Analysis shows slight advantage for GOP in House districts

Kristen Gonzales
June 26, 2017

A Democrat occupies only one of Louisiana's six seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, but that's a fairly accurate reflection of the state's political leanings, according to a new analysis by The Associated Press.

The AP also calculated efficiency gap scores for the U.S. House elections, though experts caution those measurements are less statistically meaningful in states with few districts. Created to detect cases in which one party may have secured power through political gerrymandering, it found that the GOP may have won as many as 22 additional congressional seats more than expected.

Control of New Hampshire's 400-member House has swung back and forth between parties multiple times in the last decade, but Republicans were in charge when it counted in terms of drawing the most recent election maps.

Republicans won an average of 67 percent of the vote in of Utah's district previous year but won all four of Utah's U.S. House seats, giving the GOP almost one seat beyond what would be projected in a votes-to-seats ratio.

The state legislature redrew Kentucky's House districts in 2012.

Republicans went into the map-drawing exercise - required every decade after the census - to protect their 12 incumbents in Congress, the result of a 2010's GOP wave election on a map also drawn by Republicans a decade earlier, and to try to pick up a 13th seat.

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Maine Democrats and Republicans were mostly happy with a reapportionment that left the current congressional districts mostly intact. Currently, the 11-person reapportionment panel consists of party leaders in both legislative chambers, three gubernatorial appointees and four by the Supreme Court chief justice.

This puts Louisiana at odds with most states. Louisiana's congressional district maps are even slightly advantageous to Democrats. A majority of Democrats - 55 percent - called it an isolated incident, while 37 percent of Republicans said the same.

The analysis is based in part on work by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Yet Republicans won 57 percent of the House seats, claiming 63 seats to the Democrats' 47.

Pennsylvania's 16.2 percent efficiency gap favoring Republicans was the sixth highest among states previous year. Chris Jones testified in federal court he tried to accommodate requests from a large majority of delegates, both Republicans and Democrats, who sought to tweak lines, sometimes to draw out precincts where they had historically performed poorly. They said factors other than gerrymandering could have contributed, including shifting political attitudes.

The national Republican State Leadership Committee, the force behind the party's surge in state legislative elections, attributes its victories to candidates who better represent their communities.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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