Saturday, November 7, 2020

For the Politics-Obsessed

An outcome of this election, which a few of the more insightful observers have noted, happened at the state government level. Democrats managed to flip exactly zero state legislatures into their control, in fact they lost control of two to the GOP. 

Why is this important? Because as a result of the 2020 census, seats in the House of Representatives will be reapportioned to the states based on new population figures. There will be winner states that have gained population and loser states that have lost people. Republican FL and TX are big winners.

More states have Republican legislatures than have Democrat-controlled ones. In most cases the House districts are carved up by the legislatures in ways that are advantageous to the dominant party. 

This normally means designing as many districts as possible with modest dominant party majorities, and stuffing supermajorities of not-dominant party voters into a few districts designed to be sacrificed to the opponents. This is a process called, for obscure historical reasons, the “gerrymander.” The goal is to maximize opportunities to elect House members from the dominant party.

The CA House district in which I worked is one of those sacrificial districts. It normally sends a Republican to Congress, while most of CA’s Representatives are Democrats.

The Democrats’ inability to extend their control down-ballot means more states will be reapportioned in ways that disadvantage Democrats, and reward Republicans. This is part of the ‘inside baseball’ of politics in our great land. If you’ve been wondering about the angst among House Democrats, this explains a part of it.