Last week I talked about how Pennsylvania's GOP-gerrymandered congressional districts were found in violation of the state's constitution, and how the state's Supreme Court ordered a full redraw of the map ahead of the November elections. The US Supreme Court denied the GOP's request to stay the order, to which the GOP then floated the idea of impeaching and removing all the state Supreme Court justices who ruled against the Republicans that control the state legislature.
They still might end up doing that, but it won't save them from the clock. Last Friday's deadline passed and the GOP vomited out a map that was literally just as bad as the current one. Chris Ingraham at the Washington Post shows us the numbers:
The new districts generally respect county and municipal boundaries and don't “wander seemingly arbitrarily across Pennsylvania,” as the state's Supreme Court wrote. Unfortunately for Pennsylvania voters, the new districts show just as much partisan bias as the old ones.
You can demonstrate this using the precinct-level results of the 2016 presidential election: See which precincts are assigned to which districts under the new map, use those assignments to calculate the total presidential vote in each of the new districts and compare those figures with the vote totals under the old districts. That will give you a good sense of how the partisan makeup of the new districts compares to the old ones.
Brian Amos, a redistricting expert at the University of Florida, has done exactly that. Amos combined the new district maps with precinct-level returns compiled by cartographers Nathaniel Kelso and Michal Migurski.
The similarities are striking: In 2016, Donald Trump received more votes than Hillary Clinton in 12 out of Pennsylvania's 18 districts. Under the Republicans' new map, Trump would similarly outperform Clinton in exactly 12 districts.
Not only that, but the vote margins in each district would be virtually identical. The chart below plots, for each district, the vote margins in 2016 vs. the margins that would result from the Republicans' new map. Across all 18 districts, the average difference in vote margins between the old and new map would be a little over four percentage points.
From a partisan standpoint, in other words, the new map is almost exactly like the old one. Under the existing map, Democratic House candidates have routinely received roughly 50 percent of the statewide popular House vote but only five of the state's 18 House seats. The new map is unlikely to change that.
Today, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf, tossed the GOP's crapass homework in the garbage can, meaning that unless something totally out of the blue happens, the state's Supreme Court will make good on their threat to draw the map themselves.
Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor Tom Wolf on Tuesday rejected a new proposed map for the state’s congressional districts, saying the state’s Republican-controlled legislature submitted an unconstitutional gerrymander.
“Partisan gerrymandering weakens citizen power, promotes gridlock and stifles meaningful reform,” Governor Wolf said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “As non-partisan analysts have already said, their map maintains a similar partisan advantage by employing many of the same unconstitutional tactics present in their 2011 map.”
Republican leadership submitted the redrawn map to Wolf on Friday. From there, Wolf had until this Thursday to to tell the state Supreme Court whether he approved of the map; and if he did, it would be enacted.
Citing a number of nonpartisan analysts on Tuesday, however, Wolf said: “Like the 2011 map, the map submitted to my office by Republican leaders is still a gerrymander. Their map clearly seeks to benefit one political party, which is the essence of why the court found the current map to be unconstitutional."
We'll see how the new map goes, and I expect the GOP to fight it every step of the way, but it can't be much worse than the current map, which had Democrats gain a slight majority of votes in 2016 House races in the state, but Republicans still won 13 of 18 districts.
By the way, the new map the Pennsylvania GOP proposed?
It packs all of Pittsburgh's blue voters into one blue district and Philly's into four, leaving one suburban swing blue district and three red ones on the eastern side of the state. The Pennsyltucky area in the middle, dead red. Nine GOP districts with double digit advantages, and six of those districts having 20-point plus advantages. Even if voters preferred Democrats by ten points in the state, the best the Dems could ever hope to do under this map would be to break even. The default would be a 12-6 split.
So yeah, I'm glad this is happening, and it needs to happen in more states.