Electoral Districts in the U.S.: Gerrymandering as an Aspect of Partisan Competition

87
DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-10-52-63
A. Bunina (abunina@imemo.ru),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), Profsoyuznaya Str., 23, Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Abstract. The paper conducts a comprehensive study of gerrymandering. First, the author describes the regulation of the redistricting process in the United States, focusing on the methods to limit partisan influence. Any commission but independent would still provide some space for gerrymandering. Even bipartisan control is not enough, as the parties would be willing to gerrymander with compromise, thus lowering competition. Looking for a method to measure gerrymandering, the author studies scholarship on the issue, specifically approaches to fairness and competition of elections. It is concluded that any method of redistricting is flawed, and thus any decision on congressional districts will have political consequences, changing the balance in favor of one of the parties. Next, the paper provides the 2018 election data to illustrate the features of the U.S. electoral geography and explains the complexity of competition between the parties. Polarization leads to clustering of partisan supporters, which naturally diminishes the competition, making the system less responsive. Ongoing demographic trends form a distribution of voters that is easier to gerrymander to advantage the Republican Party. The author considers this one of the two reasons why the Democratic Party has been advocating for independent commissions and court-ruled maps. The second reason is that this party was the victim of well-planned gerrymandering in 2011. Both sides now have entities to coordinate efforts on state elections campaigns and win seats to control redistricting, as it will cement their partisan advantage for 10 years. Finally, the article analyzes data showing the degree of 2011 gerrymandering. Regardless of serious Republican gains in 2010, the Democrats were able to gerrymander several states. This shows that Democrats condemn gerrymandering but abuse redistricting, too. The author forecasts that this duality will persist after 2020. If in control, the Democrats would not only cancel the Republican gerrymandering, but would be willing to use the tool themselves.

Keywords: Gerrymandering, U.S. electoral system, electoral districts, Congress elections, electoral geography, polarization, Republican Party, Democratic party, U. S. House of Representatives


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For citation:
Bunina A. Electoral Districts in the U.S.: Gerrymandering as an Aspect of Partisan Competition. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 10, pp. 52-63. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-10-52-63



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