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Sunday, February 26, 2006
The Joys of Gerrymandering
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:28 pm

Via Reuters Carefully drawn political maps help incumbents

While technically all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs in November, handicappers expect a mere 33 to be competitive, in part because many incumbents already have picked the voters they hope will return them to office.

Across the country, lawmakers will run for re-election in bizarrely shaped congressional districts carefully drawn to include voters who support them and exclude those who don’t.

First off: it is ridiculous that only 33 of 435
(7.6%) of seats in the House are competitive.

Second: without getting any deeper into the first point, the fact that there are only 33 competitive seats means that simplistic analysis of how there will be change to the partisan make-up of the Congress as the result of some single issue or event simply isn’t looking at the situation realistically.

Third: as the story notes, there are protections beyond gerrymandering that protect incumbents:

Redistricting reform alone won’t make House races more competitive, experts say, because incumbents would still enjoy huge fund-raising and name-recognition advantages over most challengers.

Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | |Send TrackBack

Fruits and Votes » Blog Archive » Maybe as few as 33 US House seats competitive linked with [...] erg Shugart @18:32 Planted in: USA, Plurality, ELECTORAL RULES, 2006 elections PoliBlog notes a Reuters report: “handicappers expect a mere 33 [House districts] to be [...]


  1. Nor would total public financing (or some other means to equalize incumbents and challengers) along with nonpartisan redistricting free up that many more (though either or both of these would help).

    At least here in California, studies associated with Ahnold’s redistricting reform proposal suggested there would be little effect. The two major parties’ electorates are increasingly segregated geographically, such that there are severe limits to what even the ‘fairest’ districting can do to create competitive races.

    The only way to make more competitive races in Congress overall is to break out of the single-seat winner-take-all paradigm.

    Comment by Matthew Shugart/Fruits & Votes — Sunday, February 26, 2006 @ 8:23 pm

  2. […] erg Shugart @18:32 Planted in: USA, Plurality, ELECTORAL RULES, 2006 elections PoliBlog notes a Reuters report: “handicappers expect a mere 33 [House districts] to be […]

    Pingback by Fruits and Votes » Blog Archive » Maybe as few as 33 US House seats competitive — Sunday, February 26, 2006 @ 8:32 pm

  3. While neutral redistricting would not solve all of the problems, it would certainly be a step in the right direction. And it would also allow for a more representative House of representatives, because it would do away with some of the safe districts that allow for the Shelia Jackson Lee’s and Dan Burton’s to be more of the rule than the exceptions.

    Comment by SoloD — Sunday, February 26, 2006 @ 9:40 pm

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