How the GOP locked in control of Congress

Democrats stand an excellent chance of keeping control of the White House and a reasonable chance of regaining a majority in the Senate, but it’s a foregone conclusion that Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives not only for the next two years, but for the next 10 years or more..

That’s because of a successful plan, code-named REDSTATE, that Republican operatives implemented starting in 2010.  By targeting money at key state legislative races, they ensured Republican control of state legislatures in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida.

rat666c-838x621Then they used Big Data to draw legislative and congressional districts in such a way as to guarantee Republican majorities, even when Democrats won a majority of the state’s popular votes.

David Daley described this in his book, Rat-F**ked: How the Democrats Won the Presidency But Lost America.   I haven’t read the book, but I’ve read an excerpt and interviews, to which I link below.

Gerrymandering goes back to the early days of the Republic, and has been used by Democrats and Republicans.  What’s new about REDSTATE is the use of Big Date—detailed demographic information and computer analysis—to make gerrymandering more precise and impregnable than ever was possible before.

It’s virtually impossible that the Democrats would be able to engineer a BLUESTATE coup.  They wouldn’t have the element of surprise, and they’d have to overcome the built-in Republican advantage.  It may take decades to turn things around.

Republicans already have an advantage in the U.S. Senate.  There are more majority-Republican states than majority-Democratic states, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans nationwide.

And it is possible for Republican-controlled states to change their system of allocating electoral votes for the Presidency, so that most of a state’s electors are chosen from gerrymandered congressional districts.  Then it would be possible to win a state’s electoral vote, while losing the popular vote.

For example, President Obama in 2012 carried Pennsylvania by 5 percentage points, but only five of the state’s 18 congressional districts.  If Pennsylvania allocated its electoral votes by congressional district, as Maine and Nebraska do (one elector from each district and two for the state as a whole), Obama would have won only seven of the state’s 20 electoral votes.

The best answer is to have legislative and congressional districts drawn by non-partisan commissions, as is done in California, Iowa, Arizona, Washington, Idaho and New Jersey.

State legislatures that benefit from the present system would be unlikely to do this, although it’s not impossible.  There are, after all, states that do have non-partisan commissions that draw election districts.  But changing things probably would require referendums or amendments to state constitutions.


The Election That Mattered, an interview of David Daley for The Baffler.

The House the GOP Built: How Republicans Used Soft Money, Big Data and High-Tech Mapping to Take Control of Congress and Increase Partisanship, by David Daley for New York magazine.

This is how the GOP rigged Congress: The secret plan that handcuffed Obama’s presidency, but backfired in Donald Trump, an interview of David Daley for Salon.

California’s redistricting success in jeopardy? by Tom Purdom for POLITICO.  An argument that redistricting commissions are unconstitutional.

Iowa keeping redistricting off the map by Tracy Jan for the Boston Globe.

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One Response to “How the GOP locked in control of Congress”

  1. stuartbramhall Says:

    Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    Thanks to systematic Republican gerrymandering (code named operations REDSTATE), Democrats unlikely to regain control of House – even if they win substantial majority of popular vote as they did in 2012.


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