CITY OF JEFFERSON, Mo. (AP) – The Democrats won more votes, regained control of the US House and launched hundreds of seats in state legislatures during the 2018 elections. It was, according to many, a good year for the party.
Yet it was not as bad as it could have been for the Republicans.
This may have benefited from an inherent advantage in some states, based on the way the political districts were designed, that prevented deeper losses or helped them maintain power, according to an Associated Press mathematical analysis .
The AP analysis indicates that the Republicans have won about 16 more seats in the United States than expected based on their average percentage of votes in congressional districts across the country. In the State Palace elections, the structural advantage of the Republicans could have helped them hold up to seven chambers that might otherwise have turned to the Democrats, according to the analysis.
The AP reviewed all US tenders and about 4,900 seats in the House and State Assembly for election last year using a statistical method of calculating partisan advantage that was designed to report potential cases political fraud. A similar analysis also showed an advantage of the GOP in the 2016 elections.
The AP used the so-called "efficiency gap" test in part because it was one of the analytical tools mentioned in a Wisconsin gerrymandering case that was presented to the US Supreme Court in 2017 and is part of a case of the North Carolina that will be discussed on Tuesday before the court. In that case, the judges will decide whether or not to maintain a lower court ruling that has affected the North Carolina Congress districts as an unconstitutional political parliamentary favoring the Republicans.
The High Court is also aware of Tuesday's arguments that Maryland Democrats unconstitutionally deceived a congressional district in 2011 to defeat a long-standing Republican incumbent.
The United States Supreme Court has never destroyed the districts due to excessive partisan manipulation and the efficiency formula does not guarantee that it will begin. During discussions of the Wisconsin gerrymandering case, Chief Justice John Roberts called it a "sociological gobbledygook".
Some Republicans have also criticized, insisting that they win simply because they run better candidates. The formula does not necessarily prove political trickery, because partisan advantages can also arise naturally based on where Democratic and Republican voters choose to live.
Many political experts and redistricting claim that the formula provides a neutral way to determine the effects of brogliering and how a party can maintain power for a decade or more. The plaintiffs in the North Carolina case say that now is the time when the court will end the partisan fraud, with the next reorganization cycle set to follow the 2020 census.
"Gerrymandering as a whole eludes voters from our representation," said Love Caesar, a student at North Carolina A&T State University who works with Common Cause, a defense group that is a leading actor in the case.
The analysis of the AP found that the Republicans of North Carolina won two or three seats more congruent than those that would have been foreseen based on their percentage of votes. The Republican candidates received 51% of the two-part vote compared to 49% of the Democrats. Yet the Republicans have won a 9-3 place advantage over the Democrats, with one seat still undecided because of allegations of electoral fraud.
The Democrats say it illustrates the effect of republican gerrymandering and points 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 map of Congress, dispersing a democratic voting bloc in the middle of two Republican districts stretching from Greensboro to more rural areas.
The congressional districts that divide the campus are both represented by Republicans.
"It is difficult to explain to students who are already skeptical about the voting process … that the state intentionally diluted its power to vote by including this line between our campus," said North Carolina A & T student Kylah Guion, who also works with common cause.
Republican lawmakers have focused the Democrats on other congressional districts. In the only three democratic districts they won last November, they carried at least 70 percent of the bipartisan vote.
The efficiency gap test offers a way to evaluate the effects of the strategies of the destructor – to package the voters of a part in some districts, or to spread them among others to make it easier for the other party to conquer places. Compare the share of the average district vote of a party with that of the seats it wins.
For the 2016 and 2018 elections, North Carolina had the highest pro-republican inclination among the approximately two dozen larger states that determine most of the seats in the U.S. House, according to the analysis of the AP.
Other states that had substantial Republican advantages in both congressional elections included Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas – all places where Republicans were in charge of redistricting after the 2010 census. Although democratic victories have taken place nationally in 2018, the analysis of the AP showed that the Republican advantage over efficiency became more pronounced in those states.
Massachusetts has shown a consistent democratic inclination in its congressional districts, although not of the same size as the most republican states.
In Pennsylvania, the Supreme State Democratic Court redesigned the Congress map for the 2018 elections after breaking down the previous Republican version as an unconstitutional war partisan. The analysis of the AP found that the Republican inclination was cut by more than half from the 2016 to 2018 elections, as the state congressional delegation passed by a majority of 13-5 to a rank of nine seats for Republicans and Democrats.
The analysis shows that Pennsylvania Democrats could have expected to obtain a majority of Congress 10-8 based on obtaining about 55% of the total votes of the two parties. The fact that they did not do so could be explained by the high concentration of democrats in urban areas, which diminishes their votes elsewhere.
The AP analysis also found a persistent Republican advantage in the state districts of the House or Assembly in Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin and South Dakota and a consistent democratic advantage in Nevada.
There were five state legislative chambers in which Republicans maintained the majority in 2018 even though Democratic candidates received more votes overall – Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
The analysis of the efficiency gap showed more states with a Republican advantage than a Democrat in the US and state districts.
Yet "when you look at the nation as a whole, it's not just a radically inclined map," said Eric McGhee, a researcher at the California non-partisan public policy institute who developed the efficiency gap model. "It is more than in these particular key states that they are paving the way for things that will be much worse in the future" through gerrymandering.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, which organized an aggressive campaign to elect republican-led assemblies prior to reorganization, rejects the analysis of efficiency as "a political and intellectual fiction" used to try to do advance the fate of the Democrats. The formula assumes that a party has the right to win seats based on its statewide vote, even if its candidates in particular districts are not so good, said the group's president, Matt Walter.
"This is not a real formula. This is not a true theory," he said. "This is an absurdity from the ivory tower."
The success of the Republicans during the last round of redistricting led the Democrats to be the former prosecutor general of the Obama administration Eric Holder to launch a counter-offensive leading to the 2020 census. Part of the Democrats' strategy is was to challenge the maps drawn up by the Republicans in court and support the initiatives of voters who shift redistribution duties from state legislators.
The Democrats argue that their candidates are good but face long odds in districts where the borders have been manipulated.
"The value of the efficiency gap is that it puts some data behind what we see is evident from the election results," said Patrick Rodenbush, director of communications for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. "It is clear that Republicans have an unfair advantage based entirely on fraud."
Associated Press writer Allen G. Breed of Greensboro, North Carolina, and data publisher Meghan Hoyer contributed to this report.
Follow David A. Lieb to: http://twitter.com/DavidALieb