Data Wonk

Right Wing Seeks to End Democracy?

Their support for Wisconsin gerrymander part of a disturbing international trend.

By - Aug 23rd, 2017 03:50 pm

How to Steal an election. Image by Steven Nass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

How to Steal an election. Image by Steven Nass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

It is no secret that democracy is under stress in the early 21st century, both in America and globally. The US has a president who repeatedly expresses his admiration for foreign dictators and extremist groups.

The fragility of democracy is underlined by posts on the home website of Freedom House as I write this column. Internationally it reports on the “illegal grab of legislative powers by the constitutional assembly”—“part of Venezuelan President Maduro’s efforts to silence all dissent and shore up a dictatorship,” the imprisoning of democracy activists in Hong Kong, the assault on press freedom in Poland, and the new strategies of repression in democratic countries themselves.

How does democracy end? Classically, with a military coup. But in a disturbing number of cases, it commits suicide, as a democratically-elected group, once in power, changes the rules to entrench itself in power.

In a recent court brief two eminent political scientists describe one of the entrenchment tools, partisan gerrymandering:

Left unchecked, partisan gerrymandering fundamentally undermines our democracy. It is a basic tenet of fair elections that the parties must play by the same rules. But a partisan gerrymander violates that core principle: Under a successful partisan gerrymander, one party needs fewer votes to win representation than the other party. A partisan gerrymander places unequal burdens on voters’ opportunity to elect their representatives, based on the party with which they associate. And where the partisan gerrymander is unresponsive to electoral shifts, only the courts can provide a remedy.

Despite this threat to democracy, groups that support partisan gerrymandering–at least when done for the benefit of the party they support—are easy to spot. Below is a list of the groups that submitted “friend of the court” briefs in support of the Wisconsin gerrymander, Act 43. These were sent to the US Supreme Court in anticipation of its October 3 argument.

Groups Who Support the Wisconsin Gerrymander

  • American Civil Rights Union
  • Judicial Watch, Inc. and Allied Educational Foundation
  • Majority Leader and Temporary President of the New York State Senate and members of the Majority Coalition
  • National Republican Congressional Committee
  • Republican National Committee
  • Republican State Leadership Committee
  • Southeastern Legal Foundation
  • States of Texas, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah
  • Tennessee State Senators
  • Legacy Foundation
  • Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty
  • Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
  • Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly

That the two dozen states and other organizations represented were willing to stand up for gerrymandering represents the triumph of partisanship over devotion to democracy. While several of the organizations represented describe themselves as “non-partisan,” it is doubtful they would have endorsed a Democratic-favoring gerrymander. (The briefs themselves can be downloaded from the Campaign Legal Center website.)

I find this a very depressing collection. Much of the right-wing seems to have adopted the attitude that gaining and holding power is more important than respect for democracy.

In ruling against Act 43, the federal district court adopted a three-part test to identify whether a redistricting plan is an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. It concluded “that the First Amendment and the Equal Protection clause prohibit a redistricting scheme which (1) is intended to place a severe impediment on the effectiveness of the votes of individual citizens on the basis of their political affiliation, (2) has that effect, and (3) cannot be justified on other, legitimate legislative grounds.”

In his appeal to the US Supreme Court, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel complained that this test came as a surprise to him. “Are Defendants entitled, at a minimum, to present additional evidence showing that they would have prevailed under the district court’s test, which the court announced only after the record had closed?” he asked. If it truly came as a surprise, Schimel is confessing to incompetence at reading the direction the court was likely to take.

What additional evidence could Schimel offer? Once the court adopted its three-prong test, Act 43 was doomed. Wisconsin’s gerrymander fails all three parts of the court’s test. This was clear from testimony of the very people who had worked to develop the district maps.

In drafting Act 43, the Wisconsin legislature’s Republican leadership hired Keith Gaddie, a political scientist from the University of Oklahoma, to assess the maps drawn by staff members of the Republican caucus. Gaddie testified that he measured each map’s conformance to “the so-called good government principles of redistricting,” such as the appropriate racial and/or political make-up of legislative and congressional districts in Wisconsin, compactness, and the integrity of county and city boundaries.

He also built a regression model that allowed him to test the partisan makeup and performance of districts in the Assembly maps that the drafters passed on to him. The staff members then proceeded to choose the map with the greatest Republican advantage, according to Gaddie’s analysis. Given this history, it is hard to see what additional evidence would allow Act 43 to pass the circuit court’s test.

Among the amicus briefs to the US Supreme Court is one from two political scientists, Bernard Grofman of the University of California at Irvine and Keith Gaddie. Both have extensive experience with redistricting cases, in addition to Gaddie’s role as a consultant on Act 43.

Having studied redistricting from both sides, they are no fans of partisan gerrymandering. The quote with which I opened this column is from their brief.

Grofman and Gaddie argue that partisan gerrymandering has become steadily easier to quantify. This is partly because of advances in political science and partly due to vastly increased computer power allowing the quick generation of hundreds of possible district maps. This same advance increases the ability to create a map that favors one party over the other, without resorting to the odd-shaped district that were typical of gerrymanders of the past.

Grofman and Gaddie propose a three-part standard, similar but not identical to the standard used by the circuit court.  The first element is partisan asymmetry, “based on the idea that a citizen’s representational rights must not depend on the party with which he chooses to affiliate.” The next two graphs demonstrate how much Act 43 increased Wisconsin asymmetry to favor Republicans.

The first is based on the 2008 election whose districts were designed by a panel of federal judges. It is not perfectly symmetric; if each party won half the votes, Democrats would have won 48 seats, compared to 51 for the Republicans.

Seats Won as % of Vote--2008

Seats Won as % of Vote–2008

Compare this to the story told by the three statewide elections since Act 43. The gerrymander opened a huge gap between the ability of Republicans and Democrats to convert their votes into seats. With each party receiving half the votes, Republicans will win around 60 seats to Democrats’ 39.

Seats Won as % of Vote Post-gerrymander

Seats Won as % of Vote Post-gerrymander

The second element in Grofman and Gaddie’s proposed test is lack of responsiveness. When voters change their allegiances, does their representation also change? The plot of the post-Act 43 elections shows the durability of the Republican advantage. It persisted whether the election favored Republicans (2014), favored Democrats (2012), or was almost tied (2016).

The third element in Grofman and Gaddie’s proposed test is causation. It requires that the partisan bias must be intentional, rather than the natural byproduct of ordinary districting practices or of chance. The history of Act 43, with a steady progression of maps with a greater and greater partisan bias towards Republican domination would seem to settle the question of causation.

After reviewing past gerrymandering cases, Grofman and Gaddie conclude that “the statistical tools for detecting and measuring partisan gerrymanders have improved greatly since the Court last considered partisan gerrymandering in LULAC (in 2006). Courts—assisted by competent experts—can now reliably and accurately identify and measure the impact of partisan gerrymanders.”

I find the idea of symmetry an attractive one, because it comports with American democratic values. In contrast to some other countries, such as Russia, we expect courts to not favor people based on how the currently governing leader views them. This concept is inherent in the quote attributed to John Adams, that we are a “government of laws, and not of men.”

It is sometimes argued that turning redistricting over to legislators is an exercise in democracy. Instead as Wisconsin amply demonstrates, it creates an obvious conflict of interest. The steady improvement in measuring partisan bias means that situation will steadily worsen if the courts refuse to intervene. By the same token, this improvement in measurement offers the courts exactly the means they need to manage this threat to democracy.

Categories: Data Wonk, Politics

74 thoughts on “Data Wonk: Right Wing Seeks to End Democracy?”

  1. George Mitchell says:

    Bruce diminishes his argument by seeming to equate Act 43 with (1) an “illegal grab of legislative powers by the constitutional assembly”—“part of Venezuelan President Maduro’s efforts to silence all dissent and shore up a dictatorship,” (2) the imprisoning of democracy activists in Hong Kong,(3) the assault on press freedom in Poland…”

    There are reasoned arguments for Act 43. Rick Esenberg’s, as one illustration. Bruce should attempt to rebut or refute them. Instead he collectively suggests that parties in the current case are part of an effort to “end democracy.” Really? End it?

  2. Vincent Hanna says:

    George do you support political parties drawing maps or do you think there’s a better way?

  3. Jason troll says:

    I live in Wisconsin so I support it. Same problem in Illinois but conveniently not mentioned must be because it favos Democrats.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    It’s not mentioned because we don’t live in Illinois (you are the king of getting off-topic). It should apply everywhere and everyone knows Democrats do this too, including in Illinois, they just don’t do it nearly as much as Republicans. Not even close.

  5. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Gerry mander started in 1800s. In Wisconsin it was under Tony Earl, so the GOP did the best possible reapportionment under the law. It was how people in Wisconsin feel about Obama and the Left.
    Across the country in 35 states, the Left has been thrown out. The ones Left like Conn., Ill. California are total diapers (disasters) and so is Milwaukee, MPS.
    The Left cannot run anything except the Alt left and the Antifa under Soros who are ax wielding thugs with masks, that throw pee onto our cops. That is the extent of the abilities of the Left

  6. Jim says:

    There is a flaw in the premises of this argument and it does not depend on if you are for or against gerrymandering.

    It lies in the very first graph showing an even layout of red and blue squares. There may in fact be more “blue squares” in reality, but they are certainly not evenly distributed in our state or our country. Democrats are more highly concentrated in large cities. This in not a political statement it is merely the reality of how the Republican and Democrat parties are physically and geographically aligned in the US.

    Start with a layout – same ratios as above but this time make a large circle of blue squares in the middle. Then try to make a apportionment that does not give the red squares an advantage. It is almost impossible without having a non contiguous district. At some point you are going to have to have an all blue group of squares in the middle, which will give an advantage to a red district on the fringe of the blue circle.

    Classic Data Wonk – start with an objective and then find data to show that your objective is true. It is easy when you start with a flawed premises.

  7. Bill Kurtz says:

    The arguments by those supporting gerrymandering are a classic example of how right-wing lawmakers and judges operate: Set your objective first, then design or interpret laws to accomplish them, regardless of how many precedents you ignore along the way.

  8. David says:

    There is a very simple concept that the conservative commentators in this thread are loudly ignoring. All person’s votes should be equal. In Wisconsin this is not true and it has become substantially less true since the most recent Republican led redistricting. For democrats to be in power in this state they can’t just win a simple majority of the popular vote, they have to win it by A LOT. The issue is made worse by the current, winner take all state of politics in this country where the majority party gets everything it wants the and minority party gets none of what it wants.

    If you take an objective, mathematically driven look at redistricting across the country you’ll see that Republicans gerrymander much more often than Democrats; but really it doesn’t matter. Gerrymandering is wrong. It makes our democracy worse no matter what party does it and we should eliminate it wherever it exists.

  9. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Thanks Bill, love to hear the Left whine, about things cause the voters across the country have tossed you into the dust bin of history. The only live ones you have: AntiFa, Alt left burn, ruin, break windows, throw piss on our cops, wear hoods like KKK, attack with ax handles like Maddox and wear armor helmets to peaceful protests and then blame Bush and trump. You guys are hilarious, what you are doing to wreck your selves like the Left in UK..

  10. Uff da says:

    WCD, the left cast more votes than the right in the last presidential election… so maybe you’re the one who will tossed into the dust bin with your bigoted buddies on the right. (since you are just blindly lumping groups of people together I’ll do the same and assume you are a bigoted, sexist, racist, nazi, pervert with a third grade reading level) FYI, you even misspelled your damn name.

  11. dk mke says:

    Concentration is just a function of land area. It has nothing to do with how the value of one voter compares to another.

  12. dk mke says:

    David said it well. Gerrymandering is wrong. I don’t care about the historical contests, who did it first, best, worst, last. I just don’t care. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We have the power to make our elections fairer. Be the flag wavers you purport to be and support democracy!

  13. Jon Erik Kingstad says:

    The article asks whether the partisan gerrymandering by the Wisconsin legislature reflects an inner drive for a single party state, a la Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia or the People’s Republic of China. The comments of the conservatives in this thread apparently think it’s a good idea. Notice that the author of the article differentiates the slow accretion of power by one party that is drifting toward a one party state from states in which democratic rule has been ousted by military coup d’etat. Rule by a junta or single dictator or cabal of plutocrats all means the end of pluralism and democratic rule. It’s not surprising to me that the conservative commenters above are not just all OK about single party rule but rather look for rationalizations about how feckless the “left” is or has been. As if any policies of the last 37 years had been any idea of the “left.” I submit that if the “left” had any real clout in this country, we would have had single payer health care fifty years ago and we would not spend endless hours debating the effectiveness of another tax-cut for the rich, after the public forgot about all the benefits of the last one which never materialized. That is, except for the 10% of the population whose share of the wealth and income of the USA has grown larger as the income and wealth of the other 90% has declined.

    Partisan and often racially motivated gerrymandering along with the campaign finance system, broken down by a right-wing Supreme Court which has defined “money as speech” to ensure rigged elections that perpetuate the all-but-in-name single party state, are all the evidence that anyone needs to know that we’re not on our way; we’re already there.

  14. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Dgiest is my copyrighted name. Trump is president so what. Our country goes on electoral votes not the fact that two states had a few more votes. It is the “United ” States of America for those that do not know how to read.
    Fact is that there are 50 states and 35 controlled by GOP. Only 6 total controlled by the left. In Wisconsin it is disaster, the last eight years before Walker, Milwaukee worse disaster. Maybe you should move to Cuba and/Or venezuela and you will be much happier.

  15. Jim says:

    dk Mike,
    Concentration is not just a function of land it is a function of geometry. Yes, you can draw districts to one advantage or another, but you are starting with an uneven playing field. I am not making a political case here – just noting that the author completely ignores this fact which is what leads to accusations of bias in the media.

    Districts by law need to be contiguous – therefore having a large concentration of one population within a small area makes it hard to have an even distribution of each side within one contiguous district. You do not have to just take my word for it – just get out a sheet of graph paper and try it out.

    A similar thing happens on a national level. Voters in Wyoming have much more voting power than voters in California. It is just a mathematical fact based upon the fact that every state has 2 senators. Every vote is not equal, it never has been and it was designed that way to balance the power of smaller states with those of larger states. It gives minority groups (those in small states) protective power. Should we start over and make every state equal in population? After that should make every state have an equal number of each party? We live in a Republic, not a Democracy.

    Before you decry this think of what would happen if we just used the popular votes – all of the power and decision making in this country would benefit the large states on the coasts. Ship lake Michigan water to California? Sure. Lower corn subsidies, or milk subsidies? Sure. Why not – the voters in the large cities on the coasts would be making those decisions for us. Even on a state level think about what would happen if we just had at-large representatives, certain minority groups would never have their votes count as they would not be able to concentrate their votes and elect a representative of their background.

    Redistricting rules prohibit diluting minority districts – the unwilling consequence creates the problem we have – highly concentrated districts surrounded by physically larger districts of lower concentrations. This leads to unequal voting power that exists before any political gerrymandering begins. Again the author completely ignores this – it is a BIASED article.

  16. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Erik: Only reason we have one party state is that the Left cannot put up any candidates that are not idiots and their platforms do not interest the working people of Wisconsin only the Mad/Milwaukee axis.

  17. Dave Reid says:

    I’d suggest taking a look at this Auto-Redistrict software It addresses the contiguous and compactness (in fact all constitutional requirements) concerns while minimizing the gerrymander. It can draw considerably fairer maps than have been pushed through across the country. It’s almost like those maps were purposely created to be unfair.

  18. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Where is that in the constitution?

  19. happyjack27 says:

    Nice essay, Bruce. I have it on good authority that briefs in support of Appellees (plaintiffs),will be filled around labor day. And in greater numbers than the briefs in support of Appellants (defendants).

  20. happyjack27 says:

    Jim, Wisconsin’s present gerrymander is well in excess of both historical levels and the natural packing effect you speak of, and furthermore the natural packing effect can be easily nullified by having a computer algorithm run a multi-objective heuristic optimization algorithm. You completely ignore this – it is a BIASED comment.

  21. happyjack27 says:

    Jim, read this:

    That’s from the very guy who made the natural packing effect famous – Jowei Chen.

    Just one little excerpt from it:

    “Yet the Act 43 plan creates a total of 56 Republican-leaning Assembly districts, as
    measured by 2012 presidential vote share. This total is far outside of the range of partisan
    outcomes observed in the simulations, indicating that the Act 43 plan was the product of an
    intentional effort to craft more Republican-leaning districts than was possible under a partisanneutral
    map-drawing process following traditional districting criteria. As before, the fact that
    Act 43 preserved intact far fewer counties than any of the simulated plans suggests that the Act
    43 Assembly plan had to violate the traditional districting principle of respecting county
    boundaries in order to achieve 56 Republican-leaning districts, an extremely improbable

  22. happyjack27 says:

    @George Mitchell – re: “There are reasoned arguments for Act 43.” Also read that above paper.

  23. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Happy jack; now right that into a constitutional amendment

  24. happyjack27 says:

    Write what into the Constitution? Facts about the current Wisconsin assembly districts? Do you even know what the Constitution is? It’s a policy document not a fact sheet about the current Wisconsin assembly districts.

  25. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    It is the recipe for doing reapportionments; dummies. It will never change.

  26. happyjack27 says:

    I think you meant to comment on a different article there… this is about the distribution of the partisan composition of districts, not the distribution of population among districts.

  27. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    I understand what we were talking about I worked on reapportionment with Allen Busby way back to 1970. It is impossible to write partisan composition into districts cause we cannot id them and it changes all the time. “You guys are peeing up a rope.”

  28. Jason Troll says:

    This article would never been written if the Democrats had a 2-1 advantage in the assembly and a four seat advantage in the Senate. This scenario would be a just democracy. Instead, the left brings up Republican insurrection, and how we need bipartisan. In reality all the Democrats care about is power. Power to dole out other peoples money.

  29. happyjack27 says:

    “It is impossible to write partisan composition into districts cause we cannot id them and it changes all the time.”, it would apply to the standard of making districts equal population as well, and yet, we reapportion….

  30. Vincent Hanna says:

    Yes the GOP gerrymanders but they don’t care at all about power Troll. Just helping the little guy. All the party of the rich old white guy wants to do is help the working stiff. Power means nothing to them or their friends at the WMC and MMAC.

  31. Jim says:

    That is precisely my point. You cannot talk about the partisan composition of a district without talking about the distribution of population within a district, they are heavily correlated.

    Take for example the requirement not to dilute the districts in such a way that Latino’s do not have a majority district. Doing so would leave the Latino community without a voice in congress (which would be bad). To do so you need to draw a line around an area large enough that Latino’s within that circle represent the majority (say 3 blue squares out of the 5-square example above). The author assumes that one could then make the remaining 2 squares red. In reality, this is very difficult. If one buys the argument that Latinos vote mostly democrat, and also thinks that Latinos tend to congregate heavily in larger cities, then the remaining two squares are more likely to be blue. The red population needed would either be far away (noncontiguous) or possibly down a long freeway corridor (non-compact).

    One would have 3 choices; have a noncontiguous non-compact district, have a non-Latino majority district, or have a district with 5 blue squares. It is very difficult to achieve all three goals. My point is that the author doesn’t point out that fair partisan redistricting is inherently difficult (the fact that a computer needs to run a multi-objective heuristic optimization algorithm proves this). By making districts fairer to certain groups, it is impossible not to make it more unfair to other groups.

    The system favors certain groups even before our silly politicians get involved. My argument is not that politicians don’t make the problem worse (they do), it is that by changing the way we district will bring other non-intended consequences. Our Constitution explicitly protects certain groups (see 14th amendment), those groups are varied but nowhere does it protect partisan groups or political parties. It also contemplates the fact that in order to protect certain people different groups inherently have different amounts of voting power (see electoral college debate/popular vote argument above) to give minority groups certain protections.

  32. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    All the rich old white guys are Lefties now.

  33. happyjack27 says:

    Jim, both me and Dave already told you that it’s very easy to achieve all three goals by using a standard heuristic optimization algorithm.

    So now that you know your statement is false, continuing to repeat it is called deliberately lying.

  34. Jason Troll says:

    Vince, last I looked the Republican running state government is passing another tax cut that benefits everyone. The Left will whine that it is the price of a night out at Panda Express but you know what I will take that Broccoli Beef . Last, I looked my city and county that are blue is taking more out of my pocket.

  35. happyjack27 says:

    Also everybody here KNOWS that you’re lying because they also saw mine and Dave’s comment. So even if you’re okay with lying, it’s just not going to fool anyone anyways.

  36. happyjack27 says:

    Troll, the topic is the right eliminating democracy through partisan gerrymandering.

  37. Vincent Hanna says:

    The idea that no one would care if Democrats were doing this in the state and held a huge advantage because of it isn’t true, but it’s also an absurd defense because it’s not saying that the gerrymandering is OK or that the author is wrong.

  38. happyjack27 says:

    Vincent, I think you just described every Amicus Brief in support of defendants. None of them even try to show that Wisconsin isn’t gerrymandered or to make an argument that gerrymandering isn’t bad. It’s like they might have well just submitted issues of Sports Illustrated.

  39. Adam says:

    @Jason Trolll-

    Your post literally just summed up what is happening. Less and less stated aid, so local govt’s are scrambling to make up the difference. In the end the only one’s who win are the top wage earners.

  40. Jim says:


    Look at any current red/blue map of Wisconsin voters. Then look at the graph the author shows both at the top of this article and on the headline on the homepage for this website. Am I lying in saying that the graph the author presents is not in fact how the distribution of red to blue populations are in reality? The author is starting with a false premises – How is my pointing that out repeating a lie?

    Yes, you can correct it with an algorithm – that is the entire concept I am pointing out – that a correction needs to be made even before gerrymandering begins. And the requirement for certain minority groups to have majority districts makes the original correction needed even greater. Red squares start with an inherent advantage because of demographic clustering and because of the rules of redistricting.

    Before “fair” redistricting begins, you basically have to take the map that exists in realty, bend it through an algorithm until it looks like the nice, neat graph above and THEN you can split it up the way the author shows is fair. The first step is needed because we don’t start with an even playing field, which, at that point, has nothing to do with any partisan scheme to gerrymander and make the imbalance worse.

    Don’t you think that is an important concept that an author that calls themselves “Data Wonk” should be honest in pointing out?

  41. Ann Stevning-Roe says:

    If this were merely an accident of where Democrats live, Stevens Point would not have been removed from the 7th Congressional District with a loop around with southern Wood County to join them to the river 3rd District. This is intentional.

  42. dk mke says:

    Thanks for pointing out the 2 vote advantage small states have. It has boggled my mind since high school math why this isn’t discussed more.

    I do disagree you on the problem of going to straight popular vote and the advantage swinging to large states. First, it would only eliminate an engineered advantage to small states. That’s not the same as actively advantaging larger states. Second it would allow party-minority votes in those states to be counted. Really the electoral college is just a math exercise that has outlived any real purpose. Maybe knock it down to 1 extra vote per state.

    As to the debate on the ease of dealing with dense areas of single party voting, yes it’s complicated. But it’s not something that can’t be resolved equitably. I don’t expect blue voters from Milwaukee to be joined up with red voters in Chilton. But I suspect there’s a happy medium, and the point of the article to me is that there are better tools, and better analysis that can be done to achieve those goals. Perfect is the enemy of good enough.

  43. Jim says:

    As much as we like to think otherwise if you move to New York – your vote doesn’t really matter. If you move to Kansas – your vote doesn’t really matter. There are only really a very small number of places in the US where your vote can have any chance of swinging a presidential election. That is the reality of our Republic.

    Just a thought. If you are for a popular vote for president I would think that same logic should apply to eliminating districts and having at-large state representatives. The lonely democrat in Chilton getting his voice heard for state legislation is no different than the lonely republican in New York getting his voice heard for national legislation.

  44. dk mke says:

    I hear ya, and it’s an interesting thought experiment, but I don’t think the logic really follows. The president presides over the entire country (a very large, single district), so all votes from the entire country should count towards that one “district” and representative. Similarly, all votes from a congressional or assembly district from within that district should be what counts.

    And I totally agree we need to do away with a red vote in NY not counting, or a blue vote in AL. You say it’s the reality of our republic but that’s true ONLY because of the artificial constraints of the electoral college. What other advanced democracy uses the same format?

    Would be interesting to see how eliminating it would change campaigning too. No need to concentrate on swing states, every vote matters.

    Anywho, local gerrymandering. In my mind it’s the most important voter law issue of our time, more so than campaign finance, or voter ID. We have to do better than we’re doing now.

  45. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Any of you dopey people read the constitution?
    None of this crap you propose will ever get thrugh the amendment process. if you do not want one party govt,, then this is what you need to do.
    Recruit top flight people that understand the working people not worry about toilets. Do not restrict freedoms like speech, guns etc.
    Plan programs that help the working families buy a house, a car, educate their kids, pay their bills. That was why the old dems did. New Dems are as nuts as Castro and Chavez.

  46. Jon Erik Kingstad says:

    @16 Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest: 1. Then you would hold up Wisconsin’s government as a model of integrity and transparency and Wisconsin’s economy as a model of success after thirty years of GOP control?
    2. Please clarify for me: In your opinion, are all Democrats “leftists”? Are all Democrats idiots? Are all leftists idiots?
    3. Can you name any Democratic politician elected to office in the last 37 years whom you would not describe as an idiot?
    4. Is there any idea or person who is not “conservative” who is not an idiot or a leftist?

  47. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Doyle was in there and screwed it up but Tommy and scott are tops.
    Zablocki, Gaylord, Bob Huber, jim Lynn, Ji, flynn, Tom HaukePat Lucey.

  48. Jon Erik Kingstad says:

    @ 45. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest: What programs have conservatives planned that help working families buy a house, a car, educate their kids, pay their bills? Have I missed something? Has the GOP joined Bernie Sanders who’s proposed making college education free? Has the GOP joined Elizabeth Warren to repeal all of the laws enacted since 1981 deregulating the financial industry and allowing interest rates to skyrocket?

  49. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    Jobs. Failed at education cause controlled by the Left. GOP has raised spending tenfold for schools since 1970 for far fewer kids, yet scores are down. All Lefty controlled districts cannot even teach kids to read. Too busy telling them what toilet to use and the lenin is a real hero.

  50. Vincent Hanna says:

    So that is a no Jon. The man who would tell you he’s an expert on conservative politics in Wisconsin, a trusted voice on the right for decades, can’t name a single thing. All he can do is call the left names.

  51. Jon Erik Kingstad says:

    @50 Vince. I see what you mean. I forgot: “DFTT”.

  52. Vincent Hanna says:

    I have always found DFTT to be great in theory and difficult in practice.

  53. happyjack27 says:


    “Happyjack, Look at any current red/blue map of Wisconsin voters.”

    Alight, I’m going to stop you right there Jim. Really?!? You think I’d be talking like I am if I haven’t examined the demographics?

    Take your faith in my up about 50 notches and then go and read what I asked you to read that you clearly haven’t,

    I’d say then come back and talk to me, but… don’t. Because if past is precedent I’m just going to repeat say the same thing in this comment.

    So instead of coming back and talking to me, come back and read this comment, and then do what I said in it which you clearly hadn’t done.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

  54. happyjack27 says:


    “The man who would tell you he’s an expert on conservative politics in Wisconsin, a trusted voice on the right for decades, can’t name a single thing. All he can do is call the left names.”

    You’re just realizing this NOW?!?

    No offense, Vincent, but… that’s been clear for some time now.

  55. Jeff says:

    I recommend that we all take a breath and read “Democracy In Chains” by historian Nancy MacLean. Once it is read, let’s come back for an informed discussion.

  56. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    To the Nutty Left, on this site, who have not any knowledge of the US Constitution and how hard it is to change it.
    All of the dopey ideas here, do not have any chance of happening, so why do you bother blabbering with each other.

  57. Bruce Thompson says:

    Anyone want to take a stab at identifying the author of the following?
    “…all agree that political gerrymandering is a noxious and destructive practice. The segregation of voters by political affiliation so as to achieve purely partisan ends is repugnant to representative democracy.”
    Hint: it was published yesterday.

  58. Vincent Hanna says:

    Was it the judge in Texas?

  59. Wisconsin Conservative Dgiest says:

    All these statements are worthless as the change will never take place.
    i have debated this, written about it for 50 years.
    The states will never agree to make the changes.
    it stays as it is and you might as well work with it, unless you have article V convention and then the small states will dominate and they will probably make it tougher to change.

    as to name calling: “It is hard to suffer reading fools”.

  60. Bruce Thompson says:


    Close, but wrong state.

  61. happyjack27 says:


    “I recommend that we all take a breath and read “Democracy In Chains” by historian Nancy MacLean. Once it is read, let’s come back for an informed discussion.”

    Wow, you’re recommending reading a history book to have an “informed discussion” about geographic information systems, mathematics, and computer algorithms?!?

    You’ve really got your subject areas mixed up.

  62. happyjack27 says:

    @Jeff, history is _descriptive_, not _prescriptive_.

  63. dk mke says:

    Bredar in Maryland? If so, may I ask why that’s especially relevant?

  64. happyjack27 says:

    Off the top off my head I’ll guess North Carolina.

  65. Bruce Thompson says:

    dk has the right state, but the wrong judge.

  66. Vincent Hanna says:

    OK I got it mixed up with the voter ID law. That was the judge in Texas. Was it Maryland?

  67. happyjack27 says:

    It’s relevant because WCD among others keep saying “read the constitution” and “it’s legal to partisanly gerrymander” and all that, as if if murder wasn’t illegal they’d be fine with it. (BTW, under Kolberg’s stages of moral development, that’s stage one – self interest – pre-school).

    The point is that the reality is that both The Supreme Court judges and the high-level state court judges are on board with adjudicating the issue. And indeed, find it morally repugnant. So those whines and winnies from the right “We can partisan gerrymander because nobody’s going to stop us!” are all moot. The adults are all in agreement: you will be stopped.

  68. dk mke says:

    Hmm, I guess I’m stumped then. I was looking at this ruling:

    And shortly after the quote you referenced in your conclusion, it says, “Judge Russell joins all but Part II.B of this Memorandum and joins the accompanying Orders. Judge Niemeyer joins neither the Memorandum nor the Orders.”

    So I assumed the opinion was written by Bredar.

  69. happyjack27 says:

    I think dk mke actually got the right judge.

    From page 27 of the ruling (Niemeyer speaking (quite eloquently, I might add):
    “Indeed, as Judge Bredar has observed in this case, gerrymandering is a “noxious” practice with “no place in a representative
    democracy.” Shapiro, 203 F. Supp. 3d at 600 (Bredar, J., dissenting)

  70. Bruce Thompson says:

    My bad. I read the decision too fast. I thought it was Niemeyer. He quotes Bredar approvingly in the part you quote above. His beef with his colleagues is that they are two willing to await SCOTUS on the Wisconsin case.
    Niemeyer is interesting because he is sometimes described as the most conservative judge on the 4th circuit and well-connected to the conservative justices.

  71. happyjack27 says:

    “Niemeyer is interesting because he is sometimes described as the most conservative judge on the 4th circuit and well-connected to the conservative justices.”

    Ah, then perhaps he is counting HIMSELF among the examples when he says:

    “The widespread nature of gerrymandering in modern politics is matched by the almost universal absence of those who will defend its negative effect on our democracy. Indeed, both Democrats and Republicans have DECRIED IT WHEN WIELDED BY THEIR OPPONENTS but nonetheless continue to gerrymander in their own self interest when given the opportunity. The problem is cancerous, undermining the fundamental tenets of our form of democracy.” (emphasis added.)

  72. happyjack27 says:

    Niemeyer’s dissent is awesome. I want to marry it. But I can’t because it’s an abstract assemblage of semiotics with no true physical form. I will find a way.

  73. happyjack27 says:

    Jeff my apologies – I will put that book on my reading list. I as a long thoughtful comment and then my phone crashed.

    I’ll try to recall the last part: the history of civilization is a slow and painful progress from despotism to something resembling democracy. Ad we still have a long way to go.

    I think understanding and appreciating this is a prerequisite to having a meaningful and responsible discussion on this topic.

  74. happyjack27 says:

    Plaintiffs in the Maryland gerrymandering case just today gave notice to judges that they are appealing to the Supreme Court.

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