Republicans Brag They Won House Majority Because Of Gerrymandering

Scott Keyes | 01/17/2013

In a classic Kinsley gaffe, the Republican State Leadership Committee released a report boasting that the only reason the GOP controls the House of Representatives is because they gerrymandered congressional districts in blue states.

The RSLC’s admission came in a shockingly candid report entitled, “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013″. It details how the group spent $30 million in the 2010 election cycle to sweep up low-cost state legislature races in blue states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Their efforts were so successful, in fact, that Republicans went from controlling both legislative chambers in 14 states before Election Day to 25 states afterward.

In turn, the new Republican majorities would be tasked with redrawing congressional districts for the 2012 election. “The rationale was straightforward,” the report reads. “Controlling the redistricting process in these states would have the greatest impact on determining how both state legislative and congressional district boundaries would be drawn.”

This effort paid off in spades. As the RSLC’s report concedes (and ThinkProgress has documented extensively), a majority of Americans voted for Democratic congressional candidates on Election Day, but only through the miracle of gerrymandering did Republicans wind up controlling the House. From the report:

Farther down-ballot, aggregated numbers show voters pulled the lever for Republicans only 49 percent of the time in congressional races, suggesting that 2012 could have been a repeat of 2008, when voters gave control of the White House and both chambers of Congress to Democrats.

But, as we see today, that was not the case. Instead, Republicans enjoy a 33-seat margin in the U.S. House seated yesterday in the 113th Congress, having endured Democratic successes atop the ticket and over one million more votes cast for Democratic House candidates than Republicans. The only analogous election in recent political history in which this aberration has taken place was immediately after reapportionment in 1972, when Democrats held a 50 seat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives while losing the presidency and the popular congressional vote by 2.6 million votes.

The report credits gerrymandered maps in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin with allowing Republicans to overcome a 1.1 million popular-vote deficit. In Ohio, for instance, Republicans won 12 out of 16 House races “despite voters casting only 52 percent of their vote for Republican congressional candidates.” The situation was even more egregious to the north. “Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress.”

Though party officials typically dance around the unseemly issue of gerrymandering, this report is surprisingly candid and unabashed. The RSLC, after all, is tasked with winning control of state legislatures in large part so they can redraw congressional maps to the GOP’s benefit after redistricting. Because most states allow partisan redistricting, its understandable that the RSLC would release a report boasting of its gerrymandering success that “paved the way to Republicans retaining a U.S. House majority in 2012.”


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