GOP Just Can't Decide How Much Democracy To Steal When It Redraws Congressional Districts

If you live in a state that's ever been controlled by Republicans during redistricting time, you likely know all about being gerrymandered into oblivion, to the point where a state that votes 45 percent Democratic in presidential races has four Democratic seats in Congress, while the Republicans have 12. (Just look at Ohio's district map, it's breathtaking.)

We just had a (probably messed up but not as bad as it could have been) census in 2020, so it's redistrictin' time again! Politico is out with a piece where Republicans are talking VERY OUT LOUD about how they just can't decide how much democracy to steal this time. All of it? If they steal all of it, they are worried mean Democrats with their fancy lawyers will take them to court and get their maps thrown out. But if they only steal some of it, does that even spark joy?

Mostly at issue is whether to take districts that are now blue because they include cities with people in them, and divide those up all weird to dilute the votes of all those pesky people. This is the "cracking" half of the "pack and crack" strategy of partisan gerrymandering. In Kentucky, congressional Republicans are actually asking their state counterparts not to mess with the district of Democrat John Yarmuth, who represents Louisville. (Kentucky right now has six congressional districts, five of which are held by Republicans. President Joe Biden got 36 percent of the vote in Kentucky, whereas the old loser got 62 percent. Five out of six congressional districts is ... more than 62 percent!)

It's not because these Kentucky congressional Republicans are worried about fairness or anything. They just don't want to bite off more democracy-destroying dick than they can comfortably suck:

"It's been my experience in studying history that when you get real cute, you end up in a lawsuit — and you lose it. And then the courts redraw the lines," said Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.). "So my advice would be to keep Louisville blue." [...]

"We got a hard lesson in that in North Carolina and Pennsylvania last time," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), referencing two states who had GOP-drawn maps invalidated mid-decade by state courts. The new lines netted Democrats several House seats. "They stretched the rubber band too far."

This is going on in lots of places, as you might imagine. Quick, think of a cool blue city in the middle of a backwoods hell, and it's probably going on there. And all over the place, Politico says, national Republican strategists are telling the map-drawers to be careful. For one thing, the suburbs have gotten so much bluer, so it's getting harder for Republicans to slice up democracy and take all the pieces for themselves. And the Democrats really do just have all these fuckin' lawyers.

"There's an old saying: Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered," said Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). "And when it comes to redistricting, that is, in fact, the case." [...]

In a presentation at the House GOP leadership retreat in Florida earlier this year, the party's top redistricting strategist, Adam Kincaid, pointed out to lawmakers their inherent advantages in 2022 but warned against overreach.

"Be smart," Kincaid said in a recent interview, summing up his advice. "Just because you can doesn't mean you should."

Noble restraint, sir.

So where else is this an issue? Apparently Nashville is the biggest one. As yr Tennessee Wonkette, let us tell you about this state, which has absolutely incredible blue cities, but just has soooooooo much rural whiteness that it'll be a long while before we can compete like Georgia or North Carolina.

Tennessee has nine congressional districts. Exactly two of them — Memphis and Nashville — are repped by Democrats. Republicans have probably stolen about as much as they can from the Ninth district in Memphis, which is why a very strange wang of the city's population is repped not by Democrat Steve Cohen but by Republican David Kustoff. (Fun fact: Those guys are part of the same synagogue.) And up in Nashville is the relatively normal-shaped Fifth District, repped by Jim Cooper. Should Republicans divide up Nashville's pie and take all the pieces for themselves?

Of course, Tennessee is a state Trump won with 60 percent of the vote to Biden's 37 percent. So again: Should Republicans steal the Fifth District so they can have 88.8 PERCENT of the congressional seats? Or are their eyes bigger than their stomachs?

Of course, all of this is very interesting considering how much of Tennessee's continued productive existence as a state is thanks to the blue voters of Nashville. Jim Cooper had WORDS:

In a terse interview outside the House chamber, Cooper said he believes that outcome is "probable" given the desire for the GOP to end Democrats' narrow majority in Congress, which will shrink to three seats this summer. "Do the math."

"Don't be an innocent about this," he said. "What's to restrain them? They have a supermajority. There's a three-vote difference here, and they're going to obey Emily Post etiquette?"

Why would they start now?

Politico mentions a few other districts:

  • KS-03, the Kansas City district currently repped by Democrat Sharice Davids. Kansas has four congressional districts, one of which is in Democratic hands. Should they slice up Davids's district so the GOP can have ALL THE DISTRICTS? For the record, 41.5 percent of Kansans voted for Joe Biden.
  • MO-05, on the Missouri side of Kansas City, which is repped by Democrat Emanuel Cleaver. Missouri has eight districts, and two are repped by Democrats. (The other is Cori Bush's seat in St. Louis, which is safe because of the Voting Rights Act, in whatever gutted form it still exists.) In Missouri, 41 percent of voters chose Joe Biden.
  • Two of Indiana's nine congressional districts are currently repped by Democrats. Maybe they could slice IN-01, which is Gary and other Indiana Chicago suburbs, and give it to Republicans? Like Missouri, almost 41 percent of Indiana voters chose Joe Biden.
  • Nebraska! Where does Nebraska get off having a Democratic rep? Well, it doesn't right now, but NE-02, where Omaha is, is tight and swingy. How would it be fair for one of Nebraska's districts to be Democratic in a state where only 39 percent of voters chose Joe Biden?

Of course, there are other logistical concerns here. In order to "crack" these Democratic cities apart, you'd be adding blue voters to strong Republican districts. And the way things are going, what would stop those blue voters from, you know, voting? Could seats that are currently blood red find themselves a bit pinker in an election year where Republicans are unpopular, which is all of them now?

"The challenge there is: four or five of the Republican incumbents would have to take a 3 to 5 percent reduction in the Republican base," said James Harris, a veteran Missouri operative who has advised the state legislature on redistricting in the past. He said he has not sensed a desire from Jefferson City lawmakers to doom Cleaver: "There's a scenario where you could have a year where you end up with a 5-3 makeup, as opposed to always a 6-2 map."

Golly, what is a Republican democracy-stealer to do?

Read the whole thing if you'd like, but hey, know what would be a cool idea? Here's a cool idea, because know what would be a cool idea? IF DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS PASSED VOTING RIGHTS LEGISLATION BANNING PARTISAN GERRYMANDERING.

We are just saying.


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Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

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