban communities that have modest leans towards the Democrats. Overall the Chicago suburbs are less well sorted than the suburban areas around many other big cities. For example, demographers have noted the much sharper polarization of Waukesha county for Republicans next to Milwaukee compared to DuPage or Lake next to Cook.

    The result is that the Chicago suburbs are not as safe for Republicans if districts are drawn based on the geographic factors in the paper. Since they aren’t as reliable for Republicans, they would likely contribute to a larger pool of swing districts than might happen in other states.

  21. - titan - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 12:15 pm:

    Some degree of respect for geography and underlying municipal/county/community boundaries has traditionally viewed as helping to generate a measure of shared interest among an official’s constituency (that he/she would then get a mandate to represent). But that was before the present D/R axis and demographics developed.

  22. - Team Sleep - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 12:36 pm:

    Geographic continuity is big for me. It drives me batty that Springfield has three State Senators and that Collinsville has three Congressman. Totally unnecessary.

  23. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 1:41 pm:

    ==- Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 10:37 am:==

    C’mon Rich, everybody knows the “Democrat Party” is behind the Industrial Revolution in order concentrate people in urban areas, engineering a Civil War where they were pro-slavery with the ultimate goal of then becoming the pro-racial equality party in order to trap people into entitlments during a major depression! Don’t you read TinfoilHatWars?

  24. - ArchPundit - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 2:28 pm:

    ===Our results illustrate a strong relationship between the geographic concentration of Democratic voters and electoral bias favoring Republicans.

    There’s a fairly easy way to understand this as well. If you live closely to others, government helps ease those frictions and provide the infrastructure. If you have more room from others, government is often not as important. Or at least the level of government intervention.

    Those arguing Chicago is different from the examples in the paper like Missouri, well no. The migration of minorities to suburbs is happening everywhere. A lot of it is housing in inner ring suburbs is considered obsolete due to size and amenities and so people moving in are doing so because it is affordable. The same thing is happening in most urban areas.

    You can take a density map and overlay it with partisan voting patterns and see very clearly that this is going on in Illinois.

  25. - COPN - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 3:15 pm:

    Senate districts 1-20 (i.e. Chicago city proper) shouldn’t really be part of the discussion regarding the dilution of minorities or Democrats unless it’s an argument for more Senate districts in Chicago or about improper mapping of minority areas of the city.

    For other Democratic or high-minority cities with a populace of 145,000 or more, how are Senate districts 34, 42, and 43 not already “packing” or “super-concentrated”?

    Shouldn’t the conspiracy really be about areas with non-large cities/agglomerations (i.e. one or two adjacent municipalities totaling over 80,000): Senate districts 21, 22, 27, 28, 30, 43, 44, 46, 52

    The next tier for Democrats and minorities to keep their watchful eye would then potentially be areas with small cities/agglomerations (i.e. one or two adjacent municipalities totaling over 40,000): Senate districts 23, 24, 29, 49, 56, 57

  26. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 3:19 pm:

    ===i.e. Chicago city proper===


    Have you seen the map for those districts? They go way beyond the city.

  27. - COPN - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 3:36 pm:

    Yea that was a misstatement to say the least. I guess I’ve been around too many of the border burb folks who pretend they’re Chicago. Senate 1-20 for all practical purposes are the “Chicago” districts with little to no issues being Democrat, other than maybe 19

  28. - illini - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 4:08 pm:

    Great point Rich at 3:19 - my sentiments exactly.

    And the situation as it was ( or maybe still is ) in Springfield is another case in point.

    I live in a county with 23 precincts and less than 10,000 registered voters. Just checked with my County Clerk and was told that in the last General that there were 8 different ballots. And I know of some smaller towns in Southern Illinois where the lines had been drawn through the middle of a municipality.

    There has to be a better way to get this process done, yet, unless the GA makes some determinations, this craziness will repeat itself once again.

  29. - illini - Friday, Aug 28, 15 @ 4:12 pm:

    Good point Rich at 3:19 but I meant to mention your posting at 11:24. First mistake I made today!!!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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