Photo of the day

From an Atlantic photos of the week gallery:

An observation point at the base of Niagara Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is covered in ice as the falls are illuminated by colored light on January 9, 2018. 

Geoff Robins / AFP / Getty


Democratic and Republican differences you don’t usually see

So, the adult card game Cards Against Humanity has apparently commissioned a solidly-done public national public opinion poll that includes all kinds of interesting questions you don’t usually see.  And, of course, it’s pretty fun to see the partisan differences.  Here’s a sampler.  Follow the link for the whole thing:

Gerrmandering NC style

What ultimately happens with North Carolina’s absurdly-gerrymandered Congressional districts is quite likely up to the Supreme Court.  That said, it is still a great thing to have a Federal court recognize that even a straight-up partisan gerrymander (regardless or race) is wrong.  Wonkblog’s Christopher Ingraham breaks down how gerrymandering works as well as any piece I’ve seen:

North Carolina Republicans have gotten quite good at this, as evidenced by the state’s 2016 election returns. Republican House members representing North Carolina won 53 percent of the statewide popular vote, but took 10 out of 13, or 77 percent, of the state’s congressional seats. If their seat haul had matched their popular vote total, they would have taken just seven out of 13 House seats…

But the North Carolina case indicates how savvy political operators can game the system while keeping districts looking fairly tight and compact. To understand how they did it, take a look at the map below.

I started with a map of precinct-level 2016 presidential vote results compiled by Ryne Rohla, an economics doctoral student at Washington State University. This gives a pretty good sense of where Democrats (blue) and Republicans (red) are concentrated in the state.

I’ve rather crudely superimposed on that the current boundaries of North Carolina’s U.S. congressional districts.

Now we can see how district boundaries snake around and through Democratic-leaning areas. Let’s focus on a few of them, starting with the 2nd Congressional District.

George Holding (R) won the 2nd District with 57 percent of the vote in 2016. One notable feature of the district’s border is how it snakes around the 4th District to the east. Essentially the entire city of Raleigh is packed away into the heavily Democratic 4th District, which David E. Price (D) won with a commanding 68 percent of the vote.

Very good stuff.  And, while I’m at it, Rick Hasen on the Appeals Court decision in NC:

The result is not a big surprise given what North Carolina did here. After its earlier redistricting was declared a racial gerrymander, it came up with a new plan using only political data that it described as a partisan gerrymander on its own terms. It did this as a defense against a future racial gerrymandering claim. As the court explained at page 16, NC “Representative Lewis
said that he “propose[d] that [the Committee] draw the maps to give a partisan advantage
to 10 Republicans and 3 Democrats because [he] d[id] not believe it[ would be] possible
to draw a map with 11 Republicans and 2 Democrats.”  If there’s any case that could be a partisan gerrymander, it’s this one.

The Supreme Court is already considering two partisan gerrymandering cases, one from Wisconsin and one from Maryland. No doubt NC will appeal this case to the Supreme Court, which is likely to hold it in light of the decision in those cases (it would be too late, absent extraordinary briefing, to set the case for argument this term). It likely will be sent back to this court to reconsider in light of what the Court does.

But in the meantime the fight will be over the 2018 elections, and I expect NC may seek to get the Supreme Court to stop the fast tracking of redistricting changes in time for the 2018 elections. The Supreme Court could well agree to stay the district court proceedings, at least based on its recent track record.

This is a huge win for the plaintiffs but with an uncertain future at the Supreme Court.

And, by “Supreme Court,” everybody means “Anthony Kennedy.”  Kind of sad that this should ultimately be so partisan, but it clearly is.

And, while I’m at it, really nice NY Review of Books essay on the matter.  I especially liked this part:

During oral arguments, the Supreme Court’s four most conservative members did not sound convinced. Justice Neil Gorsuch likened the formula for the efficiency gap to his steak rub: “I like some turmeric, I like a few other little ingredients, but I’m not going to tell you how much of each.” Chief Justice John Roberts dismissed it as “sociological gobbledygook.” And, famously concerned about the court’s reputation, the chief justice fretted that intervening in a case with such clear partisan implications would be seen by “the intelligent man on the street” as an effort to help one party at the expense of the other, causing “very serious harm to the status and integrity of the decisions of this court.” (Why, despite the court’s conservative, Republican-appointed majority, this hypothetical intelligent man would be likelier to see partisan bias in a ruling to intervene, benefiting Democrats, than in a ruling not to, benefiting the GOP, was left unexplained. Maybe the man wasn’t as intelligent as Roberts thought.)

Or, maybe, John “sociological gobbledygook” Roberts is more of a partisan hack than everybody thought.

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