GOP won more votes but not consistently in districts

Beth Cruz
June 26, 2017

The AP analyzed the results of last fall's US and state House elections across the nation, examining the percentage of races lacking major party opposition and calculating state partisan advantages using a statistical method created to detect potential political gerrymandering.

That analysis looked only at U.S. House races, while the AP analysis also includes state legislative elections.

The efficiency gap formula compares the statewide average share of the vote a party receives in each district with the statewide percentage of seats it wins, taking into account a common political expectation: For each 1 percentage point gain in its statewide vote share, a party normally increases its seat share by 2 percentage points.

The state House went from a 71-49 Democratic majority in 1994 to an 81-39 Republican majority after the 2002 election when districts were redrawn by Republican lawmakers. Among the two dozen most populated states that determine the vast majority of Congress, there were almost three times as many with Republican-tilted U.S. House districts.

"I think it's a balance but again, it's also important to, at least in my mind, respect those boundary lines of the cities, towns and counties and school districts as much as possible", he said. Democrats won 37 of 65 House seats, theoretically five more than would be expected based on their statewide vote share.

Ultimately, Republicans picked up a 13th district in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by a margin of 4 to 3. They moved Democratic-performing areas into districts that were safe for Republican or Democratic candidates.

Republicans, who held 106 state House seats after the 2010 elections, have fared even better under the new map.

That figure is up significantly since the last round of redistricting after the 2010 census.

A nationwide analysis by The Associated Press shows lawmakers can cause some statehouses to skew more Democratic and others more Republican by redrawing political boundaries to cluster or divide certain groups of voters. As of last week, there were 221 Republicans in the New Hampshire House, 170 Democrats and two Libertarians.

The analysis measured the "efficiency gap" in Kentucky's state House races.

A separate statistical analysis conducted for AP by the Princeton University Gerrymandering Project found the extreme Republican advantages in some states were no fluke.

The AP analyzed the 2016 election results using an "efficiency gap" formula developed by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and researcher Eric McGhee of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Their mathematical model was cited last fall as "corroborative evidence" by a federal appeals court panel that struck down Wisconsin's state Assembly districts as an intentional partisan gerrymander.

Democrats won 57 percent of Colorado's state House seats in November, even though Republicans won 50.4 percent of the statewide vote.

Still, experts say, Republicans generally benefit far more from gerrymandering than Democrats, since they hold control of the majority of state legislatures and governors' mansions. The U.S. Supreme Court said it will hear that case, potentially affecting voting across the U.S.

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