Thursday, September 28, 2006

From James Taranto

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal points out a couple of interesting things today.

1. It may be easier for the Democrats to take control of the Senate, rather than the House. Why? Congressional districts are gerrymandered to heavily favor one party over another, so when the wave of public opinion swings in either direction, it's still not enough to overcome the advantage the incumbent party has. Senate elections are statewide, and reflect changes in sentiment at the statewide level.

Take a look at the 2004 results in California's 53 House districts for an illustration of how much of a hump the challenging parties have to overcome; in only three districts did the losing party's candidate come within 20 percentage points of the winner! In their efforts to sink last year's ballot proposition to have judges draw congressional boundaries, the Democrats may have shot themselves in the foot by killing their chances of making any significant gains when the Republicans are down. California's gerrymandering is truly the Incumbent Protection Plan. For some examples of absurdly gerrymandered districts, check out these maps of Districts 23, 38, and 46 (see how Palos Verdes is tenuously attached to Huntington Beach).

Contrast that with, say, Colorado's Congressional districts, which adhere much more closely to county boundaries. Of only seven districts, three of the elections had the two major parties within 12 percentage points in 2004. One of those--- 1/7 of the state's Congressional representation--- looks like it will switch to the Democrats, another is a possibility, and the other, which the Democrats took narrowly in 2004, looks like a much more solid win for them this year.

2. A Norwegian school is trying to turn all of its little boys into sitzpinklers.

In German, the phrase for someone who sits and urinates, a "Sitzpinkler", is equivalent to "wimp".


At Friday, September 29, 2006 at 11:21:00 AM PDT, Blogger Erik Gregersen said...

You want gerrymandered. Check out
Illinois 4.

At Monday, October 2, 2006 at 8:48:00 AM PDT, Blogger Adam Villani said...

Ouch! Nice one.

At Monday, October 2, 2006 at 12:12:00 PM PDT, Blogger Adam Villani said...

It's also interesting to note how some districts can look fairly compact but actually be gerrymandered when they include large areas of low population and then selectively include more populous areas on the edges of the big unpopulated areas. For example, CA-26 includes wide swaths of nearly-uninhabited wilderness (the Angeles National Forest) to grab the more conservative foothill cities. Interestingly enough, though, this has been one of the few districts that's been at least remotely competitive, even though its representative, David Dreier, is fairly moderate when compared with the hardcore right-wingers.

Also see CA-44, which looks fairly normal until one realizes that San Clemente lies accross a mountain range from the rest of the district.


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