Provocative Comments from Bruce Cain on the Efficiency Gap, Post-Gill

There’s a lengthy interview on the partisan gerrymandering cases with Professor Bruce Cain, in Pacific StandardThis part in particular jumped out at me:

Why was the efficiency gap promoted by the plaintiffs in Gill, and in the press lately, as a good measure of partisan gerrymandering?

Bruce Cain.

Bruce Cain.

(Photo: Stanford University)

The reality is, people [academics] come up with these measures, and then they fall in love with them, and then they don’t openly tell you guys in the press what the disadvantages of these measures are. But the rest of us in the redistricting community have discussed it in private, and we know what the flaws are. But there’s a conspiracy among the reform community to not share that information openly because they’re very anxious to get Mr. Kennedy, who’s on the court, to make a decision before he retires [at the end of July].

The motto in the reform community has been “We’ll adopt an imperfect measure and then we’ll fix it later.” Now you’ll start seeing articles that criticize and explain the flaws of the efficiency gap that were not published prior to the Supreme Court decision, because there’s a conspiracy to not getting in the way of finally getting a decision on political gerrymandering.

We’re being lazy. We should be working on how to figure out how to measure, and to develop a standard. And the best way to do it is at the base level, and the best opportunity is to develop it locally. But you know, you get some lawyers and some reform groups that want to—either out of idealism or enthusiasm—want the courts to [develop a standard]. And the courts are saying: “Well, we’re not capable of doing this. You guys have to evolve this.”


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