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Did the GOP really "win" the House this election?

by: edfactor

Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 07:28:35 AM EST


I, like other Republicans, was relieved that we kept the House after losing the presidency and seats in the Senate. It did not immediately occur to me why the President didn't have coattails in the House, as he did in the Senate. A few days afterwards, I heard Congressman Barney Frank griping that the Democrats should have won the House as they got a million more votes than we did. I just shrugged and didn't think much of it.

Since then, many of my fellow Republicans have said to President Obama's supporters that "We have a mandate, too!" since we also won, just as he did. Therefore, we don't have to compromise all that much in negotiations, and also that we don't have to really re-think the Republican brand too much. After all, we still won the House... right?

Well, maybe we didn't. (I don't mean that we legally didn't win. But that maybe we didn't really win the majority of the public votes in the honorable way that we are supposed to.)

It wasn't until I saw the latest in ProPublica's series on redistricting that I learned about what really happened on election day. It made me ashamed of my party.

(In case you get all your news from smiling bimbos on Fox that wink at you while telling you what you want to hear, or from the everything-is-fine-we-are-always-ascendant blogs like Breitbart.com, Pro Publica is a pulitzer-prize winning non-profit investigative journalism outfit led by former Wall Street Journal editors. They have the best investigative journalism in the world.)

Re-districting, invented long ago by Massachusetts Democrats, and practiced by both parties, is a national, bipartisan scandal. It is in violation of the "one man, one vote" principle, and lets politicians choose voters instead of having voters choose politicians. It is one of the main culprits in our poisoned, polarized politics, and it is something new that previous eras of partisan warfare did not include.

Want to understand all this in one sentence?

Karl Rove once said, "He who controls redistricting can control Congress."

Indeed.

So what happened?

(read more...)

edfactor :: Did the GOP really "win" the House this election?
I will summarize, but please read the story here:

How Dark Money Helped Republicans Hold the House and Hurt Voters.

Also, check out the amazing series that this article is part of here:
Pro Publica's Redistricting Series

So, how did Democrats get a million more votes and not take the House? (Something that has only happened three times in history.)

Millions of dollars of dark money were funneled through improperly-designated educational non-profits and added to corporate donations and spread around many states to achieve Republican-friendly district maps. Two tobacco giants each gave more than $1 million to a redistricting-specific group. The Republican State Leadership Committee even created a new project across the country - the Redistricting Majority Project - or REDMAP.

(Democrats did this before with some secret funding, but nothing even close to this level. Check out the series on their evil deeds.)

How well did it work? According to REDMAP: "Twenty legislative bodies which were previously split or under Democratic control are now under Republican control."

They hired evil Republican district mapping experts from fake nonprofits who used advanced mapping software to pack Republican-unfriendly demographic groups into a small number of districts and then lied to Democrats and told them these districts would favor them and be in line with the Voting Rights Act.

The article, like the series, is amazing and damning. I can't believe that it was this - and not our problems with demographics, technology, and policy - that has the attention of our party leaders. It is sickening!!!

You know, maybe the end might justify the means here. Perhaps the House majority will help save America from eventual bankruptcy, or keep our military strong around the world. Maybe this buys the party a little time to reform and re-create a majority coalition. But I hope that our leaders give up this disgraceful way of winning power and go back to persuading people that our ideas are better. Because they are!

(Oh - but if you want to shut your eyes and forget about this, I hope you keep enjoying conservative fetish pieces calling President Obama a communist one more time. Because that is going to help us adapt and win.)

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A few things... (0.00 / 0)
First, Democrats did not invent redistricting, the Constitution did.  I assume you are mixing up the concepts of redistricting and gerrymandering.  Also, to suggest that Elbridge Gerry--who gerrymandering was named after--was a member of the contemporary Democratic Party is a completely simplistic and historically inaccurate.

While I agree with the central thrust of your point--the GOP used a lot of "back room shenanigans" to maintain there leverage in the House, these dark aspects of politics are deeply rooted in our "exceptional" democracy across all parties.  

These are the acts of the powerful to keep power and it is incumbent on those from both sides of the aisle to fight for meaningful reforms that creates a playing field that represents reality, rather than skewed efforts.  Create gerrymandering (by both parties--but the GOP had an upper-hand this cycle) results in the divided country we have.  The districts are cut up to be "safe" for those of opposite ideologies.  In these skewed districts, lawmakers are punished for doing the right thing--compromising and rewarded for doing the wrong thing--intransigence, even if it results in the default of the US Government.  

And while we are discussing efforts of f*ck the people, what are all the laws GOP controlled states passed to limit voting--under the false-pretense of stopping "voter fraud".  GOP operatives in many states admitted the real reason behind many of these laws were to stop Democratic leaning voters from voting.  Now you can assert that laws making it easier to register or to vote (like early voting) favors Democratic leaning voters--but at least Democrats are trying to get MORE people to vote and not less.  (And please, don't suggest that the Dem intent is to encourage voter fraud--with our low voter turnouts, we really do need to making voting easier.)

Now we have efforts in some GOP controlled states to change the way these states allocated the electoral college vote--something that Rob Eno supports because he knows it will further skew a GOP advantage.  The GOP wants states like Penn; NY; Wisconsin, Florida and Mich to allocate their present "winner take all" electoral college votes and break it down to each CD district.  So instead of the all those states electoral college votes going to the Dem winner, they get split up by CD, giving the GOP more electoral votes.  Now this MAY have some validity (and is done in Maine and Nebraska) but no one is proposing it for Texas or other southern states where the Dems win plenty of CD districts but lose the states.


A few responses (0.00 / 0)

- I was not mixing up redistricting and gerrymandering. They are regrettably the same thing now, but for a few wonderful exceptions where people have a non-partisan group change districts. Even the not-that-bad effort here in Massachusetts was still gerrymandering, with the idiotic and racist goal of creating a minority-majority district.

- Of course you are correct that Mr Gerry was not tied to today's Democratic party. Perhaps I will do a Google search to see if you have ever blamed Republicans for "being against Medicare from the start" or similar language that is all the rage among Democrats. And I was not implying that Mr. Gerry's actions were tied to the Democrats today, except in that they are comfortable shoving people into districts because of their race.

- And I agree completely that safe districts ruin the potential for compromise.

- As for Show ID to Vote laws, these were a completely non-partisan set of reforms that even liberal Democrats (even President Carter!) supported wholeheartedly until maybe 5 years ago. Unfortunately, Republicans believing - correctly in my mind - that the voter fraud we do have is almost always in urban areas or involves Democrat-leaning constituencies - decided to jump all over this issue. They exaggerated the fraud problem, they recruited big money from wealthy donors who have no interest in the integrity of elections, and made this a national crusade. I support the idea, but I am looking for an implementation that does not prevent people from voting who are supposed to. But I have exhorted my Republican friends to leave this alone for a while and turn their attention to more important issues in voting reform that will actually pay greater dividends. (involving things that happen between someone actually voting and those votes being counted and later accounted for).

- As for the electoral college games - both sides have sought advantage here. I am against all of them. We either should stick with the electoral college (which I support) or we should just have a national popular vote. Everything else in the middle just gets you the worst of both worlds.

- As for what Rob Eno supports - who cares? Despite what a great guy he is, he could be one of the most partisan people I have ever met. And that is saying something.


[ Parent ]
There was a fair amount of GOP support for... (0.00 / 0)
Medicare.  But that GOP wing no longer exists...their moderate positions would bar them from today's GOP...and the conservative Dems that opposed Medicare--mostly Southern Dems, are now solidly in the conservative wing of the GOP.

[ Parent ]
It's hard to take you seriously. (0.00 / 0)
You run at the mouth like a progressive with the inane "faux news" meme.

For the record, I don't subscribe to cable, so I haven't seen much FOX News in years.

But the smug, superior tone you repeatedly display here with respect to  various right leaning media is so off-putting as to make me wonder if your erudition and conservative bona files aren't more "faux" than the sources you so glibly denigrate.


That was some nice language (0.00 / 0)
Mr. 999 -

I say without insult or sarcasm, that was a well-written response!

I'm glad you don't watch Fox. It makes us dumber and less able to challenge Democrats. We can't afford that. I attack various right-wing media relentlessly because it is harming us, not because I hate those who watch it. If I were an olympic coach and saw my athletes were eating at McDonald's every day, I would try to stop them because that kind of diet will not lead to success. In this state especially, we must be masters of our strengths and weaknesses. We must know a great deal about history, philosophy, and policy. We must know how to make and win arguments. We must use language effectively. We must be three times as good as the Democrats to be taken seriously.

Oh - and Happy New Year, Mr. 999!


[ Parent ]
Forgot an example (0.00 / 0)
So let me give you a specific, powerful example of how lots of Republicans are suffering from the right-wing media prison they are in. Even Rob Eno is an inmate!

Look at the very famous Election 2012 blog that polling expert Nate Silver ran at the NYT.

He is a smart, careful, dutiful poll watcher and statistical expert. He was spot-on in 2010 and has an excellent reputation.

I was a big fan of his, and took his opinion very seriously. He predicted an Obama win from the beginning and his analysis never doubted it.

How did right-wing media react? They attacked him without evidence. They questioned the sampling of the polls. They said independents were wrongly sampled and Democrats over-sampled. They attacked his credentials. Rob Eno - and many other bloggers - mocked him and said he was totally wrong.

No one had any evidence that he was wrong. They were all confident that Romney would win lots of states Silver said that Romney was not going to win.

Along the way, Silver engaged in an open debate with himself about how he could be wrong, as so many Republicans were attacking him. (Yes - a political blogger sincerely asking, "How might my conclusions be wrong?" You won't find that on sites like breitbart.com or legal insurrection or any of the rest. And certainly not on RMG.)

Often on Facebook and elsewhere online, I would tell people that I was following Silver's blog religiously. I remember when Jamison Tomasek and I were talking about this once on Facebook. Other Republicans and Tea Party members were, of course, saying that he was a flawed observer. He and I knew better.

And what happened? Nate Silver had a near-perfect set of predictions.

People who are slaves to right-wing media were stunned.  Those of us who are not were not surprised at all. (Did people like Rob Eno make some kind of "Wow - I guess Silver was right and I was wrong." statement? Of course not.)

The price of consuming only media that tells you what you want to hear is that you are not living in reality. I think the majority of Republicans have this problem. I am going to keep talking about it.


[ Parent ]
"I'm glad you don't watch Fox. It makes us dumber and less able to challenge Democrats." - edfactor (0.00 / 0)
Meh - I never really bought into the argument that if you watch Fox News you are dumb just because.  

People are bombarded with news from multiple sources all day long so just because someone turns on Fox News when they get home from work doesn't mean every thought in their head was developed by FOX News AND ONLY FOX NEWS.  I don't think there is even 1 person alive that gets their info from any one source these days.

It blows me away to see how flawed your theory is Ed.



Molon Labe


[ Parent ]
I for one... (0.00 / 0)
am getting sick and tired of the whining I continually see from the progressives about gerrymandering as an excuse for why they could not win the U.S. House this year. Voters in these districts had an opportuinity to see the 2 candidates and decide who they felt best represented them. In 234 districts, our people were victorious. Now perhaps we were winning with only 50-55% while Dems were winning races with 60% or more, but the fact still remains our U.S. House candidates(most of whom by the way actually ran as Conservatives who would stop Obama) won. I have always believed that a good candidate can win regardless of how skewed a district may be against them. If progressives had run better candidates, they'd be preparing to take over the House, but they didn't, so they can shut up.  

Huh? (3.00 / 1)
Last time I checked, there was only one state legislature whose leader(s) had been convicted of felonious conduct in the drawing of a redistricting map.

T'weren't Texas, either.


Would that be Massachusetts ;-)? (0.00 / 0)


"Work is the essence of Man."

[ Parent ]
Texas is the state... (0.00 / 0)
...that redistricted mid decade because the GOP had a very brief control of all branches and "went to town".  Tommy Finneran made an individual decision to lie to a grand jury and paid for that.  It was the entire GOP Texas apparatus that pulled that dirty trick.

[ Parent ]
Ooooer.... (0.00 / 0)
That was FINNERAN's folly - lying during the trial. But it was the Democratic-controlled redistricting committee whose plan was struck down by a federal judge.

I don't recall any Texas politicians convicted of any crime in connection with their redistricting process.


[ Parent ]
"T'weren't Texas, either" - wavey (0.00 / 0)
That was awesome wavey!  

T'was it Twassachusetts maybe?  Hmmmm?


Molon Labe


[ Parent ]



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