Gerrymandering the House of Representatives
D.R. and M.D.:
Congressional representation: Now that’s what I call voter suppression: NO SOONER had Barack Obama been re-elected than John Boehner sought to pre-empt the president’s argument that his agenda had been vindicated. “The American people want solutions,” the speaker of the House said, “and tonight, they’ve responded by renewing our House Republican majority. With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.”
Did not! The Democrats won 50.6% of the votes for president, to 47.8% for the Republicans; 53.6% of the votes for the Senate, to 42.9% for the Republicans; and… 49% of the votes for the House, to 48.2% for the Republicans (some ballots are still being counted). That’s not a vote for divided government. It’s a clean sweep.
The House of Representatives is supposed to be the arm of government that most closely reflects the popular will…. For most of modern political history, the chamber has fulfilled this duty admirably. When one party won a big lead in the popular vote—as the Democrats did often from 1954-92—it…. However, in the first vote following the decennial redistricting process in 2010—when Republicans took advantage of their strong performances in state legislative elections to set a new standard for gerrymandering--the House has completely abandoned the popular will. Not only is the wrong party in control, but it reigns with a sizable majority: despite receiving just 49.6% of the two-party vote, the Republicans have 54% of the seats…. It is not the first time that a party has won a majority of seats in the House despite receiving fewer votes than its rival. Mr Gingrich’s team won re-election and a 26-seat majority in 1996, on 47.8% of the vote to 48.1% for the Democrats….
[I]t is a problem for the country that the House has ceased to reflect the immediate popular will. The current crop of Congressional Republicans have proved themselves willing to go to unprecedented lengths--principally putting the Treasury at risk of default--in order to implement their policy agenda… perhaps the biggest changes in decades to the role of government in the economy will be negotiated by a party that was rejected at the polls. For at least the next two years, America will remain stuck with a gravely unrepresentative House of Representatives…