Change the way congressional districts are drawn
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After the election it struck me as odd that Pennsylvania re-elected Democrats for president and senator by solid margins but elected Republicans to 13 of our 18 congressional seats. So I added up all the votes across all 18 congressional districts and found that Democrats actually had slightly more total votes than Republicans (1.4 percent margin). But the Democratic support was highly concentrated. The four districts with the highest margins of victory all went to Democrats with margins ranging from 37.9 percent in the 13th Congressional District to an extraordinary 81.1 percent in the 2nd Congressional District. In contrast the highest Republican margin was 31.7 percent in the 10th. Yet apart from the one truly competitive race in the 12th, all margins were comfortable, above 13 percent.
I think it is well understood that our electoral districts along with those of many other states are gerrymandered. But this simple bit of analysis has really opened my eyes to how bad the gerrymandering is. Of course, party support is not uniformly distributed geographically so you would not expect the number of congressional seats to be apportioned exactly according to the total vote. But for Democrats to get only 28 percent (5 out of 18) of the seats with a majority of the popular vote is so out of proportion as to be scandalous.
The solution is simple: Turn districting over to a nonpartisan commission that would district according to the principles of compactness and keeping municipalities together. The challenge to the 2011 redistricting by Amanda Holt showed that nonpartisan districting can be done.
First Published November 15, 2012 12:00 am