Monday, December 18, 2006

Of Course Redistricting Matters

Gerry Cohen argues that gerrymandering "is not the cause of the lack of competitiveness in congressional races." He cites other factors, including "demographic changes, increased partisanship by voters, the power of incumbency and the inability of challengers to raise campaign funds."

Undoubtedly, those other factors contribute to a lack of competitiveness in races, but at least one of them (the inability of challengers to raise funds) may be in part linked to redistricting, since people are less likely to provide financial support to candidates that they believe cannot win. It is also arguable that partisanship is heightened in part because ideological candidates have safe districts that don't require them to reach out to centrist voters.

Beyond that, the idea that drawing districts with the intention of protecting the interests of the majority party does not have any effect on competitiveness does not pass the common sense test. If Cohen is correct, it should be a simple thing to convince legislators to draw their districts using a straight edge.

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