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Gerrymandering the States
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Book description

State legislatures are tasked with drawing state and federal districts and administering election law, among many other responsibilities. Yet state legislatures are themselves gerrymandered. This book examines how, why, and with what consequences, drawing on an original dataset of ninety-five state legislative maps from before and after 2011 redistricting. Identifying the institutional, political, and geographic determinants of gerrymandering, the authors find that Republican gerrymandering increased dramatically after the 2011 redistricting and bias was most extreme in states with racial segregation where Republicans drew the maps. This bias has had long-term consequences. For instance, states with the most extreme Republican gerrymandering were more likely to pass laws that restricted voting rights and undermined public health, and they were less likely to respond to COVID-19. The authors examine the implications for American democracy and for the balance of power between federal and state government; they also offer empirically grounded recommendations for reform.

Reviews

‘Gerrymandering the States is an astute and insightful analysis of the empirical, normative, and practical aspects of the politics of redistricting. As a clear-headed guide to the intricacies and stakes involved in the new round of redistricting after the 2020 census, and with ideas about how to reduce opportunities for partisan mischief, it could not be timelier. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand or influence this process.'

Gary Jacobson - University of California, San Diego

‘Gerrymandering the States engages the thorny thicket of redistricting, directly taking on the practice as a fundamental assault on the principles of democracy. The question of whether the source of the gerrymandering problem is standards, process, or people is engaged, through a combination of thorough and systematic data analysis, persuasive cases, and the application of legal and social science theory. Keena, Latner, McGann, and Smith offer a forceful and effective answer – it is process that matters more so than criteria, because people are the source of the gerrymandering problem. Anyone drawing districts or hoping to reform how we draw districts should lean into the hard edge of their desk and read this work; lessons for saving representative democracy reside herein.'

Keith Gaddie - University of Oklahoma

‘The authors' previous book, Gerrymandering in America, was a comprehensive look at congressional redistricting in terms of the legal rules, the political machinations, and the partisan consequences. Gerrymandering the States is even more ambitious because it tells the story of the past decade of redistricting at the state legislative level. With the Supreme Court's abdication in Rucho of any federal role in preventing partisan gerrymandering, and the large number of states under trifecta (one-party) control where partisanship can be given free rein, the next round of redistricting should see the most egregious partisan gerrymandering ever. The battle for America's political future will be fought in state legislatures and state courts and this book gives its readers the necessary knowledge to understand that struggle.'

Bernard Grofman - University of California, Irvine

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