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Pennsylvania gerrymander gave GOP a big boost, analysis shows

26 June 2017

Nevada and Colorado were the only two presidential "swing states" among just eight state legislatures determined to favor Democrats in 2016.

"Democrats are absolutely benefiting from the current maps, and there's no question they won't continue if the process doesn't change", Call said.

The state's congressional map was deemed unconstitutional and redrawn by order of federal judges in 2016, but legal challenges to redraw state House districts are tied up in appeals. "Hats off to the Democratic litigators".

The AP analyzed the results of last fall's US and state House elections across the nation, examining the percentage of races lacking major party opposition and calculating state partisan advantages using a statistical method created to detect potential political gerrymandering.

The analysis measuring the "efficiency gap" shows Kentucky Republicans won about three more seats than they should have given their share of statewide votes.

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A separate statistical analysis conducted for AP by the Princeton University Gerrymandering Project found the extreme Republican advantages in some states were no fluke. How the court rules could influence congressional redistricting and legislative reapportionment nationwide after the 2020 Census.

Under the 2011 map, Republicans now fill 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in the U.S. House - or 72 percent - despite winning 54 percent of the statewide congressional vote in 2016. In the first decade of the 2000s, about 40 percent of Missouri House races lacked major-party opponents. Republicans captured 67% of the overall Congressional vote in 2016, but won all four House seats that year.

The AP excluded state senate chambers from its state data because not all seats were up for election previous year.

The national Republican State Leadership Committee, the force behind the party's surge in state legislative elections, attributes its victories to candidates who better represent their communities.

When gerrymandering so effectively boosts a majority party's chances, it can dissuade opposition parties from even fielding a candidate. "The result in this decade's maps has been a persistent and consequential seat advantage in favor of Republicans that will likely endure for the remainder of the decade".

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"A favorite thing to do is to cry foul and say "gerrymander" very loud", Jones said.

There are far fewer uncontested U.S. House races.

He'd like to see nonpartisan legislative staff draft initial maps and a supermajority consensus required by redistricting and reapportionment panels. The Constitution allows a majority of six members from a single party. AP found a decided advantage for Republicans, including a slight one in CT.

In a recent case challenging North Carolina's congressional districts, political scientist Simon Jackman suggested that an initial election efficiency gap of at least 7.5 percent in a state with more than 15 U.S. House districts should attract scrutiny.

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