The National Context

Redistricting” occurs every 10 years following the census and therefore will occur following the 2020 census.  The mechanism of redistricting is determined by each state.  In many states, the majority party is responsible redistricting, with predictably partisan results.  In the 2016 elections for the House of Representatives, the average electoral margin of victory was 37.1 %.  (Klaas called that figure you’d expect in N. Korea, Russia, or Zimbabwe). In 2016 out of 435 races only 33 were decided by a margin of 10% or less; 17 were decided by a margin of 5% or less.

Some progress towards non-partisan redistricting is occurring:

  1. Six states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, and Washington) have independent nonpartisan redistricting commissions.
  2. The closely-watched Wisconsin case Whitford v. Gill should come before the Supreme Court in 2017. This case ruled that districts could not be drawn for deliberate partisan gain. If it passes, it would be a game-changer, modelling a much-needed transformation.
  3. Fixing gerrymandering is getting easier.  Computer models can efficiently grind data and generate mathematical models and evaluations of fairly drawn lines.