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Old 11-21-2013, 10:51 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is online now
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How Republicans Rig the Game

Hey folks.

Been awhile since we had a hoe down. Figured we were due.

I've said most of these things at one point or another on this forum.

Boiled down, there really are three fronts the GOP has opened in order to slant this country's political body far to the right of where the American people are:

1. Severe gerrymandering.
2. Erosion of the protection from big money in elections.
3. Erosion of the Voting Rights Act and the subsequent Voter ID wave.

All three of these things protect Republicans (and some Democrats) in power, and further insulate the GOP from accountability from the American people.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...-game-20131111

How Republicans Rig the Game
Through gerrymandering, voter suppression and legislative tricks, the GOP has managed to hold on to power while more and more Americans reject their candidates and their ideas

By Tim Dickinson
November 11, 2013 10:35 AM ET

As the nation recovers from the Republican shutdown of government, the question Americans should be asking is not "Why did the GOP do that to us?" but "Why were they even relevant in the first place?" So dramatically have the demographic and electoral tides in this country turned against the Republican Party that, in a representative democracy worthy of the designation, the Grand Old Party should be watching from the sidelines and licking its wounds. 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."

In short order, the RSLC raised more than $30 million to fund Rove's vision while its hapless counterpart, the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, raised barely one-third of that amount. "The Obama people simply didn't understand what was happening to them in 2010," says a prominent Democrat. "They just sat it out, and Republicans ran up the score."

The RSLC was particularly focused on states that stood to gain or lose seats. Ohio, for example, would lose two to states with faster population growth. Instead of tweaking the boundaries of existing districts, mapmakers would be empowered in these states to draw new boundaries more or less from scratch – providing "maximum opportunity for mischief," in the words of RSLC president and former REDMAP executive director Chris Jankowski. "You certainly don't want your opponent drawing those lines." On election night in 2010, propelled by Tea Party anger and the RSLC's millions, the GOP seized full-party control of 21 state governments – up from nine the previous year and enough to put the party in charge of redistricting 173 House seats. "Democrats," bragged Jankowski, "will not soon recover from what happened to them on a state level last night."

In past elections, a gentleman's agreement prevailed among sitting politicians of both parties that redistricting would keep them safe. But in 2010, Gillespie told reporters, the Republican strategy would be "to maximize gains." Incumbent seats would be made somewhat less safe in service of spreading the GOP's advantage more broadly. "You'd go from these [incumbent] seats that would carve at 60 percent to seats that get carved at 54 percent," he said.

RSLC's impact was particularly clear in North Carolina. Leading up to the 2010 election, RSLC steered $1.2 million into the state to fund withering attack ads. Democratic incumbents from poor, rural districts simply didn't have the resources to defend themselves against the onslaught of outside spending – and national Democrats didn't call in the cavalry. As a result, Republicans seized control of the North Carolina state assembly for the first time since Reconstruction and began plotting to take control of the state's 13-seat congressional delegation, which still swung Democrat, seven seats to six.

In a letter to state legislators, Jankowski wrote, "We have taken the initiative to retain a team of seasoned redistricting experts that we will make available to you at no cost to your caucus for assistance." The RSLC brought on GOP operative Tom Hofeller, who has been in the Republican redistricting game since the 1970s.

Employing computer software known as Maptitude, Hofeller and his team used sophisticated data-mining techniques to draw new districts that maximally disadvantaged Democrats. Maptitude advertises the ability to merge precinct-level returns from past elections with federal census data to "identify communities of interest," including "racial or ethnic enclaves that tend to have similar interests and vote as a bloc." Explicit racial gerrymandering is illegal under the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. So Hofeller used a proxy for race, redrawing boundaries by identifying the wards where President Obama received the highest returns in 2008. According to court documents, this approach "allowed black voters to be carved apart from their white neighbors and friends, on a block-by-block basis."

Hofeller's final state map featured 10 districts gerrymandered to give Republicans a solid edge – between nine and 12 points – matched against just three districts in which Democrats would have a massive advantage of 17 to 23 points. On Election Day, Democrats outpolled the GOP by 81,000 votes, but Republicans took nine of the 13 seats. The RSLC's map was spoiled only by Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Democratic incumbent, who eked out a 654-vote victory in a district drawn to favor the Republican by 11 points. Following Gillespie's share-the-wealth strategy, only two Republicans won more than 60 percent of the vote. By contrast, three of the four Democrats won in landslides of greater than 70 percent. Mel Watt, a black congressman from the 12th district, won an eighth term with 80 percent of the vote. Even before the election, Watt decried his new district lines as part of a "sinister Republican effort to use African-Americans as pawns in their effort to gain partisan, political gains in Congress."

The triumphant GOP made no effort to conceal these machinations. "REDMAP's effect on the 2012 election is plain," reads a post-election RSLC report. "Pennsylvanians cast 83,000 more votes for Democratic U.S. House candidates . . . but elected a 13-5 Republican majority to represent them in Washington; Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress." In Wisconsin, where $1.1 million in RSLC cash helped flip both chambers of the state legislature, empowering union-busting governor Scott Walker, Republicans prevailed by a five-to-three margin in House seats despite losing the popular vote by more than 43,000. In Ohio, only 52 percent of voters cast ballots for Republicans, but thanks to maps drawn in a Columbus-area Doubletree Hotel, referred to by GOP operatives in court documents as "the bunker," John Boehner's home-state delegation swings 12-4 for the GOP.

Republican redistricting has made a mockery of the ideal of "one man, one vote." To take back the House next year, 100 Democratic voters would have to turn out for every 94 Republicans. "Given the GOP-tilted nature of the congressional map," writes David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, "Democrats would need to win the national popular vote by between six and seven points in order to win the barest possible House majority."

Through redistricting, Republicans have succeeded in making the House more like the Senate – which the founders established as an anti-majoritarian institution to safeguard the interests of small states. At the time of the constitutional convention in 1787, the most populous state, Virginia, counted nearly 10 times the free population of Delaware. Yet both would have the same number of senators. In the more than two centuries since, America has expanded, and its population became concentrated, in ways the founders could have scarcely imagined – rendering the original 10:1 standard quaint. Today, the population of California outpaces Wyoming's by a ratio of 65:1. This extreme example underscores a nationwide trend: Half of the U.S. population now resides in just nine states. Which is to say that the other 50 percent of Americans control 82 votes in the U.S. Senate.

This state of affairs would be shocking enough if the Senate were governed by majority rule. But since 2007, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has subjected the daily business of the chamber to the filibuster, which means that legislation cannot advance and a presidential nominee can't be confirmed without a supermajority of 60 votes. Republicans have used this parliamentary roadblock to stop greenhouse-gas regulations, stall the DREAM Act and delay judicial confirmations.

The filibuster adds an undemocratic overlay to a chamber that is already rankly undemocratic. In today's Senate, 41 small-state Republicans can mount a filibuster on behalf of 28 percent of the country. And the departure from historical practice is shocking: LBJ faced one filibuster as Senate majority leader. Harry Reid, the current majority leader, has faced more than 430. Nearly half the filibusters of executive-branch nominations in the nation's history – 16 of 36 – have occurred under Obama.

The modern filibuster has only been in place since 1917, but McConnell defends the procedure as though it were central to the creation of the republic. "The founders purposefully crafted the Senate to be a deliberate, thoughtful body," McConnell said during a 2010 hearing. "A supermajority requirement," he said, "ensures that wise purpose." In reality, the founders railed against the dangers of supermajority rule. In 1787, Alexander Hamilton warned of the "tedious delays" and "contemptible compromises of the public good" that result when "a minority can control the opinion of the majority."

Republicans aren't finished in their campaign to rig the political system. The party has been seeking to carry over its built-in advantage in the House into a new edge in presidential elections. In a project with the explicit blessing of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a half-dozen Republican-dominated legislatures in states that swing blue in presidential elections have advanced proposals to abandon the winner-take-all standard in the Electoral College. These states would instead apportion electoral votes by the favored candidate of each congressional district – a method currently practiced by only two, small, homogenous states, Maine and Nebraska. Thanks to the GOP's gerrymandering, such a change would all but guarantee that a Democratic presidential candidate in a big, diverse state like Michigan would lose the split of electoral votes even if he or she won in a popular landslide.

"You'd see a massive shift of electoral votes," a senior Republican official who backed the proposal told the National Journal, emphasizing that the change would be much less work than persuading a majority of voters to back the GOP candidate: "There's no kind of . . . outreach," the official said, "that can grab us those electoral votes that quickly." In September, a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill to implement the scheme in the biggest swing-state prize in the land, Florida. Had it been in place in each of the states that have introduced the plan – including Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania – Mitt Romney would be president, despite receiving 5 million fewer votes than Obama.

In a true democracy, citizens could depend on the courts to overturn partisan schemes to subvert the will of the governed. But here, too, Republicans are winning. In July, a three-judge panel struck down a challenge to North Carolina's redistricting, and a federal-court challenge of the filibuster was also recently struck down.

In fact, activist judges at the highest level are abetting the GOP's efforts to disenfranchise millions of Americans of color. Since the 1960s, Southern states with a history of voter suppression have had to submit proposed changes in elections law to a review by the federal government. The 2011 redistricting map drawn by the Republican state legislature in Texas was thrown out by a three-judge federal panel because it had been "enacted with discriminatory purpose." (Texas had gained four House seats because of population growth that was 90 percent minority. In the legislature's map, three of the four new districts were gerrymandered to favor Anglo Republicans.) Federal judges also struck down Texas' voter-ID law, the most restrictive in the nation, for imposing "unforgiving burdens" on "racial minorities . . . disproportionately likely to live in poverty."

But this summer, the Supreme Court not only vacated these Texas rulings, it gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, ending federal "preclearance" of election law in the old Confederacy. Texas lawmakers continue to wrangle over redistricting. But the state's voter-ID law went into effect this October. Those without state-issued photo ID – gun permits are valid, college IDs are not – can seek out a special voting card, but must first pay a de facto poll tax of $22 to secure a birth certificate and then travel as far as 250 miles to apply at a state motor-vehicle office. As many as 1.4 million Texas voters are currently barred from polls because they lack the required identification. At last count, the state had issued exactly 41 special voter-ID cards.

Such trickery has come to define the GOP's approach to federal elections where Republicans can no longer prevail in a fair fight. Strict voter-ID laws have now been passed in more than a dozen states, most recently North Carolina. There, a county-*level Republican Party Executive Committee member named Don Yelton recently committed a gaffe of truth-telling, admitting on national television that the driving purpose of the state's voter-ID law is to "kick the Democrats in the butt." If the law disenfranchises college students without photo IDs or "hurts a bunch of lazy blacks," Yelton said, "so be it."

The bad news is that the Republican death grip on our political process could get even worse. The midterm electorate tends to be older and whiter than in presidential years; no one should be shocked to see the GOP expand its advantage in the House in 2014, or even make a run at the Senate. The good news is that the future is more powerful than Republican dirty tricks. The GOP may have postponed its day of reckoning at the hands of a younger, browner, queerer electorate – "They're holding back the tides," says Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics – but sooner or later, they're going to get swamped.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:21 PM   #2
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:21 PM   #3
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:25 PM   #4
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1. Democrats Gerrymander. It's all in the game. Pretending the Republicans do it more than the Democrats is just that: pretending. Quit pretending. For my part, I find gerrymandering, whether done by Republicans or Democrats, an important safeguard against apathy and a reminder that we are not a democracy. We are a Republic built to reward energetic constituencies. It's up to the people to get engaged at the local level. But even further than that, the science shows that redistricting didn't win the Republicans the house. All this hypocritical whining about gerrymandering amounts to a great big nothingburger.

2. Money in elections doesn't actually mean as much as people think it does. At least that's what the science says. The science says that there is a dollar point that is reachable by any competent politician, and everything past that point produces diminishing returns.

3. The majority of Americans support voter ID laws. That includes Democrats. It's not a partisan issue to most people. It's common sense. They think, if I need an ID to buy a beer, why wouldn't I need an ID to vote?" Not that I (or anyone outside of the hyperpartisans) care about this issue. For most people, this issue is so far down on their list of priorities that they'd need a shovel and a week to find it.


These are the issues that bug you. Take heart. Your concerns are for naught. The science settles them soundly.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
1. Democrats Gerrymander. It's all in the game. Pretending the Republicans do it more than the Democrats is just that: pretending. Quit pretending. For my part, I find gerrymandering, whether done by Republicans or Democrats, an important reminder that we are not a democracy. We are a Republic built so that active participants can get a hearing in the public square. It's up to the people to get engaged at the local level.

But even further than that, the science shows that redistricting didn't win the Republicans the house. All this hypocritical whining about gerrymandering amounts to a great big nothingburger.

2. Money in elections doesn't actually mean as much as people think it does. At least that's what the science says. The science says that there is a point that is reachable by any competent politician, and everything past that point produces diminishing returns.

3. The majority of Americans support voter ID laws. That includes Democrats. It's not a partisan issue to most people. It's common sense. They think, if I need an ID to buy a beer, why wouldn't I need an ID to vote?" Not that I (or anyone outside of the hyperpartisans) care about this issue. For most people, this issue is so far down on their list of priorities that they'd need a shovel and a week to find it.


These are the issues that bug you. Take heart. Your concerns are for naught. The science settles them soundly.
I have nothing more to add except that this thread is shit.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
1. Democrats Gerrymander. It's all in the game. Pretending the Republicans do it more than the Democrats is just that: pretending. Quit pretending. For my part, I find gerrymandering, whether done by Republicans or Democrats, an important safeguard against apathy and a reminder that we are not a democracy. We are a Republic built to reward energetic constituencies. It's up to the people to get engaged at the local level. But even further than that, the science shows that redistricting didn't win the Republicans the house. All this hypocritical whining about gerrymandering amounts to a great big nothingburger.
I'm not terribly concerned with gerrymandering in general -- but taking an abusive practice to the extreme, which is clearly what has happened, renders any appeals to moderation useless. When the GOP only has to worry about catering to its base with little or no concern to the rest of the population, less they be primary-challenged to their right, than they give a fraction of the population disproportionate power over all -- and it's not a very flattering fraction of the population, either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
2. Money in elections doesn't actually mean as much as people think it does. At least that's what the science says. The science says that there is a dollar point that is reachable by any competent politician, and everything past that point produces diminishing returns.
That's pretty much where you're wrong. In a world where you need unlimited amounts of money to survive in your campaigns, a 1%er who can donate 1,000,000 out of his pocket means more than a 99%er who has to save for a week to donate 20.

Therefore, you get politics that favors the incredibly wealthy over everybody, even the moderately wealthy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
3. The majority of Americans support voter ID laws. That includes Democrats. It's not a partisan issue to most people. It's common sense. They think, if I need an ID to buy a beer, why wouldn't I need an ID to vote?" Not that I (or anyone outside of the hyperpartisans) care about this issue. For most people, this issue is so far down on their list of priorities that they'd need a shovel and a week to find it.
Non-sequitor.

Their alleged popularity doesn't refute my claim, or even respond to it. Thus, logical fallacy.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
I'm not terribly concerned with gerrymandering in general -- but taking an abusive practice to the extreme, which is clearly what has happened, renders any appeals to moderation useless. When the GOP only has to worry about catering to its base with little or no concern to the rest of the population, less they be primary-challenged to their right, than they give a fraction of the population disproportionate power over all -- and it's not a very flattering fraction of the population, either.
I reject the idea that gerrymandering is an "abusive practice." I reject the idea that you can take it to "an extreme." I find this useless demagoguery. Politics is a pendulum. If you have a problem with the way your district lines are drawn, in America, we have a great solution: organize. Active minorities can make great impacts in this great nation. If you have a problem with the way another states districts are drawn, here's this: tough f***ing luck. That's what you get for insisting that DC must be the center of the American political universe. THAT is the source of your problem - and mine for that matter.



Quote:
That's pretty much where you're wrong. In a world where you need unlimited amounts of money to survive in your campaigns, a 1%er who can donate 1,000,000 out of his pocket means more than a 99%er who has to save for a week to donate 20.


Therefore, you get politics that favors the incredibly wealthy over everybody, even the moderately wealthy.
To quote the great Jesse Pinkman... "Yeah, Science Bitch!"




Quote:
Non-sequitor.

Their alleged popularity doesn't refute my claim, or even respond to it. Thus, logical fallacy.
Not-interested. I've already said more than I cared to about this boring topic that nobody but hyperpartisans care about.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:59 PM   #8
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I reject the idea that gerrymandering is an "abusive practice." I reject the idea that you can take it to "an extreme."
Nonsense. You can take anything to an extreme.

How is it not an abusive practice? In North Carolina, they have a filibuster-proof majority for the GOP in the state legislature, despite the fact that the majority of the state voted for Democrats.

That's the most egregious example there is. How is that not a blatant thwarting of the will of the American people?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taco John View Post
To quote the great Jesse Pinkman... "Yeah, Science Bitch!"
Ah, so that very article that you're clinging to -- it argues that big money doesn't have an impact in elections?

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Not-interested.
Then you're just throwing in the towel.

That's fine, that's your choice. But let's not pretend you forfeiting a point is some sort of functional rebuttal.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:11 AM   #9
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Ah, so that very article that you're clinging to -- it argues that big money doesn't have an impact in elections?
As we wait for an answer:

Does More Campaign Money Actually Buy More Votes: An Investigation
Nov 11, 2013 3:45PM ET
Philip Bump

Every American knows that money buys elections, that votes come with a price tag. Or, you know, we assume. Given new reports of one millionaire's investment in the Virginia gubernatorial race, it's worth testing that assumption. So, using data from the Center for Responsive Politics, we did.

The link between the two makes intuitive sense. More money means more television ads or mailings, which likely means more support on Election Day. But there are a ton of variables at play, so it can be hard to differentiate between the role of money (did more TV ads spur more votes) and the communications themselves (were some ads better than others)? There are turnout issues, questions of candidate viability, scandals. So many things go into campaigns, but few are as trackable as contributions.

Last Tuesday, Terry McAuliffe was elected governor of Virginia by a very small margin. As Politico reported on Monday, McAuliffe had a strong ally in that fight: California businessman Tom Steyer. Steyer is a very wealthy man. He poured $8 million into McAuliffe's race, according to Politico, funding TV spots, online ads, and door-to-door canvassing. Steyer's main priority is the environment, as The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza noted in a look at Obama's second term priorities in September. In Virginia, the Steyer-funded NextGen focused on areas of the state vulnerable to sea level rise form climate change to oppose Republican Ken Cuccinelli, a climate change denier.

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Erin Lehane’s turnout operation was going door to door, particularly in Virginia’s coastal Hampton Roads area and on six college campuses throughout the state, hammering away at the message that Cuccinelli is an extremist on the environment and, well, everything else. … [T]he field component of NextGen had collected 10,000 pledge cards on college campuses — asking voters to commit to participating on Nov. 5 — and hit 62,000 doors in the days immediately before the vote.
Impressive. But effective? Field programs, the conventional wisdom goes, only account for a few percentage points in a race. A look at the county-by-county results from the Huffington Post shows that in the Hampton Roads area, in the southeastern part of the state, McAuliffe didn't do as well as President Obama in 2012 — though Obama outperformed McAuliffe in most of the state. So what role did that money play?

Last year, the country ran controlled experiments in 435 different places, putting a number of candidates up against one another and tracking how much each raised and spent. By combining data from the Center for Reponsive Politics (the people behind campaign money site Open Secrets) and the actual 2012 results, we're able to get a sense for how money and vote totals correlate.

More money was spent on votes in closer races.

First, we took a look at how the margin of victory in each race (the raw vote total separating winner from loser) correlated to the cost-per-vote. That figure is how much each winning member of Congress spent divided by how many votes he or she got. If a candidate spent $100 campaigning and got 20 votes, each vote cost $5. (On average, the 435 winners spent $9.84 per vote.)

Below, the relationship between votes and vote-cost. Each blue dot is one winning campaign. The vertical axis is the number of votes in the margin of victory; horizatonal, cost per vote. At the top left, Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania's 2nd district, who won by a heavy margin at a low cost. At bottom right, Minnesota's 6th, home of Rep. Michele Bachmann, who won by a small margin at a high cost. The red dotted line is the most important part of the graph. It shows the trend in all of the data. (This graph, unlike the others, uses a logarithmic scale on the x-axis.)



Notice that the red line drops sharply down to the right. In other words, as races grew tighter (few votes in the margin of victory), each vote grew more expensive. More important votes cost more.

The more you outspent your opponents, the more you won by.

More interesting is a look at how the size of the winning candidate's victory corresponds to how much more that person spent. (The first three graphs in this post correspond to spending, not what was raised by the campaign.) Here are all of the races, with the vertical axis showing the point spread of the victory (e.g., a 60 percent to 40 percent win is a 20 percentage point spread). The horizontal axis shows the percentage more or less that the winning candidate spent.



This, too, looks the way we'd expect. The greater the difference between how much the winner outspent his or her opponent, the more of a spread in the end result. The red line goes from lower left to upper right showing that trend.

But notice all of the dots at the far right. That's largely heavy incumbents, who won against opponents that weren't well-funded (like Rep. Fattah). What if we filter them out?

In close races, that effect was heightened.

If we only look at races that ended up within a 20-point spread — not close races at that margin, but not completely lopsided — the pattern shifts.



The most significant thing on this graph is the slope of that red line. It moves up and to the right much more steeply than for the chart above, showing all races. In other words, there's more of a correlation between spending differential and vote differential. This supports the idea that in closer races, money makes more of a difference.

Most incumbent losses saw the incumbents outraised.

We were also curious whether or not incumbency affected the relationship. So we took raw vote total and compared it to the margin by which the winner outspent the loser in races where the incumbent lost — only a fraction of all of the races.



The more a challenger outraised his opponent, the more likely he was to defeat the incumbent. But nearly all of the insurgents actually did so, outraising the incumbents.

What does all of this tell us? That our shorthand for political success — more money, more votes — was validated in 2012. But what it doesn't tell us is the role of money in any particular race, nor does it tell us how outside parties, like NextGen, might have affected results (CRP only includes money raised by candidate committees) — particularly in an off-year election.

In general, elected officials are warranted in raising and spending as much money as possible. A lesson that Tom Steyer has clearly already taken to heart.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:12 AM   #10
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I'm curious as to why this protects Republicans and only some Democrats.

Seriously, I'm incredibly ignorant when it comes to politics.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:16 AM   #11
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I'm curious as to why this protects Republicans and only some Democrats.

Seriously, I'm incredibly ignorant when it comes to politics.
Oh man. Pick an issue. Let's start with the first one:

The extreme gerrymandering resulting from the 2010 mid-terms gave Republicans a virtually impregnable majority.

In doing that, however, they ensconced dozens of Democrats into virtually guaranteed seats as well.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:22 AM   #12
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Oh man. Pick an issue. Let's start with the first one:

The extreme gerrymandering resulting from the 2010 mid-terms gave Republicans a virtually impregnable majority.

In doing that, however, they ensconced dozens of Democrats into virtually guaranteed seats as well.
So, it was negligible and not truly a victory?
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:38 AM   #13
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So, it was negligible and not truly a victory?
I'm not sure what you mean.

Let's start from square 1.

Our Congress is bicameral. We have a Senate and a House.

The Senate is meant to give weight to the smaller states by giving every state the same number of reps (people we call Senators). Every state gets two. Rhode Island gets 2. California gets 2.

The House is meant to give weight to the larger states by giving every state reps based on their population. The smallest states (Wyoming) get 1 rep, California gets 53. The vast majority of states have more than 1 rep in the House, so in those states, you have to carve up each state to determine which part of the state each rep represents, called districts.

That means you have to draw lines to create these districts. Ideally, every district has the same number of people. That means you have to refresh how you redraw the lines to reflect population shifts (i.e. population shrinkage in one part of the state, population growth in another), which is called "redistricting." This happens every 10 years: 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, etc... That's what the Census is for.

However, this is rarely how lines are actually drawn. They are actually drawn with political advantage for parties and candidates. This is called "gerrymandering," so if the district I represent in Congress has me polling at only 40%, I could theoretically have my political allies who are redrawing the line after the Census do so in a way that keep all the people who like me in my district, while carving out all the people who dislike me into other districts.

This will give me and my political allies maximum seats and advantage. But it'll also mean that you have to shove those people that don't like me in somebody's district, so the idea is just to cram as many of those people into as small a number of districts as possible. So while it's guaranteeing me and my buddies a ton of seats, it's also guaranteeing a few seats for people in the other party as well.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:44 AM   #14
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I'm not sure what you mean.
Well, you say virtually impregnable.


Then you say that because of their actions (that helped create a virtually impregnable superiority), they ensconced Democrats into virtually guaranteed seats as well.

To me, it seems that their gains were negligible and their actions in "rigging the game" weren't truly effective, especially if they're reducing the number of opportunities their party has for significant influence.
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:55 AM   #15
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1. Democrats Gerrymander. It's all in the game. Pretending the Republicans do it more than the Democrats is just that: pretending. Quit pretending. For my part, I find gerrymandering, whether done by Republicans or Democrats, an important safeguard against apathy and a reminder that we are not a democracy. We are a Republic built to reward energetic constituencies. It's up to the people to get engaged at the local level. But even further than that, the science shows that redistricting didn't win the Republicans the house. All this hypocritical whining about gerrymandering amounts to a great big nothingburger..
Yes, the Democrats were guilty of partisan gerrymandering. But, in no way was it even close to this level of partisanship. More people voted for Democrats in the House races did they not? How do you explain that the partisan gerrymandering didn't effect the outcome?
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2. Money in elections doesn't actually mean as much as people think it does. At least that's what the science says. The science says that there is a dollar point that is reachable by any competent politician, and everything past that point produces diminishing returns.

.
Just because the Koch brothers and Karl Roves PAC's lost almost every election this last cycle doesn't mean that billionaires and big money PAC's can't influence on our free elections or has a good chance to corrupt a fair vote.
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3. The majority of Americans support voter ID laws. That includes Democrats. It's not a partisan issue to most people. It's common sense. They think, if I need an ID to buy a beer, why wouldn't I need an ID to vote?" Not that I (or anyone outside of the hyperpartisans) care about this issue. For most people, this issue is so far down on their list of priorities that they'd need a shovel and a week to find it..
This is about your own personal experience and background.

I've had to show an ID to vote for 30 years in several states. In my experience I don't see the big deal.

The problem is that for a significant % of voters don;t have an ID and its really difficult if not impossible in a post 9/11 world to get an ID. You don't have to understand why. But, it is for some. And since most of those are minorities and or elderly the laws unfairly make it more difficult for the poor and those without lobbyists to have anyone listen to them as to why its difficult to get an ID.
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