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The math on redistricting

It’s not just that Republicans drew themselves a favorable map. It’s that they drew a durable favorable map.

Thanks to those very effective Republican redistricting maps, Texas Democrats would have to improve their statewide election results by more than 10 percentage points to gain more than one seat in the 36-member U.S. House delegation, according to a report from the non-profit Brennan Center for Justice.

The political maps in Texas and elsewhere across the country could ultimately protect the Republican majority in the U.S. House even if it turns out to be an otherwise mediocre midterm election for the president’s political party.

Overall, Republicans have a 24-seat advantage in the U.S. House. Democrats have an advantage over Republicans in recent polling, the report says, but gerrymandering makes a party switch much less likely. To win two dozen seats, by Brennan’s figuring, Democrats would have to win the national popular vote by 11 percentage points.

“Even a strong blue wave would crash against a wall of gerrymandered maps,” the report says.

The 2016 elections put 25 Republicans and 11 Democrats in the state’s delegation to the U.S. House. Democrats got 42 percent of the state’s votes that year, according to the report’s authors. A modest improvement in the share — as little as 2 percent — could move a seat from the Republicans to the Democrats. It’s not hard to figure out that the 23rd Congressional District that runs along the border is what’s in play here; it’s the only true swing seat in the state, regularly primed to go to whichever party is having the better election year.

But here’s the house-on-stilts aspect to the maps. According to the Brennan Center’s projections, the Democrats could improve their statewide vote share by as much as 7 points — to 49 percent — and that’s still the only congressional seat they would pick up.

Listen carefully right now and you’ll hear protests from other parts of the state, like CD-32 in Dallas and CD-7 in Houston, where optimistic Democratic challengers are vying to unseat Pete Sessions and John Culberson. They might be right. The study isn’t trying to predict races. It’s trying to show how strongly the Republicans cemented their advantage in Texas, given normal conditions. Actual mileage may vary.

It would take a tsunami — a double-digit leap in Democrat’s percentage share — to gain more than a single seat in Texas. Something like that would still leave the Republicans in the majority, but it would be a 19-17 advantage instead of the 25-11 edge they have now. “For Democrats to win more than one-third of seats under the 2011 Texas map, they would need to win close to half the vote,” the report says.

The report is here and the executive summary is here. It looks at multiple states and is worth reading for its methodology and thoroughness. One way to look at this is that if Democrats can get to fifty percent of the statewide vote, then there are an awful lot of Congressional seats that would be poised to topple in their direction. Republicans drew this map on the quite reasonable so far assumption that Dems will not get to a majority of the statewide vote, but if that assumption were to fail they’d go from a trickle to a flood in a big hurry.

If it’s too daunting to think about like that, the way I look at it is that the magic number for Democrats is 2.7 million, which is to say 75% of their 2016 vote total. I’ve noodled around with the numbers before now, and that’s where things get interesting, in multiple districts. Not just Congressional districts, either – State Senate seats start to flip as well. On the one hand, that’s a huge increase over the usual off-year total. On the other hand, it’s asking people who have at least some history of voting to vote this year. Democrats gained 800,000 votes from 2004 to 2008, so a big jump can happen. What this report is saying, and I agree with it, is that this is what needs to happen. Are we up to it?

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14 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    Republicans play by one set of rules, and the Democrats play by another set. How many Democrats or lean Democrats spread lies that are believable to promote their cause?

    If one wants to play in a game they should play by the same rules, evil corrupt people (That would be Trump and his supporters/aka Republicans) play by their rules and they win even though they have less support. If anyone cheats in voting it is the Republicans. Bunch of Republicans are registered to vote from P.O. Boxes called suite or apartments, but are UPS boxes.

  2. Mainstream says:

    I would be fascinated, Manny, to see your “evidence” that a bunch of Republicans are registered to vote from UPS boxes. I will personally investigate every example you provide. Democrats fought in court to allow Harris County voters to register from business addresses, when our Republican officials tried to clean up the voting rolls. Do you remember the dozen folks registered to vote in Democrat state rep Yarbrough’s house in the Heights in the 1990s? Most folks who are legally registered to vote from business addresses are missionaries, oil company workers, diplomats who are stationed abroad, but permitted by law to claim domicile back home here in Texas.

  3. C.L. says:

    I’m with Mainstream – Manny, put up or shut up.

  4. voter_worker says:

    Ann Harris Bennett conceivably could compile the number of voters registered at business addresses. Determining their party is another ballgame due to the fact that Texas does not register voters by party. Harris County was sued by the Harris County Democratic Party in late 2008 partly due to the County’s assiduous efforts at requiring applicants to use residential addresses on their application. The 2009 settlement required Harris County to relax that “technical” standard and ever since, applicants can and do register at business addresses, including private mailboxes, with no challenge from the Harris County Voter Registrar. https://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Harris-County-Texas-Democrats-agree-to-settle-1589737.php

  5. voter_worker says:

    Correction: I re-read the linked article and it states that the plaintiff was the Texas Democratic Party, not HCDP.

  6. Manny Barrera says:

    What would you consider evidence Mainstream. You don’t think Trump colluded with the Russians, or that Trump is and did obstruct justice (attempted). So there is nothing that I could supply that you would believe, keep voting for the Russian puppet and the corrupt Russian loving Trump party.

    FYI, four years ago I provided a list to the county and district attorney they were not interested.

  7. Manny Barrera says:

    C.L you are not qualified to ask anyone to put up or shut up.

    By the way voter worker did a good job of stating why it is happening. I did the trouble of looking up the voters using those P.O. Boxes and what primaries they voted in, in November there is no way to know how they voted.

    That is why the Republican D.A. and the Democrat C.A. did nothing. What the Republican Party was doing when they were attempting people to use residential addresses was aimed mostly at minority areas, those P.O. Boxes (UPS) tend to be in upscale areas. UPS boxes can be called apartment number 125 if one wishes. But I have known numerous Republicans to live in other counties that use Houston addresses to vote. Why waste your Republican vote in a Republican county?

  8. C.L. says:

    @Manny… Gosh, you’re right. It IS all a vast, GOP-lead/Republican conspiracy as certainly the Texas Democrats are way too stupid (or way too moral) to ever engage in gerrymandering or redistricting shenanigans. And you’re right on this as well – anyone whoever voted Republican is a virtual Siberian Candidate (see what I did there), with a Maxwell Smart-type shoe hot line direct to the Kremlin.

  9. Manny,

    Take you evidence to the D.A. now. She is a Democrat and I am sure she will prosecute on the evidence you bring.

  10. Manny Barrera says:

    That was four years ago Paul that I did the research, you claim to support the people, why not do the research and take it to the DA. But Paul, why not think about what I wrote, it was done because the Democrats sued, did you read what voter worker wrote? Did you understand what he or she wrote? But I know that you and C.L, and Bill are proud Trump supporters, Trump is a puppet to the Russians and makes Hillary look like a saint. But he did have all those racist dog whistles for his supporters.

    C.L. like I said you ain’t qualified to ask questions. If you bothered to read and tried to comprehend you would have noticed that I have given the Democrats their credit also.

    What did Comey say about Trump, “Morally unfit”, think on that and he also said there may by a pee tape out there. So the peebrain that sits in the White House represents your values, so be it.

  11. C.L. says:

    @Bill Daniels…. do you want to tell Manny, or shall I ?

  12. Mainstream says:

    Manny,

    Just post the list on this site if you think there is some grand conspiracy. I am sure we have enough citizen-journalists to sort through the facts.

    For the record, I don’t believe I have ever commented on the Trump campaign investigation and links to Russia, or revealed how I voted in the 2016 presidential contest on this site, so your knee-jerk assumptions are way off base.

  13. Manny Barrera says:

    I don’t think I am making assumptions Mainstream, why did you say “Black Politicians”? That is a dog whistle.

    It is amazing that Trump supporters claim things like “Grand Conspiracy”. The Trumpkins are nothing but lies and conspiracies. They repeat their lies so often they start believing themselves.

    Mainstream you have a lot of data, so why not do it yourself? Do you need a hint on how to start? Let me know, I will do that much if you need a first step.

  14. C.L. says:

    Manny, please turn off whatever left wing-based Infowars channel or website you appear to be frequently perusing.