Op-Ed: A big reason the South goes red? Gerrymandering and voter suppression
A lot of people talk about the “red state” vs. the “blue states” thing — usually by pointing to the percentage of votes a candidate receives. It’s sort of a throwback to the long-dominant Republican strategy to depict Democratic strongholds as “safe” and Democratic strongholds as “unsafe,” even though they’ve always been a bit more “safe” than even the Republican strongholds.
But while Democrats are supposed to be the party of “safe” states, it’s important to recognize that when the Democratic Party is the state party, things tend to get a little more precarious for the party.
Consider how the Democratic Party has been able to take over the South over the past couple of decades via gerrymandering — the process of drawing political boundaries to carve out majority-redistricting districts that look more like the party’s voting base than the party as a whole.
With gerrymandering, Democrats have been able to pull off what’s known in politics as “packing” — cramming their voters into fewer, more-sporadic districts by targeting communities that might be redder or whiter than their district’s average. In this way, Democrats have been able to hold on to many more seats in the House than they otherwise would have done — a key reason why they’ve been able to maintain control of the House for more than a decade now.
One of the most notorious examples of gerrymandering comes from Indiana, where Democrats won 59 percent of the vote but picked a gerrymandered district that favored them by more than 10 percentage points.
Now, you might think that gerrymandering by itself should give Republicans a serious problem: a large enough advantage to allow their party to pack their voters into a few districts too. Indeed, by now you might think that such gerrymandering should be