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The Gerrymanderers Are Coming! Legislative Redistricting Won't Affect Competition or Polarization Much, No Matter Who Does It

  • Seth E. Masket (a1), Jonathan Winburn (a2) and Gerald C. Wright (a3)

Redistricting received substantial attention in the popular media in 2011, as states redrew state legislative and congressional district boundaries. Many reformers continue to argue for a de-politicization of the redistricting process, claiming that partisan redistricting is responsible for declining electoral competition and increasing legislative polarization. Our analysis of evidence from state legislatures during the last decade suggests that the effects of partisan redistricting on competition and polarization are small, considerably more nuanced than reformers would suggest, and overwhelmed by other aspects of the political environment.

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Alan I. Abramowitz , Brad Alexander , and Matthew Gunning . 2006. “Incumbency, Redistricting, and the Decline of Competition in U.S. House Elections.” Journal of Politics 68: 7588.

Richard Forgette , Andrew Garner , and John Winkle . 2009. “Do Redistricting Principles and Practices Affect U.S. State Legislative Electoral Competition?State Politics and Policy Quarterly 9: 151–75.

Steven Hill . 2002. “Behind Closed Doors: The Recurring Plague of Redistricting and the Politics of Geography.” National Civic Review 91: 317–30.

David Lublin , and Michael P. McDonald . 2006. “Is It Time to Draw the Line? The Impact of Redistricting on Competition in State House Elections,Election Law Journal 5: 144–57.

Michael P. McDonald 2004. “A Comparative Analysis of Redistricting Institutions in the United States, 2001–02.” State Politics and Policy Quarterly 4: 371–95.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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