Gerrymandering and 2022

In late March, Maryland saw its proposed Congressional map thrown out by a judge, citing “extreme partisan gerrymandering” against Republicans. These maps are redrawn every decade after census results come in; the one released a decade ago was carefully engineered to remove one of the state’s two Republican congressmen, and this new one would eliminate the last.

A new map was approved by the Legislature, but with a caveat: It would only take effect if the appeal, launched by the state’s Attorney General against the ruling, should fail. The revised version no longer attempts to add areas clear across the Bay Bridge to the Maryland 1st District (that’s a huge distance, by the way) and appears to make the 6th District, presently held by ultra-wealthy Democrat-in-name-only David Trone, rather more competitive. (A coincidence, surely.)

Democrats outnumber Republicans by a factor of two to one in the state, dominating both houses of the state legislature with a super-majority but somehow not the governor’s mansion.

This is only one of many such battles over the process, which repeats itself every decade following the similarly decennial census and its impact over representation in the House. Doubtless each reader has their own views over which party benefits the most from these struggles, and which is the more dishonest; in reality (and I know nobody will believe this) it works out pretty even nationwide, with perhaps a slight Republican edge. Locally, however, the sheer size of even the smallest districts neatly disenfranchises about a third of all Americans, eliminating their ability to vote for whichever party isn’t overwhelmingly preferred.

(Proposed solutions designed to decrease partisan bias include independent boards, judicial supervision of redistricting, and so on, but since the root cause is the continually increasing population per representative, the only effective fix will be when we eventually remove the cap on the number of Representatives in Congress. The system was designed originally for one Congressperson per thirty thousand voters, and at present we’re running close to one per million. Small wonder there’s such widespread dissatisfaction!)

In 2022, the bias has swung toward Democrats, this on the heels of Trump’s 2020 election defeat and the accompanying anti-Trump movement in state legislatures across the nation. Taking it as a given that the House trends Republican (just as the Senate trends Democrat), one would normally expect that President Biden’s majority would strengthen across the board. However, an astoundingly high inflation rate in conjunction with many other negative perceptions associated with the present Democrat presidency has a high probability of generating a massive Republican gain in both Houses.

Make no mistake: Democrats are already blaming an unfair gerrymander for their upcoming and well-deserved shellacking at the polls, for all that they’re this decade’s largest gainers (or biggest offenders, if you want to assign a moral value to the practice). That won’t be the truth, shocking though the suggestion may be to some of you. It’ll be that Biden, and everyone associated with him, is a phenomenally unpopular president.

Having observed this, it’s worthy of mention that there’s still a long time left before the mid-term elections. Republicans, with their partial rejection of Trump and continued acceptance of such unelectable candidates as Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Madison Cawthorn, and so on ad nauseum, are apparently doing their utmost to chase away uncommitted voters through sheer persistent odium. It is well within their capacity to cost themselves the next election and throw away any chance at regaining the White House in 2024.

We’ll find out soon enough — and either way it goes, the real losers will always be the voters.

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