At Rick (Hasen)’s request, I wanted to add just a bit to Rick (Pildes)’s original post on the new paper by Jowei Chen and David Cottrell, proposing a means to assess the net partisan consequences of congressional redistricting.
Given the inevitable shorthand descriptions of the paper in the media, a few short suggestions:
Most important, this paper does not mean that the benefits and detriments of the status quo are basically a wash. (Though some might draw that conclusion from the summary, I also don’t think that’s the implication that either Rick or the original authors would draw.) More on why, below the cut.
Riveting, must-read by Brody Mullins in the WSJ, with the subhead: “Evan Morris, a high-flying corporate lobbyist, is suspected of embezzling millions of dollars in what is shaping up to be a sprawling Washington influence scandal.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
“I thought I was doing something right for my country. When they gave me the sentence they just broke my heart, and they didn’t just break my heart, but I already knew my family was going to be broken, my kids especially,” Ortega said Monday during an interview at the jail, where she will remain for about a month until being transported to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility. “To me, it’s like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this. I just can’t.’ ”
As a green-card holder, Ortega says she never thought she couldn’t vote. While a resident of Dallas County, Ortega received a voter card after providing a valid driver’s license and Social Security card and being approved through the state process, according to Toni Pippins-Poole, the Dallas County elections administrator.
Watch the video interview
. This woman should be punished, but eight years for what appears to be a stupid mistake? Especially when Ethan Couch
, the drunk driving killer who claimed “affluenza” in Texas got a SUSPENDED sentence.
So reports Mark Binker.
This puts on hold the move of the Republican legislature to deprive the governor’s party of a majority on the state and local election boards, just as a Democratic governor came in. (The new rules, on hold, also gave Republicans the chair of new bipartisan boards in even years, when Presidential, Senate, and congressional elections all take place.)
This likely only was put on hold thanks to the fact that Democrats took back control of the state supreme court in the last election as well.
WMUR: “Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday he is unaware of widespread voter fraud in the Granite State, but he said he wants to work with President Donald Trump’s administration to ‘learn of any evidence they may have.'”
George Brown has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Virginia Journal of Criminal Law). Here is the abstract:
The article begins with a discussion of the critique in order to put McDonnell in context. In particular, I examine what is new in the debate over how the federal government should handle possible corruption, and the extent to which McDonnell is part of that shift. Part I explores the critique in depth. Part II analyzes the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell and its background. As a unanimous decision, McDonnell may be of great significance in how the legal system treats the federal government’s role. Part III offers some speculation on the federal anticorruption enterprise going forward.
That is the finding of an important new paper co-authored by one of the leading social science experts on districting, Professor Jowei Chen. In recent years, a debate has been taking place over whether it is particularly aggressive Republican gerrymandering in the 2010 round of redistricting or increasing geographic sorting of voters by partisan affiliation that explains the Republican “advantage” in the House — the fact that Republicans gain a larger percentage of House seats than their nationwide share of votes in House elections.
Chen and David Cottrell frame their inquiry as an effort to answer how many seats each party would control in the complete absence of gerrymandering. I won’t explain their full methodology here, but it basically consists of doing hundreds of computer simulations to measure the election results in differently designed districts, in which the building blocks are election-return results from the 2008 presidential election, all the way down to the Census block level. The computer is then told to start randomly at different points in the state and design equally populated, geographically continuous, and compact districts. The simulations do not take partisan or racial information into account. This method of using thousands of computer simulated districting plans based on objective criteria is increasingly being offered by experts, including Chen, in litigation.
Their bottom line finding is that if congressional “districts were drawn randomly with respect to partisanship and race, Republicans would only expect to lose a single seat in Congress to the Democrats.”
They do find that there are modest partisan gains from gerrymandering in individual states. But the gains to each party cancel out, in their analysis. Thus, they find that Republicans gain about five seats in states in which they controlled the redistricting process in this cycle. In states Democrats controlled, they gained about three seats. And once race is taken into account through the way the requirements of the VRA pre-clearance process demanded preservation of VRA districts, the Democrats gained another 1.75 seats compared to what a process based just on contiguity, compactness, and equal population would tend to produce.
This is certainly not the last word on this important subject. Any complex study of this sort poses many methodological issues. And their findings for congressional districts do not necessarily mean that gerrymandering has not made a significant difference for state legislative elections. But this study provides one of the most important counters to the argument that partisan gerrymandering plays a major role in the current composition of the House.
Further debates and discussions of this issue, including in the media, are going to have to take account of this important new analysis. It is consistent with what at least some other social scientists, using different approaches, have also concluded about the limited effects of gerrymandering on the composition of the House.
Justin Elliott for ProPublica.
Glenn Kessler Fact Checker column in WaPo:
Stephanopoulos is right. The White House continues to provide zero evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud. Officials instead retreat to the same bogus talking points that have been repeatedly shown to be false.
It’s pretty shameless to cite research in a way that even the researcher says is inappropriate, and yet Miller keeps saying 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote. The Republican governor of New Hampshire has admitted that he was wrong to say buses of illegal voters voted in the election, and yet Miller shamelessly suggests that is the case. Miller cites a supposed expert on voter fraud, Kobach, who has been mocked for failing to prove his own claims of voter fraud. Miller also repeats a claim about people being registered to vote in two states, even though that is not an example of voter fraud.
Astonishing video full of lies and unsubstantiated (and unproven) statements.
(A bit from Politifact.)
More evidence the “Pence Commission” on voter fraud will be a sham (here‘s what a fair commission would look like).
And most chilling is Miller referring to DOJ as getting ready to crack down on this non-existent fraud, making it appear more likely this will be an excuse to suppress the votes of those likely to vote for Democrats.
A.P. Turead Jr. (the first black student to attend LSU) writes:
In 1953, I integrated Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. My admission, as the first black student on a campus today serving more than 30,000 students, was possible after my father and namesake, civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud Sr., successfully challenged LSU’s discriminatory admissions policies.
That lawsuit and more filed by my father, alongside Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights advocates, paved the way for the end of legally sanctioned American apartheid in many public institutions in Louisiana. Regrettably, more than 50 years after we fought to dismantle racial segregation in my home state, another challenge has to be waged to bring racial inclusion to another Louisiana public institution — the 32nd Judicial District Court, which serves Terrebonne Parish.
“I’m a law & order person and support voter ID. But this sentence is nuts, & it’s unseemly for the TX Governor to be chest-beating about it.”
Bill Kristol on Twitter, responding to TX Gov. Greg Abbott tweet
New blog post at the Library of Congress:
Gerrymandering is a current political topic today; as always, it is usually initiated by the incumbents to retain or increase their power. When gerrymandering is taught in U.S. history classes, it is likely students will be shown a picture of the original political cartoon drawn by Elkanah Tisdale for the Gazette and held here at the Library of Congress. Gerry did not win the 1812 election for his home district despite the reapportionment. He did, however, go on to become James Madison’s second vice president later in 1812.
Michael Wines for the NYT:
Despite repeated statements by Republican political leaders that American elections are rife with illegal voting, credible reports of fraud have been hard to find and convictions rarer still.
That may help explain the unusually heavy penalty imposed on Rosa Maria Ortega, 37, a permanent resident and a mother of four who lives outside Dallas. On Thursday, a Fort Worth judge sentenced her to eight years in prison — and almost certainly deportation later — after she voted illegally in elections in 2012 and 2014.
The sentence for Ms. Ortega, who was brought to this country by her mother as an infant, “shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure,” Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, said in a statement. Her lawyer called it an egregious overreaction, made to score political points, against someone who wrongly believed she was eligible to vote.
“She has a sixth-grade education. She didn’t know she wasn’t legal,” said Ms. Ortega’s lawyer, Clark Birdsall, who once oversaw voter fraud prosecutions in neighboring Dallas County. “She can own property; she can serve in the military; she can get a job; she can pay taxes. But she can’t vote, and she didn’t know that.”
That’s the suggestion in this NYT piece:
Mr. Strange proved a central, if quiet, figure in the fallout, and the Legislature suspended its inquiry at his request when he said his office was doing “related work.”
On Thursday, Mr. Strange noted that he had never said specifically that Mr. Bentley was a target of his office, and the governor, who will name Mr. Strange’s successor as attorney general, denied any impropriety in his selection.
Although many Republicans in Alabama cheered Mr. Strange’s appointment, his action in connection with the governor’s scandal led to some skepticism in Montgomery ahead of a special election for the Senate seat that Mr. Bentley’s office said would be held in 2018.
“It’s grimly problematic that the attorney general who blocked the impeachment investigation and who has not gone forward with the Bentley criminal investigation is rewarded with the U.S. Senate appointment,” said the state auditor, Jim Zeigler, a Republican who is a frequent critic of the governor. “There will be a challenger to Luther Strange in the special Senate election, and this will be an issue. His manipulation against any Bentley investigation will be an issue.”
Michigan AFL-CIO v. Schuette, with opinion by Judge Sutton.
My favorite line: “As the unions read this language, it explains why there was no First Amendment burden in Ysursa, Pizza, or Bailey, where the government was a regulator and employer, and why there is a burden here where the government has erected a ‘negative; obstacle to the unions’ ability to raise political funds. But this slice of Pizza does not tell the whole story.”
Bernie Grofman at The Monkey Cage (and to be clear, the Supreme Court has not yet agreed to hear any case raising these issues):
If, in 2017, the court does not specify a manageable standard for identifying unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering, “partisanship gone wild” will continue indefinitely, leaving us with a never-ending political nightmare: congressional delegations whose partisan balance is frozen into place regardless of changes in the preferences of the voters.
Stopping egregious gerrymandering is not a partisan issue; it benefits Republicans right now, but in the past it has advantaged Democrats. Regardless of which political party gains, the loser is U.S. democracy.
I explained the other day why Judge Gorsuch’s mild criticism of Pres. Trump’s statements about judges made for smart politics: mild enough so that Trump would not take offense, but strong enough to give him something credible to say when pushed by Democrats at upcoming hearings on Trump. I suggested the remarks were vetted before he said them, despite the President saying the remarks (reported by Sen. Blumenthal) were not true. (Trump said this after those shepherding J. Gorsuch confirmed the remarks).
Well the NY Times seems to confirm both the vetting and Trump interfering with the choreography:
The White House’s statements upended what had appeared to be a carefully calculated effort by Judge Gorsuch to gently distance himself from Mr. Trump’s attacks — what some observers saw as an attempt to blunt Democrats’ concerns about whether the judge would stand up to what they call Mr. Trump’s overreach.
While Judge Gorsuch may be working to allay those concerns — under the current Senate rules, he needs some Democratic support to be confirmed — Mr. Trump’s Twitter post and Mr. Spicer’s denials confirmed the worst suspicions of Democrats who were already bent on transforming the process into a referendum on the president….
Veterans of the Supreme Court confirmation process note that the ritual of private meetings with senators is almost completely staged for minimum controversy and maximum impact, with questions discussed in advance, answers honed and rehearsed, and no remark made unless it is intended to withstand public scrutiny.
“You don’t want any surprises, so there’s nothing that you don’t prepare for going into a meeting,” said Stephanie Cutter, a top Obama administration official who shepherded the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “They knew this question would be coming, and they would have practiced an answer, and this was what he planned to say.”
Ms. Cutter recalled preparing Justice Sotomayor for a meeting with Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in which she worked to explain her remarks that that a “wise Latina woman” could reach a “better” decision than a white man. Mr. Leahy left the meeting and promptly repeated the explanation to the assembled reporters, an effort to dispense with the issue before she came before the Senate for confirmation hearings.
“This might have been an attempt to make him look more independent,” Ms. Cutter said of Judge Gorsuch. “He could have created a story line about standing up to Trump.”
But the denials on Thursday were at odds with that narrative. Democrats were quick to jump on them as proof that Judge Gorsuch lacked judicial independence.
McElwee, Rhodes, and Schaffner in Slate:
The prospect of big donors warping the political system loomed large in the 2016 election. On the left, Bernie Sanders warned of an “oligarchic society” in which big donors dictated the political agenda. On the right, Donald Trump mocked his opponents as “puppets” of the Koch brothers. Now that Trump is filling his administration with an unprecedented number of donors, their influence over politics is even more deserving of study. Yet so far there has been no systematic research into the demographic makeup and political views of the wealthiest donors. Who are they? What are their politics?
Our research suggests the donor class is a stratified group that does not represent the diversity of America and is politically to the right of the general population. Trump’s donors were incredibly white and extremely male: 95 percent were white, and 64 percent were white men. Hillary Clinton, who had more gender diversity among her donors, still had an overwhelmingly white donor pool. Though money in politics is normally considered to be an issue tied to class (and it is!) our new report, Whose Voice, Whose Choice?, shows that the influence of a white, wealthy, and male donor class could impede progress on gender and racial equity.
Edwards, Crespin, Williamson, and Palmer with a new article in the Journal of Politics.
Paul Jorgensen, Geeboo Song and Michael Jones with new article in Social Science Quarterly.
Matt Weil of the Bipartisan Policy Center makes the case why it would be absolutely crazy to eliminate the only federal agency looking at issues like the reliability of voting machines and maintaining accurate voter registration lists.
This should be a nonpartisan issue. But alas little is these days.