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View Full Version : General Politics United States Gerrymandering, Visualized


Direckshun
11-06-2012, 08:46 AM
This is amazing.

Just... enjoy this. This is beautiful.

http://uxblog.idvsolutions.com/2010/10/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know.html

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Gerrymandering
Monday, October 25, 2010

http://youtu.be/5k4N2uh8ZnI

What the Deuce is Gerrymandering?

Gerrymandering (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering) is the practice of carving up representative districts in a…creative fashion to benefit one party or another. The early ideal for carving up our new nation into representative districts was relative compactness. In 1812 Elbridge Gerry (sounds like “jerry”), governor of Massachusetts, carved up his state into curious districts that would benefit his party, causing political commentators of the time to lampoon the districting as looking like a salamander. The Boston Gazette ran a cartoon of the "Gerrymander" and the rest is history. By the way, this original gerrymander seems to me pretty tame compared to some you are likely to see today.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/96/The_Gerry-Mander_Edit.png

Who Benefits from Gerrymandering?

The sticky wicket of districting is, like history, the folks in charge get to decide. It is impossible to realistically separate the drawing of districts from political advantage, which, realistically, gets banged out during an over-nighter locked-door wheel-and-deal session probably devoid of even the idea of math.

There is no consistent gotcha finger you can point at a gerrymandered district, however. Sometimes the guy twisting his long waxy mustache is the party that lost that district. Why? Because often the strategy is to pack in a supermajority of opposition voters into one district and write that off as a guaranteed loss, but then be assured to win the surrounding districts.

Other times the benefit falls to the winner of the gerrymandered district that encompasses a minority enclave, which, otherwise, would not have “their own” representation in congress.

Wikipedia has a great section (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering#Effects_of_gerrymandering) on the various possible goals and benefactors of a gerrymandered district in an authoritative tone that I can't hope to equal.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXVFPRFJlI/AAAAAAAAAMw/A8Aw-xaBQHY/s640/US_Gerrymander.jpg

Why is Gerrymandering Important to Understand?

The United States is a representative republic…not a pure democracy. Each voter does not vote on each bill. Instead, we vote on representatives who act as our proxy in congress. How do we lump ourselves up for representation? Districts. Districts! So, geography is one of the single biggest factors driving our representative republic. And, considering how important districting is, the rules for defining them are pretty loosey goosey.

So let’s use extremes as examples, as that’s a pretty helpful tool for illustration in this case. Suppose folks in the United States are the product of an absolute melting pot; where we live doesn’t have much to do with how we think, and in turn how we might vote. In this case divvying up people into geographic districts is a simple task of finding the most evenly populated compact voronoi shapes, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voronoi_diagram) and think nothing else of it. Alternatively, consider the United States as a conglomerate of segregated socio-economic-politico-ethnic camps who vie for representative leverage. Drawing representative districts then becomes primarily a political (rather than geometric) task and the resulting territories may be impossibly undulating and complex in an effort to grab even populations of “like minded” folks.

The reality is somewhere in-between. And my sense is that wherever your notion of relative American mixedness (in reality and idealistically) falls within that spectrum will pretty well predict your relative comfort with gerrymandering. So you can take that for whatever it’s worth.

Our Gerrymander Mojo Rating...

...is the perimeter divided by the square root of the area. The ratio of perimeter to area will give you a good idea of the relative splatteredness of a shape. And, taking the square root of the area will ensure that the ratio is consistent at all scales (so large districts aren't biased towards compactness). If something is nice and compact (like a circle or...Wyoming), the result is a small number. If something is hopelessly undulating (like Illinois' 4th congressional district), the number will be large. A rough index like this is a good starting point for looking into potential Gerrymanders (http://vfdemo.idvsolutions.com/districtmojo/), and might lead to some interesting questions.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXfFh_ug3I/AAAAAAAAAM0/1Oh3u34zt_Y/s320/Gerrymander_Complex.jpg

Two predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods on either side of Chicago, linked by a precarious stretch of Interstate 294, form the interesting 4th Congressional District of Illinois.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXhOVNkinI/AAAAAAAAAM4/vBHXa-qFPP8/s320/Gerrymander_Compact.jpg

The state of Wyoming (which is, in it's entirety, a single congressional district) can't believe how compact it is.

Caveats

Wait a second, what makes relatively compact shapes so special? Even if you consider the population of the U.S. as wholly mixed and you reject boundaries characterized by ethnicity and wealth and so on, you still have to admit that the patterns of our nation’s development (and the patterns of human settlement in general) are complex and meandering in shape and influence and awkward squiggly groupings thereof are more accurate delineations than arbitrary compact cookie cutter shapes. What’s more, the complex geographic landscape that we settle into (like meandering rivers and valleys) certainly isn’t characterized by highly efficient shapes of elegant compactness.

What I mean to say is that coming up with an ideal district shape philosophy is hard, and lots of factors go into the forming of a district that are not necessarily nefarious or even political in nature (but...come on). Districts that skirt rivers or coastlines, or straddle mountain ranges will wreak havoc on our simple index of Gerrymandering; keep this in mind as you browse our maps. In short, ratings like ours should be taken with a grain of salt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grain_of_salt).

Some Interesting Districts (other than the two up there)...

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXnlWS3q3I/AAAAAAAAAM8/SHiJ1U1aAHM/s320/Gerrymander_IL17.jpg

Illinois has more than one intriguing district. Like it's cousin, the 4th, the 17th district is a clear recipient of political maneuvering and has been nicknamed the "Rabbit on a Skateboard."

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXqDs8aAkI/AAAAAAAAANA/TrBFNqLn2io/s320/Gerrymander_CA23.jpg

California's 23rd district encompasses a very thin stretch of much of California's southern coast.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXrst-SALI/AAAAAAAAANE/V0GOSYHD7k4/s320/Gerrymander_NC12.jpg

The Wall Street Journal called North Carolina's relatively new district (1990) "political pornography." This district led to a Supreme Court case over gerrymandering in 1993. You can't make this stuff up.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXukj89bHI/AAAAAAAAANI/bzo5GnKKFRI/s320/Gerrymander_FL22.jpg

Florida's 22nd district has fingers that meander into several cities. This district was at the center of the 2000 Presidential Election recount.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMXyNFCkTsI/AAAAAAAAANM/hqne5U3LYcQ/s320/Gerrymander_MD3.jpg

The districts surrounding Maryland's 3rd district can be forgiven because their complex coastlines blow out our index. But that 3rd District got cranked right out of the gerrymander factory.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_QotpOLPsmaY/TMX0BnB3LsI/AAAAAAAAANQ/oS8b7KVu-8U/s320/Gerrymander_NJ6.jpg

New Jersey's 6th district's already interesting shape generates additional interest with the inclusion of a lobe connected by a thin stretch of beach.

Direckshun
11-06-2012, 08:46 AM
The whole map.

http://vfdemo.idvsolutions.com/districtmojo/

Direckshun
11-06-2012, 08:49 AM
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/5k4N2uh8ZnI" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

BucEyedPea
11-06-2012, 08:51 AM
Something BOTH sides have engaged in.

Shaid
11-11-2012, 04:58 PM
Something BOTH sides have engaged in.

Agreed and it shouldn't happen for either party. If you can't win without playing these kind of tricks, you don't deserve to win.

theelusiveeightrop
11-11-2012, 05:01 PM
Only thing both sides seem to agree on. Drawing districts that restrict competitive races.

Brainiac
11-11-2012, 05:13 PM
If you think the Democrats haven't done this just as much as the Republicans, you are truly an idiot.

It took one Google search to immediately find numerous examples of gerrymandering by the Democrats.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/08/27/Legal-Victory-in-Battle-Against-Gerrymandering

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/nov/6/bartlett-among-possible-victims-aggresive-dem-gerr/

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/0608/Democrats-revenge-in-2012-a-radical-Illinois-gerrymander

You and BigRedChief have been amazingly obnoxious ever since your candidate won. It's not enough that your party retained control of the White House and the Senate. The two of you are hell-bent upon trying to prove that (1) there was such a mandate for Obama that he should now be able to implement whatever left-wing policies he desires, because after all, "elections have consequences", and (2) the only reason you didn't get control of the House is because the cheating Republicans gerrymandered you out of it.

You guys really should try being gracious winners instead of assholes. I used to think you both were probably pretty decent guys in real life. I don't think that any more.

BucEyedPea
11-11-2012, 05:13 PM
Agreed and it shouldn't happen for either party. If you can't win without playing these kind of tricks, you don't deserve to win.

Well, that there undoes a lot of elections going back a long time. If a party wins an election that's one of the incumbent benefits they get.
It still goes back to elections no matter how you slice it.

Direckshun
11-11-2012, 05:17 PM
If you think the Democrats haven't done this just as much as the Republicans, you are truly an idiot.

Wrong.

The two of you are hell-bent upon trying to prove that (1) there was such a mandate for Obama that he should now be able to implement whatever left-wing policies he desires, because after all, "elections have consequences",

Irrelevent to this thread.

and (2) the only reason you didn't get control of the House is because the cheating Republicans gerrymandered you out of it.

Swing and a miss.

You guys really should try being gracious winners instead of assholes. I used to think you both were probably pretty decent guys in real life. I don't think that any more.

Sandy vagina.

Other than that, you're doing great.

BucEyedPea
11-11-2012, 05:19 PM
Irrelevent to this thread.
It's completely relevant to this thread.

Swing and a miss.
Nope. That's your side on this issue.


Oh and you have NO mandate. Even Madison says you don't.

"This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure." - Federalist Papers, No. 58, 1788

The House has the power of the purse. The Democrats used it to end the Vietnam war by not funding it.

Brainiac
11-11-2012, 05:19 PM
Wrong.



Irrelevent to this thread.



Swing and a miss.



Sandy vagina.

Other than that, you're doing great.
Four stupid non-responses. That is what I have come to expect from you. It is sad what you have become.

Direckshun
11-11-2012, 05:21 PM
Four stupid non-responses.

Well, when you're bringing up irrelevent arguments, factually wrong statements, and arguing against strawmen, all the time pissing and moaning, it's hard to muster much of anything in response.

Brainiac
11-11-2012, 05:29 PM
Well, when you're bringing up irrelevent arguments, factually wrong statements, and arguing against strawmen, all the time pissing and moaning, it's hard to muster much of anything in response.
Now you've got me curious. What statement do you think is factually wrong?

Direckshun
11-11-2012, 05:30 PM
Now you've got me curious. What statement do you think is factually wrong?

Probably the one I said was wrong.

Brainiac
11-11-2012, 05:35 PM
Probably the one I said was wrong.

I didn't think you'd have the balls to try to back up your statement.

Direckshun
11-11-2012, 06:51 PM
I didn't think you'd have the balls to try to back up your statement.

No Democratically-controlled (or Republican-controlled) gerrymandering process has ever resulted in something as extreme as a 9-point, 21-seat swing from what the popular vote wanted in modern history.

This is literally the most egregious example of gerrymandering in modern history.

I would guess that's probably true for all of American history, as well, but I only went back a few decades.

BucEyedPea
11-11-2012, 06:54 PM
No Democratically-controlled (or Republican-controlled) gerrymandering process has ever resulted in something as extreme as a 9-point, 21-seat swing from what the popular vote wanted in modern history.

This is literally the most egregious example of gerrymandering in modern history.

I would guess that's probably true for all of American history, as well, but I only went back a few decades.
The provides specific examples and times please. Did you know some incumbents lost in their gerrymandered districts too.

Brainiac
11-11-2012, 07:06 PM
No Democratically-controlled (or Republican-controlled) gerrymandering process has ever resulted in something as extreme as a 9-point, 21-seat swing from what the popular vote wanted in modern history.

This is literally the most egregious example of gerrymandering in modern history.

I would guess that's probably true for all of American history, as well, but I only went back a few decades.

I assume you have proof of this? You've checked every election?

mnchiefsguy
11-11-2012, 07:40 PM
No Democratically-controlled (or Republican-controlled) gerrymandering process has ever resulted in something as extreme as a 9-point, 21-seat swing from what the popular vote wanted in modern history.

This is literally the most egregious example of gerrymandering in modern history.

I would guess that's probably true for all of American history, as well, but I only went back a few decades.

Going to need to link, or present some evidence, otherwise you are just full of crap.

Brainiac
11-11-2012, 07:55 PM
Going to need to link, or present some evidence, otherwise you are just full of crap.

He knows he is full of crap. Even if he were able to find some sort of "proof" to back up his claim regarding this specific example of gerrymandering, the fact remains that both parties have engaged in this practice ever since elections began, and only a total ****ing moron would claim otherwise.

whoman69
11-12-2012, 06:55 AM
All states need to adopt the non partisan method of choosing districts that was put in place in Iowa.

Direckshun
11-12-2012, 02:20 PM
Going to need to link, or present some evidence, otherwise you are just full of crap.

He knows he is full of crap. Even if he were able to find some sort of "proof" to back up his claim regarding this specific example of gerrymandering

http://www.ballot-access.org/2012/11/12/only-four-u-s-house-elections-in-the-last-hundred-years-gave-one-party-a-house-majority-even-though-the-other-major-party-polled-more-votes-for-u-s-house/

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenjoy:

Prior to 2012, there have been only three other congressional elections in the last hundred years in which one major party won more popular votes for U.S. House, yet the other major party won more seats. They were 1914, 1942, and 1952.

In 1914, Republicans won 5,871,614 popular votes to Democrats’ 5,793,581. But Democrats won 231 seats, Republicans won 193 seats, and minor parties won 11 seats.

In 1942, Republicans won 14,256,160 popular votes to Democrats’ 13,014,467. But Democrats won 222 seats, Republicans won 209 seats, and minor parties won 4 seats.

In 1952, Democrats won 28,693,013 popular votes to Republicans’ 28,413,596. But Republicans won 221 seats, Democrats won 213, and one independent won.

Iowanian
11-13-2012, 11:02 AM
not unlike your anus, gerrymandering is a 2 way street.

The Dems spend PLENTY of time and effort during redistricting trying to modify boundaries to suit their political needs.

Pawnmower
11-13-2012, 12:08 PM
Probably the one I said was wrong.

Even on your own video, the worst examples seem to be all democratic areas though..., right?

DementedLogic
11-13-2012, 01:07 PM
Just curious... what makes Wyoming's gerrymandering more impressive than North or South Dakota?

patteeu
11-13-2012, 01:58 PM
Just curious... what makes Wyoming's gerrymandering more impressive than North or South Dakota?

It must be better because it's a squarer state. Either that or because it's the district that once sent Dick Cheney to the House.

DementedLogic
11-13-2012, 02:05 PM
It must be better because it's a squarer state. Either that or because it's the district that once sent Dick Cheney to the House.

Hence the reason why this colored map doesn't show anything relevant.