REDMAP

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REDMAP (short for Redistricting Majority Project) is a project of the Republican State Leadership Committee of the United States to increase Republican control of congressional seats as well as state legislators, largely through determination of electoral district boundaries. The project has made effective use of partisan gerrymandering, by relying on previously unavailable mapping software such as Maptitude for Redistricting to improve the precision with which district lines are strategically drawn.[1] The strategy was focused on swing blue states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin where there was a Democratic majority but which they could swing towards Republican with appropriate redistricting. The project was launched in 2010 and estimated to have cost the Republican party around US$30 million.[2]

Before REDMAP[edit]

The minority vote protections in the Voting Rights Act resulted in a situation where the party that elected minorities also had an advantage in the House of Representatives.[3] Democrats championed the process, redrawing districts to maintain minority populations.[4] Due in part to this, Democrats largely controlled Congress for 40 years, from 1955 to 1995. Now this "clumping" is hurting Democrats. Democrats are increasingly winning the majority of the votes in densely populated but small geographic, mostly urban, areas. These urban districts are very hard to gerrymander.[5] This is because most local governments want House districts that respect local boundaries and that local politicians can defend in the polls, while Democratic city governments can influence Democratic state legislators who might otherwise be tempted to gerrymander.

GOP drawn boundaries have been seen to overcrowd districts created by Democrats with disproportionate amounts of minority populations. By increasing numbers in a safe Democratic district, Republicans reduce the influence of the liberal voting bloc in both state politics and congressional elections. Republicans controlled the US House from 1995 until 2006.

However, the Republican party retained its power in state legislatures following the losses by the Democrats in the 2010 mid-terms. The Democrats were unpopular with voters at this time,[6] allowing Republicans to implement a political effort called REDMAP that enabled them to redraw favorable maps with the 2010 Census data.

Effects[edit]

REDMAP targeted 107 local state legislative races in 16 states, including swing states like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.[7][8] With the intention of flipping Democratic-majority state legislatures and Democrat-held state governorships for the express purpose of controlling redistricting, REDMAP funded negative ads in lower-profile state legislative races.[1][7] This helped to give Republicans control of 10 of the 15 states that would be redrawing their districts in 2010.[1] They then used sophisticated software such as Maptitude for Redistricting, the software used by most entities, independent commissions, and political parties involved in redistricting,[9] to devise districts favorable to the Republican party, for example by clustering Democratic voters into a handful of districts and ensuring the rest were drawn to include Republican majorities.[1]

The effects of REDMAP first came about in the 2012 United States House of Representatives elections, in which Republicans were able to secure several districts and retain control of the United States House of Representatives by a 33-seat margin despite Democratic candidates collectively receiving over 1 million more votes than Republican candidates.[2] However, in the 2018 US midterm elections, though the GOP won a majority of Senate seats, it lost the House by a portion roughly equal to the popular vote.[citation needed]

The redistricting of Wisconsin became the basis of a case before the Supreme Court of the United States, Gill v. Whitford, brought to challenge if the redistricting of that state was considered unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering.[10][11][12][13][14]

Criticism[edit]

REDMAP has been criticized as an attempt to gerrymander districts.[2][7] Critics have noted that the Republican Party won a 33-seat majority in the House of Representatives despite its candidates collectively receiving 1.4 million fewer votes than Democratic candidates.[7]

REDMAP has also been criticized for supposedly targeting people of color, particularly African Americans. David Daley, author of the 2016 book Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn't Count, has said that the effects of REDMAP constituted a "wholesale political resegregation along both sides of the Mason-Dixon line", alleging that redistricting by Republican legislatures redrew maps to "pack as many Black and Democratic voters into as few districts as possible".[7] Reverend William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign, has likewise asserted that Republicans "cracked, stacked, packed, and bleached Black voters".[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Zelizer, Julian E. (June 17, 2016). "The power that gerrymandering has brought to Republicans". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Daley, Dave (June 2, 2017). "How Democrats Gerrymandered Their Way to Victory in Maryland". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  3. ^ FRANKE-RUTA, GARANCE (August 26, 2013). "How Gerrymandering Has Created a Segregated House". The Atlantic.
  4. ^ Sherman, Tom (October 29, 2014). "Gerrymandering: A Plague on Both Our Parties!". TruthOut.
  5. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (September 8, 2014). "Why Democrats Can't Blame Gerrymandering". Bloomberg.
  6. ^ Roff, Peter (September 28, 2010). "Election 2010 Redistricting Gains Will Give GOP Lasting Majority". U.S. News and World Report.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Daley, David (October 15, 2020). "Inside the Republican Plot for Permanent Minority Rule". The New Republic. Archived from the original on October 18, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  8. ^ Rove, Karl (March 4, 2010). "The GOP Targets State Legislatures". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on October 8, 2020.
  9. ^ Milligan, Susan (March 25, 2019). "Supreme Court to Consider the Politics of Redistricting". U.S. News and World Report.
  10. ^ Williams, Joseph (June 19, 2017). "Supreme Court Takes Up Partisan Redistricting". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  11. ^ Kolbert, Elizabeth (June 27, 2016). "How redistricting turned America from blue to red". The New Yorker. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  12. ^ "The Redistricting Majority Project". Republican State Leadership Committee. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
  13. ^ Rosenberg, Paul (June 13, 2016). "This is how the GOP rigged Congress: The secret plan that handcuffed Obama's presidency, but backfired in Donald Trump". Salon. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  14. ^ "'Gerrymandering On Steroids': How Republicans Stacked The Nation's Statehouses". Here and Now. WBUR. July 19, 2016. Retrieved December 29, 2017.

Further reading[edit]