View Full Version : The Top Ten Most Gerrymandered Congressional Districts

11-13-2010, 03:58 AM
(10.) North Carolina-12

This is what most people imagine when they think of a gerrymandered district — what I call “Gerrymander Classic.” NC-12 looks very much like the gerrymandered districts of the 19th century, but taken to extremes. As bad as it is, NC-12 at least looks like a congressional district, with meandering lines, consistent width, and hand-drawn appearance. As we’ll soon see, modern gerrymandering is often another animal altogether, with jarring shapes and artificial boundaries that are not just offensive to the eye but somehow feel like an insult to rationality.

(9.) Florida-20

This is what gerrymandering looks like in the modern era: ugly. Gone are any attempts at aesthetics. In the old days, redistricters at least tried to disguise their gerrymandering by drawing district lines that looked almost kinda sorta reasonable. No more. Nowadays many districts, with FL-20 being a good example, seem to be the result of computer algorithms with no regard whatsoever for human or natural boundaries. Needless to say, all sense of “community” within a congressional is out the window altogether when it is shaped like this, with jagged tendrils reaching out every which way to gobble up the desired demographic.

(8.) Pennsylvania-12

PA-12 is a rare example of “packing” (jamming as many opposition voters as possible into one district) that backfired. This district was created to be a Democratic stronghold formerly held by Congressman Jack Murtha, who was assumed to have a lock on the district. At the last redistricting in 2000, the Republicans in charge gave up on the area, which is solidly unionized, and decided to “pack” Murtha’s new district with as many Democrats as possible, to allow the remaining districts in the region a chance to have slim Republican majorities. But in the intervening ten years everything has changed: the area grew more and more conservative, and the locally popular Murtha died, opening up the seat to possible challengers. In the 2010 election, PA-12 barely remained Democratic with Mark Critz winning by a hairsbreadth 50.8%-49.2% margin — while most of the surrounding districts overwhelmingly went Republican. Thus, if the foolish 2000 Republican redistricters had not consciously set out to create a “packed” Democratic district, and had instead just drawn the boundaries at random, they could have easily won all the races in the area, instead of losing this one (and the adjacent PA-4) by the slimmest of margins. Note to gerrymanderers: THINGS CHANGE. What may appear to be a wise gerrymander maneuver today may blow up in your face sometime in the future.

(7.) North Carolina-6

I have included NC-6 as a perfect example of “inverse gerrymandering,” a district that is partly hollowed out internally by a different gerrymandered district — in this case, the northern end of NC-12, our first example above. NC-6 is a stark reminder that no gerrymander is freestanding: all congressional districts are interlocked like jigsaw puzzle pieces, and every time you enclose any area by some outrageous boundary line, you are disincluding that same area from some surrounding district. So for every gerrymander you create, you are likely to also have a less-noticeable but just as offensive inverse gerrymander next door.

(6.) Florida-3

Florida has more than its fair share of gerrymandering nightmares. But while many of the state’s districts were admittedly drawn to favor Republican candidates, FL-3 is instead a federally mandated “minority-majority” district gerrymandered to give black voters a voice:

[FL-3] was drawn in 1992 to be North Florida’s black-majority seat and Democrats were shifted from the surrounding districts to make the surrounding districts more Republican. It currently stretches from Jacksonville’s downtown in the north to Orlando’s in the south, and stretches east and west to include other largely minority and Democratic areas such as Gainesville, Sanford and Eatonville. As a result of this gerrymandering, the district is strongly Democratic with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D +18 and gave Obama 73% of its vote in the 2008 election. It is 50.9% black and 35.4% white. … The 3rd District is at the center of the debate over the potential impact of the FairDistricts initiative. Due to its shape, the 3rd is one of several districts that violate restrictions in the initiative which require compact districts that conform to geographical and political boundaries. On the other hand, the 3rd District is protected by the Voting Rights Act and a non-compact shape may be necessary to ensure it remains an effective African-American seat.

The “FairDistricts Initiative,” ballot proposals designed to finally make Florida’s redistricting theoretically nonpartisan, was finally approved by voters this year on November 2 — but was immediately challenged in court not by the Republicans as you might imagine but by none other than Corrine Brown, the representative of FL-3! Why? Because the new law stipulates that districts be geographically compact, which would eliminate her voting bloc and most likely her seat in Congress, when FL-3 is totally reconfigured next year. Which is ironic, because Republicans also view the new law with disdain, seeing it as a plot to swing the redistricting advantage back to the Democrats. Sigh. Can’t we all just get along? (Answer: NO!)

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Ranger Rick
11-13-2010, 05:30 PM
Wow, no California districts. How did I get so lucky?

11-13-2010, 08:08 PM
Often these districts are drawn along racial lines. A form of racial profiling that benefits democrats (shocker, huh).

Bubba Dawg
11-13-2010, 09:36 PM
I used to vote in this district when I lived in Jax. We moved to the Orlando area and I almost lived in the same district again.


11-13-2010, 11:23 PM
Often these districts are drawn along racial lines. A form of racial profiling that benefits democrats (shocker, huh).

Well you have to realize that dems are convinced that a black man could not get elected on his own merits.