Gerrymandering's Coming Home To Roost

So this week we saw the first time since the 19th century that a House leader lost in a primary. Some will attribute this to Cantor’s support of immigration reform. Some will see this as the ascendancy of the Tea Party on the right. I suppose both of those are true.

But I think we are seeing something else. Gerrymandering is coming home to roost.

We have turned our electoral maps into something that look like a warped jigsaw puzzle and we have districts where only Republicans can win and we have districts where only Democrats can win.

This leads to a situation where the more moderate candidate in a primary is vulnerable and the more extreme candidate is at an advantage. And we see this effect play out in the House Of Representatives.

Right now, this is more of an issue for the Republicans, where they are being driven more and more to the right every day. And that may well keep them in control of the House for a long time, but may also keep them out of the White House just as long. Because extremist positions help win primaries and primary winners take the general election in a gerrymandered district. But national elections, like the Presidential election are not won on the extremes.

This all leads to gridlock and posturing and a federal government that is more political than practical. Which is a bad thing in the long run.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    Power and money. Don’t think any politician cares about much else. Sorry to be the pessimist du jour.#yeahoversimplified

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Money rules because thems the rules that have been allowed to stand.That is what you get when you populate the supreme court with political hacks instead of thinkers dedicated to safeguarding hard fought historical gains round basic philosophical principles of justice.

    2. Frank Traylor

      It’s simpler than that Jim. It’s Darwinian. Politicians only care about winning elections. Losing means that they cease to exist (as politicians). Whether through power, money, gerrymandering, kissing babies, scathing TV ads, they will do what’s required to exist. #simplifiedevenfurther

      1. Frank Traylor

        To be fair, good governance is also a factor in winning elections… just far less potent than power, money, gerrymandering, and negative campaigning.

  2. Richard

    The DC Political Parties are the oldest longest standing businesses in the US. And monopolies at that. They control more money than anything the world had ever seen. In any other space they would have long ago been broken up.

    1. awaldstein

      I don’t buy this as it breeds nothing but excuses.”It’s just business” is a line from a movie, not an election speech.

      1. Richard

        Live or spend a few years in DC, Potomac Md, Middleburg VA and you’ll understand what this means.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      Change their business model by take money out of the election process !Everyone knows that this is the problem.What is the roadblock ?This is a chicken or egg problem and they can be very hard to solve.

      1. Richard

        Problem is that money is not the Ends but rather it is the Means to the End, Ends are power and membership to the political elite (where money itself has no value!)

    1. phoneranger

      Nice maps. Obama wins VA twice. Two Dem Senators. Reps 8 Dems 3 in the House. Democracy at work.

      1. Dan Epstein

        Texas is interesting, too. Especially near big cities.

  3. Tom Labus

    In “Stress Test” Geithner talks about the partisan votes in the height of the Crash/Panic. GOP Senators voting for the first tranche of TARP and then switching votes once administrations changed.

    1. pointsnfigures

      TARP was a bad idea. Should have let the banks go broke.

      1. Tom Labus

        And we would have all gone down. It was full scale panic at that point

        1. pointsnfigures

          John Cochrane John Taylor and a lot of economists disagree with you. Bankruptcy has a nice effect on risk taking. What we have today in the aftermath will blow up again, for certain. But, who knows when?

          1. Tom Labus

            And I can list ones that agree. Read Paulson’s book on the where we were on the Sunday night of LEH bankruptcy. No choice

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            Of course it will happen again !The greed fest of unregulated wealth concentration continues unabated and will again stall commercial cyclicality. Wealth concentration is not so much immoral as it is mathematically unsustainable.It is not about regulation bad free-for-all-markets good. It is about clever regulation that effectively dovetails with larger operational social realities.All complex system need regulation. The devil is in the regulatory details. Getting it right means App/data driven metrics that include feedback loops with meaningful dashboards that are conceptually accessible to mass-culture.

          3. pointsnfigures

            I disagree. Who lines their pockets risk free the most? Corporations or politicians? Check insider trading laws and the average salary of a govt vs private employee before you answer.there is no such thing as clever regulation.

          4. SubstrateUndertow

            there is no such thing as clever regulationIsn’t that is a bit of a defeatist attitude ?I will agree with you that the type of complex regulatory mechanisms required to smooth out extremes in hunan commerce will require new, somewhat abstract, mass-culture memes. New memes that appreciate human social dynamics as an instantiation of complex organically interdependent living systems and that these abstracted human organizational memes will indeed take time to emerge.The synchronicities inherent in a network economy, like all major technological leaps, will profoundly reshape our collective sense of social reality/dynamics.I think we may be operating under two different definition of the word REGULATION.I’m thinking REGULATION in complex distributive systems, in system dynamics that exhibit “non-trival cause spread” where they are not purely top down forms of REGULATION.I’m thinking in terms of REGULATION that exhibits a more statistically-anarchical, a more distributively-organic style of algorithmically mediated libertarianism.That seems like the inevitable end point under technological network-conditions that universally trend towards evermore algorithmically mediated interdependencies.History is long and our lives are short!Let’s just hope that big-data-driven, interdependency-mediated, distributively-driven, network-synchronized, SOCIAL-REGULATORY-DYNAMICS emerge on internet time.Then again you may be right ?Just because cells can muster that kind of complex organizational dynamic does not guarantee that that cognitive survival strategy is repeatable at the level of human social dynamics.Our localized self-interest-based evolutionary trajectory may indeed be a “too-clever-by-half” evolutionary cup-de-sack that limits our entry into such organically-distributive regulatory organizational dynamics.Regardless, our only possible path out of our localized self-interest-based evolutionary cup-de-sack is via a new toolkit of collectively abstracted mass-culture memes that effectively grapple with the accelerating realities of our technological interdependence.We are really facing an existential, do-or-die, trip-the-switch, evolutionary phase change moment !

  4. chrisdorr

    In the current cycle, the gerrymandering has been done by Republican controlled state legislatures, so the redistricting has favored the Republicans. In 2012 election more people voted for congressional democrats than republicans on a national basis but more republicans won office–gerrymandering at work. So the popular votes of the people have not been followed as a result.

  5. William Mougayar

    Speaking of elections, today is the Ontario provincial elections. I’m going to vote shortly on my way to my meetings downtown.But I can see how the composition of voting districts/maps can indirectly rig who is going to win. These schemes are old school. How does it get disrupted?

    1. awaldstein

      Even though I lived in Canada for awhile I’ve never really understand the relationship between you and the UK.It is true that part of your tax dollars go to support representatives of the Queen?

      1. William Mougayar

        Not much, probably $35M total. Good question, though!”It costs an average of $1.10 per Canadian to support the Monarchy in Canada. This money does not go to the routine expenses of the Queen, but rather to the offices of the Governor General and Lieutenant Governor. At no time do Canadians “pay money” to Britain or to the Royal Family. The only tax dollars that are spent on the monarchy are for the Vice Regal offices and Royal Visits.”

        1. awaldstein

          Sounds like an expensive club membership to me.

          1. William Mougayar

            Tell that to the Queen 🙂

          2. awaldstein

            there is not an iota of royal family interest in me.

          3. LE

            The royals are not of any interest to me at all, but the fact that the media and the public are interested in the royals [1] is very interesting to me.[1] And the Kennedys of course. Or Jackie.

          4. phoneranger

            To many Anglo-Canadians keeping the Queen on the quarter is worth more than all the poutine in PQ.

          5. SubstrateUndertow

            I grow up in Quebec – I prefer poutine !As cheesy as that may be.

          6. LE

            I know about all the “people starving in the UK” stuff but to me anything Queen related in the UK is a huge win for the British people. They get obvious PR and economic value from that whole royals thing. I have no clue exactly what that monarchy costs but I simply can’t imagine that it isn’t made up with a halo to the country.Separately, our next President is getting new Boeing 747. The story line in the news is that it’s more economical and fuel efficient. You know because our President travels so much that they have to worry about gas mileage and fuel efficiency. (As if he’s an airline traveling 365 days of the year or something).

          7. Cam MacRae

            It’s the same in Australia. The Governor General has a very important constitutional role.Often seems odd to those from the US, but I would much rather have an appointed representative of the Queen hold the reserve powers and act as head of state than a publicly elected president.

    2. pointsnfigures

      In Illinois we have a bipartisan movement to go to a different redistricting formula that will bring reality and fairness back to maps. It’s being financed by well heeled investors from both parties. But, we have to get it through the Democratic machine first. Not easy.

      1. William Mougayar

        Change doesn’t come easy in politics.

  6. Dan Putt

    In a thread on Reddit last week about Gerrymandering, the “Governator,” weighed in with his thoughts (and warns about sending extreme politicians to Washington):

  7. Salt Shaker

    Politicians need to understand they represent the constituency they were elected to serve. You lose touch w/ the mothership and you go down. Way too much posturing and pandering in pursuit of a personal or party agenda that isn’t necessarily aligned with the constituents who elected him. You reap what you sow. Not sure I’d classify this as naïveté, ignorance or arrogance, but it’s likely some combination of the three.

  8. baba12

    The extreme right in the U.S. primarily of white men who are in the age range of 35-55 and their lady partners. These folks feel marginalized, they are acting like a wounded tiger that has lost it’s ability to hunt and will attack anything just to survive another day. The extreme right wing which does not even know what it meant to be at the Boston Tea Party is just trying to survive without making any effort to change.This group can’t accept federally funded programs to possibly help them change ( goes against their philosophy). As much as they want less government and less regulation they also can’t survive without either of them. What does this mean for innovation?

    1. pointsnfigures

      That’s not actually true. The groundswell in the Republican Party is multicultural—but more importantly it is for smaller government, fiscal responsibility, less government interference (see the recent FDA ruling on cheese making), no corporate welfare or subsidies. Most people would call this “classical liberalism”. A nice book about it is America 3.0.…Remember, govt programs only create artificial economic incentives. No government social program has worked to solve any problem it has attempted to solve. Once there is a government program, corporations engage in regulatory capture to maximize it for their shareholders.Do Democratic voters have the same intestinal fortitude to toss out their leadership? Would you vote against Harry Reid, Pelosi, Hoyer, Durbin in a primary?This election should have shaken up Republicans. Big time.

      1. baba12

        Your view point of less government would be fine in a perfect world. Unfortunately when u have a business philosophy that wants to maximize profits at all costs, then you end up with issues, that then make societies wanting some rules/regulations in place.As for the groundswell in the Republican Party isn’t multicultural. You would be hard pressed to find minorities being at so called tea party rallies.. assuming the groundswell you are talking about is primarily within the subset of the Republican Party that is the tea party…You would be hard pressed to find a right wing Republican would be pro-choice, for gay rights etc, they would want not less government in such situations but have government regulate/rule such things.I see this groundswell will eventually become extinct. They are fighting hard against the inevitable…We shall see…

        1. Dave Pinsen

          When minorities share Republican views, they are welcomed – 90% of Republican primary voters in South Carolina just voted for a black candidate in their Senate primary, and the Republican governor of that state is an Indian-American. But I think it’s unrealistic, in the longer term, to expect whites to become a minority in the US and not start voting more like a minority group. I think that’s inevitable.

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        Would that be smaller government dedicated to enforcing moral constraints on citizens ?

      3. LE

        Would you vote againstWhy flip a coin when you can just go with the devil you know?

  9. Mark Gavagan

    Some think gridlock is a good thing, because it means special interests aren’t getting favored legislation passed and things aren’t getting more screwed-up than they already are.I’m not entirely in that camp, but I do see that gridlock can have some benefits.

  10. Salt Shaker

    Gerrymandering is a softer version of election rigging in Iraq or Egypt.

    1. BillMcNeely

      politicians in both countries would proud

      1. Salt Shaker

        So Brat will get a free lube job from Baugh Body Repair, a health club membership from Walker Fitness and his rugs cleaned from Covered Cleaning Concepts.Same BS….different scale.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I doubt that, but if you’re in favor of so-called “public financing” of elections (i.e., government financing), Brat’s win raises an interesting question: would a government campaign finance board ever have backed him?

          1. Salt Shaker

            Perhaps not, but way too much is being made of the disparity in spending between Cantor and Brat (a great name for a politician, btw). Bottom line: Cantor lost touch, although he’ll likely snag a cushy job at some prestigious law firm. The real loser here is us–the American public. The more divisive and dysfunctional the GOP becomes, and this win certainly will embolden the Tea Party, even temporarily, the less likely anything will get done in DC, particularly with a lame duck POTUS. Sadly, you think things can’t get worse, and perhaps they may.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            If this prevents a bad and unpopular policy from being enacted (immigration “reform” that would raise unemployment and lower American wages by flooding a weak labor market), then the American public will have won.

          3. Salt Shaker

            Yes, but an “American win” will be less about unpopular policies than Washington’s unprecedented dysfunction and inability to compromise and agree on anything. Immigration reform was a key reason (one of several) for Mitt’s demise and the GOP hasn’t learned a thing. The parties have such deep-rooted disdain for one another that a position today as an elected official–certainly on the national stage–has become somewhat ceremonial. These guys need to be held more accountable to performance metrics, and not just at the ballot box. They should be rated annually by constituents on a range of criteria, just like the taste of a Big Mac or a JD Powers auto survey.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            If the national GOP runs on Brat’s platform, they can win. In no way did opposition to amnesty hurt Romney (if anything, he would have done better if Republicans were more convinced of his opposition). McCain was a huge cheerleader for open borders, and he only got 31% of the Latino vote in ’08.The idea that Republicans are hurting themselves by not passing an immigration bill that would make the electorate more Democrat is ludicrous. How can you believe it?What is the theory behind it, that Latino voters would start voting Republican out of gratitude for amnesty? That experiment has been tried already. After Reagan’s amnesty in 1986, his successor got 30% of the Latino vote in 1988.Republicans will do better listening to their voters than to Democrats.

          5. Salt Shaker

            If Mitt Romney had received the 44% Latino vote that Bush got in 2004, he’d be eating Executive Chef tacos as we speak. Mitt got crushed by the Latino vote in key swing states: 58 vs. 40% in FL, 87 vs. 10% in CO, 80 vs. 17% in NV, and 66 vs. 31% in VA. Do you think Mitt ran a smart campaign? If that recent documentary “Mitt” had aired pre-election he might have had a better shot. Very well produced and it projected a very approachable, down-to-earth, sensitive, image of the man. Basically, it made him quite likable.

          6. Dave Pinsen

            Bush didn’t win 44% of the Hispanic vote, he won 40%:…Hispanics made up 10% of the electorate in 2012. Romney lost the popular vote by 4%. Increasing his share of the Hispanic vote from 23% to 40% or even 44% wouldn’t have made the difference. Romney lost because he didn’t get enough white voters to turnout: http://www.realclearpolitic

          7. Alex Murphy

            So is your thesis that Republicans should focus on white voters in 2014 and 2016?

          8. Dave Pinsen

            I think they should run on Brat’s platform. If they do that, they will improve their share of the minority vote as well. But they can’t win without increasing white turnout.

          9. Salt Shaker

            This election stat says Bush got 44% of Latino in ’04.…More importantly, Romney in total didn’t lose by many votes in key battleground states. For example, in FL. he lost overall by 1% and the Latino vote by 18pp. How can you say Latino’s didn’t make a difference? If the GOP continues to pander to the White vote they’re dead in the water. Demographics have been shifting for years and they’ve failed to recognize. Common sense rules.Oh, for the record, I can give two shits about party politics. That’s why our system no longer works. Priorities have been compromised. I vote for the best candidate, irrespective of party.

          10. Dave Pinsen

            I didn’t say the Latino vote didn’t make a difference. I said if he had gotten Bush’s share of the Latino vote, he still wouldn’t have won, all else equal. That’s true.The 44% stat was wrong, as the link I included explained.Demographics have been shifting due to immigration, so the solution for the GOP is to accelerate that shift via more of the same? That’s not common sense, it’s folly.Brat’s win is an example of our system working.

          11. Salt Shaker

            The best thing about Brat’s win is the people spoke their mind. Majority of votes weren’t bought. Mitch McConell has to be shitting in his pants. Latest polls have him behind 49-46%. I too am not in favor of amnesty, but we do need reform. Prob is the bar has now been set at a high (and irrational) level.

          12. Dave Pinsen

            The pro immigration pols have earned the voters’ distrust over the last 8 years or so. They will have to earn it back before a real compromise immigration bill is possible.Incidentally, here is an NYT analysis of the role of the Latino vote in Romney’s loss: http://thecaucus.blogs.nyti…Tl;dr: Romney would have lost even if he had done considerably better with Latinos.

          13. Salt Shaker

            Good analysis on NYT on Latino vote, thanks for sharing. I think immigration reform will only grow in importance, unless a compromise bill is passed, which, as you know, is quite far from a reality. The Latino vote in 2016 will only grow in importance, as will the number of Latinos who head to the polls. The GOP needs to expand its base, even marginally, beyond white males to include Latinos and Women. The 7th District in VA. Is hardly a microcosm of the U.S., either demographically or ideologically. Cantor’s defeat was more a referendum on his dissonance and isolation from his constituency than Brat’s ideology. Brat’s message surely resonated, but Cantor’s ego, arrogance and naïveté allowed him to steal home plate.

          14. Alex Murphy

            An Immigration bill doesn’t need to mean amnesty, at least in my simple opinion.Amnesty incentivizes the wrong behaviors. Whether its a wall, or whatever, we need to stop the flow. Probably the best way to do that is to create more free trade and make lives in their countries better. I heard Brat say that Tuesday night and immediately thought more highly of him.Having said that, we do need immigration reform. Most notably in how we allow our companies to recruit the best and smartest talent from around the world. – We need to be a magnet for all entrepreneurs that will come with means to start their business- We need to allow the students that learn here, on our subsidized dollar, to stay here…actually, we need to encourage that outcome.We need to recognize that our country is a melting pot of immigrants with one common goal, to do better here than they did somewhere else. Its been the American story for the last 500 years. We have lost that understanding over the last 10+ years.

          15. Dave Pinsen

            Alex, in recent years “comprehensive immigration reform” has absolutely meant amnesty for illegal immigrants and increasing legal immigration.I agree with you that it would be good if lives could be made better in foreign countries, but giving a green card to their most talented residents does the opposite: it leads to a brain drain.I also agree with you about incentives. You know what would give foreign countries an incentive to improve their living standards? Insisting on balanced migration: X citizens from your country can migrate to the US this year if X Americans moved to your country last year.

          16. ShanaC

            They’d win by claiming God and economics are the same? Id doubt that, especially in the long term. A large number of millennials are “Unchurched. ” they will vote. I don’t think that chunk wants God in the treasury

          17. Dave Pinsen

            No, Shana, Brat never claimed that.If millennials are content with the status quo, they can keep voting for Democrats. But I suspect many millennials, saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of student debt and struggling to find decent jobs, would be open to some fresh ideas.

    2. ShanaC

      Ironically, the idea was to be fairer

  11. Philip Smith

    First, moderates have been disappearing from both parties for many years. I think this reflects less gerrymandering than possibly the impact of social media on the extremes of both parties. Emails that I receive from both sides of the aisle show little in the way of moderation.As a result, I think we are seeing a higher level of participation by the extremes in both parties in the primary process. This is only made worse by a certain level of disillusionment by those in the middle leading to decreased participation.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Moderates are typical low-information types, who haven’t been exposed to enough information to form strong opinions. With the ubiquity of information today, it’s not surprising there are fewer moderates.

      1. Philip Smith

        Low information types are all over the political spectrum. I believe that political primaries have come to be dominated by voters who are at the extreme (most conservative or most liberal) on almost all issues. Since those are the voters that may make a difference in a primary, those voters have a more significant influence. I believe that leads politicians of both parties to be less willing to compromise.For example, I am very conservative from a fiscal perspective, but because I don’t walk the complete conservative line, I would have very little chance in a primary.We live in a complex world where a little outside the box thinking sometimes requires straying from a strict party line. I think that type of negotiation is just a little tougher these days.

  12. Alex Murphy

    Gerrymandering is unquestionably causing more polarization. However, I don’t think that is as much of a factor here.His district doesn’t appear to be against immigration reform. http://www.americansunitedf… Dave Brat received just about zero support from the Tea Party.Brat’s core platform is centered around decentralization. This fits into your Gerrymandering topic, but its not as though Cantor was pro Gov.The X factor here seems to be the negative sentiment about Cantor. His approval numbers in his district are low. He upset his tea party base which is why the Radio Heads started to talk up Brat and to talk down Cantor. This resulted in people voting against Cantor more than for Brat. That is a trend that may follow to a lot of other races.The interesting part that ties back to Gerrymandering is that even though nobody knew who Brat was Tuesday morning, he is already the overwhelming favorite to win since he is the Republican candidate in that district.

    1. Frank Traylor

      Was the negative sentiment due to a politician that had run amok? Or someone that was trying to make hard choices that caused the voters pain. No agenda, honest question. I think that it can be hard for politicians to do what is needed because we the people don’t realize how screwed we are… and because they promised to fix everything with no pain.

      1. Alex Murphy

        My perspective is that he made a deal with a group (tea party) and when he didn’t follow their unwavering requirement of 100% compliance with their collective issues it came back to kill him.The mantra in the Tea Party seems to leave very little room (if any) for compromise. It seems that as soon as you compromise, you have failed.There is no room for that line of thinking in politics. It is the compromise that makes democracy work. Nobody has a monopoly on all the good ideas and approaches.The Gerrymandering issue is very real because instead of their being a fight about which way to lean on the compromise, its a referendum on whether or not you (the politician) followed the hardline enough.

    2. ShanaC

      Does that mean the Cantor seat will turn democrat

      1. Alex Murphy

        No. The district is incredibly Republican. And the opponent he Brat is running against is just as unknown. So party lines will most likely hold true.

  13. PsySciGuy

    Premise demonstratively false:Obama was elected. obama most extreme president in US history. more lefty BS

    1. Elia Freedman

      Really? More left than Wilson, Johnson and Carter?

      1. pointsnfigures

        Obama is left of them all.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          Talk like that is just a bunch idealogical Left oversEven if one is willing to traffic in obsolescent 19th century idealogical Left overs, Obama just looks kind of logical from my Canadian perspective.Yes I know it is ill advised to be opening my outsider’s budinskey mouth on this topic.Sorry couldn’t resist.

        2. ShanaC

          Left how?

          1. pointsnfigures

            He isn’t for private solutions, he is for hierarchy, centralized government solutions. Way out of step for the times, way out of step with most of America.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      There you go !Left – Right – Left – Right -Left – RightCircling the drain,caught in the vestigial vortex of a obsolete/dysfunctional 19th century meme!Maybe in an age of organic App/data driven social synchronicity toolsit is time to move onfrompolitics by ideologytopolitics by goal and function- App/data driven debates around prioritizing social goals- App/data driven debates around practical implementation options- App/data driven food fights over which implementation methods best service the most stockholdersYes I know that is just pie in the sky.Yet every social advance starts as pie in the sky !

  14. Robert Heiblim

    Thank you Fred. This is an important topic as gerrymandering fuels division and leads to no progress. Looking at these maps makes clear they are not done to serve voters but to serve politics. Whether they work or not they seem wrong and can have unforeseen effects, the real boogeyman here. No matter where on the spectrum you are, likely if you participate in politics you care about your country. If we can get nothing done due to separation into only like minded groups how do we move forward rather than left or right?

  15. pointsnfigures

    The feedback from the electorate is that Cantor cared more about national power, and less about his district. BMWITY, Illinois is extremely gerrymandered. Our Democrats are as extreme lefty as you can get.I reject the notion that Brat is a move to the right. In fact, Cantor may be right of Brat. Brat is an econ professor that is for term limits, for fiscal conservatism, for free markets, against crony capitalism and for competition. How can anyone be against that?

    1. Elia Freedman

      Is he for these things or does he just say he is for these things? That’s two very different things. What in his history tells you he really will vote this way once elected?

      1. pointsnfigures

        No real way to tell. He was an econ prof, served on some public policy boards etc. He was active in his community. He gets two years. If he doesn’t live up to what he says, they will vote him out.

        1. Elia Freedman

          You’re an optimist! I didn’t know that. :-)Vote him out. Your funny. Once in a blue moon that happens.

          1. pointsnfigures

            I am a Republican in Illinois and a Cubs fan, I have to be optimistic! On his website, he is limiting himself to max 12yrs.

          2. Elia Freedman

            🙂 In 12 years we’ll see if he walks away. Politicians always seem to be for term limits before their elected and then ignore it when they are.

          3. pointsnfigures

            In Illinois, they serve in their elected office, then set up a law office to help the businesses they regulate get exceptions, or they take a govt job and double, triple dip. Not to mention the bribes they take to get things done.BTW, Cantor spent $5M, Brat spent $120k. Money doesn’t necessarily buy elections. Brat engaged bloggers, radio hosts, and social media to win.

          4. LE

            100 year storm. Will be much harder for the next guy who comes from nowhere for sure.This will be helpful to any incumbent actually. Now they will have a way to strongly motivate supporters to show up at the polls to make sure they aren’t “brated” out of office. I think it could end up being quite motivating. Actually, no, it will be quite motivating.

          5. jasonsmartin

            If you like the Bears there may be hope for you because so far your 0 for 2

    2. Dave W Baldwin

      Thanks for your input. The press has it wrong as they keep doing the lead as the Tea Party won. The Tea Party didn’t participate. It is more interesting that the contest this November will be between two employees of the same college (I think I have that right).It does come down to the voters thinking that Cantor was not paying attention to them and his error for not beginning his speeches with the big thank to his constituents for their patience with him having to do the things he has to do as Majority Leader.But for now, we can go through the motions of the press proclaiming the Republicans need to find themselves, are in disarray, the Tea Party takes over and so on. Thanks again for sticking to your position

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Rich Lowry had a good piece on this:…In a nutshell, Cantor wasn’t a bad pol, and was reliably conservative on a number of issues, but what sank him was the suspicion that he would help sell out Republican voters on immigration.

    4. ShanaC

      That’s true of Republicans in Illinois as well

      1. pointsnfigures

        How so? Republicans in IL have zero power. (although there are plenty of crony capitalists among the ones that are in power)

        1. ShanaC

          Down south they do, but Chicago is just too big to allow the rest of the state to be heard

  16. harris497

    Folks, this is the first of many. The R party is in disarray particularly after last year. The more extreme districts will become more so to defend their position, but the less extreme districts will hit the reset button and attempt to start over. Lots more to come in the way of surprises…

    1. pointsnfigures

      The Republicans will gain seats in the House, win the Senate in November.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      To most Republican voters, the Eric Cantor / Barack Obama position on immigration is the extreme one. Precipitating a refugee crisis by encouraging foreign, unaccompanied minors to illegally migrate to the US via promises of de facto amnesty sounds less reasonable to them than Brat’s message:

  17. Mark Gannon

    The gerrymandering explanation has some well researched opposition. In a nutshell, because Ds congregate in cities and Rs are dispersed across much wider geography, the Rs will have an advantage even if the maps are drawn neutrally. I believe it is reasonable to conclude that gerrymandering helped the Rs a little bit, but isn’t a complete explanation.California made two changes to address this problem (I voted for both). First an initiative required an independent citizen’s commission to draw the new maps. The result was that the Ds picked up seats, because the previous maps gave the Rs safe districts in return for their acquiescence. The second change was moving to a top two primary regardless of party affiliation. This means that in districts that are dominated by one party, winning the primary by moving to the furthest pole (either left or right) will no longer guarantee a politician an election.For me, the jury is still out on whether the reforms will have their intended impact. I’m closely watching what happens in CA-04, where a veteran R (and and a hypocrite) who has made a career of being to the right of everyone is being challenged by a conservative with less extreme views (The challenger is a West Point Grad!). If the extreme right winger losses, it will be reasonable to conclude that the changes have had their desired impact.

    1. ShanaC

      That means city interests are underrepresented. Which means my vote matters less…

  18. Twain Twain

    UK Daily Mail: Too many trips to the Hamptons and Swiss Alps, $70,000 steak dinners and negative adverts that backfired: How hubris caused the downfall of House Leader Eric CantorRead more:…DM is pro-Conservatives.I’m wondering if the Chinese have been able to build the world’s biggest economy because they don’t have gridlock?

  19. ErikSchwartz

    VA 7th district election results.5.5% – Brat 4.5% – Cantor 90% – Not caring enough about ANY of the issues the candidates were discussing in the election to turn off the TV, get off the couch, and show up and vote.Apathy wins a landslide. Brat comes in a distant second. — The tea party should think carefully before taking these results as a mandate on issues.I think it was a total tactical failure of the people running Cantor’s campaign. His polling showed a 34 point lead. He thought he was safe. He did not feel he needed to spend money on retail politics like GOTV efforts. Sadly for him the quality of the data science in GOP polling recently has been terrible, so the 34 point lead was an artifact of poor methodology.If their data team had been competent they would have seen a low turnout and a ~8000 vote deficit to make up. How much money spent in GOTV efforts would it take to bring 8-10K more Cantor voters to the polls in a very low turnout election? I don’t know the specific number. My guess is it would have been a smaller number than the Cantor campaign spent on steak dinners.This was a failure of strategy on the ground. The failure was rooted in a lack of understanding and proper interpretation of available data and poor methodology in data sampling leading up to the election.The GOPs lack of trust in data and scientific method is starting to cost them in elections. We scientists call this natural selection.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      A different perspective on the turnout numbers:Sixty-five thousand ballots were cast in the Cantor-Brat contest. That is not a large turnout for a congressional primary election — it’s gigantic. In Cantor’s 2012 primary, 47,037 people voted. In the only other two congressional primaries in Virginia on Tuesday — the day with all that rain! — 38,855 people voted in one and 17,444 in the other.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        Normally you would expect a presidential election year primary to have much higher turnout. In 2012 because people missed filing deadlines there were only 2 presidential candidates on the GOP ballot (Romney and Paul). That hurt turnout.In the House primary Cantor was running against a guy who he had destroyed two years earlier when the guy ran as a green candidate. An ex green running in the GOP does not instill a lot of fear in a district like VA7.Confounders are a bitch. Another part of data science people like Ann Coulter know nothing about.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          I wouldn’t be so quick to assume ignorance on Coulter’s part.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            I’ve met her several times back in the Foneshow days. We talked quite a bit mostly about the growth of mobile (she thought mobile would never substantially impact terrestrial radio) and the radio industry (she hated advanced metrics like the PPM). She’s not stupid but the position and agenda drives the data, not the other way around.

          2. ShanaC

            That’s a situation ripe for Gigo . You’ll never let the data speak for itself

          3. LE

            Agree. My comment above basically.

        2. LE

          Coulter is an entertainer. Her job doesn’t involve doing or saying anything other than things that get people to focus on her in order to further her product “Ann Coulter”.…Coulter has described herself as a polemicist who likes to “stir up the pot”, and does not “pretend to be impartial or balanced, as broadcasters do”,[2] sometimes drawing criticism from the right, as well as the left.Back when I actively courted being mentioned in the press my sole objective was to say things that would get me mentioned in the press. To pre feed them bites that I knew would get me some form of mention. And that mention, to this day, still puts a bit of money in my pocket many years later.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            Yup.If people cut and paste her work into internet comments she has achieved her goal.

      2. ErikSchwartz

        I also not sure how people saying this district is usually 93% apathetic and now it is only 90% apathetic gives anyone a mandate for anything.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          “Mandate” is a straw man, but I think you’re whistling past the graveyard here. A sitting House Majority Leader was defeated for the first time ever, by a guy he outspent 25-1. Dismissing that result as a tiny ripple in a sea of apathy seems a stretch.

    2. LE

      I could, as usual, argue either side of this.On the one hand I could say, remembering the lesson learned from the movie “Halloween”, (back when Jamie was hot) that “the monster is never dead never turn your back on the monster”. Remember the scene where you think it’s dead but it’s not dead, right?On that point they shouldn’t have assumed anything and been lax and lazy (to get people to turn out) and that assumes that the polling wasn’t messed up in some way (which it was). Because the monster is never dead. You always put in the effort. I’m sure anyone who watches sports (I don’t as I always mention) has seen these upset victories where the dominant team is crushed by some unlikely underdog because they thought they had it in the can.But on the other side I could argue that you deploy resources where you think it is needed based on available information. And you don’t spend time and effort on things that appear to not be necessary according to the way you view things at the time after careful consideration.Of course in retrospect many things appear obvious. It appears there was a total fuck up here. But the outcome was quite unusual, so unusual it hadn’t happened in over 100 years. So it’s not exactly crystal clear that you can or should put in effort for 100 year storms. [1][1] My guess is that Fred hasn’t installed the backup generator at his house near the water yet.

      1. ErikSchwartz

        My point here is the failing is in the quality of the available information.Cantor’s polls showed him winning easily. He assumed based on this that the “monster was dead”. This information was flawed. Romney’s pollsters in 2012 also provided flawed information. The GOP polling in 2008 was also off.Self deceptive intel leads to poor decisions. You don’t want a pollster who tells you what you want to hear.IMOJamie is still hot, she’s just no longer 22.

        1. LE

          The short gray hair looks good on you but not on a woman.Anyway as far as looks Cantor is the type of guy that I wouldn’t want marrying my daughter. I just never liked the way he carried himself and that stupid forced grin (which he displayed yesterday as well instead of acting like a real person who had just been devastated by that life event).That said he’s got great name recognition and will return to politics one day. I don’t think a theoretical narcissist like that is just going to go into private life.

      2. cuchulain

        –“I could, as usual, argue either side of this.”Oh please. Spare us.

    3. JaredMermey

      If only voting was easier.

    4. Matt Zagaja

      If the voters exist the cost can be calculated with this simple formula:8000 voters * 20 voters that need to be contacted by a canvasser to turnout a new vote * 3 hours for a canvasser to make 20 live contacts * $15/hour average canvasser wage = 7.2 million dollars.Obviously it’d change substantially as you work it on the ground and get new data, but it’s a decent ballpark figure.EDIT: See comment below for value of double checking your math. 🙂

      1. ErikSchwartz

        So you are saying the average cost of GOTV efforts is ~$900/vote ($7.2M/8000)? That seems high.8,000 votes * 20 voters contacted is 160,000 contacts required to get the 8,000 new votes. 3 hours to make 20 live contacts is a rate of 6.67 live contacts/hour. 160,000 contacts at a rate of 6.67 contacts/hour = ~24,000 hours. 24,000 hours * $15/hr = $360,000, not $7.2M.That is $45/vote for GOTV efforts and that seems much more reasonable.Your math and my math are different by a factor of 20. You multiplied by the contact rate and you needed to divide by it.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          Oops, I did fire that off a bit too fast. That certainly shows the value of having a comments section where smarter people are checking your work. Thanks!

      2. cuchulain

        Matt, you seem like a bright kid. Apply that computing power to creative finance for a small failing city to finance its own rebirth w/o developer scum, from within, or to a future career in engineering of some kind. This politics crap is so boring.

        1. Matt Zagaja

          After having job searched for the past year or so; I’ve learned that being bright (or hardworking) is not sufficient to get yourself on payroll. You have to get hired. That means the organization needs to have money to pay you, and then they have to want you more than any other person that has applied for the position. Typically for the kind of government job you suggest they get 100+ applicants (I’m told federal jobs tend to be at least 400). I have a pretty good resume, but maybe not *that* good.

    5. cuchulain

      More frikkin blather. Who gives a sh*t. The real data is the 90%. Americans understand (though there are many lazybones, too) that the electoral and legislative processes are kabuki. They’re saving or strategizing for the SHTF event. When it comes, I’m sure you’ll be contemplating districts and poll strategies and tv quotes and belly-button lint.

  20. Evan

    This had more to do with a congressman losing touch with his constituents. Cantor was busy focusing on his leadership ambitions instead of paying attention to his district.It may be trite, but Tip O’Neill said it right: all politics is local.

  21. WA

    I had the pleasure of seeing Andy Friedman speak (The Washington Update) last week in Denver. Fred, your topic is precisely his point on the impact the gerrymandering would have. He drove home that this impact was to be more critical in the primaries than the general election. I have seen Andy speak several times. He is usually right on target and his views and beats the puck there more often than not. His website can be found at This is not a shameless plug BTW. I find more relevant learning and the ability to keep myself current across the wide variety of intellect and self actualized members of this community than in most any other places on line. I do not find the inflection point to constructively contribute to the AVC discourse as much as I wish I could. When I cross other pools of genius in terrain I am more familiar with, as in this case, please accept this path as my homage the AVC community. It pales in regard to what I have harvested from all of you since 2004 – but for that, I am grateful. Thanks.

  22. Dave W Baldwin

    It is a complicated matter and would require a change to the rules that don’t sunset. Both parties do it.

  23. Dorian Benkoil

    Fred, I had the same thoughts. And I am troubled. There are not only national implications, as you say, in causing gridlock — and hostility and overweight representation of a vocal minority — but also, I feel, a disservice to those in the Gerrymandered districts.Yes, short-term, the representatives from those districts reflect those voters’ views. Meanwhile, though, the people in those districts have less contact with larger realities and may thus, for now and in future generations, be worse positioned for future success. As just one example: Those lacking experience in ethnically and racially diverse communities may lack the education and skills that would help them lead in a 21st century company.

    1. cuchulain

      What blather. I think you mean: they’re not taught how to be more PC and bend to how the “culture” gets steered by those from afar. Huh? The education? You mean the re-education? Any down to earth regular American is perfectly well respectful of foreigners and interested in their contributions. It doesn’t require that they’re disadvantaged because they don’t want to live in a “diverse” communty. If this is a problem for you, then perhaps it’s your problem and not Americans’. Get it?

  24. kidmercury

    nobody cares. the country is already gone, the collapse is well underway, and the rise of the platform is destined and inevitable. a few more years tops before this statement becomes boring and self-evident.

    1. cuchulain


  25. Randy Lariar

    Another interesting observation is how partisanship is losing predictive power in elections versus the perception of being establishment/outders:…Could it be that an abundance of districts which are gerrymandered for single party dominance would cause the big contests to turn on insider/outsider arguments instead? Are we headed to a country where the two parties are incumbent and not? I’m sure some would argue we’re already there. I wouldn’t go that far, but does make you think – if we “throw the bums out” are we solving the root of the problem?

    1. cuchulain

      Who cares. Really. Depends on what you think the problem is, and its root. Too vague. More blather & soap opera. Do you work for Jabba the Fed?

  26. ErikSchwartz

    Is there any exit polling out? This was an open primary. I am curious about party crossover voters.

    1. LE

      On the one hand it would be nice to know why people who voted, voted the way they did. I’d like to know if just to compare to what the pundits give as the reason. (A total NTIM of course in my life.)But if there was low turnout does that really even matter? Or just satisfy some curiosity.

  27. Simon Clark

    This is quite right and needs reform at the state level. To his credit, Arnold Schwarzenegger showed real leadership on this issue, which he had been talking about since 2005, and in 2010 he managed to win the argument for California’s Proposition 14 in California and now the state has open primaries by law. I would have thought a similar push in New York State would gather a lot of support.

  28. jason wright

    “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”is this still an aspiration?

  29. Lee Blaylock

    Gerrymandering is bad indeed and I wish it was illegal, but reading too much into Cantor’s loss other than the fact that congress has a 13% approval ratings (throw all the bums out sentiment) and he was polling less than 50% in his own district b/c he was too close to Wall Street and K Street is more accurate than not.Brat only raised $200k so to call him a Tea Party backed candidate is only coming from the left.He’s not extremist, just tired of all the spending in Washington at the core. GOP isn’t being driven to the right as much as the media wants you to believe. It is the far left that is driving the big government spending agenda and the people are revolting. As Reagan said (close to this), “I’ll do everything I can to make the federal government as irrelevant to your lives as possible.” and with ALL of Obama’s BIG government spending programs are polling < 50% across the board and some < 40%, the folks are tired of BIG government intrusion.Change is a coming in Washington and that is good.

  30. AngelaRGonzales

    We have turned our electoral maps into something that look like a warped jigsaw puzzle and we have districts where only Republicans can win and we have districts where only Democrats can win.

  31. matthughes

    I predict the Republican party will no longer exist in ten years.The Democratic party will follow shortly thereafter.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I’d take the other end of that bet.

    2. cuchulain


  32. sofenza

    Right now, this is more of a problem for the Conservatives, where they are being motivated more and more to the right every day. And that may well keep them in management of the Home for a lengthy period, but may also keep them out of the White-colored Home just as lengthy. Because extremist roles help win primaries and main champions take the common selection in a gerrymandered region. But nationwide elections, like the Presidential selection are not won on the extreme conditions.Dukan Diät Plan

    1. cuchulain

      Who gives a rat fart about what the dual-criminal parties say or pretend? The simple evidence is that it’s indistinguishable from a mind-game for the last many decades, and is the problem itself. Let it rot and self-destruct. Why waste energy on the soap opera details? Who cares? That’s the distraction & mind-games. Pardon me, but I say: Stop reacting like a tool. Vote arbitrarily for disruption. That is the counter-game.

  33. cuchulain

    Uh… the bigger picture. The forest, not the trees. As follows:I don’t give a flying F what any of the current crop of whores want or say or do or pretend in D.C. The lesson, oh so easy to see, is that it doesn’t matter. I guess that’s too logical, too hard to see.Hopefully, the RubeGoldberg result of more extreme positions in Congress will be effectual. Especially since the POTUS is a mere puppet. And all the criminal venality has been in Congress. The extreme-ness may lead to a cleansing. It will come in any case.

  34. paramendra

    California’s jungle primary is a bright light.