Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Sport | By Cecil Buchanan

Virginia districts drawn to help GOP

Virginia districts drawn to help GOP

Those behind the amendment successfully sued to have U.S. House and state Senate maps redrawn because they didn't meet constitutional muster, but state House maps went unchallenged.

Less attention was paid to manipulation that occurred not during the presidential race, but before it - in the drawing of lines for hundreds of US and state legislative seats.

Experts interviewed by the Associated Press acknowledged those factors, but the new analysis shows partisan gerrymandering also likely plays a significant role.

The AP scrutinized the outcomes of about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election past year, using a statistical method of calculating partisan advantage.

More than one-third of state House races were unopposed in 2016, including 18 Republican candidates and 16 Democratic races.

The analysis found that Virginia was among those states with Republican-skewed state House districts as well as congressional districts.

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Republican lawmakers have steadfastly defended the state districts lines as legal and fair, and noted that many GOP candidates have won in districts that Democratic in presidential elections. How the court rules could influence congressional redistricting and legislative reapportionment nationwide after the 2020 Census.

Only five states had a larger "efficiency gap", or the percent of seats won by Republicans beyond what would be expected based on their statewide average share of votes. But many Democratic candidates will be facing a stacked deck as Virginia is one of several states where favorably drawn districts have given Republicans a measurable advantage in past elections, an Associated Press analysis shows.

The AP's analysis was based on a version of the "efficiency gap" formula developed by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. South Carolina's lone Democrat in Congress represents a district gerrymandered as majority minority. "We met the criteria the Supreme Court required us to meet".

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

MI provides a good example of how the formula works. As of last week, there were 221 Republicans in the New Hampshire House, 170 Democrats and two Libertarians. That amounted to an efficiency gap of 10.3 percent favoring Republicans, one of the highest advantages among all states. If Republicans hold onto power in both legislative chambers and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin wins re-election, it would give the party complete control of the redistricting process for the first time. The Michigan House redistricting effort was led by then-state Rep. Pete Lund, who denied gerrymandering districts to favor Republicans.

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