Gerrymandered Arguments About Gerrymandering

A common complaint among Democrats is that Republicans gerrymander districts in order to stay elected. Gerrymander is a fancy term used to describe a rather abnormally shaped congressional district that is designed that way to make the seat safe. I generally find this argument is specious. In the last two places I’ve lived in, both St. George, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada, the congressional district in my rural location has included rather liberal urban enclaves that outnumber and outvote the more conservative rural inhabitants.

I went to a primary event in St. George and the Republican politicians were bragging about how they could win in downtown Salt Lake City hundreds of miles away! Conversely, liberals tend to congregate in coastal and urban centers which means that the House of Representatives would naturally focus those parties with a wider geographic scope. In short, Bernie Sanders isn’t nearly as popular across wide swaths of America as Trump is. This leads to cases where even blue waves might not have a big effect in the Senate or produce that much of a swing.

But that still doesn’t stop the Left from complaining.

Another simple but major argument against the supposedly unfair Republican gerrymandering is that people move and long-term demographic changes are hard to predict. One of the early highways in Las Vegas, called the Summerlin Parkway, used to be a road in the middle of nowhere leading to nowhere. Cities shrink, some suburban areas see incredible growth, and other areas stall as their projected growth doesn’t pan out. For example, the incredible influx of liberal voters into Northern Virginia has tipped that formerly solid red state into a swing state. The move of people to the suburbs, combined with the usual swings of independent voters from one party to the other, has swung some reliably red districts into toss-up categories. What really happened wasn’t gerrymandering in order to gain votes, but that the Republican models that accounted for future growth turned out to underestimate growth in some areas, and overestimate growth in others. The result is some districts that favor Democrats, while others favor Republicans.

That is why this is a very specious argument from liberals. They claim they are unfairly shut out of power, but designing districts is not easy. Both political parties seem to do it, and gerrymandered districts don’t stay that way because of shifts in populations and opinions. These are often rhetorical tactics designed to make it seem like Republicans are being unfair or not really representative of the majority, when much of their gains in the last ten years was really due to an unpopular Democratic president and large parts of the country that didn’t support him.

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Morgan Deane

Morgan Deane is a former U.S. Marine Corps infantry rifleman. Deane also served in the National Guard as an Intelligence Analyst. He is the author of the forthcoming book Decisive Battles in Chinese history, as well as Bleached Bones and Wicked Serpents: Ancient Warfare in the Book of Mormon.

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