The GOP rigs the game

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

A must-read article from Tim Dickenson at Rolling Stone, How Republicans Rig the Game:

Not only did Barack Obama win a second term in an electoral landslide in 2012, but he is also just the fourth president in a century to have won two elections with more than 50 percent of the popular vote. What's more, the party controls 55 seats in the Senate, and Democratic candidates for the House received well over a million more votes than their Republican counterparts in the election last year. And yet, John Boehner still wields the gavel in the House and Republican resistance remains a defining force in the Senate, frustrating Obama's ambitious agenda.

How is this possible? National Republicans have waged an unrelenting campaign to exploit every weakness and anachronism in our electoral system. Through a combination of hyperpartisan redistricting of the House, unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate and racist voter suppression in the states, today's GOP has locked in political power that it could never have secured on a level playing field.

Despite the fact that Republican Congressional candidates received nearly 1.4 million fewer votes than Democratic candidates last November, the Republicans lost only eight seats from their historic 2010 romp, allowing them to preserve a fat 33-seat edge in the House. Unscrupulous Republican gerrymandering following the 2010 census made the difference, according to a statistical analysis conducted by the Princeton Election Consortium. Under historically typical redistricting, House Republicans would now likely be clinging to a reedy five-seat majority. "There's the normal tug of war of American politics," says Sam Wang, founder of the consortium. "Trying to protect one congressman here, or unseat another one there." The Princeton model was built, he says, to detect "whether something got pulled off-kilter on top of that."

Did it ever. In Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates took 51 percent of the vote across the state's 18 districts, but only five of the seats. In Wang's model, the odds against Democrats emerging at an eight-seat disadvantage are 1,000-to-1. And Pennsylvania was not alone. According to the Election Consortium analysis, gerrymandering helped Republicans secure 13 seats in just six states – including Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina – that, under normal rules of engagement, Democrats would have won.

This tilting of the electoral playing field was the result of a sophisticated campaign coordinated at the highest levels of Republican politics through a group called the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) – a Super-PAC-like entity chaired by Bush-era RNC chairman Ed Gillespie and backed by Karl Rove. Shortly after President Obama's first election, the RSLC launched the Redistricting Majority Project (REDMAP) with an explicit strategy to "keep or win Republican control of state legislatures with the largest impact on congressional redistricting." The logic was simple. Every decade following the census, the task of redrawing federal congressional-district boundaries falls (with some exceptions) to the state legislatures. If Republicans could seize control of statehouses – and, where necessary, have GOP governors in place to rubber-stamp their redistricting maps – the party could lock in new districts that would favor Republican candidates for a decade. As Rove wrote in a Wall Street Journal column in early 2010: "He who controls redistricting can control Congress."

Continue reading How Republicans Rig the Game.

This GOP strategy failed here in Arizona because we have the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC), and a strong base of grassroots activists. This is why the Arizona GOP is doing everything in its power to kill the AIRC by any means possible. It is all about the control and abuse of power.

One response to “The GOP rigs the game

  1. Frances Perkins

    The best thing that could happen is initiatives for Independent Redistricting Commissions in all States. Despite the assault by the Ninth Floor occupant and the right wing Republicans on the process in Arizona, it is certain that if the Redistricting would have been done the mapping in the Speaker’s office with the door closed, there would have been no public process, no public hearings and no multiple map options shown. The IRC, for all the barriers put up, is far preferable in transparency. But once this is on the ballot in every State, who would logically oppose it. Yes, Let’s let the politician draw maps behind closed doors, thats a great idea.