Friday, November 10, 2006

Gerrymandering killed the GOP

Because they overreached, diluting their strength in key districts in an attempt to maximize the number of GOP-leaning districts.

In Florida, meanwhile, state lawmakers had shifted some Republican voters from the secure district of former Rep. Mark Foley in an attempt to shore up the re-election chances of Rep. Clay Shaw without risking the Foley seat. Instead, Democrats took both. In Texas, former Majority Leader Tom DeLay's decision to transfer thousands of stalwart Republican voters from his district in 2004 to boost a neighboring seat heightened the burden on the write-in candidate trying to hold Mr. DeLay's seat. She lost it.

"The trade-off in redistricting is between safety and maximizing the numbers," says Alan I. Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. "You can't do both,"

The article discusses how union strategists and MoveOn realized what the GOP did not, and began targeting districts that had been weakened by the gerrymandering. On Election Day, Democrats took many of them.

I despise gerrymandering, of course, so this story serves as both poetic justice and a warning. If Democrats control the state legislatures in 2010, they'll be tempted to gerrymander to their own benefit. While I hope that objective boundary-drawing criteria are in place by then, I also hope that Democrats learn from the GOP's mistakes and are wary about pushing their advantage to the limit. Not only is democracy hurt by such shenanigans -- they could end up shooting themselves in the foot.

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