Mike the Mad Biologist

Gerrymandering, Texas, and Obama

A very quick thought about Oliver Willis’ observation that African-American turnout will likely be very high in the Democratic Texas primary (also see Amanda and Sonia).

One of the things that did Tom DeLay in was excessive gerrymandering (gerrymandering is where voting districts are shaped in such a way to guarantee victory for a given party). Most of this is done with sophisticated computer simulations, but, like any simulation, they’re only as good as their assumptions.

Many Texas congressional districts were designed to allow Republicans to win ~55-45%. While that maximizes the number of Republican seats, it also made these seats very vulnerable to unusual voting patterns, such as everyone hating Tom DeLay…or unusually high minority turnout.

I’ve said repeatedly that an important criterion for choosing a Democratic nominee should be the effects on downticket candidates. To the extent that Obama gets higher than usual minority (and college student) turnout, this could really screw up some ‘over-gerrymandered’ districts, and perhaps swing a couple House seats to the Democrats.

Comments

  1. #1 Benjamin Franz
    February 23, 2008

    Yah. The Republicans overreached on trying to ensure a ‘permanent majority’ nationally. They went so far on the number of gerrymanderered seats vs the margin of those seats that as the 2006 elections showed it left them very vulnerable to a relatively small global shift in voting. Instead of being able to hold a majority of seats even when the total popular votes were actually against them, they lost dozens of seats and control of both the House and the Senate.

    Someone (I wish I could remember who) drew a couple of really good curves showing how the Republicans had ‘binned’ a lot of districts just barely over the majority line which meant a just few percent change just hammered them as all those bins shifted to the other party in 2006.

  2. #2 Joe Cooper
    February 23, 2008

    You also have to remember the change that districts have since the last redistricting, which over time changes the dynamics of elections. This comment does not apply to the specific cast of Texas, which redistricted to favor the Republicans since 2002.

  3. #3 Connecticut Man1
    February 23, 2008

    When you look at all of the polls, you have to wonder if the pollsters have changed their assumptions on “Likely Voters” because in the many states the candidates are mighty close percentage-wise… A bunch of students, indies and/or minorities can make those assumptions worthy of toilet paper. Those “likely voter” registered Dems may give Hillary a slight lead… But independents and “unlikely voters” sure can mess with those numbers in states where they can and do vote.

  4. #4 blf
    February 24, 2008

    Mad Mike’s SciBlog SiBling Uncertain Principles linked today to a video of students from Prairie View A&M University going to the early-polling place for their precinct.

    What’s so interesting about that?

    The early-polling place was located “more than seven miles” from the school. That is, not easy to get to. Apparently, deliberately intended to be difficult to get to. So the students did the obvious thing. They marched there en masse, blocking the highway as they went….

  5. #5 erotik shop
    June 19, 2009

    The early-polling place was located “more than seven miles” from the school. That is, not easy to get to. Apparently, deliberately intended to be difficult to get to. So the students did the obvious thing. They marched there en masse, blocking the highway as they went

  6. #6 nusret
    August 21, 2009

    very thanks for article

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