Raleigh – Ahead of Tuesday’s arguments before the Supreme Court, a new analysis from the Associated Press confirms that North Carolina Republicans “benefited from a built-in advantage” in recent years through gerrymandered maps that allowed them “two or three more congressional seats than would have been expected” in 2018. North Carolina Republicans “had the highest pro-Republican tilt” among roughly two dozen states analyzed, confirming that Republicans have stacked the deck against voters who may hold different beliefs.
“Republicans have rigged the system in their favor, allowing partisan politicians to pick their voters and give one side an unfair advantage,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “It’s time to end this broken system that cheats voters out of fair representation.”
Associated Press: Political map-making helped GOP stem losses in 2018
By David A. Lieb
March 21, 2019
Democrats won more votes, regained control of the U.S. House and flipped hundreds of seats in state legislatures during the 2018 elections. It was, by most accounts, a good year for the party.
Yet it wasn’t as bad as it could have been for Republicans.
That’s because they may have benefited from a built-in advantage in some states, based on how political districts were drawn, that prevented deeper losses or helped them hold on to power, according to a mathematical analysis by The Associated Press.
The AP’s analysis indicates that Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats than would have been expected based on their average share of the vote in congressional districts across the country. In state House elections, Republicans’ structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats, according to the analysis.
The AP examined all U.S. House races and about 4,900 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a statistical method of calculating partisan advantage that is designed to flag cases of potential political gerrymandering. A similar analysis also showed a GOP advantage in the 2016 elections.
“Gerrymandering as a whole cheats voters out of our representation,” said Love Caesar, a student at North Carolina A&T State University who works with Common Cause, an advocacy group that is a lead plaintiff in the case.
The AP’s analysis found North Carolina Republicans won two or three more congressional seats than would have been expected based on their share of the vote. Republican candidates received 51 percent of the two-party vote compared to Democrats’ 49 percent. Yet Republicans won a 9-3 seat advantage over Democrats, with one seat still undecided because of allegations of vote fraud.
Democrats say that illustrates the effect of Republican gerrymandering and point to Caesar’s university, a historically black college in Greensboro, as an example. Republicans in the General Assembly divided the school when they drew the congressional map, dispersing a Democratic-leaning voting bloc among two Republican-leaning districts that extend from Greensboro into more rural areas.
The congressional districts that split the campus are both represented by Republicans.
“It’s hard to explain to students who are already skeptical about the voting process … that the state intentionally diluted their power in voting by putting this line back here in between our campus,” said North Carolina A&T student Kylah Guion, who also works with Common Cause.
Republican lawmakers concentrated Democrats in other congressional districts. In the only three districts Democrats won last November, they carried at least 70 percent of the two-party vote.
For the 2016 and 2018 elections, North Carolina had the highest pro-Republican tilt among the roughly two dozen largest states that determine the bulk of the seats in the U.S. House, according to the AP’s analysis.
Yet “when you look at the nation as a whole, it’s not just a radically tilted map,” said Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California who developed the efficiency gap model. “It’s more that in these certain key states, they’re paving the way for things to be much worse in the future” through gerrymandering.
“The value of the efficiency gap is it puts some data behind what we see is evident from election results,” said Patrick Rodenbush, communications director for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “It’s clear that Republicans have an unfair advantaged based fully on gerrymandering.”
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