Virginia districts drawn to help GOP

AP Image

But a new analysis of election results by The Associated Press indicates it was Republicans who could have benefited slightly from the way the districts were drawn, contributing to what would become a landslide election for the GOP. The Old Dominion's off-year elections often serve as a bellwether for national trends.

"You end up having these extreme ideas instead of those that are more central", he said, because candidates only have to please their party's voters.

Under the 2011 map, Republicans now fill 13 of Pennsylvania's 18 seats in the U.S. House - or 72 percent - despite winning 54 percent of the statewide congressional vote in 2016. "The result in this decade's maps has been a persistent and consequential seat advantage in favor of Republicans that will likely endure for the remainder of the decade". It also underscores years of legal battles in Texas over redistricting. New Hampshire has only two districts, both of which were won by Democrats. Virginia is a swing state where Democrats have won, often by slim margins, every statewide office since 2009.

Traditional battlegrounds such as Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida and Virginia were among those with significant Republican advantages in their US or state House races. There are now six vacant seats, plus one Republican who was elected but hasn't been sworn in due to illness.

Part of the reason may be a political climate of costly, negative campaigns that discourages potential candidates, said Beatty, the House minority leader.


Republicans controlled both MI legislative chambers and the governor's office when the maps were redrawn in 2011. Nevada's districts were decided by a court, but Republicans complained at the time that they appeared more favorable to Democrats.

Even with the new lines from a year ago, Virginia's congressional district favors the GOP, the AP's analysis shows.

The formula was cited as "corroborative evidence" in a redistricting case in Wisconsin, where a federal appeals court panel last fall struck down state legislative districts as an intentional partisan gerrymander in violation of Democratic voters' constitutional rights.

The analysis found Republicans benefited from an efficiency gap of almost 3 percent, allowing them to win three more seats than they would have expected to win given their share of statewide votes.

The efficiency gap is the subject of a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court. The efficiency gap scores show Republicans picked up at least two excess seats each in MI and North Carolina. The formula essentially measures and compares each party's wasted votes — those going to the victor in excess of what's needed for victory — in an election and shows that Virginia's GOP votes are more efficiently spread out than Democratic votes.

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