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The Electoral Process

Fair Game or Stacked Deck?. The Electoral Process. I. Gerrymanders: The Fix Is In?. ORIGINAL GERRYMANDER Named for Elbridge Gerry, Governor of Mass., 1810-12 Later Vice President under Madison Plan elected Republicans 29-11, even though they received only 57% of the popular vote.

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The Electoral Process

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  1. Fair Game or Stacked Deck? The Electoral Process

  2. I. Gerrymanders: The Fix Is In? • ORIGINAL GERRYMANDER • Named for Elbridge Gerry, Governor of Mass., 1810-12 • Later Vice President under Madison • Plan elected Republicans 29-11, even though they received only 57% of the popular vote.

  3. A. Political Gerrymanders 1. Generally regarded as legal 2. Easier with modern technology – Geographic Information Systems used to plot voting patterns

  4. 3. Types: Incumbent protection and partisan gerrymanders

  5. 4. Simplified Example: Red vs. Blue Gerrymander • 50/50 population  75/25 representation • Technique = “Packing” light green district

  6. 5. Mid-Census Redistricting: Texas 2003 • Map: Liberal Travis County divided up to reduce liberal representation / increase conservative representation

  7. 6. Statistics: Increasingly Effective Gerrymanders

  8. North Carolina’s Gerrymander, 1990

  9. The geography of a partisan gerrymander

  10. North Carolina’s Sea-Connected District 3

  11. The Film • Gerrymandering

  12. B. Race-Based Gerrymanders 1. Concepts: Dilution and Packing • Republicans sued for packing minorities together or dispersing them in small numbers across districts • Democrats sued for transforming majority-minority districts into 40%-minority districts

  13. Example: A divided state • Let’s play the gerrymander game (60:40 population)! • Everyone votes color first, then policy • Blue votes for Blue and united on policy • Yellow votes for Yellow but divides 2:1 against Bluish policy

  14. Example: A divided state • Option 1: Packing (3 Yellow, 1 Blue) – All Partisans of Color

  15. Example: A divided state • Option 2: Majority-Minority (2 Yellow, 2 Blue) – All Partisans of Color

  16. Example: A divided state • Option 3: 40/60 (4 Yellow, 0 Blue) – 1 Yellow Partisan, 3 “Bluish” Yellows

  17. 2. What does minority representation mean? • Is it better for Blue to elect • 2 Blue partisans and 2 Yellow partisans • OR • 3 “Bluish” (pro-Blue agenda) Yellow and 1 Yellow partisan? a. Descriptive representation: People like me are in office b. Substantive representation: People who vote the way I want are in office

  18. 3. Recent findings a. Point of equal opportunity now ≈ 40% • Recent elections have seen African-American candidates win 11 of 15 Southern seats from 40-50% districts b. Drawing districts to maximize the number of minorities elected: 62% c. There is now a tradeoff between descriptive & substantive representation

  19. Substantive Descriptive Descriptive and Substantive Representation, 1975-1996 60 45 Votes inSupport 40 58 35 56 30 54 25 52 Vote Score Number of Black Reps. 20 50 15 Number of 48 Black Representatives 10 46 5 44 0 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 Congress Emerging tradeoff between descriptive and substantive representation?

  20. 3. Recent findings a. Point of equal opportunity now ≈ 40% • Recent elections have seen African-American candidates win 11 of 15 Southern seats from 40-50% districts b. Drawing districts to maximize the number of minorities elected: 62% c.There is now a tradeoff between descriptive & substantive representation d. Reason is lower polarization on race by whites

  21. Electability: High Polarization

  22. Electability: Low Polarization

  23. d. Decreased racial voting in recent decades: Electoral Equations 94th Congress 99th Congress 104th Congress South East Other Decreased racially-polarized voting within the electorate.

  24. Measuring Substantive Representation • Great leaps have been made in the past two decades in the analysis of voting behavior • This is now commonly used as a measure of members’ policy preferences • Not because voting is the only important act • But because it correlates with constituency service, committee work, etc. • For substantive representation of black interests, define a legislator’s Black Support Score:BSS= % of votes cast with the black majority

  25. White Dem. Black Dem. South Carolina State House Rep.

  26. Georgia State Senate, 1999-2002

  27. Overall Expected Representation • Can compare plans by calculating the expected substantive representation • Combines prob. of election and support scores • For Georgia, this was: • Real argument is over the distribution of these scores, not over descriptive vs. substantive representation

  28. Trends, 1974-2004 • Show changes in • Election probabilities • Substantive representation • Maximizing plans • Results: • Greater crossover in voting means point of equal opportunity is under 50% BVAP • Southern Democrats become more liberal • A tradeoff emerges between substantive and descriptive representation

  29. White Dems White Dems Black Dems Probability Probability Republicans Black Dems Republicans Black Dems White Dems Black Dems Republicans Probability Probability Republicans White Dems

  30. Substantive Representation, 1974-2000

  31. e. Implications for Substantive Representation • In the 1970s: 100% • Concentrate African-American voters as much as possible • Essentially, no white will vote for black representatives • In the 1980s: 65% • Strategy is still to elect African-Americans to office • In the 1990s & 2000s: 45% • Still a good chance of electing African-Americans • Now better to spread influence across districts

  32. C. The Law on Redistricting

  33. 1. Article I, Section 2: “The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states… Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers… The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative…”

  34. 2. Apportionment Act of 1842 • In 1842: • 6 states elected Representatives at large (winner take all) – equal to a 100% partisan gerrymander • 25 states used single member districts (or only had one district) • The Act mandated SMD: • “should be elected by districts composed of contiguous territory equal in number to the number of representatives to which said state may be entitled, no one district electing more than one representative.

  35. 3. The Fate of the 1842 provisions • Some states ignored the 1842 Act; their representatives were seated anyway • Parts were repealed, reinstated, and finally wiped out by Wood v. Broom (1932), which held that apportionment acts extended only until the next such act • Some states retained at-large election until the late 1960s • 1967: PL 90-196 mandates SMD but not contiguity

  36. 4. The Supreme Court in the 1960s a. Baker v. Carr (1962): Court has the power to hear challenges to constitutionality of districts under the Equal Protection Clause. Suggests “one person, one vote” standard. • Tennessee had not redistricted since 1901, leading to huge population disparities between districts (up to 10:1) • Dissent: “Plaintiffs here invoked the right to vote and have their vote counted, but they are permitted to vote and their vote is already counted. The complaint being made here is that their vote is not powerful enough. They should seek relief in the legislative system, not the courts.”

  37. b. Reynolds and Wesberry (1964) • Wesberry v. Sanders: Article I Section 2 requires House districts to be as nearly equal in population as possible • Reynolds v. Sims: Equal Protection Clause extends “one person, one vote” standard to state legislatures

  38. 5. Section V of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 a. “Covered” jurisdictions (< 50% voting in 1960/1964 and used a device to limit voting -- including most of the South) need federal approval for changes in laws that might affect voting • Redistricting, at all levels • Changes in Electoral Systems • Annexation/De-annexation of suburbs, etc.

  39. 5. Section V of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 b. Act prohibits “retrogression:” the purpose or effect of discriminating against voters based on race, color, or language minority group (Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans). Examples: • Going back to at-large elections from districts • Annexing suburbs to dilute minority voting power in the city as a whole c. Unique: prior restraint on state actions d. Not permanent; renewed for 25 years in 2006 e. Upheld by Supreme Court as valid exercise of 15thAmendment powers; under renewed challenge

  40. 6. Race and Redistricting in the 1990s (all 5-4 conservative-liberal splits) a. Shaw v. Reno (1993): States may not draw districts solely on basis of race (violates Equal Protection Clause), even under the VRA b. Miller v. Johnson (1995): Need not maximize voting power of minorities where they are minorities c. Bush v. Vera (1996): Majority-minority districts not required, will be struck down if race is primary reason for drawing; de facto requirement for compactness and contiguity

  41. Bush v. Vera Majority Opinion: • “[B]izarre shape and noncompactness cause constitutional harm insofar as they convey the message that political identity is, or should be, predominantly racial. . . . [C]utting across pre-existing precinct lines and other natural or traditional divisions, is not merely evidentially significant; it is part of the constitutional problem insofar as it disrupts nonracial bases of identity and thus intensifies the emphasis on race.”

  42. Limits on Majority-Minority Districts? • Race cannot be only reason to draw a district • Districts must be contiguous (one solid block). • Not much of a limit: This “earmuff” district in Illinois connects two Latino neighborhoods with I-294 corridor

  43. d. Georgia v. Ashcroft (2003) • Georgia reduced majority-minority districts to create minority-competitive districts (i.e. about 45% African-American) • Appealed to the Supreme Court as Georgia v. Ashcroft • Court ruled for Georgia, stating that: • Retrogression is about more than electing minorities to office • Minorities could choose to trade off descriptive and substantive representation • Court relied heavily on the fact that most African-Americans vote Democratic

  44. Georgia v. Ashcroft: Measuring Retrogression in Electability • Forget categories; just use the probability of electing a minority candidate in each district • Estimate this using “S-curves” • Then add up the probabilities to get the expected number of minorities elected • Can consider the variance of this distribution, too • For Georgia, the proposed plan had slightly fewer expected minorities elected • Problem with overpopulated districts

  45. Ashcroft & Substantive Representation Descriptive Pareto Frontier Substantive

  46. Ashcroft & Substantive Representation Descriptive Pareto Frontier SQ Substantive

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