S3E8: Gerrymandering survives, politicians make moves

Today’s podcast we finish our analysis of night one of the 2020 democratic debate which aired on Wednesday June 24th on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo and discuss gerrymandering.

It’s been five days since the debates and already some candidates, like Harris and Booker, have altered their positions on Medicare For All.  

Meanwhile, from night two, governor Hickenlooper’s campaign is reportedly in “shambles” after the debate.

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All eyes are on Kamala Harris who has seen a sizeable bump since the debate.   She’s hopped over Warren and Sanders in a new Iowa poll.

The standing which had been Biden, Sanders, Warren – in this new poll is – Biden, Harris, Warren. 

But will Harris’ slippery stance on issues like healthcare with which she has tied herself to progressive leaders Sanders and Warren, end up costing her moderate votes?

And will her flip flop to supporting private insurance, sour her toward progressive groups?

We discuss the losers from Wednesday’s debate below:


Polling supports our conclusions

Conclusions on the winners and losers from Denise from California and I are supported by the Iowa polls.   Not counting night two, our winners from night one all had big moves in the USA Today/ Suffolk University Poll in Iowa.

Warren, our first winner of the night, remained in third, while Booker and Klobuchar did not move the needle that much, but remained competitive at 2% to remain in the top seven.

According to Politico:

This newly-released USA Today/Suffolk poll is a qualifying poll for the primary debates, according to the Democratic National Committee. With two weeks to go until the July 16 deadline to meet the DNC’s criteria for the second debate, later this month in Detroit, the number of qualified candidates remains at 21 — the same 20 who debated last week, plus Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. But the DNC says it will use tiebreaker procedures to keep the field at 20 candidates.

For the third debate in September, candidates much reach 2 percent in four polls released between June 28 and August 28, in addition to receiving donations from 130,000 Americans. The USA Today/Suffolk poll is the second qualifying poll for the third debate, and six candidates have now received 2 percent in both: Biden, Harris, Warren, Sanders, Klobuchar and Buttigieg. Booker may have also picked up a second qualifying poll for the September debate, receiving a rounded 2 percent in the USA Today/Suffolk poll…

In the Politico/Morning Consult poll, which grades how well the candidates did, Warren is #2, Harris leap frogs over Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders and Biden to take the top spot.   

From debate night one, Castro and Booker remain in the game along with Tulsi Gabbard to remain in the top ten.

All others in the top ten are from night two.

As I predicted, and we discuss in our next podcast, almost everyone from night one, but Warren, got destroyed.  The night of big moves was Thursday.

The current electoral map of Ohio

History of  gerrymandering.

To fully appreciate the unmitigated gaul and naked theft of votes gerrymander presents, please see our podcast in season two episode seventeen on V-TIP.COM and our blog post here.

To summarize, Ohio, North Carolina and Wisconsin which had been treading from purple to blue turned reliably red.  

How?

The last census came at a time where Democrats on “the ground” (meaning in the states) got their clocks cleaned by Republicans.

Barack Obama was popular, but local and state democrats were not.  Healthcare, the bailout and gun laws had successfully divided the country and the Republicans seized upon that moment to pounce.

For a time, the Republicans had super majorities in over ½ the states in the union.

What did they do with that power?  They began passing voter suppression laws like voter id and, in some cases, purging voter rolls and even taking voting rights away from felons (like in Florida).

But because the country was coming toward a census, it gave Republicans a once in a decade chance to draw maps around districts as they saw fit. 

Hence project RedMap or the Redmap Initiative.  

The Republican State Leadership Committee came up with Redmap which uses computer technology to redraw district lines to favor, Republicans.

From The Atlantic.

…the first goal of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s REDMAP project was to seize control of vulnerable statehouses in purple states in the 2010 elections and grab ahold of the redistricting process, which by the Constitution occurs alongside the reapportionment of Congressional seats every 10 years with the results of the Census. With those seats in hand, the resulting end goal was … “The party controlling that effort controls the drawing of the maps—shaping the political landscape for the next 10 years.”

REDMAP was a spectacular success. First, on the strength of fundraising efforts in pivotal states with changing demographics—places like Wisconsin and North Carolina that have become new swing states—Republicans overran 2010 state legislative races in backwoods districts, to the tune of nearly 700 state legislative seats, the largest increase in modern electoral history. Additionally, Republicans outspent Democrats by over $300 million in that year’s gubernatorial races, which netted them six additional gubernatorial positions, including the coveted governor’s mansions in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, which were all flipped from Democratic incumbents.

The maps drawn with new district lines that favored Republicans were so ridiculous, as Vox pointed out:

North Carolina A&T is the largest historically black public college in the country. Each day, students walking from the library to the main dining hall regularly cross from the Sixth Congressional District to the 13th District. Students who move from a dorm on the north side of campus to one on the south side have to reregister to vote in a new district, and then reregister again if they move back.

Until Republican redistricting in 2016, the campus and its 10,000 students were packed into the 12th Congressional District represented by Democratic Rep. Alma Adams, an African-American alum of North Carolina A&T, but now it’s split between two white male Republicans: Reps. Mark Walker of the Sixth District and Ted Budd of the 13th.

“We’ve got two pretty conservative white men that don’t look like the majority of students,” said Reggie Weaver, who directs campus outreach for Common Cause North Carolina, a voting rights and campaign finance reform group in the state.

Some A&T students think it’s no accident their college was divided into two districts.

“This many students has the ability to sway any election. Dividing that in half, putting half this way, half the other in a majority-Republican district, that definitely dilutes the vote,” said sophomore A&T student Love Caesar.

The people take action

In states like Ohio where Democrats nearly match Republicans but have little or no electoral power, they decided to take action.

Issue 1 was put on the ballot in Ohio and it passed by 74% of the vote.   Issue 1 limits gerrymandering by controlling how many counties can be split.

But even when issue 1 is enacted, researchers have found the new barriers are an improvement, but will not prevent all gerrymandering.

Issue 1 will not be in effect by 2020.  Issue 1 is for the new census in which new maps will be draw in 2021.

The current map will be used in 2020 and it all but guarantees the 12 Republicans up for election will remain in power while the 4 democrats remain in the minority.

The ACLU and league of women voters had sued Ohio Republicans in Federal court and won, but the Roberts court has instructed the federal courts to throw out those cases stating “…that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts.”

Elections do indeed have consequences.

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