On this page you'll find a discussion of how redistricting is done (e.g., by the party that controls the legislature, or by an independent panel), and of how gerrymandering and the creation of "safe districts" affects civility in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in state legislatures.
Does the practice of designing electoral districts to be "safe" for one party or the other increase polarization and demonization? Does it contribute to the inability of the parties to work together?
We will also consider the prospects and possibilities for reform.
EVIDENCE THAT IT IS A PROBLEM:
— Sean Theriault has found that it does, but that it only directly accounts for about one-third of the polarization that we see in congress.
EVIDENCE THAT IT IS NOT A PROBLEM:
—Masket, Winburn, and Wright find evidence that gerrymandering makes much less difference than is commonly supposed. Here is their abstract: [posted by haidt, jan 2012]
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.
[see also work by Rick Hansen, at UC-Irvine]
PROSPECTS AND POSSIBILITIES FOR REFORM:
—Thomas F. Schaller offers a brief review of the history and fate of multi-member districts
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