Gerrymandering gave GOP 1 extra legislative seat

The Associated Press used a new mathematical formula to scrutinize roughly 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election previous year and found a decided advantage for Republicans in numerous states, including Idaho.

The study is based on a formula that compares the statewide average share of each major party's vote in the districts with the statewide percentage of seats it wins.

Republicans have controlled the Idaho Legislature for almost six decades, but a national Associated Press analysis shows that the state GOP may have gained even more control last fall with the help of Republican-friendly districts.

The analysis found that Virginia was among those states with Republican-skewed state House districts as well as congressional districts. Idaho has only two districts, both of which were won by Republicans in November. "The result in this decade's maps has been a persistent and consequential seat advantage in favor of Republicans that will likely endure for the remainder of the decade".

Republicans, who held 106 state House seats after the 2010 elections, have fared even better under the new map. That was especially true after the 2010 census, when new Republican majorities took control of the redistricting process.

The AP analysis addressed how much of that is caused by voter preference and how much is caused by partisan gerrymandering.

A previous efficiency gap analysis conducted by Simon Jackman, a former professor of political science and statistics at Stanford University, found that the Republican advantage was even higher in the 2012 and 2014 Missouri House elections.

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Republican critics of Democratic concerns over gerrymandering point to what they say is Democrats' poor campaigning, their concentration in cities-a sort of "voluntary gerrymandering", some say-and their lack of incumbents to explain the Republican voting advantage.

The analysis examined the share of votes cast for Republican and Democratic candidates in each district and projected the expected number of seats each party would gain if districts were drawn so that neither party had an overall advantage.

The AP's analysis was based on an "efficiency gap" formula developed by University of Chicago law professor Nick Stephanopoulos and Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

Torr argues gerrymandering, whether to build and keep political power or, as some in the minority party argue, to build competitive races, is damaging.

The formula was cited as "corroborative evidence" in a redistricting case in Wisconsin, where a federal appeals court panel last fall struck down state legislative districts as an intentional partisan gerrymander in violation of Democratic voters' constitutional rights.

The efficiency gap is the subject of a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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