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How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission

To get the districts they wanted, Democrats organized groups that said they represented communities, but really represented the party.

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ibsteve2u

Dec. 22, 2011, 5:06 a.m.

@Auric who emoted Today, at 12:57 a.m: “If a story about astroturfing produces comments decidedly out of sync with those in parallel reports on the same story (as this has), it’s reasonable for me to assume the comments themselves have been astroturfed by the subject of the report.”

Were you to reveal the names of the media sources which ran this story and received overwhelming agreement with and endorsement of this story from their typical audience,  one or more individuals might be able to provide a hypothesis as to why reaction to this story might differ from venue to venue.

Doug M

Dec. 22, 2011, 7:34 a.m.

It would be useful for Pro-Publica to explain what is wrong with the district described in section “How Democrats locked down Northern California”, including showing maps. The previous district was a classic Gerrymander that sucked in portions of 4 counties, stretching for about 150 miles (via recommended route from Google Maps). The replacement district is quite compact. Judging by the road network, the section of Contra Costa County attached to the portion of San Joaquin County seems to be a natural fit.
For those interested, the NW tip of this inclusion is Antioch. The old (2000-2010) district was designed the 11th, the new one is the 9th (sorry, I don’t have links to good online maps of these).

So “reporters”, what is your evidence that the Commission was bamboozled? You state “Transcripts show that more than a dozen people delivered or sent the canned testimony to the commission, which accepted it without question” implying that the Commission credulously accepted that input, but that same silence could equally well be interpreted as them dismissing it out-of-hand, or ...

Tony

Dec. 22, 2011, 8:20 a.m.

Another wonderful example of the tight two party system at work.

Parke Skelton

Dec. 22, 2011, 10 a.m.

Hmmmm.  The Republican party passes a “non-partisan” redistricting process by initiative giving them an equal voice despite the fact that they are the minority party and the Dems control the legislature and the governorship.  Democrat organize testimony before the commission, along with scores of other community and interest groups.  Republicans do nothing. Now the Reps are unhappy, and Pro-publica thinks this is some sort of a scandal.  One of the many things your article fails to note is that virtually all the growth in CA has been Latino.  The commission’s work reflects that. The only story here is the incredible stupidity and incompetence of the Republicans.

NO Hope Left

Dec. 22, 2011, 10:04 a.m.

This is California.  These are democrats.  Why would anyone expect anything different?  Doesn’t matter how they draw the lines.  Too many hands in the till….California is doomed.  My vote here hasn’t counted in decades.

MarkJ

Dec. 22, 2011, 10:29 a.m.

Here’s my take: at the rate productive citizens are moving out of California, in 2020 the Democrats will be trying to figure out how to redistrict an empty wasteland.

stephen parrish

Dec. 22, 2011, 10:39 a.m.

California is in such good economic shape and under such able government leadership, I’m sure this will continue to work out for the best for you all.  Do you think California will have more or fewer districts in 10y?

Hannah Katz

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:04 a.m.

I found an earlier comment interesting, indicating that Texas Republicans had taken over the legislature by manipulating the redistricting process.  A bigger factor is the fact that Texas is a strong Republican state, with every single statewide filled by a Republican for the last decade.  When they replaced the gerrymandered districts that the Dems had been doing since Reconstruction, the Repubs took over.

Auric

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:05 a.m.

“Were you to reveal the names of the media sources which ran this story and received overwhelming agreement with and endorsement of this story from their typical audience ...”

Yeah, Politico is really a bastion of partisanship. LOL. You and the 7 different names you’re posting under need to keep trying.

Sean

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:08 a.m.

Interesting story, if a little “dog bites man”. Political party uses methods that political parties traditionally use to create favorable outcome for political party. Film at 11. This is what parties do.

Too many voters have this myth that we can somehow have nonpartisan policy or nonpartisan methods of redistricting. If only the parties would “work together, for the will of the people!”, the pearl clutchers say. This is a fairy tale. Politics is about power. Policy disagreements are healthy, not harmful to democracy. The idea is one party exercises power and gets evaluated by the electorate. If they screw up, another party gets a chance to exercise power. If the CA GOP wants to wield power, they need to get to a majority (or 2/3rds in our poorly designed system). Whose fault is it that they cannot get to a majority? Surely not the redistricting commission.

Concerned Citizen

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:09 a.m.

This type of systemic corruption is jaw dropping, much worse than your typical city council person or rogue cop accepting a bribe.  This fuels further intense public cyncism towards our political process.

These redistricting lines are incredibly tainted, must be thrown out immediately, and new lines—free of corruption—must be drawn.

And the politicians and their operatives who engaged in this MUST be thoroughly investigated, indicted, and jailed if any crimes have been committed.

We the People will be watching.

John Skookum

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:19 a.m.

The best idea I’ve ever heard for redistricting is to allow no concave district borders except at state lines. This destroys almost all efforts at gerrymandering.

datechguy

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:21 a.m.

So all this process did was create a new commission paid for by the state that gave the democrats plausible deniability to do what they’ve always done.

That’s why this commission business, like super committee et/al is BS.  Reps are elected to do a job, they should do it.

Charlotte Whitaker

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:40 a.m.

Amazing to hear people say how good it is that Democrats have rigged redistricting.  California has been under Democrat control for decades and I don’t hear anybody saying that California is a success.  California use to be a success, a bright and innovative state.  Today it is a colossal failure due to the government and the people who have been greedy and corrupt themselves, or just plain gullible. California is worse than broke. It has massive debt because politicians have lied and stolen the money.  It is the worst state in the nation to do business in. Math and science scores in education are almost the worst in the nation. The Democrats have ripped the state and the people off and will continue to do so.  Their greed is never sated.  In fact, it just grows. Every week the legislature puts out new legislation to tax Californians.  How long will it be before California politicians decide that it is easier to declare eminent domain and just take the private property of it citizens to keep feeding the political beast that is the government of CA?

John

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:41 a.m.

Of course, any redistricting favors one party or another.  It can’t NOT do so.  And obviously every politician and his supporters (you know, the people who voted for him) don’t want it to go out of their favor.  And as a result, the losing side (and those of us perpetually rooting for an underdog) thinks it’s unfair.

While I do appreciate the detail (so that we can try to stop it in the future), this goes beyond “dog bites man” to “sun rises in East.”  I think this would have been much better presented as a “case study” than breaking news, personally.

That said, the right way to set districts is to identify the traits of importance (presumably, everything the Census asks about—that’s why we pay for it, after all) and let a computer lump them together.  Split groups of similar people when they overwhelm the next minority (to prevent isolating them to a localized majority), and the only problem should be what to do with the minority populations living around the state’s border regions.

If we want to instead involve people in the process, we could have “voluntary districts,” where some fixed number of voters effectively sponsors a candidate as a Representative (as a unanimous vote, essentially), no matter where they live individually.  I don’t like it because of the logistics, but it has the benefit of removing “official” redistricting from the equation.

Chris

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:43 a.m.

The outrage this article has prompted is a bit over the top.  What the Dems did (at least according to this article) was Politics 101.  What is most surprising is that the Reps didn’t do the same thing - or at least didn’t do it competently.  Republican operatives throughout the state should be hanging their heads in shame at their political malpractice.

Ben

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:46 a.m.

Wow, so many of the comments reveal people who didn’t read the article.  It fully acknowledges that this sort of redistricting game-playing has been going on forever.

That doesn’t mean it should keep going on.  Whether it’s the Dems or the GOP, it’s wrong.

McGehee

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:55 a.m.

Why are redistricters even allowed to take into account anything except faceless numbers and existing municipal boundaries? If the point is to eliminate partisan gerrymandering, a computer program simple enough to run on an old Commodore VIC-20 could solve the problem.

kathleen cairns

Dec. 22, 2011, 11:57 a.m.

So, the gist of the story is that only Democrats tried to game the system? Republicans were above board through the entire process? Wow, what a squeaky clean group of people. Makes me want to ... never mind.

Comanche Voter

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:02 p.m.

Interesting that the Dem or “progressive” commenters charge Republican corruption, and the Repubs say Democrat corruption of the process.  I think you have to look at who walked away from the table with the most chips to decide who’s corrupt.  A pox on both their houses.

My address hasn’t changed for more than 35 years.  When I first lived here, a California Republican would be elected from my district until the cows came home.  Then redistricting occurred in 2000 and a Democrat will represent me and my district until hell freezes over.

I don’t get much choice in the matter. And that’s wrong.

harvey

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:12 p.m.

Why the bizarre bias in the writing of this article, making it sound as if the Republicans never ever try to influence redistricting?  Fooled???  Please…

If the national GOP wasn’t active in this process in California, it would be the first time they’ve been caught asleep at that wheel—they’re the undisputed masters of made-up hot-button issues and sham “institutes” & citizen groups.

ProPublica should demand much better—and much more balanced—reporting & writing than this.

Marc

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:48 p.m.

Interesting read about sausage making, but does little to “expose” anything. The GOP was on the sidelines? And I have a bridge I’d like to sell you. An independent commission that was underfunded and understaffed took what was presented and made their decisions. Again the unintended consequences of the initiative process.

BTW, the quote about increasing Republican growth is more than laughable when even Orange County of all places is seeing the percentage of Republican registrations falling.

ProPublica editors, too many of the assertions don’t pass the smell test here. I think you overreached on this one.

Tom Holsinger

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:52 p.m.

This has been SOP in California politics for almost a hundred years.  My father was a California Democratic Party operative and constantly did things like this, particularly in fights inside the Democratic Party.

You can’t take the politics out of politics, and the partisanship out of partisan elections.

I’m a California Republican and grew up with politicians constantly around.  The behavior depicted in this article is NORMAL politics.  It was completely predictable.  The only thing wrong is that the California GOP is too disorganized, feeble and dominated by petty vanities to do it back.  Those are also reasons why the California GOP is such a weak minority.

Peter Snowden

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:53 p.m.

The comments from democrats here are pretty sad, even going so far as to question Pro Publica’s credibility.  Pro Publica is largely funded by the Sandler family foundation, very wealthy liberal people who have been major supporters of the ACLU, Acorn and other liberal organizations.  Pro Publica is actually somewhat of a diversion for them.  It is aggressively non-partisan.  Read its stated goal.  It is to improve our government by focusing light on people in positions of power who abuse the public trust.  They do a superb job.  We are incredibly lucky in this age when the likes of Rupert Murdoch dumb down journalism for commercial purposes to have Pro Publica.
You act as if you would prefer rotten government as long as they went your way. 
When you take than position you really don’t deserve good government.

carolyn

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:54 p.m.

McGehee: Agreed! And couldn’t that same simple program also sort out which households within a district belong to which municipal boundaries? Leaving faceless numbers (population) as the sole factor in drawing boundaries?

Matthew Fedder

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:56 p.m.

This article is completely uninformed about the history of California redistricting.

For two redistricting cycles, state legislators - both democrats and republicans - reached an agreement to keep the maps largely the same and to make all districts as safe as possible for incumbents. In a period of time when the state changed from being evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans to Democrats enjoying a 2:1 margin of registrations over Republicans, Democrats only saw a marginal increase in their representation.

The motive was clear: Republicans didn’t want to lose seats, and Democrats wanted to avoid having to spend money here.

You can see the effect of this in the last two elections: 2008 and 2010 were both wave elections nationwide, in which large numbers of incumbents were washed out (on the order of 15%). Yet in California, only a tiny handful of seats were even competitive, and out of the state assembly (80 seats), state senate (40 seats), and the congressional delegation (53 seats), only 4 state assembly seats changed hands in 2008, and only one state assembly seat changed parties in 2010, and of those, every single incumbent was forced out by term limits - not a single incumbent lost in the entire state in two wave elections.

Such a representation is anathema to the spirit of Democracy. The new district maps will provide for much more competitive districts, that will more accurately reflect the will of communities. And I can’t see how anyone who is even remotely informed about the history of California redistricting can

jjohnjj

Dec. 22, 2011, 12:58 p.m.

This “investigation” is about as bizarre as PolitiFact’s choice of a tepid Democratic omission over four Republican whoppers as its “Lie of the Year”.  The right-wing pressure on independent media to conform to the standards of “fair & balanced” reporting - blame both sides equally, regardless of the facts - must be overwhelming.

The fact is that the CRD worked as advertised. It performed an extremely difficult calculation of demographics, federal voting rights law, geography, and local community affiliations to come up with the most competitive districts possible. Perfect districts? Not by a long shot… but as fair and competitive as humanly possible.

It is naïve to think that redistricting is a purely objective process, and that a commission can make it totally apolitical. The CRD, however, did move the politics from the “back room” to the public hearing room.

I attended one of the public hearings, and while I saw people I knew to be Dems testify before Commission, they were there to represent their communities, not their party affiliation. The public comments consisted of things like: “Please don’t split Upper Ojai from Lower Ojai. We are one community”. Please don’t split Oxnard again, the Hispanic Americans who live there have been marginalized by gerrymandering”. Please don’t split the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area. We need a strong voice in Congress to protect its natural resources”. Many brought reports and maps of their own to support their testimony.

The “conservatives” who came to the microphone were disorganized, mostly unaffiliated, and spoke in vague terms about their “frustration” with proposed districts that would require them to share their representation with the “those people” who lived on the other side of town. Their sense of entitlement was truly offensive.

In the end, the process was highly constrained by numbers and geography. Where the Commission did have some discretion, it chose in favor of people, not parties. If the Democrats seem to have come out ahead, it is because the process corrected historic imbalances that have favored the state’s Republican minority

I am truly disappointed in ProPublica’s lack of balance in this article. Being able to say, “See, we dump on the Democrats, too”, does not win them credibility. It does quite the opposite.

Russ

Dec. 22, 2011, 1:43 p.m.

I’m shocked that anybody actually thought this would be a clean or honest process in the first place.

YouDude60

Dec. 22, 2011, 2:08 p.m.

Let’s just keep driving this same direction, since things have gone so well for so long.  Never mind that cliff ahead—someone will catch us if our car plunges.

Robert Williamson

Dec. 22, 2011, 2:38 p.m.

A little historical perspective might help. The existing District 11 is a result of gerrymandering. Look at the maps. District 11 twists and turns, skips around and curls around in multiple directions. It was created by incumbents to protect a safe republican seat, which it did for a while. The Republicans couldn’t hold it even though it was designed to include white suburbs and central valley farming areas. The new District 9 is rational, geographically compact and centered in the valley. It is not historically democratic ground, but republicans are marching themselves off the map.

Diane

Dec. 22, 2011, 3 p.m.

I expect NPR to provide unbiased news articles.  I consider this article to be quite biased, unspecific, and inadequate.  I can’t address the issues in northern CA.  But I am a delegate to the Democratic Party.  I voted to establish the citizen’s commission and I attended and testified about my community of interest at two hearings in Los Angeles - and I found the commission’s transparency, website, and decision-making to be positive.  At the two hearings I attended there were overt attempts by Republicans from Palos Verdes and the Santa Clarita Valley to influence the commission against established communities of interest.  For example, at the Long Beach hearing the Republicans from PV didn’t want to be with Long Beach and stated their preference to be with the “Beach Cities.” After the draft maps were published, the same Republicans expressed concern about being included with Venice and Santa Monica.  They stated that they were not a community of interest with “those people” and were definitely a community of interest with Lawndale and Hawthorne.  Who knew?  And a group of Republicans from Santa Clarita, including Republican staffers, submitted totally unconnected maps in order to link Republican voting areas.  Where was this reported?

huggy

Dec. 22, 2011, 3:08 p.m.

California is in a panic. The Nancy Pelosi politicians are out of other peoples money. Move out of California or pray for a miracle or do both.

John

Dec. 22, 2011, 3:11 p.m.

If I were a member of the Re-Districting Commission I would be contacting my attorney to see if there is grounds to sue for slander. This entire article infers that the commissioners were in bed with these consultants yet you provide not one single shread of evidence to back up your accusations. This is yellow journalism at best. I can only assume tha the Republican party had influence with the “Reporters” for this story. I of course have no proof of that, but they must have considering how rediculously one sided this article is.

Charles Ogle

Dec. 22, 2011, 3:20 p.m.

District lines should be designed by a computer program that segments a map into population blocks as square as physically possible. Any human interference in such design inevitably introduces biases. Also, screw the Voting Rights Act. No ethnic group, political party or special interest (ie, labor unions) should ever get special privileges at the ballot. To manipulate district lines with such obscenity as New York’s “Bullwinkle” district is an affront to the concept of one man/one vote.

A rep should be based on a physical district, not on the demographics of that district. They then would have to consider the wishes of actual people who lived there if they wanted to stay in office, not the wishes of unelected special interest groups or race-based pandering.

John

Dec. 22, 2011, 3:21 p.m.

@David. Please provide your evidence of corruption on the Commission. Obviously, you were trying to influence the commission yourself, you were just massively ineffective. And you are entitled to your opinion of the ineptness and the arrogance of the commission, but you specifically called them “corrupt”  Those are mighty serious charges. Since this article did not provide the evidence of corruption maybe you can.

Warner Todd Huston

Dec. 22, 2011, 3:27 p.m.

I find the news that Democrats don’t care about what voters really want and have no desire to actually represent them to be unsurprising. But what is sad is to see is that AFTER thousands of words in a story detailing Democrat perfidy so many idiot comments then go on to say “both parties” this and “both parties” that. Folks, if you won’t take a story on its merits and discuss it in that context without blaming everyone equally when there is NO equal blame to assign, then you simply are too partisan to be considered a serious commenter.

Charles Ogle

Dec. 22, 2011, 3:27 p.m.

Not that it matters much. California is pretty much boned as it is.

How do the idiot CA voters like the revelation that the median income of public employees in the state is DOUBLE that of those paying the taxes to support these bloated salaries?

I guess they don’t care, and they don’t mind having the state default, because they continue electing the Pelosis, the Boxers and the Browns.

We should give California back to Mexico. Anybody with any gumption has already moved to Texas anyway.

DevilsPrinciple

Dec. 22, 2011, 3:59 p.m.

The article AND the following comments are better than a Three Stooges script.

California’s irrelevant in the national scheme of things.

carolyn

Dec. 22, 2011, 4:39 p.m.

Seems unusual to me that there are so many purely partisan, emotion based, and content free posts on this topic - especially on this site where many of us are accustomed to intelligent discussions.

Some of us are solution oriented, and a handful have come up with a fair and workable solution - best phrased so far (in my view) by Charles Ogle (above).

Rephrased by me: All Homo sapiens residing within the boundaries of a state will be selected via an up-to-date population database to become a member of whatever districts (state and US legislative) the database assigns, and will be able to cast votes in that district if eligible and registered.

Doug M

Dec. 22, 2011, 4:43 p.m.

For those unaware of California politics, the Reapportionment Commission was only one part of the effort by the voters to deal with the problem of safe seats.

1. We voted for open party primaries but that was negated by the courts. While the Democrats have voluntarily opened their primaries to voters with no party affiliations—called “Decline to state” but better described as “unaffiliated”—but the Republicans have kept their primaries closed. Research indicates that this is a bad choice—unaffiliated voters who vote in a primary are much more likely to vote for that same candidate in the general election (relevant if that candidate wins the primary).

2. We voted to end party-based primaries—the top two finishers in the primary will face each other in the general election. This was an acknowledgment that too many districts would inevitably be dominated by a single party, allowing the typical far-left/right candidate favored by the party faithful to be challenged by someone closer to the center.  This coming election will be our first experience with this.

On the CA Republican Party: People from outside CA may not realize that California only has the legacy of a two-party system because the Republican Party decided many years ago to behave as a 3rd party. Although they would like to see their candidates elected, they subordinate actually winning elections to “making statements” about their ideological commitment to a shrinking base. It has been widely discussed that Republicans are on a track to become a 3rd party numerically if the unaffiliated voters (“Decline to State”) were to be regarded as a party. The increase in unaffiliated voters comes not just from new voters refusing to join an existing party, but from defections from the existing parties. This indicates a high level of disgust with the existing parties (research has found that people are very disinclined to change party identification).

Consequently, if you look at districts just in terms of party _registration_, you can easily be ignoring 15-30% of the active voters.

Hankmeister

Dec. 22, 2011, 4:55 p.m.

I see the infantile arguments of “I’m rubber and you’re glue” and “Billy stole some cookies out of the cookie jar, too” by partisan hack Donk trolls continue to persist. The article/commentary was about CALIFORNIA jerrymandering, not North Carolina’s, Texas’ etc.

Having been a former Texas Democrat going back forty years (and now an Independent), I can vouchsafe that virtually every Texas voting district was jerrymandered to death by the Democratic machine. Whatever Republicans have attempted to do of late to try and correct some of these old gerrymandered districts pales into insignificance.

I’m always amused how the national socialist media continues to either whitewash or ignore clear examples of Democrat voting fraud and blaming Republicans for the fraud that does happen in decidedly Democratic voting districts - which is where most of the alleged fraud occurs! There could be a definitive non-partisan study published that documents 90% of all voting fraud is committed by Democrats and you’d get Democrats pointing fingers at Republicans for “doing it, too.” And having read some studies that have already come out on the subject of voting fraud, 90% isn’t very far off from the actual number. And I say this knowing what I see and hear just south of Chicago here in the People’s Republic of Illinois.

I’m beginning to think liberalism is truly a mental disease that robs its victims of all objectivity while making them highly vulnerable to the overwhelming propaganda ministry of the national socialist media and left-wing blogs. Despite liberals’ claims of being “objective” and “open-minded” I find a strange non-diverse uniformity to their so-called “arguments” and anti-conservative bigotry.

cmui

Dec. 22, 2011, 4:55 p.m.

I found one part of this article very puzzling—that was the argument that the commission “blinded” itself by “agreeing not to even look at data that would tell them how prospective maps affected the fortunes of Democrats or Republicans.”  Wasn’t that the whole point, to not do the redistricting based on how it affected the parties?  If the commission had considered party data, how could it ever have claimed impartiality — either in practice or perception?

I, for one, thought that the commission’s work was a big step forward — and wrote so in this Forbes column: 

“To End Gridlock, Start By Ending Gerrymandering.” 
http://onforb.es/v57BbN

Peter Snowden

Dec. 22, 2011, 5:10 p.m.

Charles Ogle,  I had not heard about the median state employee income stat.  Can you post a link to the source?  Thank you.

PD Quig

Dec. 22, 2011, 5:15 p.m.

I LOVE the defensiveness of the Dem supporters in the comments. I long for the day when every single elected position in the state of CA belongs to a Democrat pol. EVERY SINGLE ONE. CA will then be the purest strain of political pathogens, and the death of the state will administered fully by them. For all intents and purposes, it already is a state of and for the Dems, of course, but 100 percent unanimity would be a thing of awesome, tragic beauty. Time to grab some popcorn, fire up a beer, and sit back and watch my native state complete its self-destruction.

I can’t wait to witness the pain on the faces of all the voters who year after year returned Dems to power in this state. The cleansing economic and cultural firestorm is going to be GLORIOUS!...like a climax fire that completely destroys the forest—down to its roots—because the natural order of things was suppressed for so long. So long, California.

John

Dec. 22, 2011, 5:38 p.m.

It is useless comments from trolls LIke PD Quig that truly illuminate the republican “mind”. Apparently its time for your mother to change the password on the computer. Bad boy!

John Freeman

Dec. 22, 2011, 5:53 p.m.

Hello Propublica,

Very good research, but I am sure what your point is?  No laws were broken, the commission worked as it should without the direct influence of state legislators the maps what much more sense than they did before.  As two the commissioners stated on KQED ‘s “This Week in Northern California” they made the map with an eye towards geographical proximity.  This means the commission thought that people who live in certain areas would have similar concerns.  And usually they do.  As to the fact that Democrats should only one or two more seats and that population of the Democrats and republicans increased nearly equally does not even pass the laugh test. The fastest growing group of California is the Latino population and the GOP actively dislikes this demographic group.  This is why they have an under 33% of population registration.  Just a few thing for you to think about.

Jason Olson

Dec. 22, 2011, 5:56 p.m.

This article is both correct in its facts and completely incorrect in it’s causation.

I helped write Prop 11.  In fact, my organization fought to specifically include language that barred creating districts for partisan favor.

Of course the parties attempted to influence the decision.  Of course they went to great lengths to do so.  Of course they used shills.  All of this in the article is correct.

What’s incorrect is the assertion that either Party was largely successful in these efforts.  Look at the districts themselves.  Compare them to the 2001 gerrymander.  Look at how many incumbents have retired rather than face a competitive race.  Look at the fact that Democratic Party incumbents find themselves in the same district.

The article also completely ignores that redistricting empowers independent voters, who have been largely locked out of the partisan process.  The redistricting and open primary will give independent voters in 2012 an opportunity to be political players. 

That is what is fundamentally different now.

Louis Carter

Dec. 22, 2011, 6 p.m.

This story reads like a lazy interpretation of the facts, rather than the type of hard-nosed investigative journalism that would actual helps folks understand the complexities of the redistricting process and how it can really be gamed.  Whatever conclusions Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson have drawn from their analysis of “internal memos, emails, interviews with participants and map analysis”, they clearly are overmatched by the subject matter here.  They don’t even come close to the tradition ways in which a restricting process can be manipulated let uncover the new approaches that would be need to undermine a process not controller by a legislative committee head-up by self-interested elected officials.

Nowhere in this piece do Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson make clear that there was any co-opting of any group that came before the commission, that there was a concerted effort on the part of any organization to collusion with the Democratic Party (having a conversation with your elected representative is not evidence of collusion, or that the redistricting process was statistically out of the ordinary (one contradictory quote that “Very little of this is due to demographic shifts . . . Republican areas actually had higher growth than Democratic ones. By the numbers, Republicans should have held at least the same number of seats, but they lost . . .” suggests that the outcomes are due exactly to demographic shifts if one believes that growth in a geographic areas is driven by population [i.e., demographic] shifts )

Olga Pierce and Jeff Larson claim that their analysis in ProPublica’s makes clear that Democratic incumbents are once again insulated from the will of the electorate . . . on the contrary; their analysis makes clear that they were overmatches by this story. . .

Absurdity

Dec. 22, 2011, 6:06 p.m.

It’s repugnant what these weasels did and it should be punished as fraud.  These people should go to jail and the redistricting thrown out.  This is work that should be done by a computer and verified by a public commission.

Didi Paano

Dec. 22, 2011, 6:39 p.m.

It’s interesting that when it comes to California, I’m a Republican (the Democrats are doing to this state exactly what the Republicans have done to the country), and when it comes to Federal government, I’m a Democrat.  Whenever a bill comes up that would put this state back in line….it’s a group of Democrats that block it!  It’s sad, and I agree that we should have ONE VOTE and get rid of the Electoral College…that’s the way the Founding Fathers meant it to me, I’m sure!!

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