George Will’s ‘Mini-Me’ at The Republic gets it wrong on the Independent Redistricting Commission


I can’t stand the mendacious punditry of the patrician prevaricator for the Plutocracy, George Will, but I have even less respect for his weak imitators, particularly his “Mini-Me” at The Arizona Republic, Robert Robb. “Mini-Me” writes that Arizona’s voter-enacted Independent Redistricting Commission has been largely a flop. Check out this passage:

This is just a continuation of the deracinated pettifogging that is rendering the Constitution a meaningless slop of sentiments, into which a majority of justices can read whatever policy preferences they fancy.

This is classic George Will (and Justice Antonin “Applesauce” Scalia as well). Way to prove my point, “Mini-Me.”

ArizonaRepublicanRobb uses selective data to argue against the Independent Redistricting Commission, to which he has always been opposed, because he is a partisan GOProgagandist (part of the reason for the election data he cites is that The Arizona Republican enjoys an outsized influence in the state of Maricopa to make certain that Republicans and acceptable “squish” Democrats get elected to the liking of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the “Kochtopus,” both organizations of which Robb was once  employed as their flak).

Kim Soffen at the New York Times’ “The Upshot” presents a different view of independent redistricting commissions from a larger perspective. Independently Drawn Districts Have Proved to Be More Competitive:

Arizona, via a ballot initiative in 2000, was one of the first states to entrust congressional boundaries to an independent commission, and California followed suit in 2010. Four other states have their congressional districts drawn by independent panels in an effort to make the process less partisan and yield more competitive districts. But those commissions were formed by their respective state legislatures and were not affected by Monday’s ruling.

Measuring the success of an independent commission is tricky, as it’s impossible to know how a legislature’s lines will have differed from a commission’s in the same year. And other factors like people’s relocations can alter a district’s ideological balance. But the evidence suggests that the commissions yielded more competitive races in Arizona and California.

The Arizona ballot initiative, Proposition 106, directed the commission to make the districts competitive “where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals.” Those goals included complying with the Voting Rights Act, equality of population, compactness, contiguity and respect for communities of interest and natural boundaries.

The “no significant detriment” clause, according to Willie Desmond, the lead map drawing consultant hired by the Arizona commission for the 2011 redistricting, “was kind of hard to interpret.” He said in an interview, “The commissioners all viewed that in slightly different ways depending on whether they wanted there to be more competitive districts.”

Even so, the maps resulting from both the 2001 and 2011 redistricting in Arizona were among the most competitive in the nation, as measured by election results. They had an average margin of victory more than 28 percent lower than that of the United States as a whole. Indeed, two of its nine districts were among the 29 in the nation that had margins of victory under 5 percent in 2014.

Screenshot from 2015-07-02 11:45:01

Because of a legislative impasse in 1991, Arizona’s districts for the 1992 to 2000 elections were drawn by a Federal District Court, which has less partisan motivation in drawing the lines than the state legislature does. [Robb fails to mention this pertinent fact.]

The independent commission was able to maintain the same level of competition, living up to the nonpartisan standard set by the court. Congressional elections using the districts created by the independent commission, those in 2002 onward, had an average margin of victory less than a point higher than those in districts created by the courts.

California, the other state that would have lost its independent redistricting commission had the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the legislature, did not experience this intervention by the courts. It allows for a more direct comparison of a state legislature’s map to an independent commission’s map.

Screenshot from 2015-07-02 11:48:21

However, California took a vastly different approach to the partisan aspects of districting. In California, the commission was legally forbidden from considering partisan data when forming the districts, as opposed to Arizona, where the commission was supposed to use this data to promote competition. According to Stanley Forbes, the chairman of the California commission, the committee spent most of its time focusing on respecting communities of interest; this manifested itself in things like keeping the rural areas in the same district or putting the Northern California wineries in the same district as their warehouses.

Even without the explicit charge to increase competitiveness, the California commission created a map that was far more competitive than its predecessor drawn by the Democrat-dominated state legislature.

The average margin of victory in the elections based on the commission’s 2011 maps was 30 percent lower than in races based on the legislature’s 2001 maps. During that same period, the national average dropped 11 percent.

Further, the percent of districts considered competitive — those with a margin of victory under 10 percent — increased to 19 percent from 5 percent while those in the nation as a whole increased to only 13 percent from 12 percent.

Here’s a helpful hint: when George Will and his “Mini-Me” Robert Robb resort to pulling out their “Big Book of Adjectives and Adverbs,” you can rest assured that these GOPropagandists are lying to you. This is the essential job function of a GOPropagandist.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.


  1. Yep. Lot’s of bloviating going on at the Republic this week… Robb, MacEachern, Leger, Randazzo and even Laurie Roberts (who accused Checks and Balances Project of bullying Bob Stump).

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