Jurisprudentially, the Supreme Court's reapportionment decisions have long been recognized as revolutionary. Administratively, they led to a wave of extraordinary court-supervised redistricting actions in the mid-1960s whose ostensible purpose was to eradicate then-massive levels of malapportionment. Politically, however, they seem not to have sparked much change.
Some claimed that court-mandated redistricting in the 1960s favored the Democrats, others that it favored the Republicans, but the nearconsensus of the literature has been that redistricting did not produce substantial net gains for either party. Some suspected that redistricting in the 1960s sparked the storied growth of the incumbency advantage, but the consensus of the literature is that it did not. Almost everyone expected a substantial change in policy, from a pro-rural to more prourban stance, but the near-consensus of the literature is that no such change was forthcoming (for a dissenting view, see McCubbins and Schwartz 1988).
This book has reexamined the electoral consequences of the reapportionment revolution. In this chapter, we first review three major proximal effects: the wave of redistricting in the 1960s, the change in the frequency and regularity of redistricting, and the change in the reversionary outcome of the redistricting process. We then tie these proximal changes to fundamental changes in the nature of electoral competition, both between Democrats and Republicans and between incumbents and challengers.
Redistricting in the 1960s
The first proximal effect of the Court's decisions was that most of the nation's congressional (and state legislative) districts were redrawn in a series of extraordinary redistricting actions.