During the recent “fiscal cliff” negotiations with Obama, John Boehner never missed a chance to remind people that although Obama won the election for President, Americans also voted for a Republican majority in the Congress.
That may be technically true, but it’s misleading. Actually, in the 2012 election, Democrats received more than a million more votes than Republicans in the congressional elections.
The reason the Republicans have a majority in Congress is gerrymandering. Whoever wins the state legislatures during years ending with 0, e.g. 2010, gets to draw the Congressional districts, and the Republicans redrew the maps very aggressively in the states they control.
As a result, states with more Dems than Reps still sent more Reps than Dems to Congress. For example, Pennsylvania has 18 congressional districts, and Dems outvoted Reps by 2,710,827 to 2,642,952. OK, you say, that’s not a huge margin, so it’s no big deal if the Reps got 9 of the 18 seats, instead of only 8.
I agree, but that’s not what happened. Thanks to gerrymandering, the Reps got 13 of the 18 seats, and the Dems got only 5. That’s right, more Pennsylvanians voted for Dems, but more than twice as many Reps as Dems are representing Pennsylvania in Congress, because of gerrymandering.
And now the Republicans are moving to do the same thing for Presidential elections. Most states award all their electoral votes to the candidate who gets the most votes overall. Republicans are moving to apportion electoral votes by district.
In the 2012 election, Obama won the popular vote by 5 million votes. If electoral votes were awarded by district, instead of winner-take-all, he would have been beaten easily by Romney in the Electoral College.
Rachel Maddow reported tonight that several state legislatures are already moving to implement this. The Reps can’t win straight up, and they can’t even win with voter suppression techniques that discriminate against minorities and students, so now they are threatening to put a permanent lock on elections through gerrymandering.