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February 17, 2009

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Thanks for a fascinating post, Brendan. IMHO, gerrymandering has been used two ways: to help one party take seats from the other, or to help the incumbants of both parties to remain in office. The latter is what occurred in the California state legislature a few ago IIRC.

I tend to see three politics in terms of three "parties" -- the Dems, the Reps, and the politicians. It would be interesting to see a study showing whether gerrymandering has helped politicians be reward each other, at the expense of the rest of us.

BTW it would also be interesting to see the studies cited by Brendan repeated as applied to the state legislatures. At the very least, they would be lots more data to analyze.

I know this isn't the point of the post, but polarization is treated like a 12-letter word. I haven't ever questioned the premise that polarization is inherently bad, until recently reading commentary about about polarization being a net good. Can someone please explain the cons of polarization? If I was a staunch conservative, I would want my representatives to oppose the majority in Congress.

Note the spin in Hertzberg's description of "rightist GOP" and "progressive... Democrats". If he had chosen the opposite spin, he would have called them conservative GOP and leftist Democrats.

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