Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Pennsylvania's Non-Gerrymandered Map

One consequence of redrawing electoral districts to try to squeeze all the voters of one political party into one district is that you end up with some very oddly shaped districts. Back in 2014 the Washington Post mapped America’s most gerrymandered congressional districts. One conclusion that they reached from mapping loads of oddly shaped districts was that you can get a good idea of how gerrymandered a district is by how irregular its shape is.

You might want to think about this irregular shape rule when reading the New York Times' article The New Pennsylvania House Districts Are In. We Review the Mapmakers’ Choices. Yesterday the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a new congressional map to replace the one gerrymandered by Pennsylvania Republicans.

The Time's article includes a series of maps which allow you to compare the Republican gerrymandered districts with the Supreme Court's redrawn districts. When switching between the two maps for each district you can look out for irregular shapes where boundary lines are snaking out to capture neighborhoods that don't seem to be a natural fit. The Supreme Court's district maps do seem to be much more compact than those drawn by the Republicans. The Supreme Court maps don't have as many "squiggles and offshoots and tentacle-looking protuberances" that are common to gerrymandered electoral districts.

The Washington Post map of America's most gerrymandered districts gives the old Pennsylvania congressional districts gerrymander scores mostly in the 80's & 90's. Scores that indicate the districts have been highly gerrymandered to favor one political party over another. The fact that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has redrawn a much fairer map doesn't appear to be very good news for the Republicans. However we will have to wait until the elections later this year to see which party really wins in each new Pennsylvania district.
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