Thursday, October 03, 2013

Fingers of a Congressional district

I'm noticing several articles like this one, that discuss gerrymandering as a source of comfort for those who would shutdown the Federal Government in order to eliminate Obamacare. The article states that more than 80% of the districts are safe from primary threats due to the redistricting process in 2010. Democrats won the popular vote by more than 5 million in 2012, yet Republicans still maintain a measurable majority in the house. This is pretty clear evidence of gerrymandering.

Computers make it much easier to figure this stuff out. Not only is it easier to figure out where the votes are, it's easier to draw districts that make for nice comfortable spots in Congress, regardless of the party you happen to be in. During the last redistricting session after the census, Republicans enjoyed comfortable majorities in most of the state legislatures and so were able to pass new maps that heavily favored their side.

So many seats are safe in Congress that few have any worries to look forward to in the next election. 86% of the seats in the House are now considered safe from any potential primary election adversaries. More than half of the House is Republican, so that they can safely pass any law they want, but they cannot overcome a veto. They were happy to charge into a budget negotiation without funding for Obamacare, but they do not have the votes to override a veto, nor do they have the votes in the Senate to pass a budget bill, either. Perhaps Ted Cruz did not have an exit plan if his bid for the presidency fails.

Some are predicting that this shutdown will last longer than the shutdown of 1995, and with that comes a greater risk that people will remember the loss of economic demand imposed by the shutdown. Instead of a few days, it is anticipated that this shutdown may last weeks.

When people are confident, they make interesting decisions. The House Republicans seem to carry conviction with them that what they are doing is right. Is that so?

Obamacare provides for new health insurance exchanges in all 50 states. Since midnight, October 1st, more than 2.8 million visitors crushed the new exchange website with traffic, according to Reuters. If Republicans really believe that they are doing the right thing in fighting Obamacare, if they truly believe that Obamacare would damage the economy, how do they explain the intense demand for the insurance exchanges?

The data will show us how this will play out. Billions of mouse clicks and keystrokes will build data that will show us if Obamacare works. It's only a matter of time. The longer we get to see it in action, I suspect that the more nervous people in those gerrymandered districts will be. They may be in safe districts, but they are not impervious to electoral defeat when the act they fought so hard against, and their willingness to shut down the government over it, proves to be good for the American people.

If Republican initiatives and agendas can win on the merits, why do they need to resort to gerrymandering?
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