New GOP Strategy: Gerrymander the Road to Victory

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There are a couple ways to react when you lose an election.  You can step back and reflect on your policies, who you represent and how you can improve next time around.  Or you can give up on appealing to voters and try to change the game so there's no way for your opponent to win.  And it seems that after a brief period of reflection after their losses in the 2012 elections, the GOP has now moved to Plan B: Gerrymander Until You Win.  

Last week, Virginia Republicans advanced a bill to allocate electoral votes by Congressional district, and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus supported pushing through similar plans in other states where Republicans hold the majority of districts.  The idea is simple: Republicans control the House but lost the presidency.  If the presidential electoral map looks more like the map used for House races, Republicans might actually have a shot.  

And they're putting their money and lobbyists behind it.  From the Atlantic:

Jordan Gehrke, a D.C.-based strategist who's worked on presidential and Senate campaigns, is teaming up with Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio Republican secretary of state, to raise money for an effort to propose similar electoral reforms in states across the country, he told me this week.

Gehrke and Blackwell have been talking to major donors and plan to send a fundraising email to grassroots conservatives early next week. The money would go toward promoting similar plans to apportion electoral votes by congressional district in states across the country, potentially even hiring lobbyists in state capitals.

The Huffington Post did an analysis of what the electoral map would look like if Republicans succeed in apportioning electoral votes by congressional district.  

Here's the actual outcome of the 2012 election, in which Obama defeated Romney by 332 electoral votes to 206:

And here's Obama losing 262-273 under the congressional apportionment model:

Republican leaders are actually trying to couch the effort as something more democratic than our current broken electoral system. It would be a nice sentiment if it weren't so transparent.  Gerrymandering is almost as old as our democracy, starting with Elbridge Gerry 's approval of a “salamander-shaped” district in 1812.  We know exactly what this is and what the motivations are, and it's insulting to pretend otherwise.  Mitt Romney lost the election largely because of his contempt for voters – 47 percent of them, to be exact.  Rather than persuading voters in 2012, Republicans wrote them off.  And based on their strategy for 2016, it looks like they're doubling down.  



About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.

1 Comment

  1. Not quite as dire as some make it out to be
    Actually gerrymandering may have some affect but probably not to the degree it's being made out as. Remember, campaigns have focus strategies. One of them is to not spend the money where you know it'll have little effect. If the rules change, the campaign adapts.

    This article from Slate provides some more details about that position.

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